Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Senators #3

Posted on 19 April 2015 | Comments Off

DUE DATE: Since the puck first dropped to kick off the 2014-15 season, Carey Price has been a prime example of consistency in the NHL, earning him his rightful place among Hart and Vezina trophy talks. Case in point, throughout the current campaign, the All-Star netminder has yet to go more than five games without posting a shutout or filing a one-goal effort. Coming off a trio of three-goal outings followed by a two-goal night most recently then, Price may very well be due for a vintage outing at the Canadian Tire Centre on Sunday... GET SHORTY: There's no questioning the importance of power play goals when it comes to winning hockey games -- especially during the playoffs. During last season's Eastern Conference Final run, the man advantage accounted for nearly 25% of the Habs' total offensive output. While the same may hold true this year, not conceding on the power play has also been just as important as converting on it for the Habs and Sens. Through six games this regular season and postseason combined, Ottawa and Montreal have combined to score three shorthanded goals, including Lars Eller's Game 1 wrister most recently in the eventual 4-3 decision. DOUBLE THREAT: When Michel Therrien called on Devante Smith-Pelly to join Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais on a line for Game 2, he was adding sandpaper and a scoring touch to the team’s top trio. After leading the Ducks in both goals and hits in the 2014 postseason, the gritty winger has continued his stellar play in his first two playoff games as a Hab. With five goals and one assist in 14 career playoff games, he also enters Game 3 with a career average of 4.43 hits per game, including nine in the series against the Sens to date, tied with Alexei Emelin for the team lead so far in that category. DIGGING DEEPER: While falling behind 2-0 in a series is hardly a death sentence for an NHL team in the postseason, it hasn’t historically worked out well for the Senators. Ottawa has lost the first two games of a series on eight occasions in franchise history, and has never managed to rally back to win the best-of-seven matchup, going 0-for-8 in those circumstances and eventually being swept or losing in five games seven times. NO PLACE LIKE ...?: Despite restricting ticket sales to the Ottawa region in an attempt to keep Habs fans at bay, home ice advantage is far from guaranteed for the Senators when the series shifts to the Canadian Tire Centre on Sunday. Through 16 games so far during the 2015 postseason, 10 have been won by the locals, representing a 62.5% success rate for the home side, while Montreal and Anaheim are the only two teams to stay perfect in their respective buildings. Moreover, home ice has almost literally been neutral ice for the Senators in the playoffs, who historically, have split 60 postseason games 30-30 in the nation's capital, outscoring the opposition by a slim 147-141 margin.

Game Preview: Canadiens @ Senators – Game 3

Posted on 19 April 2015 | Comments Off

CANADIENS @ SENATORS – Game #3 (Montreal leads series 2-0) The Canadiens will be looking to widen their first round lead as the series shifts to Ottawa on Sunday night. The Habs took advantage of home ice in the first two games of the series, going up 2-0 over the Sens thanks to a 3-2 overtime win on Friday night at the Bell Centre. Despite giving up the first goal for a second straight game, the home team managed to rally back with a goal by Max Pacioretty, who was back in action for the first time since suffering an upper body injury on April 5. P.K. Subban gave the Canadiens their first lead of the night 10 minutes later with a wicked slapshot that fooled Andrew Hammond, before Patrick Wiercioch tied it up with less than seven minutes to go in regulation. Alex Galchenyuk sent the crowd into a frenzy with his first game winner of the postseason, spinning and firing one through Hammond, who allowed three goals on 42 shots in the evening. Carey Price stopped 29 of the 31 Sens shots he faced on Friday. Following his team’s practice on Sunday, Senators coach Dave Cameron confirmed that Craig Anderson will replace Hammond in goal for Game 3. Anderson has made just four starts since the end of January – winning just one – after being sidelined for several weeks with a hand injury. The Sens bench boss also indicated that Chris Neil will replace Alex Chiasson in the lineup. After missing Friday’s practice with an upper body injury, P.-A. Parenteau skated with his teammates on Saturday, but Michel Therrien indicated that Parenteau’s status for Sunday’s game is still uncertain. The Canadiens will be looking to record their first-ever playoff win on Ottawa ice on Sunday night, having left the nation’s capital with a pair of losses in the only two games they played at the Canadian Tire Centre in May 2013. In the 2014 postseason, the Habs won five of their nine road games, third among all playoff teams in that category last spring.

