Even with one last game to play, the Canadiens’ trip is already a success. Too bad you will be unable to welcome your favorites when they return to the Bell Center next Thursday evening. This is the only discordant note at the start of the season of the new version of the Habs.
Fans have been waiting for this team for a long time.
The best team since 1993
Serge Savard declares on all the stands that this is the best team of the Canadian since the one which won the most recent Stanley Cup of the organization under his direction, in 1993.
I feel the need to clarify for those who would jump to the conclusions that the former general manager does not predict that the cup will return to Montreal next July.
As many of you take the trouble to remind me in your messages, it is true that the season has only just begun and that we do not know what the future will bring. Injuries could screw it all up.
I repeat myself, but the difference with what we have seen in recent years is noticeable and remarkable. We are talking about a different team, a transformed team.
Interest has returned
Many of you also tell me that you have reconciled with the Canadian. It goes with the relationship that the Quebec public has with its hockey team.
We love her when she wins and we hate her when she loses. And, for the past five years, we’ve hated her to death!
Interest in CH was rapidly diminishing. The Bell Center had not had a full house for two or three years. The ratings were not fabulous.
Myself, I had the quick trigger on the zappet. When the Canadian was going around in circles, I went to see on the other channels. My Saturday nights were no longer reserved for hockey.
Seraph can wait
Last Monday, however, I preferred to watch the Canadian in Edmonton at Upper country, a series that I like. I made up for it on Wednesday night, just before the first of the gang’s three games at Claude Julien in Vancouver.
Tonight I will watch the game.
No, the Canadian is not perfect, he is not the equal of the Tampa Bay Lightning. But he finally gives an entertaining spectacle.
Carey Price doesn’t have a rock-solid start to the season, but his team wins anyway.
It’s quite a change!
The sequel promises to be as fertile in twists and turns as a good TV series. If there is a link to be made between this team and that of 1993, it is their ability to score goals.
That year, Serge Savard had gone to look for Vincent Damphousse and Brian Bellows before the season. The Canadian had scored 59 more goals than the previous season, but he also allowed 73 more.
Patrick Roy had revived in the playoffs.
Two unexpected spurts
Since then, the Canadian has not gone further than the association final. The first time, in 2010, thanks to the prowess of Jaroslav Halak, and the second time, in 2014, until Carey Price was knocked out by Chris Kreider.
But, in both cases, the Habs had gone to war with peasants. The team had all the hardships in the world scoring goals and they were getting beaten up.
It’s all over.
It is the Canadian who imposes it. He still has to master his ardor in terms of physical play. Some players have to strike the right line between toughness and harshness.
But that’s surely not what will stop me from watching the games.
Too big, Armia …
So, if we understand correctly, Tyler Myers would have been suspended if Joel Armia had been shorter. The Canadiens player would then have received the shoulder blow from the Canucks defenseman in the face and there would have been suspension. Note that Myers is 6 feet 8 inches, compared to 6 feet.
3 inches for Armia.
It’s true that Myers hit Armia up to the chest, but the latter also took a hit on the chin. Armia collapsed like a boxer put out of action by a uppercut.
The referees enforced the rule by imposing a match penalty on Myers. One could therefore think that a suspension would follow, but the National League’s security committee ruled that there had not been a blow to the head.
But Myers’ intentions were clear. Armia was in a vulnerable position. Myers knew he could knock him out, and that’s what happened.
It would have taken Armia three or four inches shorter to be hit right in the kisser.
Too small, McAmmond
It reminds me of an incident during the 2007 Stanley Cup Final between the Ottawa Senators and the Anaheim Ducks.
Tough Chris Pronger, a notorious bastard repeat offender who was 6ft 6in tall, nudged Dean McAmmond, who was 5ft 11in tall.
The Ducks general manager, who was then Brian Burke, had pleaded the cause of his defender by saying that McAmmond came up to the height of the arm of Pronger.
We had screwed up in the press room when we heard the explanation of Burke, a guy I got to know and whom I like for his strong opinions.
Pronger was suspended for the next game, but that didn’t stop the Ducks from triumphing and taking a 3-1 lead in the series. The Ducks won the cup two days later ahead of their fans.