It was going so well too. The crowd was pumped and happy. There was a friendly, robust cheer for new coach Michel Therrien. The torch was passed from past captains, from Yvan Cournoyer to the Pocket, from Vincent Damphousse to Serge Savard, and then Jean Beliveau handed it to present-day captain Brian Gionta.
The torch then made its way from player to player, Alex Galchenyuk heard a nice welcome from the faithful, as did Francis Bouillon and the others. It was all very nice, because that’s what happens in Montreal – nice pre-game ceremonies. If these things won Stanley Cups, the Montreal Canadiens would never lose. Every year the bleu, blanc et rouge would hoist the hardware. It’d be a hundred in a row.
Unfortunately, once the puck was dropped on this Hockey Night in Canada affair at the Bell Centre, the Habs couldn’t get untracked. The torch thing had worn them out, I suppose.
Brandon Prust scrapped with the Leafs Mike Brown, and did a fine job. But more sandpaper is required from Prust, not just the odd fight. We’d need him to be a menace to society from start to finish.
Carey Price was good in goal, and if the Habs had decided to show some zip and pressure in the first two periods, Price might have racked up a well-earned win. But the boys in front of him were flat as a pancake, and all it does is be a reminder of days gone by.
Young Alex Galchenyuk, in his first game in the bigs, had several shots on goal, but he has to remember, these aren’t junior goalies. His wrist shots from thirty feet out will be stopped pretty well every time.
The third period was slightly better. The Canadiens showed some jump, had some chances, and finally Brian Gionta found the back of the Leafs net to close the gap to one and wake the nodding crowd up somewhat. But it wasn’t enough as the Leafs held on to claim bragging rights, at least until the next time these two meet, on Feb. 9.
Montreal’s special teams leaved a lot to be desired. The Leafs scored both of their goals on power plays, while the Canadiens went one for five on their chances. But worse than the power plays, for most of the night they didn’t storm the net and cause havoc and commotion, or show much of anything. It was like a team of Scott Gomez’ out there. And P.K. Subban was certainly missed for his passion, his fire, his shot, his skating, and his larger-than-life presence. This guy has to get signed.
Habs bow to the Leafs. I miss the lockout.
Shots on goal – 26-22 Leafs.
The Desharnais, Pacioretty, Cole line has seen better nights. They were a B in my book, when we need an A every night. There’s only 47 games left for goodness sakes.
Alexei Emelin has picked up where he left off last year, with good, clean, bone-crunching hits that makes people keep their heads up. Emelin was a bright light in a dark and less-than-stormy opening night.
Just a dismal start. Hopefully the Canadiens can show some jump on Tuesday when Alex Kovalev and the Florida Panthers come a-callin’. They showed some in the third on this night, and maybe they liked how it felt.