Another Fine Night For The Habs

A fine 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, and although the light at the end of the tunnel is still a ways off, there’s new life in Habsland it seems.

Max Pacioretty finally woke up after far too long a slumber, the Kosteller boys, Kostitsyn and Eller, played like all-stars for the second night in a row, and Brian Gionta, fresh from ten games on the shelf, came up with several great chances along the way. The team played with zip, although it took them a period to get going, and when they play this way it’s a far cry from….you know, that time we want to forget.

Tampa scored the only goal in the first period, but in the second, Michael Blunden, with his first of the year, tied it, and things took off from there. The team woke up, the fans came to life, and just after Carey Price robbed Martin St. Louis, who usually has a stellar night when he comes to Montreal, PK Subban sent Pacioretty in alone with a long heads-up pass, Max fired it home, and the boys found themselves in the lead.

It was a beautiful sequence of events. Blunden gets his first, Price comes up huge, PK sends Max in, and all they had to do after that was hold the lead for a period and a half, something they haven’t been able to do all that often. But they did. And not only did they hold the lead, but they didn’t sit back. Is this what separates Randy Cunneyworth from Jacques Martin?

Andrei Kostitsym was a magician on this night, and in one instance almost duplicated his swoops and swerves that set up Lars Eller for his third goal against Winnipeg last Wednesday. If Kostitsyn and Eller can continue this chemistry and puck-control, the team will win those 60% of remaining games it needs to make the playoffs. Kostitsyn seems like he’s decided it’s time to strut his stuff, and no one on the team can handle the puck the way Eller can.

Brian Gionta grazed the post on a breakaway, which would have caused us to breathe easier, but Eric Cole shoved one home with 16 seconds left after David Desharnais had done terrific work to get the puck near the goal line, and finally we got to exhale. Good thing. I was turning blue.

Random Notes:

The Eller, Kostitsyn, Moen line oozes more chemistry than a North Korean nuclear plant.

Alexei Emelin crashed the enemy five or six times, including a fine hit on Martin St. Louis. Opposing players are going to have to learn the hard way to keep their heads up around our guy. Hopefully they’ll never learn.

Shots on goal - Habs 29, Lightning 24.

From time to time during commercial breaks I switched over to the Leafs-Wings game, and two things stand out. Our game was way faster, and the Bell Centre cameras are much higher than the ones at the Air Canada Centre. I’ve been whining about the high cameras ever since the place opened, and about a decade ago I sent a letter to the Canadiens complaining about this. I never heard back, and the cameras are still high.

Next up - Tuesday, when the St. Louis Blues pay a visit. C’mon boys, have a nice rest, enjoy the home cooking, nurse your wounds, and then make it three in a row.

 

20 thoughts on “Another Fine Night For The Habs”

  1. Nice pass by Hal Gill to Blunden for The Habs first goal. Gill is still ahead of that 2 years @ 3.5 mill per guy Hamerlik for points this season.

    Emelin was making Malone a believer on how strong & solid #74 is as at least twice Malone took a good run at Emelin and ended up being on ice
    sprawling…

  2. Hey Dennis, Jaro Halak for Lars Eller….who would ever have thought that this would have been a team altering trade?Lars Eller is such a refreshing skater and puck handler to watch ,it brings back thought of Guy Lafleur or Henri Richard.I love watching this guy when he gets the puck and you know what he has done,made Kostitsyn a better played and play the way he is capable.Moensy is a big part of this line as well,crashing and banging as well as netting the occasional goal.A great effort tonite guys,by everyone.Randy Cunneyworth is in Hab heaven by now.

  3. My favourite part was just being able to enjoy watching the hockey in the third period with Canadiens only holding a one goal lead. In similar situations under Martin I mainly used to watch the clock tick down and occasionally glance to the action, tonight it was the opposite.

    The most surprising part was Cherry in his corner agreeing Marchand’s hit on Salo was dirty. He couldn’t bring himself to say it, but he basically called him a rat. Much better that Stock who followed the Bruin storyline and called it a good clean hit. Of course the NHL won’t do anything. They’ve already cleared Lucic for leaving the bench to join a brawl, apparently they can’t count to six.

  4. At least now it seems we don’t just sit back in the third and hold on to a lead. We actually try to score more. What a nice change that is. Eller is still looking great. Now that Martin is gone it looks like he’s finally coming out of the shell Martin had him in.

    Why is everyone so up in arms about Marchand? Don’t you all realize that the Bruins would never ever do anything dirty? They’re the only good guys in the entire league. It’s the rest of us who are dirty and rotten. Jeez, don’t blame them for anything – why, that’s hurtful!

    Yeah right! Typical meathead mentality. He could have broken Salo’s leg. Little creep.

