Habs Nip Cats

The Canadiens overcame a pesky Florida Panthers team to win 2-1 and make us not quite so testy about things.

And although the boys scored only twice, if they could have figured out Tim Thomas a bit better, it might even have been a lopsided deal. Because the chances were definitely there.

Montreal outshot the Panthers 13-5 in the first period, swarming the Florida net constantly, coming in in waves, looking like a million bucks. And all was right with the world when David Desharnais found the back of the net after first fanning, and then relying on his back hand to get the job done.

They were playing well. Another small yet fine step after a dismal November, added to a better first few games of December.

But things changed when Florida tied it up late in the frame, and suddenly the jump, the coming in in waves, suddenly calmed down and the visitors picked things up a notch. One goal and Montreal’s first period vim and vigour went out the window somewhat.

Was it a sign of an unsure or fragile team, when the foot is suddenly off the pedal like that? Or orders from the guy behind the bench, telling them to never mind the fancy stuff and tighten up?

Tomas Plekanec was flying on this night, both ways, showing the offensive and defensive skill throughout. Pleks will make a fine captain of the Czech Republic squad. A quiet guy leading by example.

And because Pleks was motoring, his linemates Brian Gionta and Daniel Briere found themselves with jump and opportunities, and it was Gionta who would notch the winner late in the second.

It was a swell two points, even with Andrei Markov and partner Alexei Emelin being on the ice for the Panthers marker, making it another night, especially for Emelin, of being in the minus column.

Markov struggled more than normal, best illustrated, for me at least, when a Panther player simply slid the puck through Markov’s open legs and the biscuit ended up in the back of the net.

Not the kind of play expected from a wily veteran.

And Emelin has been spending a lot of time getting confused instead of rattling bones and making the smart, quick play. But he’ll rebound. Hopefully before spring.

At least it was two big points against a team who had previously handed our boys a couple of dismal defeats. And although the original swarming of the net subsided after the first, the team still managed to get lots of chances, outshooting Florida 12-6 in the second before being outshot 16-10 in the third.

Carey Price kept them in it, Thomas at the other end did too, and the low scoring affair was still a win for the good guys, no matter how you slice it.

Final shots on net Montreal 35, Florida 27. Great to see lots of shots by the home team.

Random Notes:

Rene Bourque found himself in close with chances as well, and seemed to have some zip to his game. What an important guy Bourque could be if he came to play every night. He’s got the tools, but the tools seem mostly rusty or seized up.

Three times it seemed we were about to lose key guys, with Brendan Gallagher, Brandon Prust, and PK Subban all experiencing some sort of injury that thankfully didn’t keep them out of the game. Imagine if PK was seriously hurt on the eve of the Olympic roster decision.

And imagine a Montreal Canadiens team without P.K. for a long period of time. Whew.

Next up – Wednesday, with the guys in Philadelphia. No sense in saying the obvious about how a win is a must.

9 thoughts on “Habs Nip Cats”

  1. I think the defencemen ice-times from tonight’s game show a big problem with our roster. Subban, Markov and Gorges averaged just under 26 minutes, Bouillon just under 17, Emelin and Murray under 13, Diaz scratched and Drewiske injured. We’ve got too many bottom pair defencemen. Why are Tinordi and Beaulieu toiling in the minors when they’re just as good as many in Montreal. And the experience will only help later.

  2. Hey Dennis, Well I have to say they were lucky to come out of that one with two points. Even though they outshot the Panthers , the play was hemmed in their end for most of the game and I was very worried that they were going to slide one into the net that Carey Price so greatly guarded. I don’t know what is going on and I have kept quiet for along time on this one but , who does Douglas Murray know or who has he got pictures of because he has had his chance now it’s time to drop him into Hamilton and bring up someone who can get going a little faster. I have to agree with Mr. Cordahi, bring up someone who is able to move the puck or get in a guys face.Murray makes Jaques Laperiere look like a figure skater. I can’t believe that he has lasted this long , he has just given it up countless times in his own end and never pays the price by sitting on the bench.Sorry ..there is my rant though glad to see the boys pull it off.

  3. The margin of victory was close, but that’s probably the best game the Habs have played in over a month. Certainly, it’s their best start to a game in a long, long time.

  4. I agree with the assessment of the defense by Christopher and Derry.

    Also…….

    Last 11 goals, 7 were scored by smurfs. Just sayin’…
    Go smurfs go…

  5. Of course the smurfs have scored the majority of the goals. It’s not like there’s a lot big guy goal scorers on the team. The odds are in the smurfs favour. And PS, I like DD, for what it’s worth.

  6. All I was saying, Marjo, that in the long haul, a bigger team has more of an advantage unless the small team is full of great players. If you think our small Habs team can get it done in the spring, I’m all for it. I hope you’re right.

  7. That may be true, Dennis, but they definitely are carrying us to a potential playoff spot. And if the smurfs have no place in playoffs, who on our team amongst the big guys, is going to keep us there or win us a cup?

  8. Marjo, I don’t even mind players who aren’t exactly big, like Plekanec and Galchenyuk and that type of size. I’m just not crazy about the wee fellows, although DD continues to help out and he’s fairly strong on his skates and Gallagher plays so hard there’s certainly no knock against him. We don’t have any big guys per say, although Max has nice size, and Bourque and Emelin and a few others. All I want is more of a bigger size in general and not a team looked at as small.

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