Photo Shop of the Kiddie Corps by the great GG11 and posted to her Women on the ledge web site
Want to nit-pick?
May as well. There’s no football on TV.
• The Canadiens took their 10th bench minor of the season for Too Many Men on the ice. Only Tampa Bay, with 11, has more. It must be an organizational faiblesse that Guy Boucher took with him.
• Andrei Kostitsyn’s boarding penalty occurred 200 feet from his own net.
With the exception of those two errors, your Montreal Canadiens played just about a perfect game.
Sure, it was scoreless for 30 minutes. But the Leafs, who always look like Cup contenders against the Canadiens, played like what they are: a bottom-dwelling team that will be selling at the trade deadline.
Mikhail Grabovski, who always brings it against his former team, was a non-factor. Mike Komisarek is Toronto’s sixth defenceman.
After the Boston game, there was a lot of buzz about the formula for beating the Canadiens: Rock ‘em/sock ‘em, Don Cherry hockey. Beat them in the alley, beat them on the ice, beat them at the concession stands.
They’re small. They’re scared. They’ll mass-turtle.
Toronto either wasn’t into trying it or just couldn’t skate fast enough to nail anyone – least of all David Desharnais.
How Brian Burke must have agonized to see a player generously listed as 5’7″ bedazzle his allegedly tough hockey team.
On the drive home, I listened to CKAC’s Dany Dube, my favourite hockey analyst. He said a key to the win was Jacques Martin’s decision to give his players Friday off.
That might have have raised a few eyebrows after the Canadiens’ loss to the lowly Islanders.
But last night’s game was the Canadiens’ fifth in eight days, and February began with three sets of back-to-backs.
Dubé said the extra rest did wonders to restore Roman Hamrlik, who was brilliant against the Leafs, and Jaro Spacek, whose fine work included a shorthanded shift while Hamrlik was in the box. Dubé could have included Jeff Halpern among the geezers who benefitted from time off.
The Canadiens are off today, and the upcoming week is a bit less taxing: the surging Sabres, in what should be an entertaining game at the Bell Centre Tuesday night, then west to Edmonton for a Thursday game and a couple days off preceding the Heritage Classic in Calgary.
There are 25 games left in the regular season, and the Canadiens will play 15 of them on the road.
Not easy, especially for a team beset by injuries. But there were many positive indicators last night – including a third line that’s becoming the second line.
My friend Arpon Basu has written a splendid piece on Desharnais and Benoit Pouliot. We all love Mathieu Darche, but Ryan White brings more speed and grit to that line. With White digging, DD passing and Benny scoring, they’re a joy to watch.
There were reports that Max Pacioretty left the Bell Centre without a sling on his arm. That was good news: Max-Pac’s assist last night gave him points in four straight games, and he’s a critical component of the Canadiens’ Kiddie Corps who brings a physical complement to linemates Brian Gionta and Tomas Plekanec, who was great again last night, particularly on the PK.
Scott Gomez was better than he was against the Islanders. Jacques Martin singled ou Gomez’s backchecking on his first shift, adding that Gmez’s effectiveness is directly proportional to how hard he works.
On a give-and-go, Gomez found DD with a perfect cross-ice pass to the far post for the prettiest goal of the game.
Trouble is, Desharnais is not Gomez’s linemate. Andrei Kostitsyn and Lars Eller continue to struggle. AK46 had the aforementioned dumb penalty, and Eller hasn’t been on the scoresheet since Hosni Mubarak had a secure grip on power.
Your Montreal Canadiens snapped their losing streak. They’re eight points clear of the final playoff spot and have matched Washington’s total.
And I forgot to mention Carey Price because his excellence is so routine it has become inconspicuous.
Enjoy your Sunday.
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Guest Comment from PeterD:
Never mind the co-number two center thing…DD
has in my mind and I hope in the minds of the coaches surpassed Gomez as
the number two center behings Plekanec.
Tonight I loved the DD,
Pouliot, White line…what a great 2nd line…I noticed they played more
even strength minutes than the Gomez line…so I make them line #2 and
Gomez Line #3…make lots of sense to me.
Even strength TOI — Gomez = 9:59, DD = 11:27.
Gomez mired in a season long offensive slump, it makes more sense to
make room in the offensive lines for a more productive offensive
oriented player, and the Mighty David Desharnais seems to taking all the
opportunities provided to make that a reality. Gomez still has some
quality offensive skills and he has some good defensive skills for the
PP and PK, but I think he needs to be established in the 3rd line role
and accept that he is no longer a top 6 performer on this team.
Moen showed up on the AK and Gomez line, some of us thought, oh no here
we go again with Moen inthe top 6…but I saw it dfferently, on this
night I saw it as Gomez and AK dropping down to form the 3rd line with
Moen and the elevation of DD, Pouliot and White into the 2nd line
status. With Pleks, Patches and Gio as our 1st line.