Here’s some advice for 21,273 lucky fans who were at the Bell Centre: Hang on to your ticket stubs.
When Carey Price is closing in on 100 career shutouts, you’ll have palpable, eBay-sellable proof that you saw his first.
Thing about the Kid, when he’s hot he’s cool. Price does not panic. The work with Rollie Melanson and the exile to Hamilton have refined his technique and honed his focus.
Flyers get a 5-on-3 power play with ace penalty-killers Markov and Komisarek off for almost two full minutes? No problem.
Roman Hamrlik breaks his stick, turning it into a 5-on-2? No problem.
Fifteen third-period shots in a one-goal game? No problem.
The only problem is Guy Carbonneau’s. Who is his goaltender tonight in Philadelphia?
If Carbo is true to his vow that he will ride the hot hand of a winner until there’s a loss, it’s gotta be Price. The problem – and it won’t take long for it to arise – is with impending UFA Cristobal Huet. Price will not go undefeated the rest of the season – heck, it will be tough to get a W tonight in Philly – so we’ll find out pretty soon how Huet reacts to having to win back his job AND play well enough to get a nice contract, in Montreal or somewhere else.
Over the course of the last two games, Price has stopped 69 of 70 shots, He’s beginning to make a strong push for the number one job, and the organization will have to decide whether Canadiens need the insurance policy of Huet for another season or two.
It’s a nice problem to have.
• The Kids were alright last night. I watched the replay of Andrei Kostitsyn’s goal when I got home. Amazing. I’d managed to miss its subtleties during he game. Falling and reaching back to redirect the puck …. wow! Truly Ovechkinian. Andrei K., who has a sense of humour, later told reporters he’d taught Ovechkin how to score spectacular goals.
• And Dale Hunter taught his brother to never give an inch. How about brother Sergei getting into it with Scottie Upshall? I love the cojones on that kid.
• Speaking of clanking brass ones: Francis Bouillon, three shots, five hits. If Canadiens had an award for Overachiever of the Year, Frankie the Bull would be a lock.
• Canadiens outhit the Flyers 26-17. Philly goon Riley Cote spent four minutes in the box, 1:36 on the ice. Steve Downie, however, can play hockey … and he’s a royal pain in the ass.
• I thought the third and fourth lines did what they had to do: skate, hit and drive pucks deep, obliging the Flyers to lug them back 200 feet. Not exciting, but it eats minutes in a close game.
• Max Lapierre was particularly energetic and understands just how he has to play against the Flyers. He’ll be a marked man tonight in Philadelphia.
• On the mad scramble that nearly tied the game – and François Gagnon, among others, thought it did – Tom Kostopoulos joined the pile and later admitted he did so to obscure the view of the overhead camera that Toronto would use to decide if the puck was in. There was no video consultation, but Tom the Bomb is a smart player.
• Roman Hamrlik played a heroic 22:53 – including most of the 5-on-3. He had three hits and a team-leading three blocked shots. Tremendous player.
• Faceoffs were 35-34 Flyers, but it seemed like they won most of the important ones.
• Mark Streit did not have a great night on the PP – too many hasty and poor decisions.
It was great, playoff-level hockey … and your Montreal Canadiens won the game. They’re two points back of Ottawa, which hasn’t won since that trade.
And who’s got the better goaltending, eh?