Saturday, November 5, 2011

Canadiens - Senators: Andrei Kostitsyn Pots Winner, Habs Extend Streak to Four

Last night's matchup between the Montreal Canadiens was a game between two red-hot teams.

The Habs were riding a three-game winning streak while the Sens were 6-4-0 in their previous 10 games.

Fortunately for Montreal, they played a "perfect" road game last night, especially in the first 40 minutes. The Habs patiently waited for their chances while shutting down the opposition.

Moreover, Montreal took the play to the Sens for the first 40 minutes before falling into the predictable third period shutdown mode—Montreal outshot Ottawa 22-18 through 40 minutes but managed only four shots in the third.

Carey Price continued his excellent play, turning aside 33 shots for his fourth win of the season.

The win moves Montreal the to .500 mark for the first time this season and pushes their streak to four straight wins. The Habs are now 5-5-2 on the season with 12 points, good enough for 11th overall in the East.

Final Score: Habs 2 - Senators 1

Game Notes

Erik Cole turned this team around - Much maligned for having a slow start, the Habs prized offseason acquisition is finally starting to play like a star.

Since assistant coach Perry Pearn was fired, Cole has been getting much more ice time. In addition, he has been playing a lot on the power play.

More importantly, however, there was one key shift by Cole in the second period against the Flyers that started the Habs recent streak.

Montreal came out flat in the first against the Flyers, and with the second looking pretty much the same way, Cole changed the tone.

Grabbing the puck near the Habs bench, Cole drove straight to the Flyers net, fighting through defenders, knocking people over and getting a shot on net.

While he didn't score on the play, his determination seemed to be contagious.

On the next shift, Max Pacioretty did the same exact same thing and the result was that the Flyers were suddenly on their heels. Shortly after those two shifts, Andrei Kostitsyn got on the board and the Habs never looked back.

Over the first nine games of the season, Cole had two points (1 G, 1A), a minus-4 rating and 15 shots on goal. Since then, the Habs have won four straight and Cole has three points (2G, 1A), a plus-2 rating and 19 shots on goal.


Andrei the Giant - So how does everyone feel about Andrei Kostitsyn now?

He and centerman Lars Eller have got to be the two biggest revelations of this still young season for Montreal. With Eller looking more and more confident each game, the chemistry between the two is undeniable.

Last night, after picking up a Sens' D-zone turnover, Eller skated in on Craig Anderson, did a deke then shuffled a short backhander to Kostitsyn for a goal into the empty cage.

It was a beautiful play by Eller and the fourth goal of the season for Kostitsyn. That ties him for the lead in goals with Tomas Plekanec and Max Pacioretty.

In addition, with eight points(4G, 4A) Kostitsyn is one off of the team lead.

To me, that say that the Habs actually have three capable scoring lines for the first time in, well, a long time.

P.K. Subban is having a sophomore slump - Let's face it, it's time to say that Subban is just not playing well and is, in all likelihood, suffering through a sophomore slump.

Through 12 games Subban finds himself with only three assists and a minus-4 rating while racking up a team-leading 23 penalty minutes.

More importantly, he is not making smart decisions on the ice with the perfect example was on the Sens loan goal last night.

Erik Condra was carrying the puck down the wing on a 2-on-1 with Zack Smith with Subban back as the lone defender. But, for some reason, Subban left his position as the last man back to hit Condra.

Condra just dished the puck to Smith who put a bit of a softie past Carey Price.

But why was Subban going for a hit on the puck carrier rather than giving him the shot and cutting off the pass? I mean that's textbook 2-on-1 defensive play.

Plays like that show that he is just not thinking the game right, and as a result he's making a lot of mistakes.

And Subban has to get his lazy tripping, slashing, interference penalties under control. Last year he led the team in penalty minutes with 124 in 77 games.

Right now he's on pace to top that total with 157 for the season and most are of the slashing, holding and other lazy penalty variety.

Up Next - The Habs are right back at it tonight as they take on the Rangers in New York. This will be Sean Avery's first game back in the Rangers' lineup and he is sure to be a thorn in the Habs side all night.

Game time is 7 p.m. and the boys for The Franchise and I are throwing a hockey party that you're all invited to!

You could win hockey tickets, an authentic Carey Price or P.K. Subban jersey, gift certificates to restaurants and more!

Plus, former Habs enforcer Chris "Knuckles" Nilan is going to be in the house. He'll be giving his take on the game in between periods as well as talking hockey with whoever is around.

Make sure to get there early to reserve a seat as we're expecting a sell out! So come on by tonight, it's going to be a great evening!

Questions for Corson

On a final note, we are having Shayne Corson on the Sunday Shinny this Sunday at 9 AM.

As such, I wanted to ask what YOU would ask him. If you come up with a good question or two I'll ask him for you.

So, given the state of the league and how the NHL has changed since Corson's days, what would you ask him?

Kamal is a freelance writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of and Montreal Canadiens Blogger on 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

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(Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images North America)


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