There’s not much point dwelling on that ridiculous win.
This is Saku Koivu Day, and the big game is tonight at the Bell Centre.
The joint will be rockin’, and the home team will have momentum.
It got to the point last night when I wasn’t enjoying the game. That’s how bad and non-competitive Ottawa was: the Canadiens didn’t even have to try very hard in order to put seven on the board.
And it could have been more, if Max Pacioretty, James Wisniewski and Andrei Kostitsyn had cashed good chances early, when the game was still in doubt.
Ah, it was never in doubt. The Senators are that bad.
The question to be answered tonight: Are the Canadiens that good?
I doubt they’ll put seven pucks past Jonas Hiller, who’s right behind Carey Price in the NHL’s goaltender rankings.
But the team is on a mid-season roll: 6-1-2 in January, sixth-place in the Eastern Conference and six points clear of ninth-place Carolina.
Two games remain before the All-Star break, and they’ll give us a good measure of where the team is at, heading into the final 32 games of the regular season: a visit to Philadelphia on Monday.
The Ducks and Flyers are not the Senators.
No, the Senators are unique in their awfulness. Their goal differential of minus-51 is the league’s worst, they’re locked into bad contracts with Alex Kovalev and Sergei Gonchar, they got skinned alive on the Dany Heatley trade and they’ve quit on Cory Clouston.
I feel for the good hockey fans of Ottawa, who deserve better than what they’re watching.
The best part of last night’s game – apart from big confidence boosts for AK46 and Benoit Pouliot – was the luxury of rolling four lines in a laugher. Jacques Martin gave his fourth line – tarvis Moen and the Hamilton call-ups – double-digit minutes, which means everyone will be as fresh tonight as you can be in the second half of a back-to-back.
Also, the Canadiens had a short bus ride home. So scratch fatigue as a factor tonight.
You have to think Martin will dress the same lineup.
Barring injury, Alexandre Picard is going to be eating a lot of pressbox food between now and the end of the season.
Jeff Halpern’s return probably will send Andreas Engqvist back to the Bulldogs. But Ryan White, who had six hits and a fight in Ottawa, will have a chance to solidify a spot on the team against the rugged Ducks and Flyers.
There was a good deal of trade speculation yseterday on the radio talk shows and on L’Antichambre.
Chris Phillips to solidify the D?
Maybe. But he’d be expensive, and many teams will be in the hunt.
An intriguing thought. He loves Montreal and might – I stress might – be up for a Last Hurrah.
I wouldn’t do it.
I think one of the Canadiens’ strength is team chemistry. The room is happier and more harmonious than it was in the last days of the Koivu era.
Yes, last year’s playoff run was a Jaro Halak Production. But the ancillary benefit was great esprit de corps that has carried over into the beginning of the Carey Price era.
On L’Antichambre, Michel Bergeron said Pierre Gauthier does not like to trade for players in the twilight of their careers. Gauthier’s background is in scouting, and he excels in the assessment and appreciation of young hockey players – like the 26-year-old Wiz.
So maybe Kovy lovers shouldn’t hold their breath.
Fans of Saku Koivu, on the other hand, have only a few more hours to wait.
• • •
Guest Comment from Bill:
I don’t care if the Senators are a crappy team, because all too often
that’s the kind of team that gives Montreal fits. Nice to see them do
what they’re supposed to do with a team like that, which is KILL
The other day – after the injuries – I posted that on the bright
side, the Habs were finally a team that was suited to playing JM’s
stodgy defensive system. And ironically, without Cammalleri or Markov,
they come out and administer an offensive ass-kicking.
It’s a funny
game. So many likes. If I may continue to stump for AK46, this guy has
been having a good season no matter what anyone says. It’s not like he’s
getting top-six minutes all year, but he’s still producing more than
most players on the team. And he still leads the team in hits, if I am
The score is somewhat deceiving in that Ottawa’s goalies
playeds like crap, while Price was super-solid all night. Even out the
goaltending a little, and this really could have been a 3-2 or 4-3 win.
Kudos to him for staying focussed all game and making it a rout.
continuing to appreciate Gomez and his strong recent play. For the first
20 games of the year he was just not really there, but lately …
playing a top-two centre without a doubt.
So, we’re all happy, right?
Wrong, Bill: Montreal hockey fans are never happy.