As focused as ever

Posted on 18 April 2015 | Comments Off

BROSSARD – Given the Senators’ penchant for defying the odds, Michel Therrien’s troops aren’t about to let their collective guard down as the series shifts to the nation’s capital. Despite leading their first-round series 2-0 over Ottawa, the Canadiens made it clear on Saturday afternoon at the Bell Sports Complex that taking anything for granted against Dave Cameron’s contingent would be a major – and potentially costly – mistake. The Canadian Tire Centre certainly wasn’t kind to the CH during the regular season, as the Habs dropped both of their games down Highway 417 by a combined score of 8-3. Having been outplayed in both of those outings, Therrien & Co. fully expect the Senators to be extra sharp on home ice this time around, especially with so much on the line. “This team that we’re playing is used to being the underdog. They’re going to feel a lot more comfortable now with the expectations against them. They’re going to go into their building and they know they can take two there. It’s a tough place for us to play. I’ve also found it difficult for our team to find success there. We have to try and build off last game and try to be even better,” offered Max Pacioretty, referencing the Canadiens’ 2-5-2 record in their last nine visits to Ottawa dating back to the 2012-13 campaign. “Their team is going to play their best and their goalie is going to play his best. We have to worry about our game and play our best, too.” That’s for sure. Over the course of their outstanding run to the postseason, the Senators managed to register 12 wins in their last 17 home games dating back to February 12, so they clearly haven’t been cutting their opponents any slack as of late in their own barn. Now, with the stakes raised even higher, the Canadiens know exactly what awaits them come Game 3 on Sunday night. “I expect them to come out with a lot of energy. Obviously, with it being the first home game, it’s going to be pretty loud and pretty hostile for us. They’re down two games, so there’s going to be a little desperation for sure,” explained Devante Smith-Pelly, who along with Jeff Petry and Alexei Emelin, boasts a team-leading nine hits through the first two games of the series. “They’ve been playing must-win hockey for two or three months now. I don’t think anyone would be surprised if Game 3 is their best game of the series.” Given Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond’s struggles through the first two contests, the question now is whether or not the Canadiens will have to prepare themselves to go up against the likes of Craig Anderson. The Senators’ bench boss hasn’t yet decided which goaltender will get the start, but it really doesn’t change anything in terms of the Habs’ approach to the upcoming contest. “Goaltending is definitely a strong part of their depth. They’ve had three good goalies there the past couple of years [including Robin Lehner]. It doesn’t matter who is in net. I think all of their goalies have had success recently. I think going forward we just have to worry about our own game. We can’t change anything,” stressed Pacioretty, who led the Canadiens with four goals and six points against the Senators during the 2014-15 regular season campaign. “Their goalie played great last night. No matter who is in net for Game 3, you know they’re going to play their best. We always have to assume that and just focus on our game.” That focus and concentration will undoubtedly be put to the test on Sunday night, but Pacioretty insists that a sense of complacency hasn’t crept in to anyone’s mind at this point in time. The Canadiens are doing everything possible to ensure it never does. “The leadership group came together to make sure that that’s not the case. We’ve been in this position before. As a core group, I think we’ve played a lot of playoff series up until now to know that the hardest games to win are the ones that are later on in the series,” mentioned Pacioretty, who scored his first goal of the postseason in his return to active duty on Friday night. “I think [the Senators] are going to be comfortable down 2-0. That’s the way they’ve played, everyone against them the last two months of the season. We’ve got to find ways to close out games as the series goes on.” So, how do the Canadiens plan to go about their business in the next installment of this highly entertaining rivalry? “We’re still taking things one game at a time. That’s been our philosophy since the beginning of training camp. We know it’s going to be a good hockey game for both teams. Both teams are going to compete hard,” offered Therrien, who clearly has a great deal of respect for the Senators’ relentlessness and persistence. “They’ve shown a lot of character and courage all season long, especially at the end. We don’t expect them to let up at all. We fully expect them to play a solid game.” Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

