About last night …

Marc André Bergeron will earn $750,000 this season. He has seven goals.

Alex Kovalev makes $5 million. He has four.

The Canadiens had three power plays against the Senators. They scored twice. 

MAB had a PP goal and an assist on AK46′s. He played 2:37 on the PP – and 2:27 shorthanded!

Kovalev played 3:19 on the PP. He didn’t score – and neither did any of his teammates during Ottawa’s SEVEN man advantages.

After the win over Philadelphia, Jacques Martin repeated one of his favourite maxims: the results of hockey games often come down to goaltending and special teams.

Carey Price had a quiet night against the Flyers’ 15 shots, but the Canadiens went 1-for-3 on the PP and killed four penalties.

Twenty-four hours later, Jaro Halak – a somewhat surprising starter – made 45 saves to backstop brilliant work by the Canadiens’ special teams.

And when the dust settled, the Canadiens found themselves in eighth place.

They have 15Ws this injury-wracked season – as many as Boston and Ottawa, only one fewer than Buffalo.

Amazing!

Jaro Spacek was injured at the end of the first period and didn’t return. Georges played six minutes and spent the third period on the bench.

Max Pacioretty and Sergei Kostitsyn missed shifts because of injuries. The Canadiens spent the final 20 minutes clinging to the lead with five defencemen and 10 forwards.

Heroic.

Let’s start with the PK guys, who are 22-for-22, going back to the end of the Washington game:

Tomas Plekanec and Travis Moen, Scott Gomez and Sergei Kostitsyn, Roman Hamrlik and Ryan O’Byrne, Josh Gorges and the guy all the tavern hockey coaches – and a few of the TV ones – thought was a bad signing, Hal Gill.

Gill played 6:03 on the PK. It would have been more, but he took two penalties himself.

The PK is about discipline and smart positioning. It requires grit and second effort.

That’s this crazy season in a nutshell, eh?

Ravaged by injuries, the Canadiens have been smoked a few times this season, notably by Vancouver, Nashville and Thursday’s Bell Centre visitors, the Stanley Cup champion Penguins.

But the team has competed in almost every game they’ve played. Credit Martin and his staff. Credit a Kovalev-less lineup of guys who play hard in EVERY game, not one in three.

Credit Bob Gainey for signing Bergeron, who has become Streit Lite and will be a nice PP complement to Andrei Markov.

Credit the goaltending, which has improved as the season progressed. Coming off a weak performance in Buffalo, Jaro Halak was spectacular. He’ll be someone’s number-one goaltender next season.

Credit the centres:

• the brilliant Plekanec, whom Michel Bergeron is calling “the best 2-on-1 player in the league”;

• Gomez, overpaid but a fast, clever player with a work ethic and commitment to D that are nightly indicators of the great organization where he began his career;

• Glen Metropolit, the poster boy for overachievement

Credit Mike Cammalleri: 17 goals – 14 at even strength – in 31 games. If he bags 20 by Christmas, that’ll be a Canadiens’ first since Bobby Smith.

Credit the banged-up D corps: Not a Norris candidate among them and vulnerable to an aggressive forecheck. But Roman Hamrlik and Josh Gorges have been superb, and the supporting cast works hard and gets help from the forwards in Martin’s system. Clouds on the horizon, however, if Spatch is out for a while.

Max-Pac is emerging as a power forward. The Brothers are showing flashes of their immense talent.

And if they straighten out his paperwork, Ryan White will be back against Pittsburgh.

•  •  •

Rule of thumb: A good team’s PP and PK percentages should equal at least 100.

The Canadiens are killing penalties at 82.7% efficiency.

The power play scores on 18.5 per cent of its chances.

First time this season the team has exceeded the 100 benchmark.

•  •  •

Allan Walsh Tweets again:

“Halak it…..Halak it a lot!”


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About last night …

What do you get when BOTH teams play Jacques Martin hockey?

Certainly not a game tape that they’ll be forwarding to the Hall of Fame.

At the end of the first period, the Flyers had four shots and the Impact …. uhh, I mean the Canadiens had ONE.

Believe it or not, that wasn’t a team record. In the third period of a game against Hartford on Dec. 11, 1985, the Canadiens had no shots.

They won that one 3-1 also.

On the game, shots were 15-13 in favor of the Flyers. The total is a record for fewest by both teams, the previous mark being 31 in a 5-2 win over Calgary on the last day of 1993.

OK, enough history.

This was the weirdest game of the season, but it goes down as a W … and those two points might prove very valuable in April.

