Gary Bettman shunted me onto "Canadiens Express" on RDS. Despite the rough cuts and action left on the cutting room floor, with Pierre Houde and Marc Denis calling the action, it's still better than the HNIC version we get on Saturday nights, or the TVA Sports pale copy. A quick bite-sized broadcast of the Canadiens 5-1 win against the Ducks.
--We felt that if the Canadiens could weather the storm the next little while, a tough stretch of games without Alex Galchenyuk and David Desharnais, if they could maintain a .500 record, that would be great, what with the strong start they had to the season, they could coast on that for a while.
Well, an OT loss to the Bruins, a loss to the Sharks, a win in Washington, and now a win against the Ducks, that's 5 points out of 8. We're on track.
--We often bemoan that teams that played the previous night, usually on a road swing that takes them through Ottawa and Toronto, still get the jump on us on our home ice. On this occasion though, it seems we caught the Ducks when they weren't their usual energetic, physical selves. And that's great for us, we suffer on the West Coast trips, might as well feast on jetlagged barnstorming California teams when we get an opportunity.
--I always hated Korbinian Holzer, from when he and Mike Kostka were force fed to us by the toronational media as the second coming of Borje Salming and Ian Turnbull that one season with the Leafs, how they'd be the New Big Three, blah blah blah. Well, it was good to see him take a dumb penalty, after having played Mr. Tough Guy against Brendan Gallagher. I always appreciate when idiots cost their teams a goal and probably a win with their patented dumb moves.
--If teams fear our powerplay, maybe they won't be so liberterious with our smaller players, won't feel so free to expressionate their inner goon. I imagine Mr. Holzer will try to avoid Randy Carlyle the next couple of days.
--Is it just me or has Alex Radulov slowed down a smidge or two lately? I understand that he doesn't have Alex Galchenyuk to play with any more, but it would be nice if he'd still manage to be the offensive instigator for us. Now is when we need him even more.
--This is the good Jeff Petry, the one we hope to see every game. We don't necessarily expect a goal every game, but we do want to see him all swoopy and rangy and jumping into the attack, noticeable rather than invisible.
He's had these stretches before. Last season he had a great start, then cooled off, and we found out later that he'd been playing hurt, so we gave him a mulligan. This season, he's been off and on. Let's hope he's just hitting cruising speed right now, that this is his baseline.
--Meanwhile, Shea Weber is ice-cold, hasn't scored in a dozen games or so. Some are guessing that he's hurt, maybe a sore shoulder or sprained wrist that prevents him getting off his slapshot. With his type of game, he could very well be dealing with a bum wing and still contribute, still provide strong defensive play in his own end, and a decoy on the attack.
--Jonathan Bernier is always good for what ails us. With the one or two softies he always gifts us with, I find it hard to believe that he's not still a passionate Canadiens fan.
Or, he has Max Pacioretty on his fantasy hockey team this year.
--I never subscribed to the general discontent that the Canadiens had "too many Bottom-six forwards". It's a simplistic view, which holds that acquiring Top 6 forwards is just as easy, you just shop on a different shelf. This fretting also missed the point that Bottom 6 acquisitions Torrey Mitchell, Brian Flynn and Paul Byron were all signed to easily digestible contracts, they could always be traded in a firesale, or even waivered and sent to the AHL with little impact on our salary cap situation.
I have embraced Torrey Mitchell, Paul Byron and Phillip Danault as local boys who want to be Canadiens, who can easily exchange with French-Canadian fans. Brian Flynn however, I've felt was superfluous, one too many of a type, and wanted him to be traded for draft picks, to replenish the bank. I have to admit that having a veteran right-handed shot who can play centre or wing is pretty handy right now.
Maybe he's increasing his trade value during this stretch, and we can realize this asset nearer the trade deadline. If Charles Hudon or Sven Andrighetto or Daniel Carr can ever get their game going and become NHL regulars, that is.
--Glad to see Chris Terry score his first as a Canadien, and the whole fourth line be rewarded. I wasn't sure if it was the Canadiens Express effect, whether it was the edits that was skewing my opinion, or is it my inclination to want to see good things from Mike McCarron, but they seemed to be having good moments and increased icetime in the third period.
--Good to see the coaches shaking hands after a big win, specifically Jean-Jacques Daigneault and Kirk Muller. I keep forgetting that these two won a Stanley Cup together in '93.
--Denis Gauthier on L'Antichambre offered up his headline ('La Manchette') that, 'Despite the Criticism', Michel Therrien must be commended for the way the Canadiens are responding to losing their #1 centre, and now their #2 defenceman.
--We've seen in the past during post-game press conferences a stone-faced Michel Therrien, after a loss, mutter that the problem was one of "execution". He didn't/wouldn't blame the goalies or a lack of talent or his system or the failure to adjust tactics, he'd just say that the players didn't execute the system. They 'didn't play the right way'. We saw that a lot last season.
Tonight, we saw perhaps the exact opposite to this, when in response to a question from Chantal Machabée asking if he was satisfied that his system was working and the players were buying in, the coach praised the work ethic of the players as exceptional, their dedication to "structure", their preparation, their attention to detail, their leadership, their dedication, and called it a good "team win".