Let's open with the facts: The Canadiens now have 45 points in the standings, solidly 2nd in the conference and 5th in the League. They’ve won four consecutive games and haven’t lost in regulation in the past seven. 20-8-5. They’re officially good- so officially, objectively, statistically good that people in the rest of the hockey world are starting to notice. At least half the local fan base already thinks we’ve won #25. Sure, Habs fans are more than a little bit cracked- I mean, that's totally unreasonable at this point in the season. You know what? Screw reasonable. Let the frenzy begin!
1. I don’t believe Higgins was actually injured. I think they took him away to a secret laboratory under the mountain, where they made a dozen bionic copies, enough to last them the rest of the season. I swear he’s even better than he was when he left.
2. Maxim Lapierre: Can we keep him? Please please please pleeeeeease Mr. Carbonneau can we keep him? 4 points in 4 games, 3 of them goals. He and Latendresse looked great together tonight, and along with Streit, this is a 4th line that’s starting to look a helluva lot better than any 4th line has a right to. We’ll have to start calling them the 3A and 3B lines or something.
3. 11 different Habs players got points in this game, I can’t possibly talk about all of them in the amount of space I have, so just a few comments: the 2nd line is looking much better, and Samsonov’s 2 assists were about as spectacular as an assist can be. Markov is the invisible tape that holds this team together, and every game I hope and pray he’ll never leave us. Souray is hoarding points like they’re going out of style. Cristobal Huet: hot chocolate with cayenne pepper, first thing in the morning on a Sunday in mid-February.
4. I’m never going to complain about the Canadiens getting outshot ever again. If it doesn’t bother Huet, and the shots they do take are enough to win games, than obviously they know what they're doing. Better to take a few good shots against an ordinary goalie than a million crap shots at a goalie with supernatural powers.
5. 3 goals for the Canadiens in 5 on 5- meaning enough to have won the game without the hallowed special teams. HA!
6. The Sabres are still good, and more importantly, they’re still five points ahead of
The Canadiens are not the best team in the League. All things being equal, a team like the Sabres, or even the Sens, could out-style the Habs every day of the week and twice on Sundays. They’re play is not the prettiest on the ice, it’s not the most skilled, and it’s by far not the most disciplined. Their game is still chaotic, and they still have mood swings. They have to work their asses off for every damn point they get, and a lot of the goals aren’t highlight-reel material (though Higgins seems bent on changing that). But it’s a joyous thing to watch these days, how hard they work and how well they work together, and how much fun they seem to have doing it. On a good night they’ve got as much speed, twice the edge, and three times the creativity of any opposition that gets thrown at them. Sometimes that's enough to win, sometimes it's not.
Ahbabi aren’t the best team in the League, yet.
But nights like this, I’m pretty sure they will be.