Over men and horses hoops and garters
and lastly through a hogshead of real fire
In this way Mr. K will challenge the world
Coach Guy Carbonneau said you could count on the fingers of one hand the number of bad games Alex Kovalev has played this season.
Actually, you could probably count them on the sore (but, let us pray, not broken) thumb of Mr. K. He is having a career season, and Kovalev has become the darling of the Bell Centre.
For all the car races and kissing contests and lame-ass promotions the Canadiens run to keep 21,273 fans amused, the crowd reachest fullest and most authentic frenzy when Kovalev has the puck.
And he has it a lot. If the NHL kept Time of Possession stats, Kovalev would lead the league’s forwards.
Although he shrugged off the notion of cranking it up because Alexander Ovechkin was in town, you’d best believe the aging superstar – snubbed by the Russian hockey federation for its national team – wanted to show the young pup he’s still got some game.
(My God, that sentence ran longer than one of Kovy’s shifts!)
There was so much to like about the game. A few aspects that caught my eye:
• Cristobal Huet is in the zone. There were no acrobatic or spectacular saves among the 35 stops he made to record the shutout because Huet is seeing everything, he’s square to the shooters, his positioning is superb, as is his rebound control. He even made a few good passes. Huet is giving Canadiens the hottest goaltending I’ve seen since I started blogging.
• How about that D? You expect Mike Komisarek to have a huge game against Ovechkin, but save some kind words for my man Josh Gorges, who held his own against the hulking sniper. All six defencemen did a great job of keeping the slot clear and moving the puck out. Almost all the Caps’ shots were from bad angles.
• Discipline. Two penalties in the game. They overlapped, Canadiens killed the 5-on-3, Sergei came out of the box to score shorthanded and when his two minutes were up, Steve Bégin chased down a lead pass and fed Saku Koivu for the third goal.
• The power play. Two more goals last night, and perimeter passing that’s frustrating to watch if Canadiens are trailing but very pretty when the team is ahead and looking to pad its lead.
• Christopher Higgins didn’t score but was a monster on the boards and in one-on-one battles for loose pucks. That line will explode if Michael Ryder finds his game (which appears increasingly unlikely).
• Bégin, Bryan Smolinski and Tom Kostopoulos are the best fourth line Canadiens have had this year. Three smart veterans who hit and play with energy.
• When some Capitals thought about swarming Sergei K. after his kneeing penalty, Maxim Lapierre got right into it for his linemate.
Now let’s just hope Kovy’s thumb is OK, and it’s on to Washington tomorrow night.