If Monday’s provincial election is as wack-doodle bizarro as your Montreal Canadiens’ most recent two wins, Quebec is going to end up governed by a coalition of Marxist-Leninists, the Flat Earth Society … and the Max Pacioretty Fan Club.
Down 3-0 after six minutes Friday night in Ottawa?
The Canadiens score seven unanswered goals – including three by Magic Max.
A 3-0 lead over Detroit evaporates in less than eight third-period minutes Saturday night at the Bell Centre?
The G&G guys – Brian Gionta and Alex Galchenyuk – slow the Red Wings’ flight to the postseason.
What the heck is going on here?
Aren’t the Canadiens a defensive team that can’t score goals?
I bet Michel Therrien wishes they were … at least the defence-first part. Firewagon hockey is hard on coaches’ nerves.
But man, it’s fun to watch. The lucky fans who snag Canadiens’ playoff tickets through online sales Sunday morning are probably hoping for more red trucks and sirens when the postseason begins.
A few 7-4 and 5-3 playoff games – with the Canadiens on the long end, of course – might justify playoff ticket prices, which range from $427 for Platinum seats to a mere $94 for nosebleed Greys.
You want bargains? Check out what the Canadiens are paying two-thirds of their top line:
Pacioretty – who missed nine early-season games to injury and had two goals through the first quarter of the schedule – is on a contract that pays $4.5 million per season through 2018-’19.
David Desharnais, who plays Sancho Panza to Max’s Don Quixote, has three more seasons on a deal that pays him $3.5 million per.
That’s $8 million for two players who have 55 goals and 111 points between them.
Want to put the Max and DD deals in perspective? Eric Staal, who has 19 fewer goals than Pacioretty and four assists more than DD – is making $9.3 million this season. Brad Richards – 18 goals, 31 asssists – is making $9 million.
And Marian Gaborik is getting $7.5 million for his six goals and eight assists in 22 games.
The point of all these numbers?
You might carp about a contract that will pay Daniel Brière $4 million next season. But your Canadiens are a well-managed hockey team – which is what they have to be in a salary cap league.
Scott Gomez and Tomas kaberle are off the books. Now all Marc Bergevin has to do is sign P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov and make a decision on Brian Gionta, who raised his goal total to 17 with two against Detroit.
Oh, the Canadiens general manager might also want to concoct an offer that would keep Thomas Vanek in Montreal.
My great and good friend Patrick V. Hickey says it ain’t gonna happen.
The Gazette’s hockey scribe, who has a couple of master’s degrees, doesn’t use words like “ain’t” and “gonna”. Using more refined language, Hickey tells me Vanek, who will be a UFA on July 1, is bound for Minnesota, where he played college hockey and met his wife, a native Minnesotan.
But while Vanek may be outta here at season’s end, Desharnais and Pacioretty will be around for the long haul.
So will Alexei Emelin (signed through 2017-’18), who was a monster against Detroit, with EIGHT thunderous hits. After struggling through the first two-thirds of the schedule as he tried to come back from major knee surgery, Emelin has emerged as the Russian tank he was before the Milan Lucic hit that shelved him last season.
Emelin and countryman Markov, who’s also playing on a bionic knee, were the stalwarts of a defence that had its hands full against the speedy, slick-passing Wings. P.K. Subban played less than 19 minutes, and his D partner, Jarred Tinordi, had some anxious moments.
But speaking of bargains, which I did a few paragraphs ago, how about Mike Weaver?
Bergevin’s late-season acquisition is making $1.1 million – chump change in the NHL these days. Weaver has a goal and six assists in 14 games with the Canadiens. He was plus-4 against Detroit and is plus-11 since joining the CH – second only to Markov’s plus-12 among the team’s defencemen. Weaver, a righthanded shot, should continue to play after Josh Gorges returns.
Carey Price – signed through 2017-’18 at a very reasonable $6.5 million per – stopped the first 29 Detroit shots he faced and could not be faulted for the team collapse that saw the Wings storm back to tie it at 3-3. Price almost certainly will be rested for one of the mid-week back-to-back games – in Chicago on Wednesday, Islanders at the Bell Centre Thursday before the Canadiens end their regular season with a home game against the Rangers on Saturday.
By then, playoff seeding should be determined. The Canadiens have a four-point lead on Tampa Bay, which has a game in hand, and the CH hold the ROW tie-breaker, so they’re looking good.
I thought Lars Eller played a strong game centring Gionta and Rene Bourque. That’s a positive sign for the playoffs.
So was Alex Galchenyuk’s goal – his first since March 6 in Phoenix. Galchenyuk also made some decent passes on the power play, which took another 0-for and hasn’t produced in five games. That will have to be fixed for the postseason.
• A cool stat: Max Pacioretty has 11 game-winning goals. The team record is 12 – twice by Guy Lafleur, once by Yvan Cournoyer. Lafleur and Stèphane Richer also had seasons of 11 GWG.