It’s only two games into the NHL season, but the Canadiens’ locker room is already becoming a fun place to be.
After practice Tuesday at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard, Brendan Gallagher came bouncing into the locker room out of breath and with a big smile on his face. After catching his breath, he said: “Someone has to ask Max Domi what it’s like to lose a faceoff to me. … Wait until there’s a big scrum before you do it.”
At the end of practice, the Canadiens centremen spent a lot of time working on faceoffs and Gallagher decided to join in and was obviously very proud of the fact he beat Domi.
“It was really too easy,” Gallagher said before Domi had left the ice and entered the locker room. “I’m a little concerned about him. I won that thing so hard, if we had defencemen back there they probably would have missed the puck. It was just a clean win. We would have scored on the play.”
The reason Gallagher was so out of breath was because there was a friendly scrap after the faceoff between him and Domi.
“I may have run my mouth off a little bit,” Gallagher said with a smile, just before Domi entered the locker room.
So, what happened with that faceoff, Max?
“My stick was never down,” Domi said with a smile. “I wouldn’t classify that as a faceoff win. That’s just classic him, right? Give him his confidence, he needs it. Let him enjoy his moment.”
Gallagher kept chirping, saying from a couple of locker stalls over: “Show some respect. You lost.”
Responded Domi: “My stick was literally never on the ice, so it does not count.”
Gallagher also mentioned the fact he beat Domi in the Canadiens’ Fantasy NFL Football competition on the weekend.
“That’s expected,” Gallagher said. “You can ask anyone around here. I’m the heavy odds-on favourite to win the fantasy league this year. So that’s pretty expected.”
It’s also not a surprise that the Canadiens players are in such a good mood after getting off to a surprising 1-0-1 start to the season with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Maple Leafs in Toronto and a 5-1 win over the Penguins in Pittsburgh. The Canadiens will pay their home opener Thursday night at the Bell Centre against the Los Angeles Kings (7:30 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio).
“It is weird,” Gallagher said about the four-day break in the schedule after Saturday’s win in Pittsburgh. “It feels a little strange. You look at other teams going onto their fourth game already. But I think we’re trying to use it for what it is. You don’t always throughout the year get a lot of time to practise and work on things. I think this is good for us to continue to keep our pace up in practice and also work on a few things that maybe we won’t have so much time to spend on during the year.”
The Canadiens have earned three of a possible four points in their first two games this season after taking five games to earn three points last season, when they got off to a 1-6-1 start. So there’s good reason for the smiling faces and joking around in the locker room, even though it’s early in the season.
“The atmosphere in here is completely different from last year,” defenceman Jordie Benn said after Tuesday’s practice. “The boys are excited to be here, the boys are ready to work hard on and off the ice and it’s just fun to be at the rink again.
“We’re only two games in,” Benn added. “Obviously, you want to keep this rolling. It’s been good so far.”