About last night …

It was the first gut check of the young season, and your Montreal Canadiens passed the character test with flying bleu-blanc-rouge.
And I do mean “flying.” The poor, slew-footed Flyers spent an unhappy night eating the home team’s dust.
Philadelphia’s team speed, compared to that of the Canadiens, is what Windows is to OS X Leopard.

And the Flyers’ feared physicality fizzled.
The Canadiens outhit the visitors 32-25. And they dished out the more punishing, board-rattling and crowd-pleasing checks.

Mike Komisarek set the tone early. The game was barely six minutes old when the big defenceman pounded the snot out of Scott Hartnell behind the Canadiens’ net.
Then on the first faceoff following the Guillaume Latendresse goal that made it 4-1, Philadelphia thug Ben Eager predictably pounced on Tom Kostopoulos, who held his own through a tugging match.
And when Mike Richards threw a late-game elbow at Alex Kovalev, there was a cavalry charge of red-shirted avengers, including diminutive Josh Gorges.
Their goon-free lineup notwithstanding, Canadiens give every sign they won’t be intimidated.
If the Canadiens skate and hit that way tomorrow, it could be a long evening for the Leafs and their Hockey Night in Canada cheerleaders.

• • •

Alex Kovalev has seven goals in 12 games.
Last season, he needed 22 games to reach that level. And Kovy didn’t get his eighth until the Canadiens’ 31st game.
It’s early and I don’t want to inflict the Boone Jinx on the big guy, but I’ll go out on a limb here and predict that Kovalev will score more than 18 goals this season.
And as goes Kovy …

• • •

If Christopher Higgins and Michael Ryder start cashing their chances, maybe we’ll hear fewer suggestions that Saku Koivu is not a first-line centre.

• • •

The power play just isn’t the same without Sheldon Souray.

• • •

Is there a GM in the league who made more astute free-agent acquisitions than Bob Gainey?
Glen Sather, maybe? How about Kevin Lowe?
It’s early for Christmas bonuses, but if Uncle George Gillett should be writing a nice cheque to the pro scout who recommended Roman Hamrlik (with the caveat that he’s maybe not your guy for a Shootout).
Bryan Smolinski, Tom the Bomb Non-stopoulos, Patrice Brisebois … from where I’m sitting, Gainey went four-for-four, with a Hamrlik HR.
More props to the GM on the Souray dossier: Gainey never had the slightest intention of re-signing him.

• • •

And while I’m spending Gillett’s money, how about a nice botle of 25-year-old Macallan for whoever said “Hey, maybe we should try Mathieu Dandenault at forward?”

• • •

So Mikhail Grabovski has been told to get himself an apartment in Montreal.
What does this tell Maxim Lapierre?

• • •

But I still like Andrei Kostitsyn more than Grabovski.
Almost as fast, better touch around the net, bigger and way more physical.
Kostitsyn deserves to be in the lineup against Toronto.

• • •

Josh Gorges played 15 pretty good minutes, including a minute on the PP and 2:23 on the PK.
My man from Kelowna was paired with Mark Streit, and one might have feared the Flyers would bash them around a bit.
Didn’t happen.
Streit and Gorges handled the puck adroitly, made smart decisions and exemplified a Canadiens’ transition game that is one of the team’s MAJOR improvements from last season.

• • •

I don’t want Mike Komisarek to do a lot of fighting.
A five-minute trade usually benefits the other team. And it would be a monumental drag if Komsarek were to bust his hand on some fool’s helmet.

• • •

One more sleep, then Toronnah in town on a Saturday night:
It just doesn’t get any better than this.


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