The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Boston Bruins at the Bell Centre this weekend for their 6th consecutive victory. Another shutout for Cristobal Huet and an unlikely hero in Garth Murray who had 2 goals to go along with his scrap.
Why an unlikely hero? Murray is one of the hardest working players on the ice on either team and on every shift. A guy who values his ice time and has been rewarded with more and more responsibility from the appreciative Bob Gainey. I don’t recall Marcel Hossa ever having a game like that.
People love to get on Gainey’s case when the Canadiens drop a couple games but how about showing some love when his moves pay off? Saturday’s win was a perfect example with Huet’s 7th shutout and Murray’s grinding paying off.
The win has further seperated the Habs from 9th spot and although there won’t be any mathematical guarantee yet, the Canadiens should cruise into the playoffs somewhere between 6th and 8th spot. Even better however, the Canadiens right now are among the hottest teams in the whole league.
The Habs are 7-3 in their last 10 games. Only rivaled in the East by the streaking Florida Panthers (8-2) who won’t reach the post-season anyways and Anaheim (8-2) in the West. To compare, the very stable Sabres have 2 wins in their last 10 games and are dropping hard at the worst time.
The Canadiens are scoring more goals than normal and are getting some of the best goaltending a team can get right before the playoffs. You have to also like the physical element that the Canadiens have added since the first game of the season. Aaron Downey, Garth Murray and Todd Simpson fit into the depth of the team very well.
If there is a time to peak it is now and the Habs are definitely peaking. The team seems so far removed from the season’s earlier troubles and distractions.
Jose Theodore, Kovalev’s surgery, Souray’s rough start, Bonk’s early season floating, the Firing of Claude Julien, Markov’s injuries etc…
What changed? Some credit should go to the coaching staff getting the Canadiens in the right position to be their best. Coaching moves, roster moves. Maybe more credit should go to Cristobal Huet as his confidence and composure has been infectious on the team. Who is the Habs single most valuable player on their run into the playoffs?
The team is at their best and could pose a serious first round upset threat. No one’s hotter than the Habs right now and it’s perfect timing.