Brian Gionta: My New Obsession

James SheehyCorrespondent ISeptember 21, 2009

QUEBEC CITY- SEPTEMBER 20:  Montreal Canadiens Head Coach Jacques Martin talks to his players during a time out in their NHL Preseason game against the Boston Bruins on September 20, 2009 at the Colisee Pepsi in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.  The Bruins defeated the Canadiens 2-1.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

For those who have been watching the Canadiens' preseason games, I have one question to ask: Who HASN'T fallen in love with Brian Gionta? 

In each game he's played, he has been hands down our best forward. Gionta has been all over the ice, so much so that at times it seem like there's two of him.

No seriously, I was pretty sure he had a clone on a few occasions. 

He's been first in the zone, first in the corners, and the first back on defense. This guy is everywhere. And he's hustling like a kid off his Riddlin on every single play. 

In addition to all of this, he has re-sparked Pleky, with the two showing chemistry I didn't expect to develop till December, at the earliest. 

Oh, and did I mention that after about one stride, he can flat out fly? Well if you'd been watching, I wouldn't have to tell you. The blur from the little engine that could would still be burnt into your retinas.

In the first match against the Senators, Gionta already had the go-ahead goal. While up 2-1 as the game came to a close, Gio had a chance to pot an empty netter and missed wide, crashing into the boards. It was an awkward play you'd expect in peewee, and yet he rose with a big smile.

That's something we've been missing in Montreal, genuine joy.

In last nights tilt against the Boston Bruins one play sums up my new found obsession. Trying to cycle the puck in the offensive zone, our defensemen turned the puck over and it sprang an odd man rush the other way. Just as it looked like they were going to have a man wide open in front of the net, Gionta came screaming into the picture at about 200 mph to prevent the pass.

He went end to end faster than most of the guys went redline to redline. And from that moment, I was hooked.

Small is the new Big.

P.S. In terms of little players with big hearts, how about this David Desharnais kid.

Standing at an imposing 5'7", he played lights out yesterday. Great puck control, can make the tough pass, and ferocious on the fore-check. And most admirably, he doesn't shy away from contact, even with the enormous Zdeno Chara, whom he went after a few times.

He had a solid rookie year with Hamilton after tearing apart the ECHL and the QMJHL. This kid could be something special.