The Montreal Canadiens closed their eighth week in a less painful way than many had anticipated.
The apprehension regarding the two last games was so strong, that it sounded as if the team “Banana split” from the Garage league of Goone-land was going to face an NHL team.
A few points are quite encouraging from last week’s challenges. Bob Gainey can now at least close one eye when he sleeps at night.
Let’s start with his goaltender.
The game against the Nashville Predators seemed to have brought some confidence and grit back to Carey Price. He is 3-1-1 at his last five starts, and allowed only two goals per game.
Protecting this kid as if the sun could set him on fire, Gainey is finally recovering the Price to whom he gave the number one spot.
However, I would not go as far as shouting at every street corner that “Price is right” since we never know of what this team is capable doing; but it is a good start.
So good, he has actually earned the second star of the week in the NHL.
Then, Andrei Kostitsyn with his four points in three games. I understand your skepticism; three games of hard work does not make up for the 17 scoreless others.
He has been stellar against the Detroit Red Wings, and Mike Cammalleri could not be happier. Kostitsyn’s talent is undeniable; and as it has been said many times here on Bleacher Report, Jacques Martin might want to keep the communication flow going strong for the sake of the team.
And knowing that famous cliche, if anyone can stand up and help the team out of this mess with all the injuries; that would be AK-46.
On a more complicated side comes Guillaume Latendresse. It is hard to address this case without offending anyone; but seriously, does he look like a first or second line player?
Apart from the game against Carolina, Tender hasn’t reached more than 08:36 ice-time since November 5th.
Watching “l’Antichambre” on RDS last Friday, I saw some of the analysts explaining how hard these times are for Latendresse. With a reportedly very complicated family situation, (baby, etc...) he is definitely not at his best right now.
But my question is, what is his best?
The expectations towards Latendresse have risen out of the roof. After all, just like we have talked before, we have among us a Quebecer who has been drafted right after Sidney Crosby in the QMJHL’s draft. So could anyone please define Latendresse’s true duty among this team?
Georges Laraque. So big Georges is finally back from his trip to the infirmary. Talking about an unlucky player...
Playing only 33 games last season due to an injury; he has only ten under his belt this season and might even get sidelined again, by decision of the league this time. Indeed, the enforcer will have a hearing Monday morning regarding the knee-on-knee contact he had with Detroit Niklas Kronwall.
Following the 2008 playoffs, Montreal seemed to not stand a chance against tough teams. And Laraque’s signature the following summer could have deserved a parade on Sainte Catherine – but the street was already damaged from the first round riot.
Travis Moen dropped the gloves a few times there; but now that he is trying to assume a bigger role due to the injuries, he might as well sew his gloves to his jersey; which brings us back to BGL.
Martin surely needs all of his players to fill the blanks left by the injured ones; but if the roster was complete, the traffic on the last line means that Laraque could sit out some games once in a while. For $1.5 million, it is a high price to pay for a seat in the press box.
The injuries, again with the injuries. This team is falling apart like a castle of cards; and the tricky part is that one injured player means more work for another, raising the possibilities of being hurt as well.
Talking to another fan, I was saying that two of the top players were injured. And calmly she responded, “it is normal, they are the only ones who play!”
Right now, of the initial roster that Gainey carefully put together at the start; two top D-men and two first liners are sidelined, among others.
Now, if Kostitsyn goes back to his walk in the desert; we do not even have a complete first line.
The latest RDS updates from Monday's practice designate Moen-Metropolit-Pacioretty as the second line-up. Uh oh!
All that being said, the Habs can walk with their head held high coming out of that week; let’s just hope they will keep watching their steps...