    Going back to Eller, I had faith in him – it was Martin that kept screwing up his development. Sad thing is, when Gomez comes back he’ll screw everything up. We’ve got a bit of chemistry going now and Mr. Production will see to the end of that.

  5. I have to agree with Christopher about the enjoyability of watching the third period now with the new coach behind the bench.

    Lars Eller said it perfectly the other night after beating the Jets. He said:”Tonight, we played to win instead of playing afraid to lose.”

    During the post-game interviews all the players were saying the same thing about their no-let-up style in the third period: “We’re all on the same page now.”

    Why couldn’t JM understand that keeping pressure at the other end makes it easier to keep the puck from going in on your on net and could possibly increase your lead? Cunneyworth has given the green light to a more aggressive forcheck resulting in the Habs being way more competitive – and entertaining – for the last 20 minutes of the game.

    It makes sense because it takes advantage of the team’s strength which is speed and skill. And if this keeps up RC won’t only stand for Randy Cunneyworth. It will also stand for the Real Canadiens.

    Next week will be interesting. I wonder if the Blues will have Jaroslav Halak in nets when we play them on Tuesday. After that we play Boston in their barn on Thursday followed by the Senators at the Bell on Saturday.

    It won’t be easy, but here’s hoping we can finally go on a nice extended winning streak.

  6. It’s just so great to see them on offence in the third period. It’s like RC has removed the handcuffs and it’s so refreshing. This is a different team now. A different Kostitsyn, a different Eller, and now Max has it going and others too. I remember the media on TV questioniong Martin being fired, saying it wasn’t his fault and he was just the scapegoat. I think now we’re seeing the difference.

  7. What a difference regular line-mates and supportive coaching have made for Kostitsyn. If he plays like this for the rest of the year he has to deserve another contract and maybe we will hear the last of the ’03 draft stuff. He is amazing to watch right now. I have always liked Cammalleri, but he may need a change of scenery. I would consider trading him for a bigger body with maybe less scoring skill but that would complement Plekanecs and Gionta. Where does Gomez fit in all this? As much as it could be a disaster to put him in the line-up and sit someone who is contributing I’m curious to see what Cunnyworth could do with him. Cunnyworth is obviously not afraid to ignore salary when he hands out ice time and he is getting a response from this team that many would not expect given his interim coach tag so he might be the guy who can save Scott Gomez’s career. Remember people that even when he wasn’t scoring Gomez was very effective at caring the puck over the blue line and that is no small feat. I would like to see how Cunnyworth might exploit that.

  8. As much as I’d like to agree with you all in regards to the hit by Marchand (cause it’s so fun to pick on him) that hit made me think of the one Subban did to him last year. Was it last year? I don’t remember. Anyway, the only difference is that Salo barely got up and when Marchand was hit, he whimpered back to the bench with his tail between his legs.

    I think I’d love to see Bruins fail as much (if not more) than see the Habs make the playoffs. They have to be the most hated team of the league. What’s wrong with me? Why am I so fixated on seeing them fail?

  9. Dennis, I think I’m going to start calling Moen-Eller-Kostitsyn the El Moko line.
    Right now I’m plumb loco for El Moko.

    It’s important the language issue eventually gets sorted out. But right now, I don’t care if Randy Cunneyworth speaks only Romulan or Klingon. Just keep winning freakin’ hockey games and win the godammed Cup!

    And that’s the way Guy Lafleur feels about it too…

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/quebec-nationalists-call-for-habs-to-be-more-french/article2295038/

  10. Danno, El Moko! Perfect!
    The interview with Randy Cunneyworth on Hockey Night in Canada showed a really nice guy, a humble fellow who uses the smaller assistant coaches room with the others because he says they’re all in it together. I like this guy. What a breath of fresh air after El Martin.

  11. Marjo, the guy is despicable but having said that, my wife asked me what was the difference between that hit and PK’s and I really didn’t have a good answer. So it’s neat that you brought that up. We play them on Thursday and how great would it be to see the Habs win. And don’t beat yourself up – I’m fixated on seeing the Bruins fail too!

  12. D-John, absolutely what a difference with Kostitsyn. It’s gotta be the coaching change. I don’t what else it could be.
    Gomez needs to move on. Yes he carries the puck over the blue line, but his lack of production, his weak play along the boards, his errant passes etc. outweigh his puck carrying. I think he’d be fine in some Swedish league.

  13. Danno, Lafleur made an appearance at the Vancouver Giants game yesterday as part of their legends series. I saw a picture on Facebook of Koulis with him.

  14. Chris, Lafleur would look good behind the bench. I don’t know what kind of job he’d do but he’d look good. And as long as he doesn’t interfere with the stick boy trying to do his job.

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