The Usual Suspects

Posted on 18 April 2015 | Comments Off

MONTREAL – After getting some help from the supporting cast on Wednesday, the Habs brought out the big guns for Game 2 on Friday. Opening their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against Ottawa with a 4-3 win during a Game 1 marked by clutch offensive production courtesy of newcomers Brian Flynn and Torrey Mitchell, on Friday some more familiar faces instead got the chance to do what they do best. A game-time decision right up until the moment he was announced as part of the Habs’ starting lineup, returning goalscorer Max Pacioretty made his presence felt in a big way after being sidelined for the previous three games with an upper body injury. “I really found my game during the second period. Our line built up some momentum and I don’t think I could have asked for anything more during my first playoff game this year,” admitted Pacioretty, who got the Habs on the board with a power play marker in the second after being eased back into the lineup with 4:55, 6:16, and 7:19 of ice time, respectively, through the opening three frames. “It was really amazing to score that goal. I don’t think I’ve ever celebrated like that on the ice. It’s always special to score here,” admitted the 26-year-old forward, who has nevertheless had 85 previous opportunities to perfect his post-goal moves at the Bell Centre over the course of his career. “I wanted to play my first game back at home. The support I get from the crowd here is amazing. I can’t thank everyone – the fans, the coaches – enough for all the support they’ve shown me. I’ve never felt like more of a part of this city and this team.” Eliciting a roar from the crowd from the time he was first shown on the giant screen during pre-game warmups, Pacioretty was also welcomed back on the ice by his teammates. “It’s always fun to play with Max. It was great to have him back in the lineup. He gives the entire team confidence,” dished linemate David Desharnais, who combined his scoring talents with Pacioretty for a 31st time this season with an assist on the second-period equalizer. “He’s a big part of our team. There aren’t many players like him and we’re lucky to have him in Montreal. He turned the momentum in our favor tonight.” That's a sentiment which was shared by the night’s eventual hero. “He makes a difference. We definitely missed him out there during Game 1,” added Alex Galchenyuk, who scored the overtime winner just 3:40 into extra time. “He’s a physical presence, he has an incredible shot, and he’s so dangerous with the puck. It was a great feeling for our entire team to see him get a goal in his first game back.” Now enjoying a 2-0 series lead which the team has historically converted on 91.6% of the time over 60 similar situations in the past, the Habs meanwhile aren’t taking anything for granted as the series now moves to Ottawa on Sunday. “The position we’re in now can be difficult, especially against a team like the Senators,” continued Pacioretty on a Sens team which has gone 12-4 at home since February 14. “They’re used to playing with their backs against the wall, and have done well in that position over the second half of the season. With our 2-0 series lead, they’ll be seen as the underdogs, but we can still improve our own game.” That’s exactly what P.K. Subban has in mind already, early into the 2015 postseason. “Our mission is to get better with every game in the playoffs,” concluded the returning defenseman, who scored a go-ahead in the second after sitting out most of Wednesday with a game misconduct penalty. “Now it’s about us preparing to go into another building and playing our best hockey.” Steven Nechay is a writer for canadiens.com

