Feb 11, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Montreal Canadiens center Lars Eller (81) celebrates his goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

Canadiens Blank Leafs On Sundin Appreciation Night

Tonight, the Canadiens enduring a long, albeit touching, tribute to longtime Leafs captain Mats Sundin. I never really was a big Sundin fan, despite his great stats. I never felt he was a game-changer and I never felt that he would be so revered if he didn’t play in Toronto. That being said, Sundin paved the way for a lot of European players and was great in international play.

I feared for the first ten minutes of this game at the ACC. I assumed that the energy boost would benefit the Leafs while watching the ceremony would slow the Habs down. The first period proved this hypothesis right, except both teams seemed to be affected by the ceremony. Lots of stoppages, icing and nothing in terms of scoring. The Canadiens killed off the only penalty of the period. Both sides had some good looks at the net, but Reimer and Price made the saves.

The second period was where the Habs blew the game wide upon. They took the lead on a goal by Erik Cole, the lone assist going to David Desharnais. A minute or so later, Rene Bourque would score his 16th of the season, with the help of Tomas Plekanec and Mathieu Darche. Towards the end of the period, the Habs would double their 2-0 lead. They scored a power play goal [!!!] courtesy of Max Pacioretty‘s 23rd of the season, who picked up PK Subban‘s rebound, with the secondary assist going to David Desharnais. With less than 2 minutes left in the second, Lars Eller blew past Dion Phaneuf [who looked very soft on the play] and scored on a beauty of a deke. This would spell the end of Reimer‘s night, having allowed 4 goals on 15 shots. In the second period alone, the Habs scored 4 of their 7 shots.

For the third, it would remain all Habs. Mathieu Darche would score on a great breakaway pass from Tomas Plekanec and Carey Price. And thus, the Canadiens would ruin Mats Sundin‘s night with a 5-0 blowout of the Leafs at home on a Saturday night. Price with 32 saves for the shutout victory!

It was also the 4th win in a row for the Habs for only the 2nd time this season. In case you’re wondering, the first time was when the Habs beat Philly, Boston 2x and Ottawa in October.

The Positives:

– Well besides everything, the play of Tomas Plekanec on both sides of the puck was excellent. He picked up 2 assists and prevented the Lupul-Bozak-Kessel line from lighting it up.

– Speaking of defense, P.K Subban played an excellent game. He chose his spots perfectly, didn’t let the extra shoves and hacks he would get after the whistle get into his head. He forms a perfect shutdown pairing with Gorges, which is a good role for him considering the absence of depth on D that the Habs have. The offense will come from good defense.

Carey Price finally gets the SO! After watching his team let him down against the Islanders with some shoddy D work at the end of the game, he can thank his D men and his posts for the shot blocks tonight. His 4th SO of the season.

The Negatives

– I don’t want to nitpick, but Andrei Kostitsyn had a terrible first two periods. He was better in the third but there was one shift in the 1st period where he gave up the puck at least 3x in the D zone. Not good Brother Andrei!

 

All in all good work. If the Habs put another 2-3 wins together, they just might make me a believer! They are only 7 points from the Leafs, who are occupying the 8th spot, with the same number of games played. Alas, the problem lies more with the teams in between ….

The next game is the visit from former assistant coach Kirk Muller and d-man Jaroslav Spacek on Monday. Puck drops at 7:30 at the Bell Centre!

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