Last night, against the top-seeded team in the eastern conference, the Canadiens hosted their 99th birthday party. There were two points on the line. In front of great legends of both clubs, one manages to solidify its identity as a team while the other struggled to stay alive.
At the end of the night, it looked like every single New York Ranger had given up with possibly the exception of their so-called star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Losing is one thing but how you lose is a complete other story.
Bottom line is: The Rangers were out-everything-ed last night. The Habs totally dominated the play. Here’s a look at the statistics (surprising enough Montreal leads the way in all of aspects):
Blocked shots: 25-14
Plus/Minus: Montreal Canadien: +25
New York Rangers: -25
Fourth line magic
Bégin-Lapierre-Laraque, who are the energy-players on Guy Carbonneau's fourth trio, scored two beautiful goals. The second goal of the game resulted from a nice cross-ice pass by Maxim Lapierre who usually opts to shoot and surprised Henrik Lundqvist.
Later on, three minutes into the second period, from Laraque's pass, a rebound was picked up by Lapierre as the Rangers' goaltender couldn't find the puck. One has to admit that these players worked hard and played the role well. Defensively and offensively!
Personally, I feel that his arrival has changed something in the team. The atmosphere is different especially because of D'Agostini's talent. His speed, his vision of the game and his shot (seen from his goal last night) is a threat to everyone on the ice.
For veterans, perhaps fear of a trade (perhaps Higgins) and for Guillaume Latendresse and SergeiKostitsyn; the fear of staying in the pressbox. His play also shows that, if you work hard, you can earn a place. The only thing left to see is if he can maintain consistency. Only time will tell.
Andrei Kostitsyn on a roll
Senior Kostitsyn has scored on each of last three games. Since he was put on the fourthline for one game, he has come back much stronger and concentrates much more on bringing on the talent he always had. It's always a good thing to have one of the ''veterans'' show up at every game. He equally forms a very effective trio with Captain Saku Koivu and newcomer Matt D'Agostini.
With Mike Komisarek behind the bench, he has a 100 percent winning record. Some would call it superstition or maybe even luck but it could it actually be something that he does. He is seen talking to players, giving them suggestions. It is actually a motivation not to sit in the pressbox for a long number of weeks. He can actually feel part of the team.
The most important thing for any team is their unity. For those who watched the game last night, you would have seen the victory celebrations of the Habs. Pushing and shoving Carey Price and goofing around. Nothing other than that could contribute to the way of play in and outside the game. In terms of team play, hats off to the Canadiens.
I personally think that people are simply exaggerating over the Guillaume Latendresse/Sergei Kostitsyn saga. The two players are not playing because they failed to prove themselves in the first quarter of the season. Since we have already witnessed their capabilities, it is normal to blame them for not working hard enough. A small break and they might break-out when they come back. It's not the end of the world, we simply have more personnel than we need. So, it is obvious that mistakes cannot be tolerated.
Up for discussion
Let's hope that this is just the beginning of many happy moments for the Habs. What do you think on the Guy Carbonneau's decision to keep Guillaume Latendresse and SergeiKostitsyn in the pressbox? Do you think one of them deserves to go back to AHL? be traded? Are people just too paranoid to break a winning formula? Do comment!
Photo: Habs Inside/Out
(Henrik Lundqvist watches as the puck enters the net on a shot from Andrei Kostitsyn.)