The Numbers Game: Game #2 – April 17, 2015

Posted on 18 April 2015 | Comments Off

MONTREAL – Here's a numerical look at Game 2 between the Habs and Sens at the Bell Centre on Friday night. 4:55 – Amount of ice time Max Pacioretty needed to get back to his old goalscoring ways on Friday. After missing the final two games of the regular season as well as Game 1 of the Canadiens’ Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the Sens with an upper body injury, Pacioretty made his Game 2 return count with a power play equalizer at 7:18 in the second. 30 – Number of times that Pacioretty and David Desharnais combined their scoring talents on goals during the 2014-15 regular season. Pacioretty benefited from his bud’s help again on Friday, scoring his first goal of the 2015 postseason with an assist from Desharnais. 2 – Number of times that Desharnais has enjoyed multi-point career playoff outings, assisting on both of Pacioretty and Subban’s second period markers. 3 – Number of times Jeff Petry dished out six hits or more during the regular season, before putting the body to the Sens six times through just two periods of his second career playoff game on Friday. 30 – Number of career playoff points registered by Andrei Markov, who added an assist to his tally on Pacioretty’s second period goal. 142 – Number of postseason games in Canadiens history which have required overtime to be solved. 1 – Number of times Ottawa netminder Andrew Hammond has now lost consecutive games since making his NHL debut on February 18 against the Habs. Never the losing two in a row while compiling a 20-1-2 over the final stretch of the regular season, Hammond nevertheless heads back to Ottawa on Friday with a pair of losses in the first-round series. 91.6 – Percentage of playoff series which the Canadiens have won after taking a 2-0 lead, boasting a 55-5 record when perfect through the opening pair. 3,276 – Number of days, and counting, since the Canadiens last lost a home playoff game on a Friday. Enjoying an 9-2 record all-time when playing in Montreal on the final day of the work week, the Habs bested the Sens for a second-straight playoff Friday following a previous 3-1 win on May 3 during the 2013 series against their Atlantic Division rivals. - canadiens.com

Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Senators #2

Posted on 17 April 2015 | Comments Off

1 - STREAKY FRIDAY: With a rare lack of Saturday night dates penciled in on their first-round schedule, the Habs will have to count on a less familiar day of the week when it comes to Game 2 on Friday night. Although the Canadiens have enjoyed a 13-0-2 home record at the Bell Centre on Saturdays this season, historically, the team has been just as handy at kicking the weekend off with a win when given the chance. In over a century of history, the Canadiens have given new meaning to T.G.I.F, racking up a stellar 12-0-4 record while outscoring opponents 84-36 on everybody’s favorite weekday. Clearly not believers in casual Fridays – especially during the postseason – the Habs have also dressed down their opposition to the tune of an 8-2 all-time home playoff record on the final day of the workweek. Their lone win during the 2012-13 series against the Sens? That came at home on Friday, May 3, 2013 of course. 2 - SCORING MAXIMUS: There’s no denying the importance of a healthy Max Pacioretty when it comes to besting the Senators, as the Habs’ undisputed scoring king for four years running has definitely had Ottawa’s number this season. In addition to accounting for 16.74% of the Canadiens’ total offensive production with 37 goals in 2014-15, that ratio bumps up to an impressive 44.44% when the Senators are on the other side of the ice. With four goals and two assists in four games against Ottawa this year, Pacioretty led all NHLers in points against the Sens, making the American sniper’s pending return to active duty one of capital importance for the Habs. 3 - COOLER HEADS: With two of Ottawa’s three goals in Game 1 coming on a single five minute Sens power play and hostilities boiling over in the form of a combined 40 penalty minutes being dished out after the final buzzer, discipline will clearly be essential to winning the second game of the series. The Habs went 0-for-1 with the man advantage in the opening game, but still managed to score a shorthanded marker after P.K. Subban was sent off for a slashing major. With a 40% power play efficiency in Game 1, the Sens currently lead the league in that category through one game of postseason action. 4 - EXPERIENCE COUNTS: Icing an opening night lineup with a combined 248 games of NHL postseason experience, including a rookie netminder playing his first career playoff game, the Senators could look to bolster their experience level heading into Game 2. If Mark Stone isn’t able to play due to a micro fracture in his wrist, Chris Neil could find himself donning a Senators jersey for the first time since February 14, adding his 91 career playoff games to the team’s experience totals, bringing the Sens closer to the 436 games of NHL postseason experience the Habs had in their lineup in the opening game. 5 - SCORE FOUR: Scoring more often than not is always a sound hockey strategy, but specifically scoring four in a game has been the sweet spot for the Habs this season. Carey Price boasts an impressive 18-0-1 record when his teammates put up at least four in front of him, good for a 0.947 win percentage in those outings. More importantly, four has also been the magic number so far in the playoffs. Through eight NHL postseason games, four teams have lit the lamp four times, and all came away with wins to open the series, including the Canadiens. - canadiens.com

