Way, way behind on these recaps. The upshot is that you get to review previous moments of the season with a bit of perspective. This episode deals with one of the highlights of the year, Dale Weise's Gordie Howe hat trick against the Bruins, and a subsequent win against the Flyers, nirvana for a Habs fan.
1:10 Off-ice conditioning with footwork ladder drills. The boys throw the pigskin around afterwards. Nice job if you can get one of those.
1:50 A peek at how the Canadiens handle social media. It's a surprisingly big group that does this, no effort is spared obviously. It's an investment in the team, so it's not like a charity endeavour, but still, again it's good to see the team spending its vast revenues back into the team and engaging the fans. Nice job Mr. Molson.
3:45 The boys are pumping each other up before a game, and David Desharnais and P.A. Parenteau greet Carey as he walks by and then stretches and psyches himself up. David has the quote of the episode when he remarks to P.A. that "If (Carey) could score the goals, he could play the games by himself."
06:45 More charity from Max Pacioretty during the game against the Jets, as he flips the puck at Tomas Plekanec to deposit in the empty net. Second tap-in goal for Tomas this season from Max. Nathan hands the boxer's cape to Carey for his first shutout of the season.
07:30 Sergei Gonchar arrives in Montréal after being traded for Travis Moen, and is met by a press scrum at the airport. He must have a sense of what playing in Montréal is like, having played often as a visitor when he was a Senator.
08:15 In the equipment room, P.K. Subban, Max and David are oohing and aahing at Sergei's sticks, marveling at the curve on it, checking its lie. I note that the camera doesn't give us an image of the curve specifically. To avoid giving opponents valuable intel, and forestall future illegal stick penalties?
08:50 Andrei Markov in conversation with Sergei in the dressing room. Andrei seems relaxed, his smile is unsarcastic, which is a shock. Maybe Sergei will do more than just help the powerplay, maybe he wasn't brought in just to be Michel Therrien's security blanket.
10:15 Dale Weise drops Gregory 'Sonny Boy' Campbell with one punch during the game against the Bruins. I may have slow-mo'ed and replayed it more than is healthy for me. Dale defends his quick-trigger on the bench with his teammates, notably a smiling Brandon Prust: "You come at me you better be ready..."
10:20 Defencemen's coach Jean-Jacques Daigneault yells "Subbie, there's a shot coming off the faceoff!" Sure enough, Dougie Hamilton's knuckleball from the blue line goes through Carey for a Bruins goal. Yet it doesn't sound like a Kreskin prediction, of course they were going to shoot right?
Afterwards, you hear the coach telling his charges that when they win a faceoff, the Bruins shoot at the net within four seconds. Obviously intel they gathered through video study, that it be that specific, and we understand better what the coach was trying to impart.
12:05 I didn't know that a Bruins fan threw his jersey on the ice when the game was truly lost. A complete overreaction in my book. I think the message was/is fair in Edmonton, that the fans have had enough, and it was also when the Leafs lost 9-2 or thereabouts, but this devalues the gesture.
J.J. enquires with Sergei, how he feels playing twenty minutes, after being used lightly in Dallas.
Of course Dale gets the cape from Carey.
13:00 Again we see Pierre Allard working with the boys, notably a rehabbing Michaël Bournival.
A few seasons ago, it seemed the Canadiens were regularly ravaged by injuries, leading the league and even breaking records in terms of man-games lost, etc. Now, we've had a run of at least a couple of seasons where we're relatively spared by the injury bug. Even Andrei has a bit of an iron-man streak going, for cripe's sake.
I remember back then that the boards and glass at the New Forum and practice facility were changed from the seamless glass variety to one with more give. The thought back then was that we were incurring injuries in part due to our own facilities.
Another reaction was at the end of one season to fire a lot of the therapists and conditioning staff. Since Pierre Allard has been in charge, it seems the boys have been healthier than what could/should be expected with an NHL team. He possibly deserves some of the accolades for the team's success since the Nouveau Régime took over.
13:40 We follow a young singer named Cherylyn Toca as she prepares for her evening's gig, singing the anthems at the Nouveau Forum. She was one of the singers who went through the audition process this summer. I guess I'm okay with the gig being rotated through a group of young singers instead of being the exclusive domain of Charles Prévost-Linton and Ginette Reno, as long as it is truly based on talent, and isn't a bauble given out to friends of the team's owner, as we see in other cases.
17:30 The Habs beating the Flyers. Joy.
18:15 We've been told that Sergei Gonchar is the complete opposite of the 'taciturn Russian' stereotype. We see him between periods talking out tactics with Max. Who was it who said shortly after he'd arrived that he'd already chatted more with Sergei than in he ever did with Andrei, in total? Good stuff.
18:50 Long sequences where Sergei and Alexei Emelin and Alex Galchenyuk speak in Russian to each other before faceoffs.
It was interesting how Trevor Timmins and Marc Bergevin made the point last June that these guys would be around to help Nikita Scherbak acclimate to the league and Montréal. This seems maybe a blatantly obvious consideration, and not all that significant, until we consider that the Oilers this fall tried to sign Vladimir Tkachev to a contract that was eventually rejected by the league due to a technicality. Certainly the Oilers were trying to add a talented player to their lineup, but also admittedly to provide some support for their underperforming first overall pick Nail Yakupov.
Add in Paul Maurice's statements upon returning from a one-year coaching stint in the KHL, when he explained that his biggest takeaway was that he'd never again underestimate the cultural shock a Russian player must endure in North America, and how that might affect his performance, and maybe there is a strategic importance to having this Russian presence in our lineup that made drafting Nikita Scherbak a safer decision.
21:00 Weisy fakes out the coach when announcing his choice as the next man to wear the cape. He underscores that on this night he earned his 300th win in the NHL, and a shot of Michel Therrien shows him grinning from ear to ear, giddy to receive this mark of affection from his players. But Weisy instead of zigging zags, and awards the cape to Sergei Gonchar for his 800th career point.
Personally, I hate the practice of awarding game balls to owners or coaches, so I'm very okay with Dale's choice here. And so was the room, who all had a good-natured laugh at the expense of their coach.