You could see it on their faces. Alex Kovalev, Chris Higgins, Sergei Kostitsyn, all not playing to their capabilities when their team needed them most, were in a different frame of mind tonight. And it was on their faces in Montreal’s 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. These three and their teammates came with determined looks, and they got the job done.
When Chris Higgins scored on a short-handed breakaway, he didn’t jump for joy, or smile that smile we usually see. He remained serious throughout the celebration, because the job wasn’t done yet. And that’s what we want to see. When the camera panned on Alex Kovalev, who was a threat all evening, he looked different. There was no cockiness, no comfortable pose. He was all business, it was on his face, and that’s what we want too. And Sergei Kostitsyn, with streaks of immaturity showing through all season, played with passion and looked like the young stud we knew and cheered last season.
The Canadiens played a solid game, as if they’ve had enough of the craziness and underachieving. They would have been tough to handle for any team tonight.
That was a huge win.
I can already forecast Don Cherry on Coach’s Corner next Saturday. Surely he should have something to say about Josh Gorges taking that elbow in the chops the other night, skating around not knowing his name, going to the room and coming out next period again to try and help his team when he should be laying down somewhere instead. Gorges is a good Canadian boy from Kelowna, BC, and Don, rightfully so, should give him his due. And tonight, against the Penguins, Jorges played great.
That’s toughness and heart on display.
Ryan O’Byrne also showed grit and played more like we thought he’d play this year. Maybe he’s had enough of the bullshit and has decided once and for all to do something about it.
Whatever it was with any of them, I saw a team with a new lease on life tonight.
Canadiens are off now until Friday when they visit the Sabres in Buffalo, then it’s back home for a Saturday night Habs-Leafs tilt. More of what we saw tonight will be the order of the day.