Game Preview: Senators @ Canadiens – Game 2

Posted on 17 April 2015 | Comments Off

SENATORS @ CANADIENS – Game #2 (Montreal leads the series 1-0) The Canadiens will be looking to take a commanding lead over the Ottawa Senators in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series on Friday night at the Bell Centre. Michel Therrien’s troops rattled off a 4-3 win in the series-opener on Wednesday night in Montreal. Despite the absence of Max Pacioretty – and P.K. Subban for the better part of the game after being given a slashing major and a game misconduct – the Habs’ fourth line contributed plenty of offense as Brian Flynn led the charge. The American forward scored the game-winning goal in the latter stages of the second period, finishing the game with three points. For his part, Flynn’s former teammate in Buffalo, Torrey Mitchell, scored his first goal in a Canadiens uniform. Lars Eller lit the lamp with a short-handed marker, while Tomas Plekanec also managed to beat Senators netminder Andrew Hammond. It was the first time all season that Hammond had given up four goals in a single game. His counterpart, Carey Price, stopped 30 of 33 shots against to pick up the win. Subban did not receive any supplementary discipline for his two-handed slash on Mark Stone. That means that the Canadiens’ No. 76 will be back in the lineup on Friday night. Stone’s status for the remainder of the series remains uncertain. He suffered a microfracture to his right wrist. If Stone is unable to go, Alex Chiasson should take his place on the second line and Chris Neil will likely replace him in the lineup. Neil has been sidelined for the past two months with a fractured thumb. For the Canadiens, Pacioretty is nearing a return to active duty. The Canadiens’ sniper skated on a regular line with David Desharnais and Devante Smith-Pelly at practice on Thursday, but he hasn’t yet received the green light from team medical staff to play. Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau suffered an upper-body injury on Wednesday night. He will not play in Game 2. He is listed as day-to-day. Following Friday’s game, the two teams will head to Ottawa where the third game of the series will be played on Sunday night at the Canadian Tire Centre.

That didn’t take too long

Posted on 16 April 2015 | Comments Off

BROSSARD – P.K. Subban wasted little time owning up to a potentially costly mistake on Thursday. Addressing the media at the Bell Sports Complex for the first time since being assessed a slashing major and a game misconduct in Game 1 on Wednesday night at the Bell Centre, the veteran rearguard was particularly contrite in reference to the incident involving Senators forward Mark Stone. “The ref made the right call. When you see a player down on the ice rolling around like that, there’s one call to be made. He made the right call. If I was in that position, I’d probably do the same thing,” admitted Subban, who was ejected at the 8:23 mark of the second period after laying a two-handed slash across Stone’s right wrist as the right-winger attempted to establish body position in front of the Canadiens’ goal. “I paid the price for taking that penalty. The right decisions were made on the ice. Obviously, I don’t want to be out five minutes and I don’t want to be out of the game. But, when a player is hurt like that, that’s what happens.” While the Senators lit the lamp twice on the ensuing power play, Michel Therrien’s troops still found a way to secure an all-important series-opening win on home ice. While the Norris Trophy winner was clearly pleased with the way things ultimately played out for the CH in Game 1, he was disappointed in his inability to stay true to a game plan that stressed the need to stay out of the penalty box. “The unfortunate thing about [Wednesday night’s game] is that we, as a team, talked about discipline. I took a penalty in Game 1, and as an assistant captain and a leader on this team, I have to set a better example than that. That’s probably the most unfortunate thing for me. I feel like I let my teammates down when I took that penalty,” explained Subban, who amassed two assists on Wednesday night despite logging just over nine minutes of ice time before being given the gate. “This is playoff hockey. I compete hard every game. I’ve never threatened anybody out there. I don’t think I would. First of all, I’m not really the toughest guy without my gloves on. I’m not really going out there looking for fights or anything like that. I just try to play the game hard between whistles.” Following the incident, Stone went on to play six more minutes in Game 1. It was revealed on Thursday, however, that the Winnipeg native had suffered a microfracture and was playing hurt. His status for the remainder of the series remains unknown. Despite Stone’s injury, the League elected not to penalize Subban further. The major penalty was punishment enough. That being said, it would appear that the series already boasts its fair share of interesting storylines heading into Game 2 on Friday night. In his post-game press conference on Wednesday, Cameron suggested that if the NHL wasn’t prepared to suspend Subban for his slash, his players would simply take matters into their own hands and accept major penalties in return. The Senators’ bench boss changed his tune somewhat following Thursday’s practice session, but it remains to be seen how Ottawa will go about their business when the series resumes in Montreal. “It didn’t take long to get this series going the last time, too. It’s playoff hockey. It’s the Ottawa-Montreal rivalry. It’s alive and well and it has been for years,” offered Brandon Prust, referencing a series-opener that saw the two teams combine for 84 hits and 63 penalty minutes between them, including three misconducts at the end of regulation time. “I hope they do retaliate. We can get some power plays out of it. We worry about ourselves in here. We don’t really worry about what they say or what they want to do. If they want to retaliate, they can.” That mindset really is the product of past playoff experience. Having been involved in contentious series like these before – including last season’s heavyweight battle against the Boston Bruins in Round 2 – the Canadiens are well-equipped to handle teams keen on mixing things up in the physicality department. “Last series against [the Senators], we let our emotions get to us and we got frustrated. Last year against Boston, we kind of watched them let their emotions get the best of them and we ended up winning the series. I think we’ve grown as a team,” stressed Prust, who collected the primary assist on Brian Flynn’s game-winning tally in Game 1, in addition to registering four shots on goal and a plus-1 differential. “You’ve got to keep a cool head. You don’t want to get too frustrated. You want to just stay with your game plan and don’t let your emotions get the best of you. That’s when you can take some dumb penalties. We’ve just got to stay focused on our game plan and stick to our task and our mission.” It’s safe to say Therrien isn’t going to accept anything less with so much on the line in Game 2. “We learned a lot from the playoffs last season. We handled our emotions well. During Wednesday’s game, we just weren’t disciplined enough,” mentioned Therrien. “That can’t happen again. The only thing we’re focusing on right now is Friday’s game.” Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.

