I woke up this morning and realized that I was within hours of the second pre-season "love-fest" of the year. Sadly, I awoke extremely tired. I had spent the previous night reading HI/O commentaries, and hundreds of Tweets about the inability of the Habs .... no wait - let me correct that ... THE inability of Carey Price ... to ensure that we took game one of the all important PreSeason series. Not to mention all the "impeccable" break downs from TSN and RDS. Besides that - Se7en was on and I LOVE that movie.
But when I woke I felt weak. Even nauseated. But the Blog must go on!
I immediately made myself a nice breakfast sandwich, and ensured that I poured my coffee into my coveted 100th Anniversary Montreal Canadiens mug. Then I proceeded to check Twitter for inspiration ... anything to keep my mind off the upcoming festivities of hosting the Ottawa Senators.
But as the afternoon progressed, I began to feel that old surge of excitement. You know that feeling. Remember how you felt back in May of last year? Knowing we could win, but still on the edge of your seat in case there might be a loss to contend with.
But a loss was nowhere near in the books. Regardless of the fact that Mike Fisher opened the scoring at 4:17 of the first, there was a buzz in the building, and a greater buzz on the ice. Yes ... the defense looked a bit stiff, and PK clearly over-skated his man on the Fisher scoring play. But as we like to say here in Montreal; c'est la vie. It seemed like there was something special happening with the likes of Eller, Gomes, and Gionta flying through the neutral zone into Sens territory. Puck control seemed better, and there just seemed to be a more positive feeling on the ice from minute one.
And then the team-manship came out. Pacioretty came across the blue line and took a bit of a high (dirty?) hit, and without hesitation, Ian White dropped the gloves in his defense. The message was clearly sent. No one messes with us without repercussion.
But it didn't end there. As if perturbed with his own performance on the "D", PK took a a beautiful feed from a stop and go Gomes, back to the point for the one time slap shot. Goal! We're tied at one. The beauty of the game was in the details though.
White and Boyd finished checks over and over, and proved their place on the line. Gionta and Gomes left no doubt as to why we brought them here on long term contracts as they continued to be playmakers throughout the night (Despite the fact that I STILL can't get used to Gomes being #11). Eller was the man who had all eyes on him, and he did not disappoint. Taking a different role of winger - as he usually plays center - he drove hard to the net, and kept himself busy cycling the puck in the corners. It's just a matter of time before he get's his initial NHL point.
The biggest surprise, and joy, came from Andrei Kostitsyn, as he took advantage of a Chris Phillips turnover and potted it into the back of the mesh!
All in all - a real team effort that without doubt, eased the nerves of many Habs fans that took the first game FAR too seriously.
I can only imagine what this team will be like once we see all our "A" team players together on the ice. With their support, and the support of the TRUE fan base in Montreal, the young and upcoming players will easily be engulfed into the layers of this franchise. And then the team will shine.
I was so encouraged tonight by the whole team effort. I was also encouraged by the fact that Cammy said "It looks easy from up here!" as he watched on from the media booths high above the ice sheet at le Centre Bell. Maintaining humour early on in Montreal is essential.
So tomorrow we head up the 417 to Ottawa, to complete our back to back series against the Sens in Kanata. Rest assured, there will be as many Habs fans on hand as there will be Sens fans. And Carey will get his second start, and an opportunity to show he has what it takes. Hopefully the team in front of him will show up as they did for Auld and Mayer tonight. And hopefully Ottawa fans will show Price more class than he faced with his own fans here in Montreal.
All I know is, it's great to cheer on the best hockey organization that was ever built. And it's even more exciting to see history in the making even in pre-season.
Ole Ole Ole Ole!