Happy New Year everyone! I gotta say I love the Olympic year for one thing alone – there is always a game on. The team has to be starting to feel the effects of all of these back to back games, but they are not showing it thus far – alright maybe they showed it in the 3rd last night. 2 points is 2 points though, and if you compare the teams play to a week ago, there are MANY positive signs for Habs fans.
Sure we’ve played more games than anyone else, but when you win that isn’t a problem. Montreal is slowly tracking down Ottawa and Boston in the standings, and with a healthy roster is showing the capacity to actually remain among the playoff bound clubs in the East. Right now we’re 9 points back of Buffalo, but only 4 back of the Bruins. Of course if the entire bottom half of the conference collectively goes on a 3 game winning streak to close the season we may be a lottery pick.
Joking aside, how much better is our team with the addition of Brian Gionta? His work ethic is infectious, he’s an opportunistic scorer, and most of all he provides Gomez with a comfortable target for his creative passing. I’m convinced that with enough time either Pouloit or Kostitsyn (or both)will fill the needs of that line to give us two solid scoring lines.
Tomas Plekanec scored the game winner last night, and I’m having a hard time remembering such an incredible trasformation for a Habs player from one season to the next. While Plex showed us how good he can be during the 07-08 season, his playoffs and 08-09 season were by his own admission terrible. Up until the beginning of this season, I would have traded him without question for whatever we could get in order to obtain a larger centre. This seasonPlex plays with a fire that we haven’t seen in him before, and is currently tied for 7th in points with Dany Heatley. His 36 helpers are second only to Joe Thornton. Not only that, but Plex is a perfect example to Habs fans of just how important it is to develop your own talent in this league. It cost us nothing to get the 7th place scorer (as far as trades are concerned). The added benefit is that Plex is having an incredible effect on other home grown guys - specifically Andrei Kostitsyn. Its more than likely that we’re witnessing a 25+ goal season for Andrei with 50+ points. All of a sudden our need for a top 6 forward is vanishing (as long as his production continues).
Last night the D was huge, and while the 3rd was far from pretty, you had to like the play of O’B, Hammr, Markov and Bergeron – playing where he belongs – on our 4th line. I honestly believe that O’B has arrived in his NHL career. Its been a hard slug in a city that expects greatness immediately, but what patience we have shown is being rewarded in a big strong defender who blocks shots and is competant in moving the puck.
Carey played great following a long lay-off. I wish Martin would keep a tighter reign on letting his goalies sit. Not that I am complaining about riding a hot goalie – but both of aour goaltenders have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they deserve regular action. There is no shame in going with both regularly. Why should Jaro be punished if Carey plays well? Vice Versa? Carey stole the show in the 3rd period when the Lightning were pressing hard for a home victory. My suggestion - Jaro plays tonight, go back to Carey the next game and keep them both into it.
The Panthers have struggled this season at times, but are still close enough to be a threat to Montreal. A win would give us 12 of a possible 14 points. Incredible to even have that shot, non? I’d love to see a full 60 mins tonight. Go Habs Go!!!!