The kids are alright – and they should always wear white.
Maybe the Canadiens will don road jerseys tomorrow night at the Bell Centre, because the only way they’re going to beat the Leafs at home is by playing the way they did in Philadelphia.
And while we’re unlikely to see that fashion strategem, let’s hope Guy Carbonneau sticks with a young, high-energy lineup that offered tantalizing glimpses of this team’s bright future.
It’s not like Montrealers are planning the parade route (tough to do today: it’s snowing), but there were enough good things last night to elevate us from the depths of despond fans have been plumbing for a couple weeks.
Carbonneau said his team followed the game plan and worked for 60 minutes. He neglected to congratulate himself for the lineup change that energized the Canadiens.
Sergei Kostitsyn: First-line RW.
Okay, it was only one game. Kostitsyn the Younger didn’t pick up any points. But the kid had four shots on goal, worked the puck in the corners, snapped off accurate passes, knew where his linemates were, read the flow of play and consistently positioned himself properly. He has superb hockey sense.
In short, number 74 is not number 73. And Carbo confirmed that Sergei will be in the lineup again tomorrow.
As will Carey Price. There was some speculation that Cristobal Huet would be back to face the Leafs, but Carbonneau said Price will get the start. The coach praised his goaltender for a 30-save effort in Philly, saying Price had stopped playing deep in his net and did a better job of challenging shooters. Price’s positioning and lateral movement were irreproachable. He also handled the puck well and was, as always, cool under occasional pressure applied by the Flyers.
Price got help from his defence corps, who cleared rebounds smartly and controlled any Flyers who strayed in front of the net. Andrei Markov played a huge game at both ends of the ice. Mike Komisarek keyed a physical effort that saw the Canadiens outhit the allegedly intimidating Flyers 15-9. Roman Hamrlik took a bad penalty but was otherwise solid. Francis Bouillon had a quietly efficient game, and I liked the play of my man Josh Gorges. I’d love to see him against the Leafs tomorrow.
There were a couple scary sequences when the Flyers kept the Canadiens bottled up, but for the most part the guys in white cleared their zone efficiently and moved the puck smartly up ice. The transition game, MIA through all those gruesome home losses, was back.
• The PK, another recent faiblesse, was excellent last night. The Flyers went 1-for-6 on the PP, but Mike Knuble’s goal was a fluke. Canadiens killed a two-minute 5-on-3 that could have turned the game.
• Canadiens blocked 20 shots – four by Guillaume Latendresse. Gui! hustled all night, as did all the guys on the third and fourth lines. Maxim Lapierre used his speed to good advantage and won eight of 11 faceoffs.
• Canadiens went 32-26 in the faceoff circle. The Captain – who played a great all-around game – was 14-5. The only centre who had a tough time was Tomas Plekanec, who was 6-13 while excelling in every other aspect of his game. His pass to set up AK was a beauty.
• If Mike Richards is worth $69 million over 12 years, what should Bob Gainey offer Christopher Higgins at about this time next season? And Mike Komisarek?
They’re forecasting a huge dump of snow tomorrow. Because of a storm in Boston yesterday, the Bruins drew 1,500 fans to watch them lose to New Jersey.
It would take an earthquake for there to be any fewer than 21,273 out to watch the Canadiens and Leafs tomorrow night.
And it will take 60 minutes of hard-nosed hustle – and another kid-heavy lineup – to rack up a long-awaited home W.