Even after all these years, there are still many of us who believe it's just not Hockey Night in Canada without Coach's Corner -- and it's definitely not the Stanley Cup playoffs until Ron MacLean and Donald S. Cherry are side by side.
Cherry may be getting up there, but he's still the best.
He still calls Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto "Lalongo," even though he surely knows better. He still has the crazy suits with the cartoon ties.
"They weren't honeys," he said, holding out the one he had on Thursday night while referring to the Bruins' first period against the Habs. "They were Winnie the Pooh."
Cherry reflected on the days he was coaching the Bruins and making "40 grand." Of Habs mucker Ryan White, he said: "He's out-Bruin the Bruins."
And MacLean closed out the segment with his usual wit.
"Habs had the Jets in the first period," he said. "And Winnipeg will soon have theirs too."
Back on at the end of the 2-0 Montreal victory, Cherry said "the Bruins were brutal tonight." He was right. He also claimed it was the best game of the season for Habs centre Scott Gomez.
Gomez wasn't about to argue.
"If Don Cherry says it, ya," he said when Elliotte Friedman asked him if the statement was correct. "That's the way we're brought up. If Don Cherry says it, you've got to love it."
STARTS AND STOPS
The Bruins tried to pry Tomas Kaberle from the Leafs for at least two years, believing that his pretty passes would help them to a long playoff run. And at the 2:45 mark of the first period of his first post-season game as a Bruin, Kaberle's blind backhand dish led directly to Montreal's first goal. Looks like B's management targeted the wrong guy, too ... Glen Healey pointed out that Tim Thomas was "exceptional" in the pre-game warmup. "If someone scored on him, I didn't see it," said Healey. Meanwhile, during Coach's Corner, Cherry spoke about how a relaxed-looking Thomas didn't appear to be as "focused" as Carey Price before the game. For our part, it was way too analysis of a goalie who was left face-to-face with two uncovered Habs after a dumb play by Kaberle ... After racking up an NHL record .938 save percentage, Thomas was beaten by the first playoff shot that came his way ... You wait all season for the playoffs, Andrei Kostitshyn, and then when they finally get here you're sent limping to the dressing room after your first shift from a Zdeno Chara slap shot off the foot. How do they say that sucks in Belarus? ... Thomas should have stopped Brian Gionta's second goal. "Thomas wasn't on his game tonight," said Cherry. Still say the he couldn't have done a thing about the first one.
With good goaltending and a strict game plan, the Habs were built for the playoffs ... With two full days between Games 3 and 4, the Bruins will leave Montreal for a small retreat in up-state New York that just happens to have an available, Olympicsized rink. Why? How about so they can not worry about some crazy Habs fan harassing Chara. It's tough to go around any town inconspicuously when you're 6-foot-9, especially so when that town is Montreal and you're the hated captain of the Bruins ... HNIC's Jeff Marek informs us that in Montreal, 26 of 340 Boston Pizza restaurants are changing their name to Montreal Pizza for the playoffs. Marek wondered if Bostonians will respond with Freedom Fries. Okay, so it wasn't funny when I wrote it, either ... Price's impersonation of Patrick Roy extended beyond his puck stopping. After one whistle he game P.K. Subban a big wink of approval for getting under Nathan Horton's skin ... Let the record show, Chara had a playoff beard before the playoffs began. Just in case he is still playing in June and you're thinking that, along with growing taller, he can also grow longer, faster, than you ...
MAKING YOU GO HMM ...
In 18 NHL seasons, Vincent Damphousse had four fights. On Thursday, he was charged with six counts of assaulting his wife. Go figure ... Thought TSN had hired some volunteers from a local cable company to call the Flyers- Sabres game until it was flashed on the screen that we were watching a Comcast feed and listening to the dulcet tones of Philly broadcasters Jim Jackson, Steve Coats and Rich Tocchet ... A relative unknown to this point, Brad Marchand will earn himself a reputation for being an effective rat if Boston has a decent spring. "Bruins come within an eyelash of getting it tied," Bob Cole cried, as only Bob Cole can, when Marchand, standing unguarded by Price's left post, failed to convert a pass from Dennis Seidenberg into the open side ... Curiously, the Northeast Division cellar-inhabitating Senators have now also axed their vice-president of communications and their director of player services. Not only have both Phil Legault and Chad Schella had solid careers, but both are coming off a better season than Filip Kuba.