This is getting ridiculous. But also delicious.
1. Today’s area of incremental improvement: penalty killing. While the Habs’ PP has been clicking steadily more or less all season (with a few slumps), the PK has been quite poor- even more so in comparison to last year’s team. Now, personally, I don’t endorse the gratuitous taking of penalties just to practice playing at a disadvantage, but when the opportunity comes... The Canadiens’ had several excellent kills, including one on a lengthy set of overlapping penalties at the end of the first/beginning of the second, wherein Huet came up huge, Kovalev dazzled even sans-puck, and Plekanec continued his routine bitch-slapping of the Islanders with a cute little short-handed goal.
2. One can go on and on about how solid and responsible and smart and professional Huet usually is, but you know every now and then every goalie has to do something a little crazy. And so he foils a 3rd period Isles attempt at a breakaway by running out of the crease almost all the way to the blueline and smacking the puck out of the zone himself- on his back. Even Carbonneau cracked up.
3. I’ve been trying to avoid adding to the derision being heaped on Ryder lo these many weeks, but… holy fuck, that was a terrible game. I mean, it’s one thing to blow every single scoring chance that comes your way, but I swear the man doesn’t even look anymore where he’s firing the puck. I thought that early on after a particularly egregious giveaway, but when he chipped the thing directly into Markov’s face it confirmed my suspicions. The sad thing is that Koivu played quite well, he set up around 6 or 7 good opportunities, but his linemates just ain’t finishing- Ryder takes forever to make decisions and then still makes the worst possible one, and Higgins has been playing some brilliant defense these days but still seems to get into the play just a little too late to get good shots on net. I’m tempted to say that if they’re going to play Streit on forward they should put him on that line.
4. One thing you can certainly say for Dandenault, he certainly knows how to make an impression when he absolutely has to. The goal he finally popped in the 3rd was only the last of several close calls earlier in the game.
5. However, for Dandenault and Brisebois to get their shots back in the lineup, somebody has to sit, and that meant Streit getting moved to the 4th line and Begin and Kostopolous sitting while the two part-time defensemen flank Smolinksi. Kostopolous is, presumably, accustomed to this, but Begin looked seriously grumpy. And more than a little sinister- RDS cut to him sitting in the pressbox and looking for all the world like an evil henchmen. Someday, try picturing Carbonneau in the mega crime boss in a low-budget cop movie, sitting in a big leather chair behind a wide heavy desk, fingers tented. Now imagine Begin standing behind him, arms folded, staring down some poor underling. It works. Dear God, it works far too well. Of course, I can’t imagine at this moment that Steve would be all that enthusiastic about breaking legs for Carbo. Well, not off-ice anyway…
Tonight’s Senators game hasn’t started yet, so for a brief period, the Habs sit only three points down from the division lead, and therefore, the conference lead. We still have five games yet to play against