Missing nine regulars, your Montreal Canadiens scored a season-high eight goals.
On the road.
Against a Western Conference opponent.
Sure, it was the Minnesota Mild, who defend about as well as Libyan anti-aircraft batteries.
But still …
It was imperative that the Canadiens bounce back from that thumping in New York.
An honourably-earned point in Minnesota would have salvaged the weekend.
Instead, the Canadiens put on one of their most impressive performances of the season – and a great way to start a crucial week.
Buffalo at the Bell Centre on Tuesday.
Boston at the Gahden on Thursday.
Home to Washington on Saturday night.
The key play of the game wasn’t a play at all.
After Clayton Stoner tried to set the tone with a couple big hits, and when he rocked Aaron Palushaj, Ryan White went right after him.
You may recall White doing this when Johnny Boychuk tried to low-bridge P.K. Subban in that March 8 game at the Bell Centre.
In both cases, White was giving away inches and pounds.
In both cases, he gave as good as he got (more so with Boychuk), and you don’t have to be a Don Cherry worshipper to know that kind of thing plays HUGE in the room.
It was the first Gordie Howe hat trick since Maxim Lapierre in Dec. of 2008.
The difference: there will be more of them for White.
He has hustled and hit and fought his way into becoming part of a very bright future for this team.
And the present ain’t bad, either.
So much to praise tonight. I’ll get to P.K. soon, but let’s start with Jacques Martin.
The coach gave his players a day off the ice in Minnesota yesterday. It was a chance to regroup after the Madison Square Garden debacle, a chance for veterans like Roman Hamrlik to rest aging, aching bodies.
Playing a physical team, the kind of thumpers and bumpers alleged to give these smallish skilled players trouble, the Canadiens applied a solid game plan and refused to be intimidated by Stoner , Cal Clutterbuck and Brad Saubitz.
They lit up José Theodore – 14 goals in 136 minutes over the last four times he’s faced the Canadiens – and the rout was on.
Too bad Alex Auld didn’t get the shutout. He deserved one, with 30 saves, and I really wanted the winning goal to be White’s, 31 seconds into the game.
OK, it’s time to celebrate Don Cherry’s unfavourite young defenceman.
By the time the Canadiens selected P.K. Subban in the second round of the 2007 draft, 41 players had been drafted.
Patrick Kane went first overall to Chicago. Then James van Riemsdyk to the Flyers and Kyle Turris to Phoenix.
Kane is a star, and the other two might be one of these days.
But if everyone had a mulligan on that draft, P.K. cracks the Top Four.
Heck, the Canadiens took Ryan McDonagh (12th overall, just ahead of Lars Eller) and Max Pacioretty with the 22nd pick.
Starting with Thomas Hickey, drafted fourth overall by L.A., 16 DEFENCEMEN were picked before the Canadiens took P.K.
I hope they gave that scout a bonus … and that he wasn’t among the ones Pierre Gauthier gassed last summer.
P.K. has 11 goals. The next highest among rookie defencemen: Cam Fowler and Kevin Shattenkirk, with seven each.
We got the big celebration when Subban’s first goal broke the game open 3-0. But did you notice how restrained P.K. was on the next two?
The kid is growing up … and it’s a joy to watch.
Martin is finally giving P.K. significant power-play minutes (3:20 against Minnesota) and he’s rising to the occasion … and making the absence of Tomas Plekanec less crippling.
Subban also plays the penalty-kill (2:43), and his 23:30 overall topped the team.
Can you imagine a lineup that included Subban and a pre-injury Andrei Markov?
Some cool P.K. stats:
• Most goals by a Canadiens’ rookie Dman since Guy Lapointe scored 15 in 1970-’71
• First hat trick by a Dman since Sheldon Souray in 2008
• First road hat trick by a Dman since Vladimir Malakhov in 1998
Now let’s spread the love around:
• Michael Cammalleri had two assists, including one of the prettiest feeds of the season to …
• James Wisniewski got his 10th, added an assist and played a very solid game on the back end
• Benoit Pouliot had three assists and was plus-4, as were Roman Hamrlik (in a humane 19:38 of ice time) and David Desharnais, who had two assists
• Tom Pyatt scored a goal-scorers goal
• Travis Moen got a greasy one
• Paul Mara, who will be important in Boston on Thursday night, told Cal to stop Clutterbucking around
• Scott Gomez didn’t suck
Hey, spring has sprung.
The grass has riz
Subban is super, and so is Wiz.
I know: crap poetry.
Have to keep the powder dry for Boston.