I’m too excited to come up with a good way of framing this game, so I’m just going to let this picture do it for me. It’s taken from Habs Inside/Out (and I highly recommend you go there, they always have great pictures, as well as great content, on all the games). Possibly I’m breaking some kind of rule by using it, but I couldn’t resist- it's seriously the happiest Habs-related thing I've seen in weeks. Komisarek looks like he's literally thanking God for letting them score again.
1. The Canadiens' scoring in this game is, in fact, nearly a perfect microcosm of their scoring all season: 3 power-play goals, 1 short-handed goal, and 1 empty-netter. This, somehow, is how they win hockey games. People say, again and again, that you just can’t rely on special teams for the bulk of your scoring, it’s not good, it’s not right, it’s not the way hockey is meant to be, and moreover, it’s not going to win you the Cup. That might be true, but at this point, I’m in favor of them using whatever parts of their game are good enough to win, and if that means a lot of power-play scoring, than so be it, let’s see how far it takes them. Yes, their 5-on-5 is weak, has been all season, but the only reason they slumped so badly is because their power play was falling apart as well. Now, if we’re lucky, it’s back; these PPGs were not just magic Souray slapshots, but forwards setting up good plays. Possibly opponents will eventually learn, if they hadn't realized already, that they can beat the Habs by not taking penalties. Fine with me, if other teams start to think twice before hooking, tripping, cross-checking, high-sticking, or otherwise fucking with ahbabi. See #2.
2. The Caps played all of the 1st, and much of the rest of the game, as if they’d been told to use all necessary force to take out as many Habs as possible, and it proved to be a bad decision. I love Mike Johnson, but he’s not such a scoring threat that it’s worth giving up a man-advantage just to pull him down, and I certainly don't know why anyone would find it necessary to do so several times in one game. It was a physically punishing match, even when it was clean, for both sides, and rather a lot of people got hurt, although I think there was only one injury- heartbreakingly, to Higgins, who left at the beginning of the 3rd and didn’t return. Details are, as usual, unavailable as yet (‘upper body injury’), but it would be unbelievably unfair if this turned out to be something serious. See #3
3. Last game, Montreal's much-maligned, classic 1st line showed promising signs of recovery. But this game, it burst out in a giant, glorious, gory explosion like an alien out of John Hurt’s chest. Higgins gets 2 goals, to his obvious relief, but the shocking thing is that he was the least impressive of his trio tonight. Ryder also got 2, one of them a jaw-dropping short-handed breakaway that I never, ever would have predicted he could pull off. But on the Canadiens’ side, this was really Koivu’s game, through and through. He picked up 3 assists, but more than that, he took over the ice when he was out there, offensively and defensively. A lot of the fans were hard on him, through the losing streak- trade him, bench him, give the C to Souray or acquire some superstar to pin it on. Granted, those fans are mostly idiots, but it was good to be reminded, again, of how much of a difference our Saku can make.
4. Congratulations to
5. Somebody, probably the Leafs, has put a voodoo curse on the Habs’ 2nd ‘A’. Koivu is the C, and Souray is one A, and they’re both fine, but bad things are starting to happen to everyone who dares to take on the other A. Normally it belongs to Rivet, but he got pneumonia. After that, it passed to Kovalev, who then promptly vanished with a mysterious elbow injury. After him, it went to Begin, who subsequently broke his foot blocking a shot last Sunday. So now it’s being worn by Bonk. Fortunately, Bonk has the best mojo of any Habs forward this season, so maybe he’ll be able to hold up.
6. On the Caps end, the remarkable thing was how non-existent Ovechkin was. I’d like to credit it all to the Canadiens’ amazing shut-down powers, but I don’t think in this case that they deserve the credit- Iskendar just wasn’t doing much of anything. Semin, on the other hand, was an unholy terror. And Laich seems to have moved up in the world since the last time they came through town- it looked to me as though he was getting more, and better quality, ice time.
Before this game, the Habs were 10th in the Eastern Conference standings. Now, with this win and tonight’s losses by
Thank God for letting them score again.