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OK, I was kidding about that last part.
But with everybody and his uncle second-guessing the trade, Tomas Kaberle brought a struggling power-play to life.
And he matched the two assists Jaro Spacek had for Carolina Friday night.
Moreover, Kaberle formed a decent defence pairing with Alexei Emelin, the duo that RDS’s Chantal Machabée has nicknamed “Ka-boom!”
I’m listening to Gaston Therrien on L’Antichambre predicting that if Kaberle can elevate the PP from terrible to decent, the Canadiens will make the playoffs.
And to Kaberle’s critics – and I’m one of ’em – who says “hey, it’s only one game”, François Gagnon has this:
“Would you be saying that if he’d played a bad game?”
So for now, let’s suspend concerns about how well Kaberle will be playing in 2013-’14, the last year of hi contract.
The ex-Leaf./ex-Bruin/ex-Hurricane knows how to play the point on the power-play. Kaberle gains the zone, walks the blueline, makes smart passes, doesn’t panic, opens up P.K. Subban for shots on the other point …
What’s not to like?
And with Chris Campoli ready to play, the Canadiens have extra bodies on D as they await the return of Andrei Markov.
Barring injury, it could be a while until we see Yannick Weber back there again.
I’m an Emelin guy. His game against New Jersey was a microcosm of the Russian Bear’s season: Rough start, largely attributable to being moved to the right side to play with Kaberle, but he got better as the game progressed.
Will Emelin or Raphael Diaz – who took a late penalty in a one-goal game – sit for Campoli?
Will Gauthier make another deal … perhaps for someone who could add some sand to one of the softest fourth lines in the league?
The picture up front is clearer. Brian Gionta may be out a while, but there is some depth.
The Two and a Half Men line was superb in New Jersey. Jacques Martin must resist his inclination to tinker and leave Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty on the wings with the brilliant David Desharnais, who was a mind-blowing 14-4 on faceoffs against the Devils.
The Lars Eller line, with Travis Moen and Louis Leblanc today, is drawing defensive assignments: against Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk in New Jersey, against the Sedin twins and SAlex Burrows when Vancouver was at the Bell Centre.
Eller is also gaining penalty-kill experience (1:50 against NJ), and this will make him a complete player and an asset to the team for years to come.
Now we come to the headache.
With Gionta out, Andrei Kostitsyn was moved to the Tomas Plekanec line against the Devils.
Now, just to astonish members of the Commentariat who think I pick on AK46, I think he played a solid game.
Pleks was 8-11 on draws, great on the P.K. and tried to make plays for his revolving-door linemates.
But what the heck is going on with Mike Cammalleri?
He’s not scoring. He’s not helping the PP. He’s a liability in the defensive zone.
Is Cammalleri pouting because he’s been moved off the DD line?
Is his confidence wavering?
The picture will become clearer as the Canadiens play three home games against the Islanders, Flyers and Devils.
Gionta won’t play during the homestand, which means Louis Leblanc will stay around for a while.
And we’ll see the lines that played against New Jersey … at least until the Islanders open the scoring Tuesday night.
Safest prediction: Tomas Kaberle will be on the power play.
Pending Saturday night action, the Canadiens have scaled the dizzying heights of ninth place.
They have as many points – 31 – as eighth-place Washington, but the Caps have played fewer games.
Grab the Gravol: the roller-coaster ride continues.
• • •
The loss dropped Martin Brodeur’s record against the Canadiens to 40-18-5.
We’re stripping him of the coveted F.