The Last Word: Sir Patrick Stewart

Posted on 16 April 2015 | Comments Off

A classically trained thespian, member of the Order of the British Empire, and star of two massive sci-fi franchises, Sir Patrick Stewart is a man who needs no introduction. Having spent a few months in Montreal, the Mirfield, England native made sure to get a taste of the city’s favorite pursuit: Canadiens hockey. We sat down with the 74-year-old bon vivant during intermission at a game to discuss everything from his career on the stage to his recently-discovered hockey allegiance. You’re actually the second Starfleet captain to appear in these pages. We asked William Shatner this question earlier, but settle something for us off the bat: who would win in a fight, Captain Kirk or Jean-Luc Picard? SIR PATRICK STEWART: Okay, it’s a good question and it’s been asked many times. The answer is that the fight would never happen. Picard would not allow it to happen; he would negotiate his way out of the fight. That said, Captain Kirk did knock him down once. William said Kirk would win. PS: (laughs) Of course he did! You’re the president of the Huddersfield Town Academy, right? How big a soccer fan are you? PS: President is an honorary title – last year, I visited the Academy and I watched the kids training and playing and I know the director of the Academy, Mark Lillis. I was taken to watch his soccer team when I was seven years old by my uncle and we stood on the terraces and watched them play. They have been my club through thick and thin for 60 years. Now, to be invited as I was a few years ago to have a position within the club gives me so much pleasure. Have they won often over the years, or have you been a long-suffering fan? PS: Largely, it has been long-suffering. (laughs) How’s your eye for on-ice talent? Care to offer a scouting report on the Habs from what you’ve seen so far? PS: This is my first game. I’ve watched on television, but the experience is so different. There is nothing like stepping into a stadium. I’m an actor, so this is basically like theater. Being a huge soccer fan and having watched 60 years of soccer, essentially, the tactics and process are the same, except conducted at much greater speed and with different skills. Even having watched only one period at this point, I am absolutely thrilled by what I’m seeing. Habs fans are renowned for their passion. Which franchise has the most intense fan base: Star Trek or X-Men? PS: They’re a very different kind of fan base. For years, X-Men had a purely comic book fan base. It’s a very specific, very exclusive fan base. Whereas when we came out in 1987 to do Next Generation, we were inheriting the fan base from the original series. But they only did three years of that series and there was a lot of unease about it. Fans thought we were going to remake what they did, but when people saw that we were taking everything the original series had done and moving it forward and showing the same respect for the show – with Gene Roddenberry producing – it made all the difference. I think the great strength was the ensemble feel our cast had. Is the cast still tight? PS: Absolutely. I love those guys, without exception. I adore them, I cannot get enough of them. We meet whenever we can all over the world and I would say that they are my best friends. You were here for Montreal Comiccon 2014. What do you like most about the city? PS: I was here before at that convention in October 2012 and it was the first time I’d ever been to Montreal. That first time, I saw nothing of Montreal, but I learned that eating Mexican food in Montreal may not be the best idea. It was unfortunate. But then I was given a personal, exclusive tour of Montreal by William Shatner, who is a local boy. That was fun, but we saw very little that first trip. Now I’ve been here for a week and I’m living in the Old Port and I love it. I’ve found a nice little restaurant I go to for breakfast every morning and it’s like being back in Paris. It’s European, but with a difference. You’re certainly in North