Habs Goalie: Price (W)
Opposition Goalie: Fleury (L)
Habs goalscorers: Cammalleri (2), Gomez
Opposition goalscorers: Malkin, Letestu
I remember on Halpern's signing, many said it was to relieve Pleks of his heavy load. Maybe some time in the future, but certainly not yet. His PK duty was a team high 4:52 and he's on as the man of choice for those 5-on-3s. PK isn't all he can do, however. There was also the little matter of setting up a highlight goal with lightning feet and clever hands. The best all around player not wearing pads, I thought.
Showed why he was missed the other night. At times, Mike was invisible, then there were the flashes of brilliance leading to 2 goals. Mike is the type of player that makes the difference between wins and losses. Simple as that.
I've given Moen a hard time over the summer. I think sometimes for good reason. Tonight, though, Moen played a great Travis Moen game. In fact, it was a great game for any forward, I thought. Though he still never looks like scoring when he bursts around defenders on the wing, if the right linemates are found for him, he may well set them up with his errant shots. His best play was along the boards where he leveraged his size well and won many a puck.
PK played a decent game and was again a great addition to the PP. His biggest and most useful contribution on the night, though, might have been his ability to drive Penguins and their fans to certain distraction. if this is a new rivalry, I think PK will be near the heart of it.
I thought Gill had an interesting game. I thought Josh was the more sound. This game was not a great defensive masterpiece for the Canadiens, as they decided to play baseline tennis at times with one of the best baseline teams in the game. Gorges kept the pace and delivered good sound passes throughout. To top it off, he found that little bit of magic that led to the victory, one of those timely seeing-eye shots we've often missed.
Carey Price - Game Puck
It's a fine line between win and loss, success and failure, boos and cheers. Tonight Carey tread that line with few errors. This game will go down as a steal for Carey Price with the highlights vs. Crosby to prove it and is just the kind of game he needed. The next time he needs inspiration for what to do when Spacek leaves him out to dry, it will be refreshing to know he need only look at tape of himself. Going back to Montreal, this was the perfect outing for Price (it'll quell most of the boos), and he should be pleased with himself for pulling it off.
A good result to prevent an unnecessarily poor start for the Habs. Perhaps the team relied on fortune. However, they deserved that just a bit. As I said in the preview, this won't hinder the Pens, but losing could have created a mess for the Habs. in the interest of a second playoff date, the Habs win was better planning.
I thought the game itself was entertaining too. The contrast between this game and the Toronto game could hardly have been starker. Against Toronto, Montreal looked flat and disinterested. Both teams played out the minutes. The build up was slow, the shots were few and the emotion was measured. There was a lot of hitting on the scoresheet, but little in my memory. Tonight, Pittsburgh took 38 shots and hit (an alleged) 47 players. There was animosity, fighting, roughing (without gloves), and a lot of pace. The Pittsburgh fans even found a way to boo the Habs.
When people ask me if I've always hated the Leafs, I tell them that actually I haven't. When I was younger the Leafs were in a different conference, and probably more importantly were just an inconsequential match-up. Back in those days, I detested the Bruins and Sabres, Flames and Flyers. As the Penguins move towards a fiercer rivalry with our club, I feel the shift again. Perhaps the Leafs are no longer a rival of great importance, perhaps the team takes or leaves those games and gets on with the other rivalries. Who knows?
What's clear is that the Penguins are intent on being rivals of this team, and the Habs players are answering the bell. It's encouraging because the games are exciting. It's also exciting because it indicates that the Canadiens are now, at least somewhat, peers of the contending Pens again. This game was a nice re-acquaintance with the penalty farmers, and I look forward to watching the Habs run with them again.