The Habs of October - Good, Bad, and Ugly
By Dennis Kane
October was quite a month, eh?
It began on the 1st when the boys schmucked Tampa Bay 5-1 in preseason play in Quebec. We liked that.
On the 6th, it was a miserable 2-0 loss in Toronto in the first game of the regular season, but three days later, the gang rebounded by ruining Winnipeg’s party with another 5-1 win.
So October began with two wins (one in preseason) and a loss, and I suppose we were okay with that. Maybe slightly concerned with the loss in Toronto and the dismal six and two record in preseason, but we clobbered Winnipeg, didn’t we?
Unfortunately, the heart of the month became a gnashing of teeth and the call from far and wide to send Jacques Martin to Pinkslipsville. Six straight losses. Andrei Markov still missing in action with no end in sight, and Jaroslav Spacek injured. Mike Cammalleri too. Erik Cole looked like a huge mistake, and assistant coach Perry Pearn got the dreaded word and not Martin.
The power play and penalty kill stunk. Guys like Mr. Reliable, Josh Gorges, were making weird mistakes. Fans were leaving early from the Bell Centre, and we longed for Kirk Muller to come back somehow.
And Scott Gomez? He was there sometimes in the month and sometimes not. It’s not important.
Would they ever look good again? We weren’t sure. What about Subban? His road to superstardom had gone from pavement to gravel. Carey Price was good but it wasn’t enough. Not when you’re a stud like him.
It was a lousy time and a great excuse to drink beer.
But however, October did end nicely.
It began with Yannick Weber tying the game with three seconds left in the first period that got the ball rolling as the Canadiens first downed the Flyers, then struck twice against the Bruins. And October, which is the birthday month of my dad, my brother, my son, myself, my best friend, and several people at work, was salvaged. (Please note – if my math is correct, nine months before October is right around New Year’s Eve. A lot of moms and dads were in a frisky, champagne-soaked mood, don’t you think)?
Erik Cole is getting it together and has become one of our best players. Travis Moen has been a nice surprise, as has David Desharnais. Raphael Diaz should be thanked for his yeoman’s service. Carey Price was voted NHL 1st star of the week. Guys paid to score are starting to score. PK Subban is finding his mojo and as a bonus, became engaged in battle with the Nose That Skates.
And through it all, Max Pacioretty, and then Lars Eller after returning from injury, have played like guys ready to don All-Star jerseys.
The team went from worst in the east to two points out of a playoff spot in a nanosecond. And we heard that Andrei Markov is indeed still alive and could return in November, a month when parents get frisky because there’s nothing else to do except write early Christmas cards.
Now it’s almost a six-day rest. It’s been years since Saturday when the Habs last played, and players’ babies will be toilet-trained by the time the team plays again, in Ottawa on Friday. Then it averages out to a game almost every second day after that, including one next Tuesday when the red-hot Edmonton Oilers, with all those young guns, come to town.
But until Friday, may the practices be sharp, may the bruises heal, and may the team not forget how they won their last three games. We want no more of the misery that so much of October gave us. It wasn’t a great month, even though it’s the anniversary of moms and dads everywhere getting frisky on New Year’s Eve.