Some jumbled thoughts on the Canadiens' 5-1 loss to the Canucks, snapping their 9-game winning streak and foiling their quest for a new record.
1) Pre-game at Dunn's Vancouver, the other boys are pleased with the choices, but abstain from a full-fat sandwich, choose a more-familiar Reuben sandwich instead. My disdainful look mollifies Matt, the younger more impressionable member of our group, to change his order, which he ultimately doesn't regret. Jay grumbles and follows suit.
I mean, come on, right? You don't go to the Greek restaurant and order the pasta, you get what they're famous for, no?
Turns out they're fans of smoked meat now. Despite that inconvenient WHO report on processed meats that dropped at precisely the wrong time. Where's Stephen Harper when you need him, these are the scientists that need to be muzzled, not some loons who worry about climate. A couple of degrees, that just means a nicer, balmier spring, right? It's cyclical.
2) The joint is packed when we get there, including a huge 16 person table with mostly Canadiens but some Canucks jerseys. Lots of kids in Gallagher jerseys, some Price, West Coast kids who like their local boys on their favourite teams. I'm seated near an older gentleman in a Jean Béliveau jersey, which I believe is anachronistic, since he has the nameplate on the back. From memory, I don't think Monsieur Béliveau ever had his name on his jersey, just le numéro quatre. Names on jerseys came later, mid-seventies I think.
One young man nearby has a Pavel Bure jersey, the horrible black and orange 'skate' jersey. I avoid conversation, even eye-contact with this gentleman.
3) Our winsome waitress, a tiny sprite of a girl, speaks passable English, with a strong accent. As she explains the menu, I switch over to French to help her out. She looks at me blankly.
Turns out that wasn't a Québécois accent, but rather a Spanish accent. Egg on my face. I save it by busting out my rusty basic travel Spanish. The boys give me the gears, tell me she's digging me. I respond with my classic Ralph Furley line, "I'm old enough to be her older brother." But even that, that's starting to stretch it a little bit, these days, getting to be a reproductive implausibility.
4) I confidently ask our waitress when we're settling up that they must have known tonight would be a big night for them, with the Canadiens in town and all. She rolls her eyes and chuckles, explains that she was supposed to start her shift at 6, walked by at 4 to drop off her stuff and then go do some shopping, but her harried manager 'requested' that she start immediately.
They didn't know about the game, the crowd, the Montréal tie-in, none of that. They don't know what they're doing there, apparently, but at least the food didn't suffer.
5) Last year, Michel Therrien wrote in Mike Weaver and Dale Weise and Brendan Gallagher for the opening faceoff, former Canucks and Giants. This year, he just went with Tomas' line, just Gally was on. Willie Desjardins had Brandon Prust and Yannick Weber out for the opening faceoff.
6) My seatmates are Hugo and Photis. I know, because after he told me his name a couple of times, I asked him to spell it. Never, ever heard that name before, read it, saw it anywhere. I was going to ask more about it, but Hugo started asking questions about which team I was supporting, where we were from. He's happy to find that I'm a Canadiens supporter and a Québec native, he says they used to live in Montréal, but now they're in Victoria but are still Canadiens diehards.
7) Not an easy Google, but apparently Photis is a Greek name, meaning 'light'.
8) As the game starts, Matt reacts to David Desharnais darting around in the offensive zone, with the following quote: "David Desharnais is my least favourite player in the NHL." I think that's hilarious, and probe further, asking how with guys like Brad Marchand and Eric Gryba and Derek Dorsett running around. "Just the way he skates," he says, and does something with his shoulders, pantomiming a skating stride, screwing up his face into a mask of grim determination. "The way he keeps both hands on his stick all the time," with more pantomime. "He looks like a rec league player who tries too hard."
If I hadn't known the kid, I'd have sworn he was a plant, there to antagonize me. As it is, I find it hilarious, and he doesn't quite understand why.
9) Of course, we're seated in the Canucks end for the first period, and David's line buzzes around in their end. I keep waiting for him to pop one in, and Mat's white-knuckling it, hoping he doesn't have to eat his words.
10) I yell at him frequently when he's on the ice, "Allez Desharnais!," with lots of people turning around to see what's the meaning of this. Is there irony?
Matt asks me what 'uh-lay' means. A shocking indictment of the Canadian educational system.
11) Not to assign blame, but instead of being divine, Carey is more pedestrian, snake-bitten. What started as an even matchup quickly degenerates, and the air is let out of the building. I actually have to struggle to stay awake. The previous night, I didn't sleep well, I kept waking up, anxious that I'd overslept and missed my alarm, kind of like an overexcited kid before leaving on family vacation. I'm now struggling to keep my eyes open.
12) Luckily, they blastblare awful shlocky 90's rock every time there's a whistle. And that's the right word, I'm coining it, claiming it, blastblare©. They take it right to the threshold of distortion, then add a generous 25% more disciples it screeches like. So my snoozes are intermittent, not so egregious that I end up with black marker all over my forehead. Kids today, you gotta be careful.
13) We probably had some bounces go our way during the 9-game win streak, and now the luck regresses to the mean. Lots of opportunities flubbed, missed shots, guys who are wide-open for a one-timer but the pass just ticks off a Canuck outstretched stick. Meanwhile, Carey is a mere mortal.
14) Some Canuck fans try to start a derisive "Caaaa-reeeeey, Caaaa-reeeeey, ..." chant, but it never gets off the ground. Respect? Refusal to humiliate a local likeable kid?
15) I have yet to re-watch the game on TV, to solidify some impressions, figure out what happened on this play or that sequence, etc. On the one hand, watching the game live is so much better to get a feel for the game, for the flow. You see opportunities happen before they happen, you see defensive breakdowns and get a sinking feeling in your stomach before the opponent is sprunged for a breakaway.
What you miss though is the replays, the various angles that show why that guy missed the wide open net, or whether he missed at all or it was a great save, etc.
Except it was such a sucky game, I haven't had the stomach to rewatch yet. I erased the Sportsnet version off my PVR, and have yet to break open the Canadiens Express version. We'll see.