About last night …

Maybe, as Joël Bouchard suggested on RDS, the stars are in alignment for your Montreal Canadiens.

They spend half the night in the Minnesota penalty box and still manage to beat one of the best teams in the Western Conference.

Then, against oe of the worst teams in the league, the Canadiens four goals in seven and a half minutes, staging a comeback reminiscent of The Game against the Rangers.

As was the case last February, the fifth goal – in this case, the winner – was scored by Alex Kovalev. He didn’t slide on his back this time.

Kovy, Kovy, Kovy. Is he a beauty or what?

How many times does the first star of the game score twice, pick up two assists – and give the puck away SEVEN times.

Canadid, as always, in his post-game remarks, Kovalev said other teams would "destroy" the Canadiens if they played as badly as they did for 40 minutes ast night.

 

Kovy cited New Jersey as a team that probably wouldn’t have blown a 4-1 lead. 

But the Islanders are not the Devils. And the Wild, who had three 5-on-3s, were not the Detroit Red Wings.

So maybe the stars are beginning to spell out a big "CH" in the sky.

After 10 games, the Canadiens have one loss in regulation – fewest in the NHL.

They lead the league in goal differential at plus-13.

And after a Sunday off and off-ice training tomorrow afternoon, the team returns to practice Tuesday morning. There’s much to discuss and a lot to work on, but at least the whole city won’t be spending the week moping about a loss to the lowly Islanders.

The Canadiens scored the first goal last night and figured it would be easy.

Wrong.

Through two periods they were outhit, outhustled, outskated and outworked. The Islanders were consistently first on the puck, won every battle, controlled the neutral zone and gained the Canadiens’ blueline with dismaying ease.

One stat said it all: The home team did not take a minor penalty until  12 minutes into the second period.

You don’t have to hook players who aren’t skating. You don’t have to hold players who aren’t moving their feet. You don’t have to cross-check players who won’t fight for positions. You don’t have to trip players who aren’t about to beat you. And you don’t have to elbow or board players who give the puck up without a fight.

Several brutal line changes, an indicator that the guys on the bench are not alert and into the game.

Zone coverage? Puck support? As the outnumbered Islanders’ fans at the Nassau Coliseum might say, Fuhgedaboudit!

When Frans Nielsen scores two goals from close in, there’s something rotten in the state of Dane marking.

Look, the superior roster won the game last night. The Canadiens have the firepower to get 16 shots and four goals in 20 minutes against a young, nervous, non-playoff team.

The Canadiens are abundantly talented, but there will be night, many nights when skill won’t be enough. They’ll need hard work, dedication and intensity  to beat teams better than the Islanders … and that meanss almost every team in the league.

Random observations:

• Christopher Higgins should stay on the Saku Koivu-Alex Tanguay line.

• They have a problem with righhanded faceoffs:Robert Lang was 2-10, Maxim Lapierre 4-6. And lefty Tomas Plekanec was 8-13.

• Aside from faceoffs – and he was winning them in the third period – Plekanec was brilliant. The big line is coming to life.

• Opponents got a great deal on screwing up the Brothers Kostitsyn: Injure one, get one free. But AK46 turned on the jets to setup Pleks’ second goal, and if he’s back maybe Sergei will come to ife.

• Guy Carbonneau doesn’t know what to do with Georges Laraque. He played seven shifts, 5:21. It’s becoming obvious that the Canadiens’ best energ line is Max centring Tom Kostopoulos and Mathieu Dandenault.

• Another rough night for Ryan O’Byrne, who was minus-2. The big galoot is a work in progress, but I really wonder how much upside he’s got.

• Carey Price was furious with himself after the Jon Sim goal. But how about those saves in the final minute?

• Maybe Alex Kovalev should be cut in every game.

• How about five even-strength goals for a team that lived and died with its power play for the last two seasons?

Canadiens are 8-1-1. Their top line of 2007-’08, MIA since the season began, had nine points last night.

Twenty minutes of hockey, and the Canadiens saved us all a rough week.

But if they play like that at the ACC on Saturday …

 

 


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