OK, so maybe they shouldn’t fire the coach and trade half the team at the deadline.
Ah, the joys of being a Canadiens fan:
All that history, all those Stanley Cup banners, all the opportunities to hop on and off a bandwagon that may or may not start on these cold Montreal mornings.
On this Friday morning, the bandwagon is rolling.
And it’s crowded.
It’s always satisfying to beat Boston, and your Montreal Canadiens are getting used to it.
The 4-1 win Thursday night made it five in a row over the Bruins, dating back to last season.
This had to be one of the sweetests Ws, owing to circumstances … in particular, the recent total suckitude of the Canadiens.
After Saturday’s embarrassing 5-0 loss to Washington, the consensus seemed to be the Canadiens couldn’t possibly play any worse.
And that seems to have been borne out.
Beating a tired Carolina team, playing its fifth game in seven days, offered less-than-convincing proof the Canadiens had turned the corner.
The big test was waiting at TD Garden.
And the Canadiens passed it, with flying bleu-blanc-rouge.
The adjective is important. taking flight has been the key to those consecutive wins because Boston, for all its virtues, is not a fast hockey team … especially after the Bruin with the burners was traded to Dallas.
Max Pacioretty and Daniel Brière scored goals by winning races against Boston defenders. And the Canadiens – led by Brendan Gallagher, who pursued the puck with relentless energy – had the Bruins pressured, flustered and on their heels for most of the game.
The gang on L’Antichambre highlighted the Canadiens’ team concept. watching the game on TV, you always saw five white jerseys in the picture frame in all three zones. As Michel Therrien said in his postgame media scrum, the Canadiens, right from the outset, pressured the puck and forced turnovers.
Boston had no odd-man rushes I can recall. Nor were there any of the wide-open looks opponents were enjoying during the Canadiens’ losing streak.
“The team wanted to play a good game for Peter,” Therrien said, which is what the wily ol’ coach doubtless had in mind when he named Budaj as his starter – two days after Carey Price posted a brilliant, 36-save shutout against Carolina.
Credit the coach we all fired last week with a set of brass ones. Had the backup goaltender stunk out the TD, Therrien would have been savaged everywhere from Twitter to tavern tables.
The team rallied around Budaj, a good egg who is hugely popular in the room. And in so doing, they made their coach look like a … well, maybe “genius” is overstating it. But the embattled Therrien had a good night.
So did almost all his players:
• Nine names on the scoresheet.
• Brière had a goal and an assist in 7:39 of ice time.
• Douglas Murray played 16:26 and was really good – only three minutes less than P.K. Subban, who was fairly ordinary by his exalted standards. His ToI of 19:15 was the only sub-20:00 game of the season for P.K.
• Alexei Emelin had a goal, three SoG, four blocked shots and SIX hits to lead both teams. My man Arpon Basu, of nhl.com, tweeted “It’s remarkable how much better the #Habs are when Alexei Emelin plays well. He’s almost the difference between a good and a bad team.”
• Rene Bourque worked hard and had several scoring chances.
• George Parros was a deterrent to Bruins thuggery – Therrien had him out on a power play as the game wound down – and he screened Tuukka Rask effectively on the Emelin point shot that opened the scoring.
• David Desharnais played effectively in his own end, exemplified by the takeaway and quick up to Gallagher that culminated in Pacioretty’s goal.
• As has been the case since his recall, Nathan Beaulieu looked like an NHL defenceman.
P.K. and Brandon Prust had off nights, but everyone else in a white jersey shone in Boston.
And with the W in the bag, the Canadiens begin what shapes up as an advantageous schedule:
Beginning Saturday afternoon, they play four straight home games against Tampa Bay, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver before traveling to Carolina just before the Olympic break.
I hope the shocks on the bandwagon can handle this load …