Tonight, the Canadiens played almost flawless hockey for 40 mins. Other than the first period, which was a total snoozefest, the Canadiens took control of the game with a high intensity forecheck and stifled the relatively potent Lightning offense of Stamkos, Lecavalier, St.Louis and Downie.
Here are my impressions about the game tonight:
– Alexei Emelin: He was credited with 7 hits in 20:14 of icetime, many of the bone crunching variety. He was strong on the puck and gives the Habs a physical dimension that was sorely lacking.
– Andrei Kostitsyn: He hit like a truck on the forecheck, with a particularly good one on Brett Connolly. Didn’t pick up a point, but definitely was an offensive catalyst out there with Eller and Moen.
– Erik Cole: As we’ve been accustomed to hearing after a game, Erik Cole was an offensive force. He also got in on the physical play, with a good hit on Downie. Finished the game with a goal on a late powerplay.
– Max Pacioretty: Pacioretty broke his goal drought, with his first marker since his returning from his suspension 13 games ago. He picked up the go-ahead goal on a pretty pass from Subban, and also picked up an assist on Cole’s goal.
– The newly formed line of Plekanec, Gionta and Cammalleri was held pointless, and for the most part were fairly invisible. This line, accounting for 16$ million, was just not good enough.
– Tomas Kaberle / Chris Campoli: I’m grouping these two players together mainly because they’re both terrible defensively and not really doing much on offense either. Kaberle was brought to Montreal to spark a Markov-less powerplay, but I don’t feel that he’s done much in terms of concrete production on the PP.
– The protestors who were at the Bell Centre before the game. They were protesting the hiring of a unilingual anglophone, and handed out Quebec flags. As a bilingual Quebecer, I fully understand the request for the head coach to be bilingual, but I resent the sense of entitlement about it having to be a francophone. The Canadiens, as a sports team, need to hire the best personnel available, but obviously being a French speaker is key in this market. However, this protest reeks of opportunism and political pandering. Thankfully there were only 100 or so people.
With the win, the Canadiens jump into 12th place. They still have a steep climb, but all they can do now is win if they truly have designs on making the playoffs. Whether that or a full rebuild is the best move remains to be seen however.