Habs Goalie: Price (W)
Opposition Goalie: Vokoun, Clemmensen (L)
Habs goalscorers: Gill, Kostitsyn, Desharnais, Eller
Opposition goalscorers: None
I really liked our fourth goal. It wasn't crucial at all and didn't get any specific players to any milestones in particular, but means a whole lot to this team. The reason that it was so important was that it was an Eller goal, from Moen. These are two players that just two weeks ago had no use to this team. Now, however, they have found a good trio (them plus Andrei) that can work very well together and can give our team a third scoring line. We know that the other two lines will contribute (eventually), but this one wasn't a given. The goal itself was a very, very nice goal. A saucered backhand pass from Moen took a perfectly placed deflection off of Eller's stick to totally baffle Clemmensen.
Somehow like Kovalev he now has a title. He isn't just Andrei Kostitsyn, no, now he is the enigmatic Andrei Kostitsyn. I guess it is easy to put a tag like that on a player that you don't like, but if if is to do with scoring in streaks I think that Plekanec, Gionta, Cammalleri, Gomez, Pouliot, Halpern and Subban could all get similar names. It is unfair that he is treated like that and it is lucky that, despite all of this, he still plays well. It would be easy for him to pull a Samsonov and shut down, but is instead pulling a Kovalev and is stepping up. The only bad thing about his play of late is that the next time he doesn't get 7 points in 5 games it will be because something is fundamentally wrong with his attitude, work-ethic or passion.
Lars made two great plays tonight that resulted in goals. That gives him 2 more points for 13 on the year. I wouldn't say that he has proved himself just yet, but the more that he plays like he did tonight, the happier I am to have him on this team. It seems that little was expected of this line and there wasn't much pressure. Certain players, believe it or not, thrive when they are relaxed (hear that RDS) and our third line is the prime example. Eller looks decent at centre too and, in my opinion, is doing a better job that Halpern was of late.
Travis doesn't fight, he doesn't really hit and isn't that great in his own end. So, all that is left is offence and he isn't that great at that either. He did, however, play well in their end tonight and, thus proved his worth. I don't think he belongs on a line ahead of Pouliot, but at this point I wouldn't change a thing as he and his line have found a groove. If Travis can keep this up with the two youngsters and bring a little grit down the stretch then he will become that valuable piece we had hoped he would be in the first place.
How can you not like Hal Gill on a night like tonight. The big man chipped in with a goal (his first of the year) and was an impressive +3. He was also our most used penalty-killer and did well at that too. I didn't think that he would be outplaying Subban every night, but he is. The good thing about all of that though, is that PK is playing well too.
The more I think about it, the more I think that we should keep the Wis around next year. We have 11 defenders to consider, but I would suggest carrying 8, not 7 to begin the season. It seems that defenders are getting injured more than forwards these days and starting with 8 would save a mid-season move (Schneider, Bergeron, Wis) for someone that may not be available. I don't want to get into who would stay and who should go, but at 26 years of age I see no reason for letting James go as he is the type of player you miss (Streit, Souray, Schneider, Bergeron) when they are gone. Of course, it goes without saying that Markov must come back too. Tonight James chipped in with another 2 points as he moves ever closer to Pleks for the team lead in points.
Carey Price - Game Puck
Carey feasted on another weak team tonight and got the result that we, as a team, needed. He looked very calm all night and made each and every save seem easy. Florida didn't offer much on attack, but I have seen many Habs teams over the years lose to teams like that. This was his 7th shutout and his 30th win; pretty great numbers considering he'll likely play in 12-15 more games.
When you play a team like Florida, a team that seems to have no plan, no vision or no hope, you must take advantage. We have lost there so much over the past few years that it was becoming a problem. Tonight, however, we didn't sink to their level, we simply played our game and waited for some breaks. This game, filled with poor Panther defensive efforts, could have easily been 8-0 and I wouldn't have felt bad if it was. The Canadiens are starting to learn what it means to want to win, whenever, wherever. They are able to beat top teams and bottom teams. It used to be, to our frustration, one or the other. I am pretty excited about what lays ahead as I feel this team is gelling at just the right time. We have the goaltending to go places, we seemingly have a pretty solid defence and our offence, in theory should get the job done. I am confident that Plekanec and his line will pick it up when the games mean a little more and still won't believe that we have seen the best of Gomez and his line on the year. Scott is OK in my books for now as we are winning and maybe he is like me in that he doesn't care about stats at all, other than Ws. We will, however, need him to be ready to contribute and play his best when we really need him and I still believe that he will.