Very quick hitting tonight, because that barnburner left me in urgen need of a Jack or three.
By the skin of their teeth, because the third period was terrifying, the Canadiens racked up maybe their biggest win of the season.
Had they ridden four straight losses into the short Christmas break …
Suffice it to say we’d all be choking on turkey.
But the birthday boy showed and played great in all three zones.
All you Scott Gomez bashers get lumps of coal in your stockings.
And let me join you in tucking into some humble pie.
I’d given up on Andrei Kostitsyn. Many fans had.
The healthy scratch in Dallas was a message from Jacques Martin, but I wondered whether it would get through or be lost in translation.
It seems to have worked.
AK46 had a goal, two SoG, two hits and a blocked shot.
Once again, the Big Enigma flashed the talent that made him a high first-round draft choice: Size, speed, a great shot and, tonight, a willingness to hit and get involved.
If he played that way 82 times in a season …
And while visions of that Belarusian sugar plum dance in your head, isn’t it nice to have a bona-fide Top Six?
• • •
Check out a wild one in Boston, complete with NESN homer commentary.
And I hate to channel Don Cherry here, but the Jarome Iginla – Jamie Benn fight was a classic
We’ll see how the view from the pressbox affect Benoit Pouliot.
I don’t know if Benny will be back in the lineup on Boxing Day. Martin may be reluctant to mess with a winning 18, especially a group that worked very hard in Carolina.
But Pouliot is coming back in eventually. And maybe he learned something watching AK46 tonight.
Will P.K. Subban be back on the Island?
Yannick Weber made me nervous in this game. He’s small, gets tossed around and is prone to errors in his own end.
I still don’t know how the Canadiens survived that third-period match-up that saw Weber, Alexandre Picard and a tired Lars Eller line on against Eric Staal.
Weber played 19:40, Picard 19:18.
Too much ToI for a third pairing.
But Martin had no choice. Roman Hamrlik (who had a rough night) and Jaro Spacek played less than the 24 minutes they’ve been getting lately. Josh Gorges is hurt and played 20:15, Hal Gill 19:34.
Without Andrei Markov, Martin distributed time equally among his three pairings.
That may be fine on Long island. But the Canadiens go to Washington next week. And Tampa Bay.
It was a delightful – and essential – win. The Canadiens maintain their tenuous hold on first place in the Northeast.
And the Dec. 23 jinx – which lasted from 1945 to 2009 – seems finally over.
• • •
Does Carey Price look tired to you?
I wonder if Martin will consider giving his goaltender a long weekend.
The coach cancelled practice in Dallas on Wednesday, and his team had fresh legs tonight.
This is a tough time of the season for the players: a heavy schedule, Christmas, family, etc.
Price has not been Priceian in recent games.
He’s young and he’s in shape.
But he may be suffering mental fatigue, born of the necessity to excel every night in order to give his low-scoring team a chance.
I think he’ll need more rest to gear for the stretch.
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