The topic around breakfast tables and office water coolers Tuesday morning will not be your Montreal Canadiens’ tenser-than-it-should-have-been win over Florida.
That’s old news … and it will be even older by 11 a.m., when TSN and RDS present live coverage of the announcement hockey fans have been debating and awaiting for weeks.
Team Canada general manager Steve Yzerman will tell us which NHL payers he and his staff have chosen to represent Canada at the Winter Olympic Games next month in Russia.
In the 514 and 450 area codes, we’e hoping Stevie Y’s announcement includes one name in particular:
Carey Price – who was brilliant against Florida, especially during a 16-shot third-period fusillade – will be going to Sochi.
Max Pacioretty, who had nine shots on goal and four hits against the Panthers, has already been named to Team USA.
Raphael Diaz, who watched his teammates win from the pressbox, will be on Switzerland’s team in Sochi.
Andrei Markov, who played 25:39 against Florida and blocked five shots, almost certainly will be named to Team Russia, as will Alexei Emelin … notwithstanding recent struggles that stretched through the Monday night game.
Tomas Plekanec, who hustled down the ice to harass Ed Jovanovski and set up Brian Gionta for the winning goal, has been named captain of the Czech Republic’s Olympic team – quite an hour, considering the roster includes Jaromir Jagr and Patrik Elias.
Peter Budaj, who was a loser in the Canadiens’ previous two games against Florida, is a fair bet to be Jaro Halak’s backup on Team Slovakia.
That’s an impressive list: seven Canadiens Olympians.
Eight would be great.
P.K. played 27:26 against Florida. Only the Panthers’ Brian Campbell – with an insane 32:07 – had more time on ice.
Subban had two giveaways, neither of which cost the Canadiens. He also skated miles, lugged the puck into the Florida zone, made tape-to-tape passes to teammates on the fly … and skated to the penalty box without a murmur of protest.
If Yzerman snubs P.K. Tuesday morning, Twitter will explode, Pauline Marois will call a snap referendum and misguided protestors will march on the Y.
L’Antichambre had an interesting segment pegged to Plekanec’s captaincy of the Czech Olympic team.
Assuming, as many do, that the Canadiens will let Brian Gionta walk this summer, should the C be sewn on jersey number 14?
I think so. Josh Gorges is the other obvious candidate, and Plekanec is a more skilled and valuable player … if, on the evidence of the 24CH series, much less vocal in the room.
Mathieu Darche offered another suggestion, one that took the other L’Antichambre panelists by surprise:
Darche said P.K. should be the next captain.
Hey, why not? P.K. and Price, who are pals, are the best players on the team. And Subban is going to be the highest-paid Canadien.
Fans would certainly love it. The Bell Centre comes alive every time Subban touches the puck.
They haven’t had much else to cheer.
Before the game began, RDS showed some stats indicating the Canadiens’ recent struggles:
• 11 games in a row with fewer than 30 shots on goal
• 12 games without winning two straight in regulation
• Three or more goals against in six of the previous seven games.
The Canadiens had 35 shots on Tim Thomas.
They held the Panthers to one goal.
We’ll have to wait until Wednesday night in Philadelphia to see if they can win consecutive games in regulation.
That might not happen if the Flyers get 16 shots in the third period, like Florida did.
In his postgame remarks, Michel Therrien compared Carey Price to a closer in baseball. But a 16-shot barrage, while protecting a one-goal lead, is like going to the bullpen with the bases loaded, no one out and Miguel Cabrera striding toward the batter’s box.
A win is a win, and this one – the Canadiens’ 25th of the season – nudged them past Tampa Bay into second place in the Atlantic Division and third in the Eastern Conference.
The David Desharnais line played well, as evidenced by all those shots for Pacioretty and all those close encounters between Brendan Gallagher and Tim Thomas.
Daniel Brière didn’t score and had few third-period shifts. But he’s looking as comfortable as he has all season with fellow veterans Plekanec and Gionta.
Travis Moen – heroic as the clock ticked down with Thomas on the bench for an extra attacker – had more ToI than Brandon Prust, Rene Bourque, Alex Galchenyuk and Brière.
And in less than 10 minutes of ice time, Michaël Bournival had two shots, two hits and blocked five shots.
It wasn’t pretty, and the Canadiens will need more than 40 minutes to win in Philadelphia and not a second less than 60 when the Stanley Cup champions come to the Bell Centre on Saturday.
But the crowd went home happy … and that good feeling among Canadiens fans will last at least until Steve yzerman steps up to the microphone.