You have to give Scott Gomez credit: He takes a whackin’ and keeps on crackin’ jokes to the assembled media.
His last words, as Gomez left the Canadiens room and headed toward the showers, were a reminder to beat reporters that “I don’t read the s–t anyway.”
He said it with a smile on his face, a good humour Gomez displayed during a lengthy postgame grilling during which he talked about a heart-to-heart conversation with Bob Gainey.
Gomez described the former general manager as “always a big supporter.” This would make Gainey rather unique in a city where Gomez has been the target of intense scrutiny – and bitter criticism – since he was acquired two summers ago.
Gomez also talked about the pleasure of playing “in front of people who are passionate” – an enthusiasm that was kind of kept in reserve through the early, nervous moments of the game.
It took almost 13 minutes for the Canadiens to finally break a scoreless drought that had lasted three games. The jinx-busting goal came off the unlikely stick of Roman Hamrlik (Carey Price joked about the defenceman’s soft hands); and 21,273 stopped chewing their fingernails long enough to breathe a collective sigh of relief.
Did you have Hamrlik in your pool?
Neither did I.
Price joked that the veteran defenceman’s goal won him a donut that Benoit Pouliot had won by rolling up the rim to win. But Mathieu Darche said Hamrlik’s goal was a reward for the Canadiens’ direct, north-south play and typical of the kind of shots that beat goaltenders at this time of the season.
“I think five guys touched the puck in the blue paint,” Darche said of the scramble that left a loose puck near Hamrlik’s stick.
Darche scored his 10th, matching a career best, and his industry – particularly in the offensive zone – brought a physical, puck-dogging dimension that Gomez and Brian Gionta have lacked on their line since Max Pacioretty was hurt.
Darche had three of the Canadiens’ 23 hits – a section of the stat sheet dominated by Andrei Kostitsyn, who had six and played an outstanding two-way game before scoring a 95-foot empty-netter.
I’ll break down some more numbers in the morning.
For now, enjoy the W.
It was hard-earned, well-deserved and meant the Canadiens could breathe A LOT easier on their late-night flight to North Carolina.