America, but I’m still struggling but very excited by the idea of French-speaking North America. I have “street French”, but that’s all. I’ve lived on and off in North America for the last 20 or 30 years, and to find myself tuning my ear to French again is delightful. Do you find the crowd at Comiccon events changes depending on the venue or are the fans pretty consistent no matter where you go? PS: They are fairly consistent, partly because people come to these events from all over the world. I was in Winnipeg earlier last year, and people had come from all over Canada to attend the event. Obviously for me, it’s always a treat to be in Canada as an Englishman. I’m still an English citizen. I grew up with the whole idea of the Commonwealth and it means a lot to me. Sometimes I’ll get emotional when they sing the anthems. We hear congratulations are in order! Word has it you’re about to tie the knot and asked your fellow countryman and castmate, Sir Ian McKellan, to officiate your upcoming wedding. Was part of that decision based on how nervous you were about how wild a bachelor party planned by Sir Ian would get if he was your Best Man instead? PS: Yes, he let the cat out of the bag. Well, he’s not my Best Man, but I have a Best Man who will certainly match Sir Ian in fun, but I can’t name him – you would know who he is. Our careers and lives have been so similar, although I didn’t meet Ian until I was in my late 20s or early 30s. I’ve known him since I was a fan. His career took off in the English theatre long before mine did. He was a star when he was a student at Cambridge. I was working in the provinces, so I’d known of him. We had actually only worked together once before we came to do X-Men. Now we have a big Broadway production ahead of us that we’re doing together. We will spend almost all of the next year together one way or another. As Professor Charles Xavier, you have quite a few mutant pupils to work with. Professors aren’t supposed to play favorites, but who’s the teacher’s pet among your crop of X-Men? PS: Well it’s been a long history for us and I’ve had a lot of pupils and a lot of staff. In a sense, Logan – Wolverine – is a pupil, because I have been attempting to transform the nature of Wolverine from this man of rage and fury into someone more perfect. Also, because of the actress who plays her, Ellen Page, I really like Kitty Pryde. I’m thrilled Ellen is making this movie. And of course, Shawn Ashmore is one of my pupils – he doesn’t look like one of my pupils, but he is. Especially coming back after such a long time, everybody is kind of grown up. I think Ellen was 13 when we did the last movie. The ability to read, control and influence human minds is a pretty amazing talent, but if you could have one of the other X-Men’s powers, which one would you choose? PS: I need to correct you. Xavier doesn’t control people’s minds, he can simply access them. He cannot make people do things. He can enter their minds and know what they’re thinking. I’m not sure it’s the power I would wish to have. I think, as I do a lot of travelling, it would be teleporting. I could be in L.A. or London at the snap of the fingers. You’re well-known for your roles in front of the camera, but you’ve done a ton of voice work for animated productions like Family Guy, American Dad, Gnomeo & Juliet, and more. Do you get just as big a kick out of that as full-on acting? PS: I do. I love doing narration. I love doing voiceovers for commercials. It’s been really fun for me to be involved with Seth MacFarlane in American Dad. You’ve played just about every Shakespearean part imaginable during your stage career. What do your old, fellow classically trained buddies think of you lending your voice to shows like American Dad and Family Guy? PS: They are green with envy! (laughs) Catch Stewart in his latest role as Walter Blunt, in the Starz Network sitcom, Blunt Talk, or follow the man himself in real time on Twitter, @SirPatStew. This article, written by Shauna Denis, was published in CANADIENS magazine Vol. 29 No. 4.

