They won’t be sending the game DVD to the Hockey Hall of Fame, but a W is a W. But any time you can hold the home team to 18 shots _ only one in the first period – you’ve played a very solid hockey game.
What did we learn?
• Tomas Plekanec is the best two-way forward on the team: great 5-on-5, power play, PK. Number 14 is so much better than the number 35 who struggled to figure out his linemates, Boris and Natasha, last season. Now he and Alex Kovalev are like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (should Fred have passed to Ginger for the hat trick last night?). Add a rapidly emerging Belarussian and the Canadiens have one of the fastest, most highly-skilled and dangerous lines in the league. I can’t remember who was prime minister the last time we saw three-way passing like this.
• Make it four-way passing when Andrei Markov is on with the Pleks line, snapping off tape-to-tape 40-footers. He’s unreal – and Markov blocked six shots last night.
• If the team is patient and lets him learn from his mistakes – of which he’s good for at least two in every game – Josh Gorges will become a very reliable defenceman.
• Cristobal Huet handles the puck the way I handle my finances. Next summer, he should join the Long Island gym where Mike Komisarek and Christopher Higgins work out with Rick DiPietro. The Islanders’ goalie might be willing to conduct a tutorial.
• Speaking of goalies, Carey Price let in seven goals on 31 shots last night as Peoria dumped Hamilton 7-2. I’m starting to get a teensy bit concerned about our goaltender of the future.
• The Captain was very good last night. I think he’ll get Higgins scoring again soon, and Sergei K. will help them both.
• Last night’s defence pairings are the ones I’d go with for the rest of the season: Markov-Komisarek/Hamrlik-Streit/Bouillon-Gorges. Sorry, Breeze.
• Canadiens took one minor penalty – and scored on the PK. Gotta love that discipline.
• The power play went 0-for-2 but had some brilliant puck control and a few good chances.
• Bryan Smolinski is a smart veteran who will give Guy Carbonneau quality minutes through the second half of the season.
• I liked the fourth line last night. But who sits when Steve Bégin returns?
• Garth Snow would never give him up, but I’d trade for Trent Hunter in a Long Island minute.
• Thursday will be fun. Atlanta smoked the Wings 5-1 in Detroit as Marian Hossa got a hat trick, Keri Lehtonen made 46 saves and the Thrashers overtook Carolina for the Southeast Division lead.
• Sergei Samsonov, playing on a line with Erik Cole and Rod Brind’Amour, had a goal and two assists last night.