The Crosby-less Penguins are waiting in Montreal in ambush of our Habs for their game at the Bell Centre tonight. Fresh off of a squeeker win against the NY Rangers, The Habs will need to summon the energy necessary to skate with a very good team that is for the first time this season showing cracks of vulnerability going 4-4-2 in their last 10 games.
The Habs did a good job last night in earning 2 critical points. The win allowed them to vault over the Thrashers into 7th place in the East, and also helped to pull the Habs within 2 points of the Rangers. They can pull even tonight if they are able to win once more. The standings have tightened over the last month – with teams 2 through 8 all within 4 points of each other. Wins now are critical to how the standings will end up in the Spring.
For the Habs to make the playoffs they will need to continue being defensively stingy. But they will also need some of their younger offensive stars to pick up the scoring slack that their veterans seem to be incapable of. Pouliot has been enormous over the past few games. Pacioretti has been very good as well. The Habs need more out of Ak46, and Lars Eller.
Eller was inserted into the top line after a 3 game stint as a healthy scratch – only to be benched in 6 minutes of action. I can’t really understand Martin’s approach on this one. Eller has skill that the Canadiens desperately need, and yet – at every single turn his mistakes are blown out of proportion. For a guy to be benched after a marginal penalty in the first period is questionable. When that player plays for on of the most penalized teams in the league – you really have to wonder.
Wouldn’t the team be better served by having a 21 year old play through his mistakes? If the team cannot afford this – shouldn’t he be in the AHL? One thing is for certain – Montreal will not turn him into a Claude Giroux, or James Neal by playing him 6 minutes per night. Confidence is everything for young players – and the Habs have blasted the confidence of this young man. And he’s not the only one.
PK seems to have turned a corner. You have to wonder if the fact that he simple CANNOT be benched has allowed him to play through the minor mistakes that all young (and old) players make. Ryan O’Byrne has surely shown that if a team is willing to show you some confidence – it makes a big difference. Guillaume Latendresse’s pace through 55 games in Minnesota last year (and this year until he got hurt) show that confidence is the MAJOR contributing factor to a player’s success (along with ice time).
We won’t see good things from Eller in limited minutes. There are only a handful of players in the league who could succeed in that short a span – and none of them are 21 years of age.
I want to see 60 minutes of balanced hockey tonight. Hopefully the Habs have something left in the tank after all of these come-from-behind games of late.
Go Habs Go!!!