Well…uh… that was an adequate game. Yes, that’s it. Both sides played very adequately. Acceptably. Perhaps I might even go so far as to say… um… competently? After all, just because a match is in the very tail end of the season between two teams who desperately need every point to make the playoffs doesn’t mean everyone needs to get all worked up or anything. I mean, it’s only a game, nothing to get excited about.
1. Personally, I blame the Bruins. Sure, people say the Habs play a defensive system, but tonight the Bruins were channeling the evil spirit of the Devils and playing so conservatively that you might as well not even call it hockey. I think I’ll call it ice charades- kinda looks like they’re playing hockey if you squint and use your imagination, but not really.
2. Of course, the Habs came out looking rather like damp Kleenex on skates, so it’s not like they're entirely blameless for this particular bore-o-rama. I know it doesn’t matter because they won, but if I might address them directly for a moment: Guys, I cannot emphasize this enough, you have to bring your power play every single night. Okay, not scoring on the PP is sometimes acceptable, insofar as it might be due to bad bounces or an excellent performance by the opposition goalie, but not getting shots on the PP is inexcusable in the Habs current situation. The power play is the only thing that stands between the Canadiens and total, complete collapse. They cannot afford to have crap power plays, ever, because their even-strength scoring ain’t been around all season and don’t show any signs of coming back. And make no mistake, tonight’s power plays were almost completely crap- a bad sign. PK was good, at least.
3. Bright and dark spots: Latendresse, Lapierre, and Kovalev- who I like to think of as Carbonneau’s After-School Special Line (can’t we all just get along?)- are quite effective. They got the only goal of the evening (GUI!), but more amazing, Kovalev was actually working. Didn’t get anything, but hey, sometimes it’s the thought that counts. Better to see him doing something than nothing. Halak was, obviously, perfect, and many congratulations to him on his first NHL shutout. Higgins made himself copious nice opportunities, but isn’t finishing. Kostitsyn, given how shiny he looked against the Leafs, seemed nervous and made a couple scary-bad decisions- hopefully he’ll rebalance his chi in time for Thursday. Oh, and a very warm welcome back to Bonk- we’ve missed your perma-stubble.
So, not a very exciting game, but it was the win that it absolutely had to be, and maybe it’s a good thing that it was so uneventful- they didn’t exactly tire themselves out, did they? And, with the OT loss to the Isles and the win to the Leafs, the Habs go from 11th to…wait for it… 10th!!! We’re #10!!! We’re #10!!! Whoo-hoo!!! Thank God for the small (very, very small) victories.