After the spanking the Canadiens took in Ottawa Wednesday night, they needed a big rebound this weekend. Two afternoon matches at home, the first against Buffalo on Saturday and then the rematch with Ottawa on Sunday. This win is imperative. After being outplayed, outscored and outhustled on Wednesday night in Ottawa, they cannot afford to lose this next one to the Sens, especially at home. Well, the Habs started the weekend off right with a decisive win against the Sabres 6 -1 Saturday afternoon at the Bell Centre.
The Lowdown on the Down Low
Michel Therrien came out with his edict on Friday, there will be no more triple-five-down-low individual celebrations allowed. This was an exclusive celebration, as practiced by P.K. Subban and Carey Price after a Canadiens win. Said Michel Therrien: “I always like teams that are humble and it’s a team concept, it starts with that. In life, I think, you have to be humble. We have to respect the team, we have to respect the other team and we have to respect our fans. The way we’ve decided to celebrate this year when we win a hockey game at the Bell Centre is at least to salute the fans. They deserve it.” At first blush, this rule appears a little childish, and directed squarely at P.K. Subban. I mean, what difference does it make if you tap helmets or gloves, a whack on the pads or a pat on the backside. But looking beyond that, Michel Therrien is stressing one thing – team. Everything this year will be about the team, not the individual. Support your team and your teammates. Call me old school, but frankly, I agree. Some of the individual celebrations go a little too far, “Look at me, look at me!”. Yakupov, anyone? To paraphrase the great football coach Vince Lombardi, “when you score a goal, act like you’ve done it before.”
The Sabres game marked the return to the fold of P.K. Subban, who showed no signs of rust. Subban had eighteen minutes of ice time, played hard, dove for pucks and had three hits. Subban was rewarded with an assist on David Desharnais’ second goal of the game. After P.K. blasted a wicked shot from the point, which Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth couldn’t handle, Desharnais poked in the rebound. Michel Therrien’s philosophy must be rubbing off on the Habs, as this was a total team win. Rene Bourque had two goals. Lars Eller, replacing Max Pacioretty on the top line, had a goal and two assists. Alex Galchenyuk played well with two more assists. Total support for their teammates, and no selfishness.
At the start of the third period, after Rene Bourque’s second goal put the Habs ahead 5 -0, the ensuing faceoff saw Sabres tough guy Steve Ott pushing the Habs rookie Brendan Gallagher, all 5’6” of him, in the faceoff circle. Brandon Prust shooed away Gallagher and took his spot next to Ott, jawing at Ott the whole time. Ott got the drop on Prust but Prust quickly got his gloves off and proceeding to pound on Ott for a decisive victory. Even better, Ott got the instigator penalty, just as the Sens Chris Neil did against Prust in the last game. Prust unselfishly showing he’ll take that first punch for his team and teammates.
Max Pacioretty may be back sooner than later. After his emergency appendectomy last week, Max was supposed to be out three to four weeks, but word on the street says he may be ready to go tomorrow against the Sens. Good news for the Habs.