Location: Los Angeles
Habs Goalie: Price (W)
Opposition Goalie: Bernier (L)
Habs goalscorers: Plekanec, Kostitsyn
Opposition goalscorers: Penner
Louis Leblanc has looked pretty good this week and will likely have a spot on this team in the next few years. He picked up his first ever point today on a very nice passing play and now has just one fewer point than Darche, Nokelainen and Palushaj combined (as a group they have played in 62 games). The play started when he held up at the line and found the trailing Kostitsyn. Andrei passed to Eller before almost imediately getting the puck back and one-timing it up and over Bernier.
Andrei Kostitsyn - Game Puck
Kostitsyn was down on the third line tonight, but as has happened before this year he made the line the team's best. They may get third-line time, but they were our top unit in the limited time they had. He was a force to be reckoned with tonight and was the biggest factor in both of our goals. He now has 7 goals and 12 points in 17 games which is a 34-goal, 58-point pace.
Lars only played for 11 minutes tonight as again his usage remains a mystery. He isn't used much on special teams which I can live with, but I would like to see some more ice-time overall somehow. It isn't like he is playing with Darche and Palushaj either as we want to see more of players like Kostitsyn and Leblanc too. I didn't like his penalty on Doughty today, but otherwise felt that he played a strong 2-way game.
Can you imagine if Plekanec had players like Ovechkin or St. Louis on his wings? He is such a smart hockey player, as we saw tonight, but often has to play with odd bits. Gionta and Moen are decent enough players, but I am guessing that to win a cup your top-line probably needs a little more power from the wings. Regardless of who he played with today Tom did the job. He scored a PP marker and did well to create things for himself and his wingers.
With the news today that Markov will need another few weeks I am comforted to know that Gorges is currently at his best. He played like a #1 today as he continues to do a great job leading this young corps. He led the team in ice-time with 26 minutes and, apart from a great deflection from Penner, stayed out of trouble. If Subban was at his best and Markov was back can you think of any other team that would have a more dependable #3?
Nothing flashy from Alexei today, just good hard hockey. Funny, isn't it, that he is getting into the domes now on nights when there isn't even a huge amount of hits. His play has been so good, and was again today, that his normal play is top-3 material on our current squad. If there is one thing about the past 3 weeks and even the past 3 games that excites me it is Emelin's play. I can't wait to have a full defence corps with Emelin playing alongside a Markov, Gorges or Subban on a regular shift.
Carey was great today and was one of the biggest reasons that we walked out of the Staples Center with the 2 full points. He fought hard to see everything and to get in the way of everything. This was one of those games where you could tell that he was in the other team's head and no matter what they tried to do it would always be too little. At least that is what it felt like watching from home. After a rougher that hoped-for start he now has some very good numbers after today's game - 10 W, 2 SO, .919 and 2.23. If he keeps it up he'll be off to Ottawa in January for the world's most dull weekend of hockey.
The Canadiens once again jumped to a first-period lead in this game, but, unlike the other California games, were able to hang on. The two biggest reasons for that were that they kept attacking and that their PK was again phenomenal. LA has a good team that we may lose to if we played them tomorrow, but the Habs showed up today to let us all know that they still do too. We got into all sort of penalty trouble today, but our PK units kept us in the game as they have been doing all year. As for our other special team, the PP, we looked good. Not only did we score a goal, but we also showed some life. I was happy to see AK46 logging 4+ minutes with the extra-man as I feel he is a part of the solution. We were quicker, crisper and more creative today and I think that it has a lot to do with Kostitsyn who may give us that element we have been looking for, the link to the Kovalev, Koivu, Ryder PP units of years gone by that seemed to have it all figured out.
Was this a disastrous trip out west? It felt like it for a while, but 3 points in 3 games in 4 nights isn't bad for this team (or any) on the road, out of your time-zone. This was probably one of the harder trips we'll take all year and the fact that we were missing Pacioretty among a bunch of others made it that much harder. In the end we got the 3 points, some players stepped it up (Price and Kostitsyn come to mind) and we saw a lot of good stuff from guys like Leblanc, Eller and Emelin. The future doesn't look that bad people and, upon reflection, neither does the present.