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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Post Game Quick Hits: Habs 3 - Canes 2 (SO)

Blech. This team is freaking weak. Sorry guys (and gals), but its true. For sure they have the very real excuse of having a boat load of injuries to key guys, but still. This is just a weak team and they are showing that unless their goalie stands on their head - which Price has done the last three games he played - they don't have any chance of winning. Consequently, WHEN their goalie does stand on his head, that doesn't necessarily mean that they WILL win.

Carolina is THE worst team in the league and, until Kostitsyn popped one in, during the third period, Montreal was minutes away from losing to them on home ice. Ouch. Very, very ouch.

1 - Price continues to play strong in nets. I get the feeling that the transition between the Roland Melanson drop and flop technique to the Pierre Groulx stand up for youself method is starting to take shape. Price is a big, imposing goaltender who plays best when he employs the hybrid style rather than the full butterfly. Under Melanson - former Habs goaltending coach - Price was dropping to his knees WAY too early and often getting beat high glove side. Now - at least in the last few games - it looks as if Price is being coached to stand up more, to make himself look big in the net and give the shooter very little to look at....and it seems to be working. Looking at Price in shootouts, last year, he was terrible. He was dropping and flopping like a fish out of water, and was having players deke him out and or go high glove side. Yesterday, he mostly stood up or did that 'one pad down' technique and it resulted in a solid effort.
2 - Andrei K finally scored! It is his first goal in 16 games. Wow. Brutal stretch there for a supposed sniper. But, like Carey Price, maybe the system - and his handling by Jacques Martin - is finally starting to seep into the older Kostitsyn's head. The last two or three games have seen some of the best and most heart felt performances of the season, from Kostitsyn. Granted that up until yesterday, he hadn't been rewarded with any goals. Yesterday, however, skating on a (great looking) line with MaxPac and Pleky, Kostitsyn got the game tying goal in the third. Was it pretty? Hell no! In fact, it was pretty ugly. Kostitsyn skated behind the Carolina net and towards the corner and just threw the puck - with a backhand - on net. It hit the inside of Legace's pad and squeaked into the goal. You could see on his face that he was elated. The goal aside, Kostitsyn played one of his most inspired games, throwing the body around, making moves around defenders and shooting much more than he has recently. Hopefully, last nights game will be a performance he can build on. We all know that the Habs need Kostitsyn to start scoring in order for this team to have any chance of making the playoffs.
3 - Speaking of long over due goals, MaxPac opened the scoring, early in the first, with a bit of a lucky goal himself. Taking the feed in the slot, from Pleks, MaxPac just whiffled the puck past the right pad of Legace. And, just like Kostitsyn, you could see the relief on his face.
4 - IF, and that is a big if, the 2nd line of Andrei K, Pleks and MaxPac can continue to play like they did last night, Montreal will suddenly have two scoring lines and be in a much better position to claim points going forward.
5 - The third line was excellent! Putting Lapierre back at center - on the third line - with Latendresse and Moen on his wings seemed to provide an excellent combination of speed, muscle and grit which was too much for Carolina to handle each time they were on the ice. If you think about it, this line is a logical choice considering how good Lapierre, Latendresse and Kostopolous looked last year on the third line. Not to take any thing away from Kosto, but Moen is an upgrade on the size, skill and grit level, hands down. Here's hoping THAT line can jell too!
6 - O'Byrne can't come back soon enough and we should, hopefully, see him in action by the weekend. I know that Spacek and Hamrlik will benefit immensely from some reduced minutes, and O'Byrne - once he hits his stride again - should be playing about 20 mins a game.

Well, despite the positives, we have to keep things in perspective. And the perspective is that Montreal barely beat the worst team in the league. What does that say about the Habs? Keep that in mind as Montreal now enters a tough 5-game schedule versus Washington twice, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Columbus once each. Apart from potential points - and I do emphasize the word POTENTIAL - against Columbus, does anyone expect Montreal to win any of the other four games (Wash X2, Pitts X1, Detroit X1)?

I didn't think so. Here's hoping I'm wrong.

K.

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