Unsung hero of that ridiculous game: Cristobal Huet.
Don’t laugh. If he doesn’t make a huge save late in the first period, it’s 3-2, Bruins have momentum heading into the second and your fragile Montreal Canadiens are nervous. But Huet made the save, Max Lapierre scored at the other end, it was 4-1 and effectively over.
Equally impressive were some stops Huet made later, once the game had turned into shinny. To stay sharp and focused when your team is romping requires some kind of mental toughness. Chapeau to the man from France.
How about the whole darn team. As impressive as eight goals were, I was blown away by the passing. I can’t remember more tic-tac-toe plays in a game. The Tomas Plekanec line was magical, of course, but everyone else was into it – to the extent that Michael Ryder made a couple bad passes late in the third period and there were faint boos from spoiled fans.
There were set-ups and open nets my mother could have cashed … and she’d have pounded the snot out of Shane Hnidy.
Some of the posters took me to task for being hard on Mathieu Dandenault in my game blog, accusing me of kicking a guy when he’s down. There’s merit to that criticism. But look, a team that some picked to finish 14th is sitting fifth in the Eastern Conference and playing excellent hockey. It’s not the time to be whining – especially if you’re minus-10, you don’t play physical and you’re not a fighter.
Tom Kostopoulos knows there’s a battle for spots on the fourth line. So Tom the Bomb, making the most of his opportunity, gets the Gordie Howe hat trick – a goal, an assist and a fight, in defence of Steve Bégin, that made "TK", as they call him, a very big hero in the Canadiens’ room.
We’re going to hear more sad music from Patrice Brisebois when he’s ready to play. Josh Gorges has improved steadily since becoming a regular. He blocked four shots last night and made several excellent plays, including a recovery after Milan Lucic steamrollered him.
So does the man from My-my-my-my Kelowna sit in favour of Breeze? I don’t #$%^ing think so. And the situation gets even more complicated when Ryan O’Byrne gets back. Does Mark Streit move to forward, thus ensuring more pressbox nights for Dandenault?
Another big hit in the room was Sergei Kostitsyn’s fight. Brother Andrei said it was the kid’s pugilistic debut. I wouldn’t send him out to take on Georges Laraque, but Sergei did fine, displaying the benefits of playing junior hockey in Ontario under the tutelage of Dale Hunter. And if he’d played for Brent Sutter in the Dub, Sergei would have cleaned Chuck Kobasew’s clock.
I really liked that kid line. Sergei, Lapierre and Gui! could be better in their own end, but they’re a high-energy trio that’s going to tire out a lot of defencemen.
Speaking of exhaustion, how about the poor Bruins who had to watch Alex Kovalev skate around wit the puck last night? After he scored to make it 7-1 seven minutes into the third period, I think Kovy should have celebrated by ragging the puck for the next 13 minutes. Not the least of his talents is a theatrical flair that plays to the Bell Centre crowd.
Also emerging as a fan favourite: Andrei K. A redirect with his back to the net, a one-time laser on a pass from his brother …. the guy is on fire. On CKAC after the game, Dany Dubé said Andrei K proves the virtue of patience. People were ready to write him off as a first-round bust. But as he’s become more comfortable with North America and the Canadiens’ system, the big winger has moved onto the cusp of greatness. Size, speed, hands, shot … Andrei K. has it all. And just wait till he’s on a line with Sergei.
Haven’t mentioned the D. They were superb. Komisarek and Andrei Markov: plus-4. Komisaurus had five hits. Markov on the PP with Kovy and Andrei K. orchestrated the best ballet this side of the Bolshoi.
On to New Jersey, where we’ll find out if last night was a fluke.