I have to keep my powder dry for the Puckcast that we’ll be recording this morning.
So just a few bullet points to get discussion going:
• Jaro Halak once again gets his team two points. He doesn’t look
pretty doing it, but the guy stops pucks. And yes, this team plays
better in front of him than Carey Price.
• Ryan O’Byrne played 21:48 of rock-solid hockey. He is thriving as Andrei Markov’s partner and gaining confidence with every game. His size and willingness to use it were crucial against a very physical Vancouver team.
• Sergei Kostitsyn finally showed up. Man, those skills just make you drool. If he does it again in Boston on Thursday night, I’ll believe SK74 has turned the corner.
• Tomas Plekanec does everything and does it well. This is not news, but I feared the workload would begin to take its toll on Pleks at this time of the season. Not happening. He’s brilliant. How about the second, third and fourth effort on the goal that won the game?
• Whichever line Benoit Pouliot plays on becomes the first line. (Thanks, MrHazard)
• Mathieu Darche took a horrendous penalty – a neutral-zone stick foul with your team two goals up – but he’s a heady veteran who is bringing Maxim Lapierre back to life.
• Ben Maxwell nearly got his first NHL point. Turned out he didn’t touch the puck that Darche fed across to the crease for Max’s goal, but the kid skated and did not look out of place against a quality opponent.
• Minus the guy who has scored 22 even-strength goals on a team that can’t score even-strength goals, the Canadiens pop all three in 5-on-5 play. This team can drive a person bonkers.
• This team has character. When you consider the injuries – Markov, Brian Gionta, Andrei Kostitsyn, various and sundry Dmen and now Cammalleri – it’s amazing the Canadiens have competed and competed hard nearly every night.
When you consider the “goaltender controversy” and all the off-ice sturn und drang (German for what falls out of the south end of a northbound horse) that is part and steaming parcel of playing in a hockey-obsessed city, the players have demonstrated admirable togetherness and team spirit.
As has been the case all season long, numerous scrums against the chippy Canucks did not lack for red jerseys.
Is it the coaching? Unity in the room? The professional pride and leadership of Gionta et al?
I have no idea. But say what you will about this star-crossed season – and our seventh-place heroes still face an uphill climb to the playoffs – these guys do not quit.
And the fans appreciate it.
There were sequences of up-and-down hockey against the Canucks that were as good as any we’ve seen this season.
The Bell Centre was rockin’, and – for a change – everyone went home happy.
The Canadiens are 1-0 P.C. (post-Cammalleri).
They have four more home games heading into the Olympic break.
The Stanley Cup champs are coming to town. So are Boston, Washington and Philadelphia.
Gonna be fun!