Let’s change the title to About tomorrow night …
The measuring-stick game will be played in Tampa Bay.
I don’t want to sound like one of the nattering nabobs of negativity on L’Antichambre, who were gleefully trashing Scott Gomez AFTER A WIN last night, but there truly wasn’t much to conclude after watching your Montreal Canadiens beat a lousy team that’s tanking its season.
Florida is rebuilding. Of the Panthers who faced the Canadiens last night, Stephen Weiss, David Booth, Keaton Ellerby and Niclas Bergfors will be part of the future in south Florida (or somewhere). Sergei Samsonov? No.
It’s nice to win a rare game in which the third period isn’t a melodrama.
It’s nice for Carey Price to ring up another shutout, tying Tim Thomas at seven.
And it’s very nice to bag two more points on the road, where the Canadiens raised their record to 15-15-1.
But let’s see if they can go above .500 against the Lightning …. and sweep the southeastern U.S. in the process.
(Hey, Gary: No teams in Alabama?)
There was a lot to like last night. In no particular order:
• Andrei Kostitsyn, who saved his best hockey for when the team needs it most.
• The centres of the future, Lars Eller and David Desharnais.
• Another perfect PK, even though Jacques Martin had to use Alexandre Picard when P.K. Subban was in the box.
• Two more assists for the wizardly Wiz.
• The explosive acceleration of Max Pacioretty, who continues to prove the value of a Hamilton apprenticeship.
• Hal Gill’s goal and plus-3
• Carey Price, a bona-fide candidate for the Vezina Trophy.
• Brent Sopel played a solid 18:47 and his partner, Picard, played a minute less.
There was stuff I didn’t like:
• The Canadiens were outhit 37-20 and had no answers for the aggression of Darcy Hordichuk.
• Scott Gomez played more minutes than any other forward on the Canadiens.
• In a 4-0 game, Roman Hamrlik played 22:24.
• Michael Cammalleri has two SoG and is pointless on this road trip.
But a W is a W, and the Canadiens have put together a url for the first time in a month.
Maybe Tampa Bay will make it four.
• • •
Good to see the Habs pick up a few wins in here. The next 2 games will tell us a lot about this team. If we can beat both Tampa and Boston, not only Habs fans, but the whole league will have to take notice of this Montreal Canadien hockey team. I have felt all along that last year’s playoff success was an anomaly, a one-off event. But 2 wins against 2 elite teams at this juncture will go a long way to convince me these Habs are for real this year again.
The team is starting to gel and play with confidence. Everyone is contributing….Hal Gill with a goal, Kostitsyn, Eller, Sopel, Wizniewski, Picard. Cammalleri’s return has been a boon for the offense. PG has made minor, but important moves in acquiring Brent Sopel and Paul Mara, both of whom provide grit, an item that was notably lacking earlier in the season. Mara especially, will make his presence felt against physical teams like Boston that attempt to bully the Habs. This is what you see on a winning team … contributions from everyone.
A lot of Habs fans haven’t dared to hope this year. But these Canadiens are starting to round into playoff form at just about the right time. Jacques Martin said the other day he thought this team is BETTER than last year’s team….because of the kids …. Pax, Desharnais, Eller, Weber, and the irrepressible P.K. Subban. The fact that Martin wasn’t bemoaning the loss of Markhov and Gorges, but rather, talking up the kids, says a lot about the quiet confidence that currently permeates this team, from top to bottom.
Very interesting 2 games coming up.
I like the lines the way they have been the last few games. For some reason Eller, AK and Moen seem to really click together…may be it’s there physical presence and skill levels. All of them are relatively big guys and they are playing big, hitting and bashing. I have always like Eller but I am really starting to see him as a key acquisition for the future of the team. He seems very responsible defensively in our end and is quite often the first guy to pressure the other teams forwards along the boards in our end.
Picard played a good game for a guy that is on the bubble lately…he does seem ready to back up his comments about just being happy to be in the NHL and that he understands his role and to be ready if and when he gets the call to play. And Sopel, well he isn’t a Markov and will never look like he is, but he has been a reliable add in to the support the defence. And I loved Mara’s physicality the other night against the Thrashers.
I’m a little worried about the Pleks, Cammi and Halpern line. Does Halpern seem a little out of his league here? I think he seems a little slow and confused about what to do offensively with the other two guys. But what go you do…the other lines seem to have some chemistry so not sure if I want JM to make a move right now. And God help us when Darche comes back…I guess we could sit Pyatt. But I liked how DD, Pouliot and White worked together when they had the chance. So how do we get White back in the line up?
I guess what we will likely see for the rest of regular season is rotation of our extra d-men and forwards in and out of the line up so everyone stays game shape and fresh. I’m OK with that provided we get wins.