The Beast/Best of The East

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    Andrei Kostitsyn’s game winning wrap around goal at the 14:17 mark of the third period

    Habster:

    Don’t double take Canadiens fans when you read the Sunday morning paper tomorrow and see your Montreal Canadiens leading the Eastern Conference standing with 81 points. That’s right, they have passed the New Jersey Devils with a 2-1 victory and are starting to play a more solid defensive style, almost reminiscent of playoff hockey…….yes the playoffs!!!!
    There’s still 16 games to play before the playoffs start but the Habs are on a roll and are playing great hockey. They’re getting solid goaltending from Carey Price, the defensive zone coverage is much improved and all four lines are contributing to the game plan.
    I could just repeat what the other game reports write but I would prefer to pinpoint players or plays throughout he game…….so here we go………

    Game Points:

    • If Carey Price continues his solid goaltending and backstops his team to more victories, then Bob Gainey’s legacy will grow even stronger than it presently is. His decision to trade away Cristobal Huet has worked out so far and there is still a lot of games to play but you have to be impressed with young Mr. Price’s play. He is making the hard saves look easy with his great positioning and is starting to show us his great stickhandling skills with the puck. He helped his defensemen and even shot the puck down the ice on a Devils powerplay in the third period…….that’s skill and confidence!!!!
    • Mad Max was madly great!!!!…….it appears that Maxim Lapierre has stepped up his game and played a very good game tonight. He was a wrecking ball in the Devils zone especially late in the third period when Martin Brodeur was trying to get to the bench for an extra attacker. Lapierre was the hardest working Hab with constant hustle and determination…….Now I understand why Maxim was the top vote getter for the Hamilton Bulldogs’ hardest working player award…………and to think he was one of the players who was rumoured to be going to the Thrashers for Hossa.
    • Did the referees swallow their whistles when Carey Price had his blocker hand over the puck? Have the rules changed or aren’t the refs suppose to blow the play dead when they lose sight of the puck??!! The goal by Smurf, Brian Gionta shouldn’t have been allowed by the referees.
    • As much as I dislike the way Martin Brodeur has owned the Montreal Canadiens throughout his career, he is a future Hall of Famer who has been one of the greatest goalies to have ever played the game………I’m happy the Habs have beaten him twice this season and that he will most likely represent Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympic games……this is when I love Marty!!!!!
    • I didn’t really notice Saku Koivu or Christopher Higgins that much throughout the game, they almost seemed invisible tonight……I did notice their linemate, Sergei Kostitsyn who was all over the ice at both ends of the ice. He was also playing a physical game and even challenged the Smurf to a fight……..it almost seems cruel to pick a fight with a small creature like Gionta!!!
    • The more I see Ryan O’Byrne and Josh Gorges playing defense, the more I’m glad Bob Gainey didn’t listen to my advice to get another defenseman at the trade deadline. O’Byrne has gotten better each game while Gorges has entrenched his position on the Habs blueline and relegated Mr. Breezeby to the press box where he belongs…….sorry Breezer!!! Gorges game has changed drastically since he was given more ice time and is displaying tremendous patience and decision making with the puck. He is also winning the battles along the boards which was not the case earlier in the season…….the future looks incredibly bright for the Canadiens and their defensemen!!!
    • I liked the work of the Streit/Grabovski/Ryder line which was skating really well and buzzing all over the place. Michael Ryder has picked up his game and may not have scored tonight but played a solid game with constant hustle. Grabovski and Streit were also good but I’m still not terribly impressed by Mikhail’s work along the board…..weak!!!

    3 COMMENTS

    1. This is F%&@en great, you guys have to understand, living here in GTA and putting up with all the BS earlier in the year about the Habs not making the playoffs, finishing 13th even and the Lafs finishing up there. During the season hearing “oh they’ll collapse just like last year”. over and over…. Well to me it doesn’t matter if they finish 1st overall or 2nd in the division (4th or 5th overall)I am extremely PROUD of our Habs. They have overcome criticism and doubters even among Habs fans, but they believed in themselves and each other and we should too. The Future of this team is SO bright it is almost too good to be true.

      In closing “Na na na na hey hey good bye Maple Lafs” (sic i decided the missing “e” is appropriate)

    2. Hey HILL (Habster In Leafs Land),

      I can imagine how much teasing you get being a Habs Fan in the center of the universe…..it must be great now that you can rub Leaf fans noses in the Canadiens success and their team’s failures.
      Yes, the future looks incredibly great with too many young players to mention……a far cry from a few years ago when the cupboards were truly bare and the future looked bleak…….In Gainey and the Habs, we trust!!!!
      GO HABS GO!!!!

    3. re: Game Points

      Price was superb and was well-deserving of the 1st star honours with a 31 save night. I agree that his positioning and puckhandling was first rate and showed a growing confidence. Price’s pad save with about 3 minutes to play was a game saver.

      O’Byrne had some big hits and he moved the puck well but it was Gorges that was out there near the end of the game to help kill Komisarek’s penalty. Carbo is showing some confidence in his improved play.

      I know the knock on Grabovski has been his play on the boards but the stint in Hamilton seems to have improved that aspect of his game. In addition to blazing speed, Grabovski seemed to be battling through checks and even going to the corners. His skating even drew at least one penalty. Grabovski, with Streit and Ryder, has revitalized the 3rd line.

      On the contrary, Latendresse had one of his worst games. I don’t think that he won a single battle for the puck all night. The 4th line was hemmed in its own end by the Devils for many of their 1st period shifts. Thankfully, Lapierre and Smolinski cranked up their work effort in the third period, and were very effective in the last 2 minutes of the game.

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