I appreciate the excitement of hockey, I really do. I enjoy tense, hard-fought, down-to-the-wire, edge-of-your-seat games. But sometimes those get a little stressful, especially when the outcomes haven’t so much been going the way you’d like. The past 3 Habs games have all been close- some more exciting than others, but all have had me clenching my teeth until the last second. So it was something of a relief to watch such a solid win, and moreover, 60 minutes of generally solid play by the entire team. Not the sexiest game they’ve ever generated, but still awfully tasty. For once, after the first ten minutes, I just wasn’t worried. Hell, even when it was tied, even when it was close, the Canadiens played so well that I never doubted they’d take it.
1. I’m feeling very tranquil, so I’m not going to rant and rave about how impressive it is that the Habs managed a not-at-all schizophrenic game. They outshot the Isles by a comfortable margin, kept play on the offensive, and coordinated nicely. In the 3rd, possibly because of all the PP/PK action, Carbonneau actually mixed up the first two lines, switching Kovalev to the 1st and Latendresse to the 2nd, and I must say, Kovalev does seem to work better with Koivu. Than again, everyone works better with Koivu. It’s the nature of Koivu. So maybe that doesn’t prove anything.
2. Rivet’s and Latendresse’s goals were like the yin and yang of hockey plays- the former a really elegant solo performance, the latter an everybody-chip-in team effort. But again, Koivu seals it with the final two. This is why they put him in charge. Samsonov spends the whole game looking as though he’s been threatened with immanent defenestration, makes some sweet plays, but his crap luck holds and still no points. Niinimaa gets hit in the face with a puck at the end of the first, dumps about a pint of blood onto the ice, and comes back to put in his second consecutive great game. Dude really is trying to prove himself . Komisarek continues to thwomp everything that moves in a dark jersey, but in a strategic way. Huet compensates for letting in a pretty weak shot early on with several dramatic saves subsequently. But here’s the thing: nobody played badly, no one got lazy, no one spaced out. For once, ahamdulillah, I’ve got no criticism, not even secret criticisms at the bottom of my soul that I’d never speak of.
3. To be fair, the Islanders did not bring their good game tonight. I’ve seen their good game- most notably as deployed against the Rangers last Sunday- and this was not it. They were altogether too slow, and therefore too easy to frustrate. In the first two periods they were outshot 27-15, and if it wasn’t for eight 6-on-4 shots in the last 2 minutes, it would have been 36-19 for the entire game. Hey, wait a second, they stole the Canadiens’ patent-pending, no-offense, silly-penalties game! Why they’d want it, I have no idea, but hey, I’m feeling generous, the Isles can keep it. Enjoy.
So the Habs get a little bit of extra space between themselves and the Leafs/Sens in the standings, and go home with 3 out of 4 points for the road trip. Next up: the Sabres on Saturday. I’ve got no idea what’s gonna happen, but I’m looking forward to it.
In other news, I see that