Be of good cheer, all you Montrealers who are freezing your hockey bags off in the city’s brutal cold snap.
For one thing, The Atlantic magazine reports that at minus-31C, southern Manitoba is as cold as Mars. Be happy you don’t live in Winnipeg.
And your Montreal Canadiens are hot.
Undefeated this year, baby!
In his postgame media scrum, parts of which were telecast by L’Antichambre, Michel Therrien called that crazy Thursday night game in Dallas a big win and the capper of an “excellent” road trip.
Those of us still having nightmares about the game in Carolina may quibble about the coach’s choice of adjectives. But the Canadiens took seven of a possible 12 points on their longest road trip of the season. And they sit fourth in the Eastern Conference, nine points clear of the ninth-place Ottawa Senators, who visit the Bell Centre Saturday night.
Therrien was equally effusive in praise of P.K. Subban, whose goal, three assists and plus-3 in Dallas constituted what the coach called ubban’s best game of the season.
“(P.K.) made good decisions with the puck,” Therrien said. “He took the ice that Dallas gave him and didn’t force anything.”
Slight correction: P.K. may have forced a revision in the thinking of Steve Yzerman and his Team Canada staff. They will announce their choices for Sochi on Tuesday, and all the rumours have P.K. on the bubble … at best.
Only one Canadian defenceman, Chicago’s Duncan Keith, has more points than P.K.’s 33.
Those two brilliant passes that led to goals by U.S. Olympian Max Pacioretty? P.K. displayed the vision and awareness that are ideally suited to the big ice in Sochi.
As for the Subban goal, on which he left Dallas defenders gasping in his wake … here I’ll borrow the words British soccer commentators use to describe the heroics of my man Luis Suarez: “quality” and “genius”.
P.K. is a joy to watch, but you know what?
I half wish Yzerman et al don’t pick him for Team Canada.
Subban would have that much extra motivation to stick it to those responsible for the Sochi snub.
And for the next 40 games and – inshallah – the playoffs, the Canadiens are going to need a highly motivated P.K.
And a goaltender that’s better than what we saw in Dallas.
No issue there. Carey Price, who will go to Sochi, was out of position several times, giving Dallas some wide-open nets that the Stars obligingly missed.
On two occasions, Price was bailed out by his B.C. homeboy Josh Gorges, whose seven blocked shots included a spectacular skate save. With Alexei Emelin watching from the pressbox, Gorges was paired with Andrei Markov while Francis Bouillon logged almost 21 minutes paired with P.K.
Douglas Murray and Raphael Diaz each played more than 17 minutes – high for a fourth pairing, but it was weird game that yielded some unusual stats:
• Tomas Plekanec was 4-16 on faceoffs after going 6-28 in Carolina.
• The Canadiens could only muster six shots in the first period. On the six-game road trip, they played 13 regulation time periods in which their shot totals were eight or fewer.
• Alex Galchenyuk had less time ToI than every skater except Michaël Bournival and Ryan White. I wonder what goes through the kid’s head watching Tyler Seguin.
The second overall pick of the 2010 draft, Seguin was brought along slowly and used as a winger in Boston. Playing his natural centre position in Dallas, Seguin has racked up 21 goals and 20 assists.
Everyone says it’s only a matter of time before Galchenyuk is moved to centre. But the Canadiens have a logjam at the position.
David Desharnais had a goal and an assist in Dallas. DD, Max-Pac and Brendan Gallagher are the Canadiens best scoring line … by a lot.
Plekanec is a valuable two-way centre who is saddled with a pair of under-performing wingers: Rene Bourque (how did this guy have two 26-goal seasons in Calgary) and Brian Gionta.
Lars Eller scored against the Stars and is developing a physical game. He and Galchnyuk looked better once Bournival replaced Brandon Prust as their left winger.
Then there’s Daniel Brière – zero points and minus-7 in 10 games before becoming a healthy scratch in Carolina and Dallas.
The consensus opinion on L’Antichambre is Brière is toast in Montreal. He’s just not a Michel Therrien player.
Brière is still effective on the PP. But he’s useless as a fourth-liner, and Therrien has tried him just about everywhere, to no avail, on the top three lines.
The Thursday rumour mill had the Canadiens talking to Buffalo, where Brière enjoyed his best seasons.
That’s a situation to keep an eye on as the Canadiens carry their perfect 2014 record forward.