Guy Carbonneau has given the lads a day off today to spend some time with their loved ones after being away from home since last Thursday.
Canadiens deserve it.
Three games on the road: two wins and an overtime loss, capped by a come-from-behind conquest of the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last spring and, after 40 minutes, nearly knocked them out of the Wachovia Centre last night.
After a dull first period that had more whistles than a swimsuit competition at the state fair, the Flyers bounced back from An Andrei Kostitsyn goal with two of their own and began to take it to the Canadiens physically.
They were winning most of the one-on-one battles, and on home ice, that usually translates to winning the war.
We don’t know what Churchillian oratory Carbo laid on between the second and third periods, but it seemed to work. Playing their third game in four nights, Canadiens dominated the final 20 minutes and extended their regular-season dominance of the Flyers.
What I liked:
Carey Price: Sophomore jinx? Two starts, 1.92 GAA, save percentage of .941. I still don’t now how he got his glove on that Daniel Brière tip, but it was a game-changer. He’s cool, he’s confident, he’s primed for a great season.
Andrei Kostitsyn: Is it the new contract? AK46 is playing like the worst hair on the team is on fire. He has a second gear that lets him zip past defenders when there’s an opening. And he’s laid on some ferocious forechecks, like the one on Mike Richards that set up his goal last night.
Sergei Kostitsyn: Canadiens have their best brother act since the Mahovliches … and SK74 is going to be better than Pete. At this rate of development, the kid may be better than Henri Richard. Two assists last night give him the team lead in scoring. Sergei is a superb passer with great vision. Just wait until he and Robert Lang get a winger who can score.
Ryan O’Byrne: I’m becoming a believer. Under the tutelage of Professor Hamrlik, O’B is becoming a steady, reliable NHL defenceman who can skate and move the puck. His size was a major asset against the dastardly Flyers last night.
Josh Gorges: Remember the skin rash Guy Lapointe got from his equipment? They said it used to flare up when the Canadiens had to visit the Spectrum. In the City of Brotherly Love, you fasten your chin strap and adjust your jock. Playing against bigger oponents, as is the case in nearly every game, Gorges was not intimidated last night, played his usual quietly efficient game and had three hits.
Robert Lang: Was this guy a brilliant acquisition or what? He’s shot the puck five times this season. Two have gone in. He and SK74 are learning each other’s dance moves; and once either Guillaume Latendresse or Christopher Higgins joins the line, look out.
The Fourth Line: Again, quality double-digit minutes in a tough building. Steve Bégin stayed out of the box and scored an empty-netter on a backhanded golf shot. Maxim Lapierre isn’t quite the white Georges Laraque, but he held his own with Steve Downie.
Alex Kovalev: In a game like that, you notice that in addition to possessing a dazzling skill set, Kovy is strong as a horse. He made a superb pass to Hamrlik to set up the goal that put the Canadiens back in the game.
Mike Komisarek: The road warrior had four hits and five blocked shots. He’s on his way to being among league leaders in both departments. Komo’s first goal last season was in Game 13.
Roman Hamrlik: He’s matching Andrei Markov’s minutes and forming a terrific duo with O’B. Hamrlik’s first goal last season was in Game 7 and it took his 19 games to get two.
Guy Carbonneau: He got a road-weary team to play a kick-ass third period against a tough opponent. He instills discipline: Canadiens kept their cool all night. And Carbo seems to have achieved reasonable accommodation of Kerry Fraser.
Home opener tomorrow against last spring’s other playoff opponent.