The Canadiens won the first game of their 6 game road trip 5-3 aginst the Islanders in Long Island, New York. There appeared to be no Olympic hangover as Saku Koivu contributed 3 assists and Alex Kovalev put up 2 points.
Koivu and Kovalev have been peaking at the right time. Kovalev started playing the way he should prior to the Olympics and had a strong tournament. Koivu really stood out at the Olympics and got the job done last night after flying in earlier that day. There was some doubt Koivu wanted to rest and would not play. A questionable and highly criticized move from a Captain of an on the brink playoff team. Koivu played however and helped the team get 2 valuable points.
Local boy Chris Higgins scored 2 goals in front of his friends and family in Long Island to help secure the Canadiens win. There’s not a lot of bad things you can say about this guy. Higgins has been one of the more consistent rookie performers for the Canadiens and has earned his playing time and a spot on a line with Saku Koivu. Higgins is still young and it’ll be interesting to see what he develops in to over a couple years, he could be great.
The score doesn’t reflect Cristobal Huet’s performance. Another rock solid effort making big saves when he needed to. Huet seems very calm, cool and collected in the net. There’s no panic or doubt in his game, he’s confident. A far cry from watching Jose Theodore slip and slide around the crease.
A great start for the Canadiens road trip. Michael Ryder got a goal in his 1st game after the break which is good news as he’s the only Canadien that has a chance to score 30 or more goals and needs to be firing down the stretch for the Habs to win. Sheldon Souray also scored 3 points which should give him some confidence.
Along with Madison Square Garden and the Meadowlands in New Jersey, the Islanders arena is a dreadfully ugly excuse for a hockey rink. Something about that whole New York area is very unfriendly for television broadcasts.
The Canadiens earned 2 points and the Leafs lost to the lowly Washington Capitals to further seperate them. The Leafs are looking horrendous with 3 wins in their last 16 games and it doesn’t look like it’ll turn around after last night’s poor effort. Pat Quinn might be on his way out but not until the offseason which is looking more likely to be after 82 games for the Leafs.
A quick glance at the standings shows the Leafs, Thrashers and Bruins within reasonable striking distance of 8th spot. Are any of these teams capable of catching up? Can the Canadiens rise higher? I think the Canadiens worst hockey of the year is behind them.