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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Canadiens - Flyers: Pacioretty Scores Two, Habs Snap Losing Streak

What a difference a win can make.

In toppling the formidable Philadelphia Flyers, 5-1, last night in Montreal, the Canadiens picked up their first home win of the season.

And this morning, the city is singing like a canary on a sunny day.

I guess people's memories are short because, six-game losing streak now done with, the Habs still have only six points through nine games played. And while they are tied for points with Boston and the Islanders, they still sit in 14th place overall in the East.

So perhaps we can cancel the parade?

Final Score: Habs 5 - Flyers 1

Game Notes

Firing the assistant - A mere 90 minutes before game time, the word came out the the Habs had fired assistant coach Perry Pearn.

Have you ever heard of anything like that before?

I'll have more thoughts on the Pearn firing and potential fallout later, but for now, it really seems like a warning shot fired across Jacques Martin's bow. Otherwise I don't really get it.

I mean yes, Pearn had a huge hand in the special teams, particularly the penalty kill, but it seems awfully suspect for the GM to a) unilaterally fire an assistant coach and b) do so 90 minutes before the game starts.

I say unilateral because, from what Pierre Gauthier said in his presser, Martin was not in agreement with the move.

So is this the start of a rift between Gauthier and Martin?

Max Pacio-ready - What is there to say about Max Pacioretty?

Seriously? This guy is made of teflon.

Not only did "the bionic man" not miss a shift after jamming his wrist last game—at one point there was speculation it was broken or had tendon damage—but he scored two goals, added an assist, had three shots on goal, logged 16:37 of ice time and 5:37 on the power play.

His third and fourth goals of the season yesterday, give him his nine point (4G, 5A) in nine games played, tops among Canadiens and tied for 14th overall in the league.

He also has 39 shots on goal placing him second overall in the league in that category—the Pens' James Neal is first with 44.

Oh, and right now, Patches is on pace for an 82 points season with 36 goals and 48 assists.

Not bad for a guy who had his neck broken seven months ago.

The Jagr Salute - With the Flyers applying pressure early in the game, Scott Hartnell found Jaromir Jagr open on the right side for a one-timer. The puck soared past Price and in the net for a 1-0 Flyers lead.

But, after the goal, Double-J broke out his post-goal celebratory salute-hand-flip-thing.

Blech, really?

I know it was a signature move of his back in the day but come on! You're a superstar, Jagr, you don't need any sad trademark move. Sad is not the word I would accurately use to describe the gesture—nor what I shouted at the TV when he did it—but I want to keep this post G-rated.

:-)

Attack, attack, attack - Part I - Good thing the Habs fired Perry Pearn because everything was much better last night.

Oh wait, it wasn't. Well it was, but not during the first period.

Before Montreal was able to find their legs in the second frame, Philly employed a simple two-man pressure game that hemmed the Canadiens in the own zone the entire period.

Pressure, pressure, pressure then the Habs would take a penalty. And then the boos rained down.

For most of the first period it looked like the Flyers were on a powerplay, with the Habs constantly second on the puck and Philly's tenacious forecheck making it look like men against boys.

Fortunately for Montreal, they tightened things up defensively in the second, found their transition game and turned the tables on the Flyers.

Cole to the rescue - Last night, Erik Cole played his best game in a Habs uniform.

Moreover, I dare say he was the catalyst that turned the Canadiens fortunes around.

While he only finished the night was one assist, it was Cole's net-drive and pure power that got the Canadiens engines running.

Early in the first, when it looked like it would be another loss, Cole drew two interference penalties on very similar plays. In both instances he chipped the puck past the Flyers defender and then used his speed to get around the slower defenseman.

Each time the Philly defender had no choice but to put their hands on Cole to stop/slow him down, sending them to box for interference.

Cole is a big, fast-skating power-forward and until last night, he wasn't really using his skills effectively. Seeing him pressure the opposing defenders and drawing penalties in the process, was a thing of beauty.

The only thing more beautiful was seeing both Cole and Pacioretty barreling into the net on the power play.

Don't look now, but the Habs seem to have themselves two power-forwards!

Attack, attack, attack - Part II - Let's face it, during the first period, Montreal looked like the flat, disorganized team that had lost it's previous six games.

Watching them in the defensive zone, it seemed like there was always a Flyers player in the slot, uncovered. This was the result of excessive gaps between the forwards and the defenseman.

Then all of a sudden in the second period the Habs seemed to adjust. And for the first time all season, the once hermetic defensive zone scheme was back.

With forwards were coming back deeper to help the defensive zone coverage, there were less chances from the inside. Also, the Flyer had more unforced errors, less time in the Canadiens zone while the Habs enjoyed a quicker transition from defense to offense.

That is the Canadiens game, at least under Jacques Martin it is. If they are going to have any success this season they have to continue to play like they did in the second period.

100 Wins - With the Habs first home win of the season, Carey Price picked up his 100th career win.

Price becomes the fifth youngest goaltender to get to the 100-win mark, stopping 5852 pucks en route to the milestone. Moreover, he becomes the 12th winningest goaltender in Habs history.

Not bad for a 24-year-old.

Lost in the shuffle - The often maligned, Andrei Kostitsyn, scored his 90th career goal last night, having potted 20 or more in three of the last four seasons.

Question of the day: Pearn was fired and the Habs snapped their losing streak.

So, is the crisis averted or the inevitable delayed?

Up Next - The Habs play the first of a home-and-away series against the hated Bruins tonight in Boston.

The Bruins haven't exactly been lighting it up so far this season either. They are tied for point (6) with Montreal, with one more win and one fewer game played.

So far, Boston looks like a team suffering a major Stanley Cup hangover. Will the Habs be the tonic they need to cure what ails them? Or, will Montreal use tonight's game to gain a little momentum.

Find out starting tonight in Boston with the grudge match taking place on Saturday
in Montreal.

---
Kamal is a freelance writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of HabsAddict.com and Montreal Canadiens Blogger on Hockeybuzz.com. Kamal is also a weekly contributor to the Sunday Shinny on TSN Radio 990 (AM 990) every Sunday from 9 - 10 AM. Listen live at http://www.tsn.ca/montreal/

Follow Kamal on Facebook and Twitter


(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images North America)

2 comments:

Well damn, Will Bill, even a stopped clock's gotta be right sometime! Common logic seys yer gonna win one sooner or later.

Yep, they had to win eventually and last night was as good a time as any to turn around their fortunes.

Now let's see if they can keep it up against the Bruins tonight!

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