It was one of those long nights Toronto Maple Leaf coach Ron Wilson and GM Cliff Fletcher predicted would happen this year as the Leafs are in the early stages of struggling and rebuilding. Not to mention they’re a team made up of unknowns.
And the best thing is, this long night was against the Montreal Canadiens, who rolled over the hapless Leafs 6-1 in front of a less-than- happy Leaf crowd. (with dozens of Habs jerseys sprinkled about).
Montreal dominated in every aspect, from Jaroslav Halak playing solid in goal, to a deadly power play (3 for 8), to Alex Tanguay having a goal and three assist night, to Sergei Kostitsyn chipping in with two goals and an assist, and Guillaume Latendresse helping out with a goal and two assists.
What a far cry from Fridays spotty effort in Buffalo when the Habs dropped a 2-1 shootout loss. And the big question is – how did the Detroit Red Wings lose to the Leafs a couple of nights ago?
Montreal showed all the signs Habs fans have been looking for, especially the potent power play, firewagon hockey, a cavalcade of chances, and the way newcomers Alex Tanguay and Robert Lang have come through so far.
The Leafs, to their credit, hit three or four goalposts, but Montreal also hit a few, and they had enough chances to make this a 10-1 game, which wouldn’t have sit well with Don Cherry.
Don didn’t like the idea that the Canadiens kept pouring it on late in the game with the score 6-1. I say pour it on. Help Kostitsyn get his hattrick. Pad the stats of the power play with a couple more. Let Kovalev pop another because for the Habs to be successful Kovalev has to be as good or better than last year, and that’s a big order.
Hell, let everyone pad their stats. It’s a long year, with dry spells along the way. Get em while the gettins good. The hell with the Leafs and Don Cherry. This is a business, not a San Francisco love-in.
Cherry had another rant on Coach’s Corner when he went on with another classic but somewhat tired bit about European kids taking Canadian kids’ jobs. Basically, I agree with a lot of what Don says. Not all, but a lot. But I think it’s all starting to get a bit old now. Maybe him and Bob Cole should join a lawn bowling league.
On Monday the Canadiens are in Philadelphia, and this will be a huge test. For those with short memories, it was the Flyers who knocked Montreal out of the playoffs last year. And TSN hippie Pierre McGuire predicts Philadelphia, not Montreal, to win the Eastern Conference and challenge Detroit for the Stanley Cup.
So there’s big motivation for the Canadiens to win on Monday. And it’s always good when McGuire is proved wrong.
GAME NOTE: Montreal starts the season off with three points out of four.
SURPRISING TEAM OUT OF THE GATE: Vancouver Canucks