Man, was Therrien a tad potty-mouthed during the latest installment of that great documentary series? The coach was dropping f-bombs like the Luftwaffe over London.
The tirade came 10 days ago in Calgary, when the Canadiens began their western Canada road trip with a weak effort against the Flames.
We can only imagine what Michel F. Therrien had to say after the first period Saturday night. Playing in front of the usual raucous Bell Centre sellout crowd, the Canadiens had two shots on goal in the first 14 minutes, were outshot 14-6 in the period and trailed 1-0 on a power play goal by Shea Weber.
As has been the case in each of his starts since the opener, Carey Price was brilliant and kept the Canadiens in it.
They played better during the subsequent 40 minutes of the game. But Nashville set the tone early, winning races and one-on-one battles.
Lars Eller’s disallowed goal notwithstanding, the visitors were full value for their win. The Predators were ferocious in pursuing the puck and tenacious once they got it.
And Nashville did a good job neutralizing the home team’s strengths. P.K. Subban was harassed and denied his usual vast expanses of open ice. He had a grand total of two shot attempts, one of which was blocked while the other missed the net. Subban also took two minors – although the embellishment call was highly duvious and reinforced the impression, gathering steam in some quarters, that the officials have it in for one of the league’s brightest talents.
Dany Dubé, the excellent analyst on French radio broadcasts, said Nashville kept the Canadiens “on the wall” all night. The Predators gave the home team precious few opportunities to get good looks at goaltender Pekka Rinne from high-percentage shooting locations.
The only forward line that generated any in-close pressure on Rinne was the Usual Suspects: Eller, Brendan Gallagher, who had nine of the Canadiens’ 29 shots and scored his fourth goal of the season; and Alex Galchenyuk. The line had 14 of the team’s 29 SoG. That speaks to the kids’ talent, but also to the meagre contributions of the other forwards.
David Desharnais went 3-8 in the faceoff circle, had no shots on goal and was on the ice for Jones’s winner – which was scored after Travis Moen failed at the elementary task of chipping the puck out of the Canadiens zone. Rene Bourque had one SoG.
For one of the rare times in his young career, Galchenyuk was not the best teenager on the ice. That honour goes to Nashville’s Seth Jones, who scored the winning goal.
A 19-year-old defenceman playing 27:29? Are you kidding me?
And can someone explain how this kid lasted four picks into the draft last summer?
Jones grew up in Denver, where his father played pro basketball for the NBA Nuggets. But the kid loved the Avalanche and gravitated toward hockey.
Running his first draft as Colorado executive VP, Joe Sakic, who was Seth Jones’s hero, picked Nathan MacKinnon first overall. Florida general manager Dale Tallon used the second pick on Finnish forward Aleksander Barkov.
Jones was still available when Tampa Bay drafted third overall. Steve Yzerman, who will have final say on whether P.K. goes to Sochi, picked Jonathan Drouin.
And Nashville GM David Poile got a kid who combines with Shea Weber to give Nashville the best D tandem in the league … by a lot.
Of course, Montrealers forfeited the right to second-guess draft choices when the Canadiens took Doug Wickenheiser over Denis Savard, Mark Napier ahead of Mike Bossy and Andrei Kostitsyn over …
It’s too depressing to remember the 2003 draft, especially after a tough loss. So let’s look at some game numbers:
The stat I found astonishing was Hits. For the first time in their eight games this season, the Canadiens were on the long end of the hit tally.
The stat sheet says the Canadiens outhit Nashville 23-10. Why, then, did it seem like the visitors won every puck battle all night long?
And why did the team with that big a Hit advantage lose two forwards to injury?
Daniel Brière suffered his third concussion in as many seasons. He could be out for a while.
Of greater concern is a late-game injury to Brandon Prust.
Unless Edward Snowden goes to work for the team’s PR department, the Canadiens will not offer an update on Prust’s condition until Monday … if then. But it didn’t look good. Prust skated off the ice favouring a shoulder that has been wonky since last season.
Elevated to Top 9 duty during the absence of Max Pacioretty, Prust has re-energized linemates Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta. If the rugged winger is on the shelf for any length of time, the Canadiens are in a mess of early-season trouble.
Add Pacioretty, Brière and Prust to a list that includes George Parros and defencemen Alexei Emelin, Douglas Murray and Davis Drewiske.
Quality depth is a challenge in the salary cap era. I don’t know which forwards are likely to be summoned from Hamilton?
Patrick Holland? The eternal Gabriel Dumont?
Is Louis Leblanc still in pro hockey?