Martin, who has a good – albeit rarely displayed – sense of humour, joked about the defensive struggle and said the Canadiens had executed a game plan he’s been working on all weekend.

The coach was in a good mood because the unentertaining nature of the game notwithstanding, there were many praiseworthy efforts among Martin’s troops.

Holding the Flyers – an alleged but troubled Cup contender – to 15 shots is an accomplishment, especially on the heels of a big win against Boston.

Carey Price was beaten for a shorthanded goal when Daniel Brière decided he was Maurice Richard and scored with Ryan O’Byrne draped all over him. Other than that, the goaltender’s work was impeccable on a quiet night at the office.

The Canadiens blocked 27 shots (on the heels of 22 against Boston). The leader was Roman Hamrlik, who blocked 10, had two assists, played 24 minutes and was the same rock-solid presence he’s been since Andrei Markov was injured.

There have been many nights this season when you get an inkling of why Hamrlik was the first overall draft choice (by Tampa Bay) in 1992. He’s not spectacular. He doesn’t have Markov’s skating ability r offensive flare, and Hamrlik doesn’t deal out bonecrushing checks like his former D partner in Calgary Dion Phaneuf.

But man, he’s a smart hockey player. Hamrlik played 26 shifts and he’ll handle the puck maybe three, four times during each. That’s about 100 tocuhes on the game, and you can count on one hand the number of times Roman Hamrlik fails to make a sound, safe play.

Bob Gainey was criticized for the contract he gave Hamrlik: four years at $5.5 million per. But he’s certainly earning every nickel of it tis season. Hamrlik will play a major role in getting the Canadiens into the postseason or, if they fall out of the chase, he’ll be a attractive commodity for a contender in need of D help on trade deadline day.

But there’s a lot of hockey to be played before February – including the second half of a back-to-backer Tuesday night in Ottawa.

Fearless prediction: The Senators will get more than 15 shots. And the Canadiens will exceed 13.

Paul Mara was hurt in the first period and will not make the trip. That means Marc-Andree Bergeron, aka Streit Lite, probably will be moved back to D, joining a corps that’s putting together a string of impressive performances.

Hal Gill played 22:43 against the Flyers, including four minutes on the PK. As Martin noted, Gill’s return means Jaro Spacek does not have to play as much in shorthanded situations (2:10 last night), which saves an older, undersized Dman for 5-on-5 play.

Josh Gorges had two hits, blocked three shots and played a steady game against Scott Hartnell and other big Flyer forwards who might be expected to feast on a small defenceman. Ryan O’Byrne played only 13:37 – we’ll see more of him in Ottawa.

The Canadiens have not allowed a power-play goal since Eric Fehr scored for Washington with 12 seconds remaining on the clock. That was four games ago. The PK has become a strength for the Canadiens, with splendid work by Tomas Plekanec, Travis Moen and – replacing Tom Pyatt and Ryan White – Scott Gomez and Sergei Kostitsyn.

The latter two keep showing signs of developing some chemistry. With Plekanec, Andrei Kostitsyn and Mike Cammalleri (16 … and counting) as the top line, I foresee some long-awaited secondary scoring coming from Gomez, Brian Gionta and either SK74 or Benoit Pouliot (if he ever plays).

A great line last night, through they didn’t figure in the scoring, was Glen Metropolit, Moen and Max Pacioretty. Metro went 15-8 on faceoffs and battled the Flyers for every loose puck. Moen was Moenesque with a couple hits and solid puck support in the D-zone. Max-Pac, who was good against Toronto, was even better last night. Inaddition to having the Canadiens’ only shot of the first period, the kid had a team-high four hits and terrified the Philadelphia D with his speed, competitiveness and creativity in the offensive zone.

Don’t look now, but Pacioretty – whom many of us had consigned to Hamilton – may be turning into the kid of power forward the Canadiens thought they were getting when they overlooked David Perron to draft him.

Max Lapierre began the night centring the fourth line and ended up on the wing with Gomez and SK74. Max is using his speed and not trying to do anything fancy. He may be coming around to the form we saw last season. His feed to Cammalleri – after using a foot drag to befuddle the Philly defender and oblige Brian Boucher to slide over and cover – was a the play of the night.

Anyone I’ve overlooked?

BGL landed some good shots in a stupid, pointless  fight with Riley Coté that occurred less than three minutes into the game.

I counted three solid Laraque lefts.

That was more shots than his teammates had in the first period.

Again, not not a classic to start the Canadiens second century …. or did the Bruins game start it? I can never figure that stuff out.

Two in a row for your Montreal Canadiens – in ninth place and inching up.

On to Ottawa.

 

 

 

 


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