It’s unfortunate. It’s unfortunate because after Saturday night’s game and everything it was supposed to mean to the organization, the evening fell flat.
Unfortunate because with the promise of the interesting undertones drawn by the blanket thrown over Milan Lucic by Habs enforcer Georges Laraque, that fell flat too.
A game, played on the heels of an emotional ceremony, with the guest of honor being the only player most of today’s young Canadiens could actually call their own hero, a game with a legendary number reaching the highest of heights, also fell flat.
An eagerly awaited ceremony and the much anticipated “I’m so sorry for leaving too soon”, with the most awkward family gathering you’ve ever seen at centre ice, it too fell flat.
Patrick Roy came home on Saturday night. Je rentre chez nous. His speech hit the right notes, with the speaker unafraid to broach, albeit rapidly, the very delicate topic of his turbulent departure. If the fans made it clear they would take all the time required to let The Reason two more banners were raised to the rafters his number would join know that all was forgiven, the participants in the Roy camp were just as loud in their quiet discomfort. Instead of a celebratory disposition one may expect for a moment of this magnitude, both it and Roy actually felt lonely. He seemed distant, removed. No tears, no visible emotion, which of course is not to say he didn’t feel everything inside, but it was not in rhythm.
The puck was dropped and the nostalgia washed away, swept by the very immediate concerns trailing these Montreal Canadiens. Claude Julien learned a lesson and would let his respect for tradition and history take a back seat to his duties as coach. When he insisted on having his players sit through the entire ceremony for the Canadiens’ centennial home opener, an awestruck Bruins allowed the Habs to pummel them in the first period, with Montreal jumping to a quick 3-0 lead. Not this time. While Roy was being honored in this all-important ceremony, in a career on which Boston left an indelible mark, the Bruins were nowhere to be found. They could have been at the hotel for all we know.
It was a good move. The Bruins started the game fresh. No complexes, no intimidation. On equal footing. This time it was the Habs who couldn’t shake-off the hour-long wait. This is obviously a vastly improved Bruins squad. These are the Bruins who had the Habs figured out by game 2 of the first round of last year’s playoff series. This is a team that has plugged the many offensive holes that made them welcome mats for too long. And Tim Thomas looks like a real goalie, awkward, yes, but real.
The Lucic-Laraque billing left fans wondering what the point was. Lots of talk, during play, on faceoffs, from the bench. Yap, yap, yap. Whatever. Lucic finished the game with a goal. Laraque finished the game in irrelevance. It’s time Georgie Porgie, cashmere! stops waiting around for players to invite him to dance and make the suggestion himself, if that’s what he intends on doing. As Lucic quickly learned, the Laraque shadow is an easy one to slip by, because it’s as slow as the guy who’s casting it.
Carey was great. A fitting tribute to the money goalie Patrick was and that fans still miss. Greek Lightning was inspiring. But, by and large, the Canadiens failed to respond to the challenge on Saturday; they didn't live up to the billing and showed that their unwillingness to work will, more often than not, leave them on the short end of the draw. If Patrick Roy did in fact come home last night, the game, as a whole, although interesting at the end, could have and should have given us far more to write home about.