Solid start

Posted on 16 April 2015 | Comments Off

MONTREAL – It was a playoff debut to remember for some of the newest Habs on the roster. Heading into Wednesday’s game, the Canadiens knew they would have to score by committee to make up for the offense they’d be missing with injured sniper Max Pacioretty watching from the pressbox. With their leading scorer out of commission, the Habs instead got key contributions from some of the team’s trade deadline acquisitions, who spent their first playoff games in Montreal proving their new boss right. “You can’t replace Max with one guy; you’re going to need everybody,” said Devante Smith-Pelly, who was a one-man wrecking ball for the Canadiens on Wednesday, dishing out three hits in his first three playoff shifts as a Hab, finishing tied for the team lead with six in Game 1. “It was good to see unexpected guys step up, but it’s not that unexpected because I feel like anyone on this team can step up.” Picking a timely moment to pot his first goal since joining the Canadiens on March 2, Torrey Mitchell got the home team on the board with a quick wraparound in the second period. He also finished with a plus-2 differential and won 67% of his draws on the night, leading the team in the faceoff circle. “Our line played really well tonight. We sort of fed off each other. Getting a goal in the playoffs for my hometown team felt pretty good,” admitted the Greenfield Park native, who combined with linemates Brian Flynn and Brandon Prust for five points on the night. “We had other guys step up. There are so many momentum switches and ups and downs during a playoff series, but you just saw that in one game there. Obviously not having Patch is going to change the dynamic of our team game, so it’s nice to have other guys step up and get the win.” Exploding out of the gate in his first career playoff game, Flynn couldn’t have drawn up a better debut, either. Earning first star honors with a goal and two assists, the 26-year-old didn’t appear to have any performance anxiety ahead of his inaugural postseason tilt. “To come out to those white towels going crazy during the national anthem, you get chills. When the game started, I got into the rhythm early and it paid off,” described Flynn, who scored the eventual game winner late in the second period. “It’s obviously one of the highlights, if not the highlight [of my career]. Playoff hockey is just a different animal than the regular season. I was really looking forward to tonight all day. I’m happy to get it started off on the right foot.” More impressively than the team’s ability to beat Senators netminder Andrew Hammond four times on Wednesday night – just the third time he’s allowed four or more goals since being called up from Binghamton in January – was that they did so with both Pacioretty and P.K. Subban out of the lineup. Seeing his night end early after getting called for a slashing major on Mark Stone that also resulted in a game misconduct, Subban played a mere 9:05 in Game 1, although he still managed to pick up a pair of assists in his truncated evening. Forced to kill off a five minute Sens powerplay, the Habs responded by scoring a shorthanded goal, courtesy of Lars Eller, taking back the lead and shifting the momentum in the process. “We got two quick goals and then got hit with a little bit of penalty trouble. Having been through the playoffs before, I know it’s going to be up and down and a roller coaster emotionally, even shift to shift,” shared Smith-Pelly, who has five goals in 13 career postseason games. “I thought the guys did a good job of staying composed. I feel like it’s probably pretty tough to have an off game when the crowd is like that. I know everyone, especially the new guys, were excited to get out there and feed off the energy. The crowd did a great job of helping us out.” For Mitchell and Flynn in particular, it wasn’t hard to get motivated ahead of Game 1. Arriving from Buffalo together at the trade deadline, the duo left the worst team in the East to join the eventual Atlantic division champs. The prospect of chipping in and leading the Canadiens to a big win wasn’t one they were about to pass up. “It was a special night for our line tonight,” offered Mitchell, who grew up on Montreal’s South Shore. “If you’d told us three months ago this is where we’d be standing, I think we’d take it. I’ve been to a lot of playoff games here, but to finally get out there and have an opportunity to play was pretty unreal.” Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.

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