Oh, those fun-loving Canadiens.
P.K. Subban wsa doubled-up with laughter as the first drum beat of Eye of the Tiger – BOOM! Boom-boom-boom! – blasted over the Canadiens’ dressing room sound system, courtesy of DJ Max Lapierre.
The Rocky theme was a salute to Mike Cammalleri, who had pounded out a solid decision over David Krejci to win the first fight of his NHL career.
Carey Price’s wry assessment of his teammate’s pugilistic talents: “Georges St. Pierre doesn’t have to worry.”
Of far greater import was the Canadiens ability to withstand a late-round flurry and score a heartstopping and much-deserved W over their Northeast Division rivals.
Had the Canadiens lost, they would have slid from second seeding in the Eastern Conference to sixth.
They’d have been riding a four-game losing streak into a seven-game road trip, and Montreal would be enshrouded in gloom and anxiety as we count down to Christmas.
But that didn’t happen.
Commenting on the Cammalleri fight, Jacques Martin said it was evidence of an emotional game in which his team “had to compete, and we answered the bell.”
Asked if he were surprised that two of the NHL’s statistically best defensive teams had combined for 78 SoG and seven goals, Martin said both the Canadiens and Bruins have “great offensive players”.
“It was like a playoff game,” Martin added. To win, the Canadiens had to “battle through space and win battles.”
A consistent winner was the game’s First Star.
Max Pacioretty had a goal, an assist, four shots on goal, four hits and any number of instances when he sparked his linemates.
Scott Gomez is playing his best hockey of the young season, and Brian Gionta added six shots to his team-leading total of 133, 37 more than runner-up Rocky … errr, Mike Cammalleri.
Pacioretty is a transformed player. He’s using his body effectively, going to the net, opening space for his linemates and making safe, simple plays. Martin praised Max-Pac’s speed, shot and physicality.
Whether through AHL experience or new-found confidence, Pacioretty has developed hockey sense that was not in evidence during his previous stints with the big club.
And playing with smart veterans – both of whom share his American citizenship – seems to have elevated Max-Pac’s game.
I’m off to record a late-night Puckcast with Messrs Hickey and Stubbs.
More stuff on the game tomorrow morning.