The Canadiens left Los Angeles at 7:30 Montreal time. Their charter will touch down at Trudeau Airport at 12:35.
It’s going to be a very happy flight.
Can they fit this much good news into five hours?
• Fresh off playing 27 minutes in San Jose, Raphael Diaz played 24:21 in L.A. He made good decisions, impeccable first passes and blocked two shots. Very heady hockey player. If/when Markov, Jaro Spacek and Chris Campoli return, Diaz is playing himself into the discussion.
• Joining Diaz in that discussion: Alexei Emelin. He’s the most physical defenceman on this team … which is kinda like being the Republican Party’s resident intellectual.
• Mike Cammalleri – who was in a funk through the first quarter of the season – has found happiness with David Desharnais and Erik Cole. Once again, they were the Canadiens’ best line. DD skated around and through the California redwoods in San Jose and L.A. Cole took two penalties but had six of the Canadiens’ 27 shots on goal.
• The power-play finally scored. More importantly, the man-advantage units displayed patience and calm. Liberated from point duty for which he was manifestly ill-suited, Tomas Plekanec is a happy PP camper, playing the Alex Kovalev Memorial position on the right-side half boards.
• Josh Gorges played 26 minutes, including 5 on the PP and 6:43 shorthanded. The guy is a stud … and the Canadiens let his contract expire July 1, Gorges’ heart, guts and smarts will be rewarded by someone who recognizes leadership.
• L’s Angels: Eller and LL. They set the table brilliantly for Andrei Kostistyn’s goal, and Louis Leblanc collected the first of what will be many NHL points. So what happens when Max Pacioretty rejoins practice on Monday? Who goes to Hamilton, LL or Aaron Palushaj? Nice problem for Mr. Pierre Gauthier. They’ve got to give the kid a start at the Bell Centre, no?
• Carey Price … ah, what’s to say? So good, all the time. Should he have started in Anaheim?
• Hal Gill, who blocked a mind-blowing 11 shots in San Jose, added four against the Kings.
• Pleks took 29 faceoffs and won 15 of them. He also had four SoG and meshed well with Brian Gionta and the man of every line, Travis Moen.
And save a kind word or two for Jacques Martin.
For all the roasting he gets in certain precincts of the media, JM’s guys play very hard for him.
The bottom line: Neither Toe Blake nor Scotty Bowman could get much more out of this lineup.
Name one player playing at anything less than his potential.
Yannick Weber, who played 50 seconds at even-strength and may be on his way to becoming Mark Streit Lite somewhere else when the D corps is healhty?
Scott Gomez? He’d suck for Dick Irvin.
Let’s be realistic: This ain’t the 1976 Montreal Canadiens.
As 2012 looms, the team faces a tough December: five of the next six at home, then six on the road, including a back-to-back in Chicago and Winnipeg and a post-Christmas trip to Florida … where Mr. Markov has gone on ahead to scout orthopedic clinics
But the team – minus Max-Pac and Markov – is 1-0-1 for the month.