Rabid Habs

Oh Captain, My Captains

Saku Koivu

“I hope that everyone in Quebec remembers me as a good person and as a player who gave it all.” – Saku Koivu

It was a legendary night at the Bell Centre on Thursday as the Montreal Canadiens honoured and bid adieu to former 14 year Canadiens veteran Saku Koivu. Koivu, who was captain of the Canadiens for 10 of his 14 years with the club was given a special pre-game ceremony right before the Anaheim Ducks, Koivu’s team before his retirement, hit the Montreal ice. Thursday night marked the fourth game of a five-game home stand, the Habs’ longest home stand of the year. The Habs had enjoyed the comforts of home as of late December, picking up three straight victories and they would be looking for their fourth win against the Ducks. However, with Sven Andrighetto sent back to Hamilton and Eric Tangradi taking over his place, Michel Therrien’s line-up shuffle gave most Habs fans quite the scare. The new lines had been working out extremely well for the Canadiens the past three home games which left everyone with the question: Could the Montreal Canadiens pass the test and win over the NHL’s top team who’s ranked first overall with 47 points in 33 games played so far this season despite a key element taken out of their well working line ups?

After 11 minutes and 44 seconds of scrambling for the first goal, Hampus Lindholm (assisted by Ryan Getzlaf) gave the Ducks their first goal of the night. Despite a strong effort from the Canadiens, they were no match for the Ducks pressure and speed and Anaheim led the first period until the clock ran out.

Both sides of the ice were fighting hard during the second period. The Canadiens were looking for their first goal of the night and looking to tie up the game, while the Ducks were looking for their second goal of the night. However, after 20 minutes the score was left one to nothing with Anaheim still in the lead.

The third period was looking dark for the Montreal Canadiens, as assistant captain and top player Max Pacioretty left the game after being slammed into the boards by the Ducks’ own Clayton Stoner. It was a nasty fight between the Ducks and the Canadiens, but luck pulled through as David Desharnais put the puck past Frederik Andersen (assisted by Andrei Markov and Alex Galchenyuk) with 14 minutes and 33 seconds left of the period. However, Matt Beleskey gave the Ducks the lead again three minutes after (assisted by Rickard Rakell and Devante Smith-Pelly). It was now the fight to tie up the game as the Canadiens applied the pressure hard and put the pucks deep in the Ducks zone. Sadly, despite their great push in the third period the Montreal Canadiens were left without any chances for a tie and the Anaheim Ducks won two to one.

Here are my thoughts on last night’s game.

  • I’m going to get off my chest exactly what everyone was thinking. The hit by Clayton Stoner that left Max Pacioretty out for the rest of the game not being called was complete bullshit (sorry, kids!). Normally I don’t bother commenting on improper calls because there’s nothing any of us can do about it, but that was one dirty hit on Stoner’s part. I’m surprised that no penalties were called for taking down the top star to the point where he couldn’t skate for the rest of the game. Whether it was an intentional hit (which you could see that it was) or not, the proper call should have been made. I’m so angry right now, you can’t tell because you can’t detect my tone through text, but trust me when I say I’m extremely pissed.
  • David Desharnais with the first goal – for every person who has only talked down towards Desharnais, I’ll leave you with this: a hard working player is a hard working player. If they have a rough time getting back to their roots during the beginning of the season, you don’t just go and trade them. Are you insane? Trading Desharnais would be one of the WORST things the Montreal Canadiens could do. Being put on the third line with Brandon Prust and P.A. Parenteau was the best thing for little Davey. It gave him that push he needed to work hard, and with hard work comes amazing results.
  • I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, if you’re cocky because you’re on top of your game, expect things to go extremely shitty for you. This specifically goes to the Anaheim Ducks. I don’t care whether you’re the first overall in the NHL or the last, if you’re having a perfect streak that does not mean in any way that you’re hot stuff. It doesn’t. All being cocky will do is mess with your game play and make you look like jerks. Dirty hits just because you’re not getting your way? Who do you think you are, the Boston Bruins? At least the Montreal Canadiens had enough class to work harder when things weren’t going their way. They used their flaws in order to up their game and play the best that they could play, and even though they didn’t win this one, they still came out looking better than you. I wouldn’t be surprised if Saku Koivu was shaking his head with shame.
  • Speaking of Saku Koivu, his pre-game ceremony was too emotional for me to handle. Tears were shed, my wife laughed at me, I cried more, it was just such a big milestone. Not to mention, three of the assistant captains (Andrei Markov, Tomas Plekanec, and Max Pacioretty) that played with the legend came up with Carey Price to unveil the painting for Koivu. I was a giant wreck.
  • The Montreal Canadiens played hard tonight and put in all the effort they could. I can’t blame them for losing, I really can’t. Sven Andrighetto, the one Hab that we could depend on with our eyes closed, got sent back to Hamilton and Eric Tangradi took his place. My first thought: Why on earth would you want to replace Andrighetto with Tangradi? Andrighetto brings speed and toughness to the ice, while Tangradi brings…well, not so much. The fact that the Canadiens won three straight games with Andrighetto in the line up should have been a solid clue to the coaching staff that he is a key element for the team. My second thought: If the coaching staff do decide to keep Tangradi on the ice instead of Andrighetto, it’s going to be a natural disaster. Andrighetto, despite not being on the ice with the team for a long period of time still played as if he had been practising with the Canadiens forever. He has a natural flow and chemistry with the team, hence why he works out so well with the Habs and why he’s a key player. Tangradi, despite having some time with the team on the ice still plays as if he has no idea where he’s supposed to be or what he’s supposed to do. It’s an awful sight. Hopefully, coach Michel Therrien will realize the blunder and send Tangradi back where he belongs (for now) and puts Andrighetto back on the ice in time for Saturday’s game. As for the rest of the Canadiens, they did a solid job out there against the Ducks. In my eyes, they’re still winners.

The Montreal Canadiens play against the Ottawa Senators at the Bell Centre on Saturday at 7:00pm.

Follow Jessica-Lyn on Twitter: @strucxtures