The Canadiens scored 5, or more goals last season in 15 of their 82 games. Last night was the fourth night of the season where they managed to fill the net at least 5 times; a feat Canadiens fans expect to see from them on a nightly basis given the supposed offensive talent on this team.
Offensive talent like Andrei Kostitsyn. AK46 (As Boone and many others affectionately refer to him) has played his best two games of the season, after Carbonneau sent him a message by demoting him to the fourth line.
Talent like Alex Kovalev, who despite a 14-game goaless drought, managed two assists last night, and played one of the best games of his season.
Talent like Saku Koivu, who never fails his team. Or Andrei Markov, who on any given night has the ability to be the best player on this ice.
Despite a 59-second lapse in concentration, last night’s game was a decisive beating over a team that looks beaten down. It wasn’t much of a sign that these Canadiens have turned the page on a very inconsistent month of November, and an October that saw them win more games than they deserved to.
But at least anyone who wanted chicken wings last night could stroll into Cage Aux Sports and get some– free of charge. Not that you’d ever want to pay for those chicken wings…
It amazes me how many people are overly critical of Carbonneau. The basis of criticism always revolves around what the coach is doing with the lines.
People need to realize that the frequent tweaks and changes have more to do with rewarding players that have shown a strong work ethic, and demoting those who haven’t, than anything else.
Guy Carbonneau played hockey long enough to realize that Tom Kostopoulos won’t be the sniper on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Alex Tanguay. He understands the importance of taking that spot away from a more offensive player (Guillaume Latendresse) who isn’t working the way he should be.
A lot of people were wondering why Latendresse found himself in the pressbox last night. Simply put: When you get the opportunity as a young player to fill a line with Robert Lang and Alex Kovalev, you better ensure you’re the hardest working player on that line. Soft plays in your own zone will get you demoted, and in his case, it wasn’t a demotion to the fourth line. Harsh lesson for a young player, but we’ll see what kind of energy Latendresse brings to his next game.
Guy Carbonneau understands that Sergei Kostitsyn has the ability to be one of the best two-way forwards on the team, but also understands the importance of turning Kostitsyn into a desperate player. The last thing Sergei wants is to go to Hamilton and start riding the busses, when he knows that not only can he play in the NHL, but he can be extremely effective at this level. Watching Matt D’Agostini steal his spot in the lineup will inject some urgency into Sergei’s game. While many believe he may be on his way back to Hamilton, don’t be surprised to see Carbonneau give him the opportunity to show that he’s learned from this harsh lesson. If Sergei’s the player we all believe he is, he won’t be going anywhere.
Speaking of players learning their lesson, it’s quite evident that Maxim Lapierre has matured nicely in his third season with the Canadiens. A bit more than a fortnight in Hamilton at the beginning of last season was as good for his career as any experience he’s had thus far in the NHL. Lapierre has been consistently good this season, bordering on great some nights. After two bad games, he found himself in the pressbox for the first time this season, but since being reinserted into the lineup, hasn’t given the coaches any incentive to scratch him.
How nice was it to see Tomas Plekanec score a goal with confidence? Plekanec played his best hockey, complimented by the speed of Alex Tanguay– a combination that could’ve had more points had Tanguay’s goal been allowed to stand.
While Carey Price occasionally loses his cool, he’s given his team a chance to win on all but one occasion– the comeback game against the Islanders.
The Canadiens won 2 games in a row. Another 5, and we might once again be tempted to heap praise on this team. Just pray that in a couple of those games the Canadiens manage more than 5 goals, so we can all go to Cage Aux Sports and throw out some pretty bad wings…even if they are free.