I remember fondly just two seasons ago watching Andrei Kostitsyn and kid brother Sergei surprise everyone with their great hands, great shots, game-winning goals, and refreshing feistiness from Sergei in particular and to a lesser extent, Andrei. And it was heartwarming to see close brothers playing on the same team. When Andrei got rammed into the boards one night and was knocked silly, Sergei was beside himself, had tears in his eyes, and was touchingly consoled by captain Saku Koivu.
And I remember my sentence exactly in one of my posts from back then. “These guys are all-stars,” I said. Andrei was predicted to become a sharpshooter. He was a revelation. A dangerous marksman just starting out. Sergei had youthful flair, brought the crowd to their feet, and put smiles on the faces of Habs fans.
Then the season came to an end, and the following fall they began by not playing like all-stars. By mid-season, they still weren’t all-stars. By the end of the season, most had decided Andrei had performed poorly. And Sergei played like the fuse in his brain had been switched off. Ridiculous penalty-taking, lacklustre effort, nights in the press box, banished to the Hamilton Bulldogs, selfish rushes up the ice only to lose the puck and create opportunities for the other team by being out of position. They were two poster boys for a troubled team.
But we saw how wonderfully these two had played two years ago, and we need that again. And even though the numbers seem similar for both from one season to the next, there’s a world of difference, especially with Sergei. Because for every good thing Sergei did last year, he goofed up more. In a tight game, you didn’t want to see him on the ice because you knew he’d be taking a stupid penalty at any second. Or lose the puck.
Here’s how the numbers look for these guys. How can these totals be so similar, yet they both played so much poorer last year?
Andrei – 2007-2008 (78 games, 26 goals, 27 assists)
2008-2009 (74 games, 23 goals, 18 assists)
Sergei – 2007-2008 (52 games, 9 goals, 18 assists)
2008-2009 (56 games, 8 goals, 15 assists)
The Canadiens have all these new additions this year – big guys, small guys, proven scorers, fighters, hard-hitters. It’s a team blown up and rebuilt. But two of the most important ingredients were already on the team – the Kostityns. If they can regain their form and pick it up a notch, the Habs can only be much better.
Let’s hope the boys have seen the light this summer and come out flying this fall.