A terse and pithy (yeath, it will have great pith) edition of ALN because I have to dash downtown to join Mio, Hickey and Stubbs for the Habs I/O podcast.
Was it just a couple weeks ago we were talking about the Canadiens’ three scoring lines?
Now they have one. And if anything – slump, injury, ominous horoscope – happens to Tomas Plekanec-Alex Kovalev-Andrei Kostitsyn, this team is in deep sewage.
On the day La Presse decided he should be traded, Saku Kovu played a very good game: skated hard, plenty of energy, battled for pucks, no offensive-zone penalties.
But for the love of Michael Ryder, get the Captain some wingers!
The Sergei Kostitsyn/Guillaume Latendresse experiment was a disaster. The kids had no clue as to where they should be or where Koivu was or what the centre might set up for them. The line played like they’d met each other for the first time in a bar an hour before the game.
By the third period, Christopher Higgins was back with Koivu and Sergei K. I think Guy Carbonneau should leave this line intact, at least through the upcoming road trip.
Failing that, the coach should reunite Koivu, Higgins and Ryder and play Sergei with Maxim Lapierre and Latendresse. The Kid Line showed promise before Carbo, the compulsive tinkerer, started futzing around with it.
Let’s hope Roman Hamrlik is back for the game in Ottawa tomorrow. But Patrice Brisebois wasn’t bad last night, and Carbo may be tempted to move Mark Streit up front to give the Bryan Smolinski line some punch.
Not too darn many.
• The Pleks line, of course. While recollections of the Jacques Lemaire-Guy Lafleur-Steve Shutt have been bandied about, I’ll make a more contemporary comparison: This is the most dynamic line since Doug Gilmour was centring Oleg Petrov and Richard Zednik. They had that great playoff series against Boston before Kyle MacLaren laid Zednik out.
• Josh Gorges is the number four defenceman on this team. He was solid again last night, with a succession of partners.
• Carey Price didn’t show any rust. Price wasn’t brilliant, but nor was he to be blamed on the three goals that beat him. I just wish he’d have a stand-on-your-head, 40-save game one of these nights.
• Vesa Toskala was the game’s first star, but I thought he had an easy 34-save night. Canadiens didn’t go to the net, didn’t screen him, didn’t pounce on the few rebounds he gave up.
• Leafs had 14 shots in the first period. Pith-poor defensive effort against a visiting team that isn’t the Detroit Red Wings.
• Add Mats Sundin to the long list of players who won’t be sending Mike Komisarek a valentine.
• Love him or hate, you have to admit Darcy Tucker is a player.
• Jason Blake is a whiner, a yapper, a diver and an overpaid pain in the ass. After Steve Downie popped him – probably the only fight of his career in which Downie was the sentimental favourite – P.J. Stock’s friend and fellow tough guy Jim Cummins derisively summed up Blake: "Jason Blake’s mouth writes cheques his body can’t cash."
On to Ottawa, where Dany Heatley and Daniel F, await.