The Canadiens didn’t do Sean Farrell the sweetest of favors by sending him into the action so quickly. The poor guy went directly, in just a few days, from college hockey to that of the NHL, without even having trained once with the Habs.
His presence was rather a gift for those who had to write 800 words about a game without history or interest, which ended in a passionless 3-2 victory for the Philadelphia Flyers over the Montrealers. This verdict also sealed the fate of CH, which mathematically can no longer reach the playoffs. Again, it’s not really a story.
So back to Farrell and his unceremonious catapulting into the big leagues. Last Friday, his NCAA team suffered elimination. On Sunday, he signed his first professional contract. On Monday, he arrived in Philadelphia. Tuesday morning, he had lunch with his new teammates. And Tuesday evening, he set off for the traditional solo tour of the rink reserved for players who are experiencing their NHL baptism.
The young man, unsurprisingly, was overexcited at the idea of seeing his dream come true. According to well-connected sources inside the club, he could no longer sit still at the end of the afternoon and arrived very, very early on the team bus before leaving for the arena. .
Without morning training, his preparation was reduced to a quick video session just before the meeting. And that was it.
“Martin [St-Louis] told me to play my way, that we would fix my weaknesses later this week,” Farrell said after the game. “We didn’t want to give him too much [information],” confirmed the head coach. A little at a time. He had to go play. »
Verdict? Correct, nothing more, which is very good in the circumstances. Farrell may have dominated the college ranks in recent months, but the challenge was monumental, even more so for a small player like him. Used to the left of Jonathan Drouin and Denis Gurianov, he was in demand for just over 13 minutes.
By Drouin’s own admission, this line didn’t create much offensively. The newcomer, however, did not put his team in trouble defensively, despite sometimes looking a little dropped in his area.
If the speed of the game particularly impressed him, he also realized that the robustness of his opponents was not that of the NCAA. Nicolas Deslauriers and Rasmus Ristolainen reminded him of this.
“It definitely hits harder than college,” he admitted with a smile.
One can nevertheless ask, in the simplest way in the world: why did you make him play so quickly?
Last year, Jordan Harris made the same transition, but otherwise smoother. He watched two games in the stands and participated in a few practices before being sent into the fray.
In a brief informal meeting with media representatives assigned to cover the Canadiens, Jeff Gorton, vice-president of hockey operations for the team, explained that the organization wanted to see Farrell in uniform quickly, since he was no longer left. only eight games in the season – now seven. In comparison, there were double that left when Harris joined CH a year ago.
Gorton also claimed that Farrell’s family had come to see him play. The argument more or less holds water, since the young man admitted to reporters that he had deduced the day before that he was going to face the Flyers.
Moreover, we will not risk reading excessively the non-verbal language of Martin St-Louis, but this one, a few hours before the match, did not seem absolutely thrilled by the turn of events. . Twice he told reporters that choosing to employ Farrell was “a matter for Kent”; Kent Hughes, therefore, general manager of the Habs.
On his behalf, Jeff Gorton acknowledged that coaches generally prefer to keep their roster intact after a win – two, even, in this case. And he assured that St. Louis had “the final say” on the composition of its squad. The decision to play Farrell was made after “discussions” that did not cause a dispute between managers and the coach, he said.
We have no choice but to take his word for it. But the icy facies of St. Louis sent a different message, shall we say.
Jonathan Drouin admitted that, without being impossible, the challenge of playing a first game without further preparation was complex. “I think [Farrell] did it well,” he said.
“When a player doesn’t have reps [in training] he has to think a lot, that’s normal. He and Gurianov tried to communicate with him as much as possible, “but he had a head full of games to assimilate in a few hours.”
“In time, it will be easier for him. And practice time will help. »
St. Louis agreed, adding that facing the Flyers was not easy either. He meanwhile appreciated the “good intentions” of his new protege.
Sean Farrell no doubt slept well after this physical and emotional marathon. His career is just beginning, he will have the chance to write his own story. And this, even if the first chapter began in a somewhat rushed way.
Twenty-four saves in a defeat for which he is not responsible, quite the contrary. A few key saves kept his team in the game.
How many times did he fall during this match? We stopped counting. A messy evening for him. He was on the ice for the Flyers’ first two goals.
This is the official figure that is on the game sheet to quantify the crowd in attendance at the Wells Fargo Center. This is, at best, a gross overstatement. The empty stands and the silence of the spectators on the spot gave a dismal atmosphere to a place once known for its hostility.
Were it not for Sean Farrell’s debut, we probably would have talked a lot more about Cayden Primeau’s performance. The goalkeeper had not started a game with the Canadiens for over a year. The last times we’d seen him play in the NHL had been ordinary, at best. However, the young man had very good times in the American League at the time of his recall, and that was reflected at the higher level. Primeau showed a very encouraging confidence and aplomb. “He was our best player,” Brendan Gallagher said. “He played a great game, I’m happy for him,” added Martin St-Louis. “I felt good,” Primeau himself noted. I wanted the score to remain tight and to keep a chance of winning until the end. He credits his recent success with the Laval Rocket with helping boost his confidence. The goalie was traded to the Rocket immediately after the game. However, it is not excluded that we will see him again in Montreal by the end of the calendar.
Renowned for his expertise in blocking shots, Rafaël Harvey-Pinard saw his specialty hurt him in the second period. While the Flyers were playing with one more man, defender Rasmus Ristolainen fired a powerful shot that hit the Quebecer’s left foot head-on. The poor CH striker stayed on the ice somehow, visibly unable to skate for the trouble, and the locals took advantage of the momentary double advantage to score their first goal. Johnathan Kovacevic was then finally able to help his teammate back to the bench. We didn’t expect to see Harvey-Pinard again, who retired immediately to the locker room, but, surprise, he was back five minutes later and ended the game.
Casually, Brendan Gallagher now has almost as many goals (3) in five games since returning from his long recovery as in his first 25 outings of the season (4). In Philadelphia, the 30-year-old winger scored the way he prefers: from close range, by jumping on a loose puck. He served a perfect shot in the upper part to goalkeeper Felix Sandstrom, who could not help it. Gallagher did not discuss his goal after the game. The day before, however, he had expressed how much he and Jake Evans – his current center – wanted to “finish the season strong”, after each missing a lot of action. Clearly, they took this challenge seriously.