Wonder what the “bug-eyed fat walrus” thought of number 31 in a red jersey.
Or number 76.
Or number 53.
Or number 14.
Or that number 8 who compared the Ottawa Senators head coach to a marine mammal with a weight problem.
Shall we just go on through the whole roster?
Your Montreal Canadiens came up with perhaps their gutsiest win of 2013 Friday night at the Bell Centre.
After Ottawa coach Paul MacLean used “number 61” to dismissively describe Raphael Diaz after Game 1, Brandon Prust took umbrage and described the Senators’ coach in the aforementioned unflattering terms.
Michel Therrien didn’t like MacLean’s comments, either. The Canadiens coach said Diaz – and, by extension, the whole team – were being disrespected.
These mind games are not uncharacteristic of the playoffs. But annoyance with MacLean seemed to inspire the Canadiens, who played a brilliant game despite missing three regulars.
It started with number 31. Bouncing back from an opening-game performance that revived suggestions he’s incapable of winning big games, Carey Price had the Bell Centre skeptics chanting “CA-REY! CA-REY!” throughout a 29-save performance.
The win was costly for Price. In Pierre Obendrauf’s Gazette photo, he’s handing Canadiens athletic therapist Graham Rynbend the two teeth that were knocked out when Jarred Tinordi’s skate hit the goaltender’s mask.
Price got support from teammates who blocked an astounding 34 Ottawa shots. Fifteen Canadiens had at least one blocked shot, and number 76 tied Josh Gorges for the team lead with five.
That would be P.K. Subban, who decisively outplayed Erik Karlsson in Game 2. And it was a turnover by Ottawa’s reigning Norris Trophy winner that led to number 53 opening the scoring for the Canadiens.
Ryan White, who spent most of the season in Therrien’s doghouse, has emerged with two excellent games in the playoffs. White spent part of the pre-game warmup chirping Ottawa tough guys Zack Smith and Matt Kassian, the latter a questionable addition to the Ottawa lineup in place of Cory Conacher.
MacLean sought to bolster his beef level in anticipation of the Canadiens looking to pay the Senators back for the injury to Lars Eller. But Kassian contributed nothing beyond some angry post-whistle glares, and the Canadiens avenged Eller by racking up a W in which they avoided goonery – as if they could if they tried – while outhitting Ottawa 37-26.
Number 8 had six hits, as did Colby Armstrong, who returned to the lineup and played a strong game on the wing with a variety of centres – including the superb number 14. Tomas Plekanec did not register a shot on goal, but he won 16 faceoffs and was heroic on a penalty-kill that was 4-for-4.
Despite the absence of Eller, regular-season scoring leader Max Pacioretty and captain Brian Gionta, the Canadiens continually exerted pressure in the Ottawa zone; and Anderson faced tougher shots in the 34 directed at him than was the case when he made 48 saves in Game 1.
In his postgame remarks, Therrien said his team didn’t have to bounce back because the Canadiens had played well in Game 1. Perhaps so, but the Canadiens got a markedly stronger effort from David Desharnais, who was invisible in the series opener. Diaz, who had a tough opening night after his pass put Eller in harm’s way, was steadier, and rookie Jarred Tinordi – who is being helped through Playoffs 101 by Ol’ Professor Francis Bouillon – chipped in with an error-free 15:42.
Having played 25:49 in a losing cause in Game 1, Andrei Markov dialed back to 20:47 and was the better for it. He and Subban continued to be spared duty on the PK, which is wise deployment by D coach Jean-Jacques Daigneault.
With Eller out, Alex Galchenyuk moved to centre. He got an assist on Brendan Gallagher’s game-winning goal, and Galchenyuk played a responsible defensive game – not easy for a rookie who has played on the wing all season – and flashed some of the spectacular offensive-zone moves that are going to make him a special player in blue-blanc-rouge.
And Michael Ryder buried his only shot on goal.
The Senators were lousy on Friday night. But they had accomplished what they set out to do by winning the series opener on Thursday, thus ensuring they will take the series if they win at Scotiabank Place.
There is speculation Jason Spezza will be back for the potentially pivotal game 3 on Sunday.
The Ottawa centre has been out so long MacLean may have forgotten Spezza’s number.
Goo goo g’joob