OMG, why use that photo to illustrate some reflections on the Northeast-leading Canadiens’ latest win?
Quick, pass some bleach for the eyes of Habs fans!
Well, Jacques Martin was at the Bell Centre to watch his former team beat the Jets.
And Perry Pearn – who played Sancho Panza to Martin’s Don Quixote (and Tessio to Pierre Gauthier’s Don Corleone) – has fetched up behind the Winnipeg bench.
So there was a bit of an old-timey atmosphere at the Bell Centre, what with the Ghosts of Last-Place Past in the house.
Let’s imagine, just for fun, that Martin was coaching the Canadiens Thursday night.
A shade over eight minutes into the first period, Alexander Burmistrov gives the visitors a 1-0 lead. Burmistrov is all alone in the slot to Peter Budaj’s right because Michael Ryder is not bothering to cover the Jet forward.
Also on for the Winnipeg goal are rookie Alex Galchenyuk and newly-acquired defenceman Davis Drewiske.
On a Jacques Martin team, how much ice time would the aforementioned players have seen for the balance of the evening?
But Martin does not coach your Montreal Canadiens.
Michel Therrien does. And this is what happened to the players who watched Burmistrov score his goal:
• Michael Ryder, finally playing his natural right wing, scored the goal that tied the game at 1-1 and also bagged the winner and added an assist. Ryder has nine goals and 17 points in 17 games since joining the Canadiens in the trade that sent Erik Cole to Dallas. Cole has four points, all goals, since the trade.
Ryder is a sniper. Scoring goals is what he does. Ryder does not play no steenkin’ defence. He is not a Jacques Martin player.
• Alex Galchenyuk played centre, between Ryder and Travis Moen, because of the Tomas Plekanec injury. It is the kid’s natural position, and he played an excellent game. Galchenyuk had three shots on goal (and none wide or blocked), scored the Canadiens’ fourth goal (breaking an 18-game drought) and won three of four faceoffs.
• Davis Drewiske ended the night at minus-1. But the big guy from Wisconsin played 17:26 – including almost three minutes on the Canadiens’ impeccable penalty-kill – and blocked three shots.
There were other heroes.
• Peter Budaj made 33 saves for his sixth win of the season. That’s one-quarter of the team’s W’s. Not bad for a backup goaltender who was 5-7-5 under Martin and Randy Cunneyworth last season.
• Lars Eller centred Brian Gionta and Brandon Prust on a new line Therrien cooked up. Eller had two assists, stayed out of the box, played 2:40 on the PK and did not look out of place with new linemates.
• Alexei Emelin took one for the team. Actually, he took about five right hands in a late-game fight with Evander Kane. But as was the case when he was jumped by Zdeno Chara, Emelin hung in, protected his surgically repaired kisser and landed a left on Kane. You have to admire Emelin’s courage … and you have to like his tendency to get under the skin of guys like Chara and Kane.
• Ho-hum, P.K. Subban had two assists to run his point total to 30, first among NHL defencemen. The fine play of Drewiske and Daycare Dad Francis Bouillon allowed Therrien the luxury of dialing back on ToI for P.K. (22:02) and Andrei Markov (19:10).
• Jeff Halpern had an uncharacteristically rough night in the faceoff circle, losing eight of 13. But Marc Bergevin’s waiver-wire steal was excellent on the PK and logged 15:45, which is impressive for a fourth-liner. Halpern was ably supported by his high-energy linemates, Michael Blunden, who blocked a couple shots, and Ryan White, who had three hits.
The only line that remained intact had a quiet night, although Brendan Gallagher was his customary Energizer Bunny self and Max Pacioretty led the Canadiens with four SoG.
Watching Eller and Galchenyuk, you wonder where David Desharnais will settle on the team’s depth chart in a year or two. But you can never have enough capable centres.
And what about Ryder? One-dimensional he may be, but it’s not like this team is overflowing with guys who can light the lamp. Will Bergevin re-sign the player who is on track to lead the Canadiens in goals?
That’s down the road.
The shorter-term picture has Boston at the Bell Centre on Saturday for the kind of high-stakes game Jacques Martin never got to coach at the end of his run in Montreal.
• • •
I don’t know where this is from, but it’s funny.
And this from Propwash: