In a game with so many penalties that NHL officials will be working long into the night to sort out precisely who-did-what-to-who-and-when, the Canadiens proved on more than one occasion that while they may not be known as a team of fighters, they’re more than ready to drop the gloves and stand up for each other when it counts.
“In the second, it really turned into hockey from the 1980s. We made too many mistakes in the end though,” said Mathieu Darche on the frantic period of hockey that saw eight goals scored between both sides. “On the other hand, what was good to see was guys standing up for each other and fighting for each other. When one of our guys was in trouble, everyone jumped in the melee. We held our own.”
Despite squaring off against a team known for size and toughness, every member of the Montreal squad made it clear that they had no intention of rolling over.
“It’s a big rivalry. It’s the kind of thing that carries over from one game to the next. They came out angry, but everyone stood their ground,” pointed out Darche, adding that despite the loss, this was often the type of game that can bring a team together.
“You always hear people taking about “toughness” but the real expression is “team toughness. When there’s trouble, everyone gets in on it, like when they pushed Carey and it started a brawl. No one hid or backed down and we defended ourselves as a team.”
With the recent Johnson-Dipietro fight still fresh on everyone’s mind and the tone of the game already set, Carey Price and Tim Thomas took the second period melee as an opportunity to try their hand at a little scrapping too, albeit with slightly less dramatic results.
“I know Timmy pretty well and we weren’t going out there to hurt each other. I think we were more play-fighting than anything,” explained the Habs’ netminder. “It was old-time hockey, going end to end and scrapping it out.”
While scoring your first regular season goal in the NHL is usually good enough cause for a game to make an imprint on a player’s memory, Yannick Weber probably never imagined all the other memories he’d be adding at the same time.
“I’ve never had an experience like that in a hockey game in my life – all the goals, all the shots all the fights,” assured Weber. “I was definitely happy to score my goal, but it would have been a lot more special had we won. But I can definitely guarantee that I’ll remember this game for a long time.”
And so will fans of one of the most storied rivalries in NHL history.
Justin Fragapane is a writer for Canadiens.com.
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