There’s not much to add to Quick Hits, and I really should start my Christmas shopping.
The win was sweet because a loss would have been so dreadfully sour.
The players, their familes and a good many fans would be “celebrating” an unhappy Christmas tomorrow.
The team would be in eighth place, four points ahead of ninth-place Carolina, with the Hurricanes holding two games in hand.
The Boxing Day visit to Long Island would be a must-win for a team that had lost four in a row, the season’s longest futility streak.
But it won’t happen.
Oh, it would still be good to beat the Islanders. The Eastern Conference race is tight and probably will stay that way.
But the Canadiens can revel in a solid 60-minute effort and enjoy some well-earned time off before climbing on a plane Saturday afternoon.
• • •
A Christmas treat for fans of old-time wrestling … including my man David Stubbs:
Props to my great and good friend GG11, who posted this Andrei the Giant and Pepper Gomez classic to her Women on the Ledge web site.
The team’s top two centres, Tomas Plekanec and Scott Gomez, were very good in Carolina.
Andrei Kostitsyn, fresh from a night in the pressbox, played his best game in weeks and scored his first goal of December.
Max Pacioretty has become a fixture on the Gomez line – a fast, physical player who opens ice for his smaller linemates and goes to the net on a consistent basis.
On L’Antichambre last night, Gaston Therrien beat the drums for calling up David Desharnais. Moreover, Therrien insisted Desharnais should be centring one of the top two lines.
Plekanec and Gomez are doing fine. Super Smurf won’t steal their jobs.
Would Desharnais be an upgrade on Lars Eller?
Eller played 7:55 last night and has been averaging 10:26. But I still love the kid’s size/skill/speed package, and I think bringing him along slowly is the right approach.
That said, if Benoit Pouliot draws back in, I’d like to see him reunited with Eller and Mathieu Darche.
But who sits?
Tom Pyatt, a Jacques Martin favourite, played 1:41 on the PK last night. Maxim Lapierre skated and had a couple hits. Darche is the poster boy – man, actually – for the kind of lunch-bucket hockey Martin wants his team to play. Travis Moen can’t put the puck in the ocean, but he works hard and is the only Canadien who knows how to fight. Jeff Halpern is a faceoff and PK specialist who can work with gifted linemates (remember the glories of PhD?)
Martin may stick with a winning lineup against the Islanders – which would mean a fifth healthy scratch for P.K. Subban.
Yannick Weber played almost 20 minutes last night, and I think I was nervous for 18 of them.
The kid has an NHL point shot – and God knows, the Canadiens need one of those – but I don’t like his D. He’s small, easily muscled and prone to error: Not a good combination.
Alexandre Picard was better, but the Canadiens have issues on defence. Josh Gorges is playing hurt (although my man was better last night than he was in Dallas), and wear and tear is piling up on the Old Czechs.
Carey Price had been displaying signs of fatigue. He was being beaten by shots that he stopped earlier in the season.
But with the game on the line, Price was superb in the third period last night. He made 10 saves, including game-savers on Eric Staal, Chad LaRose and Erik Cole.
I think Price should enjoy the Boxing Day game from a nice seat on the end of the bench.
The Canadiens finish the month with a visit to Washington and a back-to-back in sunny Florida. They’ll need primo Price to pick up some points this week.
Happy and safe Christmas Eve to everyone … even you, Chris Lee.