Before the Giants and Patriots take to the field, there’s the small matter of another afternoon game at the Bell Centre.
Winnipeg is in town, and the Jets desperately need a win.
The home team? Not so much.
Super Bowl Sunday finds your Montreal Canadiens dead last in the Eastern Conference. Carolina’s win over Los Angeles Saturday night nudged the Hurricanes a point ahead of the Canadiens.
But a win over the Jets would allow the Canadiens to vault over Carolina and proudly lay claim to 14th place.
The Bell Centre will not be a fun place on Sunday afternoon. Feb. 5 marks the first anniversary of Scott Gomez’s last goal. There’s an Internet campaign enlisting fans to mark the occasion by singing “Happy birthday, Scott” at 11:11 of the first, second and third periods.
Of course, Gomez can put the kibosh on the prank by scoring during the first 11 minutes against Winnipeg.
Yeah, that’s about as likely to happen as Tom Brady and Eli Manning combining for 10 interceptions Sunday evening.
Gomez was cheered every time he touched the puck against Washington. It was impossible to tell whether fans were yelling as a gesture of support or sarcasm.
My money’s on the latter.
The reaction to Tomas Kaberle was less ambiguous. Toward the end of the latest loss, fans booed every touch by the defenceman.
The fans who didn’t boo on Saturday afternoon are saving their vocal cords. There are 13 more regular-season games at the Bell Centre.
Shall we rehash the Saturday game?
Do we really have to?
Against the mighty defensive fortress that is the Washington Capitals, the Canadiens have been shutout twice this season – both times in their own barn.
Going back to 2010-’11, the Canadiens haven’t beaten a Washington goaltender since March 15, when Andrei Kostitsyn scored on Braden Holtby in a 4-2 loss at the Bell Centre.
Washington’s shutout streak against the Canadiens stands at 216 minutes, 32 seconds. They can add to it at home on the 24th.
That’s three days before the trade deadline, a/k/a Crazy Pierre’s Clearance Sale.
The aforementioned AK46 had five shots on goal against Washington. He might be one of the more attractive players Gauthier puts on offer.
Hal Gill, who might help a playoff team’s penalty-kill, played less than six even-strength minutes against the Caps.
He is, in the parlance of young people, so outta here.
Roman Hamrlik played 18:40, blocked three shots and was plus-2. He was part of an impenetrable Caps defence that blocked 27 shots and ensured that Tomas Vokoun had a clear view of anything that got through.
Four players faced the media in losing room: Josh Gorges, who is almost always available; Peter Budaj, who was soft on the first (and winning) goal but stopped a penalty shot; David Desharnais, who battled, set up his linemates and won 8 of 15 faceoffs; and Chris Campoli, another veteran who could be on the move before Feb. 27.
Gorges talked about too many Canadiens feeling the pressure and over-thinking games, rather than just playing hockey.
The Canadiens should take a cue from their fans, the more realistic of whom have started thinking about other things.
Like the draft, next season … and football.