So much to celebrate.
How long has it been since the Canadiens decisively pounded the snot of an opponent?
Granted, it was the Senators – playing their second game in as many nights, in front of a crowd of 10,000 screaming Canadiens fans and 10,000 typically dead-ass Ottawans.
But still …
Before we get to the long list of laurels, consider the sequence that I thought was one of the most impressive in the game:
About midway through the third period, Canadiens were up 3-0 and it was effectively over. For the first time in the game, however, Ottawa managed to get their forecheck going and bottle the Canadiens up.
It lasted through a line change – a good 90 seconds, two minutes.
But here’s what I liked:
No panic among Canadiens defenders. Ottawa had the puck, but they were kept to the outside and the slot was protected.
Most significantly: All through those long seconds of chasing the puck, the Canadiens took no penalties.
It’s all about discipline and teamwork and trusting the guy next to you to make the right play.
I just know Jacques Martin loved it.
The coach had a lot to love.
His team played a textbook road game. The Canadiens held Ottawa without a SoG for the first 13 minutes of the game. The Senators were shotless for eight minutes in the second period, when it was still 1-0 and they had a chance to get back into the game.
Playing in their own building, the Senators had four shots in the first period, three in the third.
The home team got spanked.
We know how that feels, because New Jersey did it to the Canadiens at the Bell Centre Thursday night.
I would suggest, however, that this was a much more dominant 3-0 win.
Shall we roll through the honours list?
• Carey Price had an easy night, right? Wrong. Price made some big stops when the lead was 1-0, and the kid was full value for his first shutout in almost two years. Price has played every game this season, and he’s yet to play a bad one. He’s cool, he’s calm, he’s seeing the puck well and his lateral movement is flawless.
No one in the NHL began the season under more pressure than Carey Price. So far, so good … with gusts to great.
• We knew AK46 could score. But he’s playing total hockey; skating, hitting, conscientious on D. Total involvement, in all three zones. Yes, it’s a contract year. But AK46 is playing like a Belarusian who has a firm grasp of the basic principles of capitalism. And credit Danno with the line of the night: “Brother Andrei’s goals were beatifical”.
• We still aren’t sure Benoit Pouliot can score. On RDS, Mario Tremblay and Joël Bouchard expressed their doubts. But Benny popped one for the first time since last March 25. And has been the case on many nights this season, he worked hard and refused to let the slump get him down. Will he be as good a scorer as Gui!? The jury is out. But Benny is the more complete player.
• P.K. Subban played his best game as a Canadien. The Senators hammered him at every opportunity. Late in the game, Nick Foligno jumped him. P.K. took it all, dished it out and had four shots to go with his four hits and two blocked shots. Barring injury, this is a star in the making.
• Tomas Plekanec and Mike Cammalleri played superbly in support of their high-flying linemate.
• Lars Eller played eight quality minutes and looked comfortable at centre. He also flattened fellow Dane Peter Regin.No disrespect to Travis Moen and Mathieu Darche, but Eller needs linemates who can score.
• The PP took another 0-or, but using Roman Hamrlik on the first wave generated better pressure from the blueline. The Canadiens are 4-2-1 with a power play that’s been blanked in six of seven games. Once the PP gets rolling …
• The Senators had a 25-18 hit advantage, and I think 23 of the checks were on Josh Gorges. My man played 23:14. Gorges is the heart and soul of the Canadiens D.
• Alexandre Picard was run consistently by his former teammates but took it all and played 17 solid minutes. Unless his game suddenly heads south, Ryan O’Byrne is the team’s eighth Dman.
• Jeff Halpern played like the smart veteran he is, went 8-4 on faceoffs and was part of a PK that was perfect again.
Martin called it the most complete effort of the young season.
Subban lauded simple plays and “dirty goals” while also praising forwards who are getting back to help the D clear the zone.
Canadiens are scheduled to have a rare Sunday practice, but maybe Martin will reward the boys with a day off.
Phoenix on Monday at the Bell Centre.
The Coyotes are better than Ottawa.
• • •
With the exceptions of Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay, no opponent has more than 25 shots against the Canadiens.
Ottawa has 19 in each of two games.
• • •
Kovy: ZERO SoG … but I loved his shots at Chris Neil during the Antichambre interview.
And Kovy II was a $10 million healthy scratch in New Jersey.
Devils coach John MacLean: “It was a coach’s decision. Coach’s scratch. Whatever you want to call it … I’m not discussing it. It was my decision. I made it. He (Kovalchuk) knows. I spoke to him and that’s where it’s going to stay.”
• • •
Jaro shut out the Penguins.