On a night where the left-for-dead Maple Leafs gave Leaf Nation their trademarked glimmer of hope, the HABS continued to show the NHL-at-large they are a force to reckon with. Somewhere Bob Gainey is smiling. Or whatever he does when he's happy.
So is it just me, or can we all agree this team IS FOR REAL!?
Pierre LeBrun has a nice piece about the game last night, which you can read here.
My comment on espn.com was as follows:
It's true, it's only November. But the HABS have been one of the most consistent teams so far this year. Their special teams are becoming quite dominant. They are strong 5 on 5. They have deft playmakers but these same players have bought into Martin's system (I'm looking at you, A. Kostitsyn) of playing a tight defensive game.
I still find it mind-boggling that after such a nice run in last year's playoffs, most pundits/experts completely discounted the Habs this year, even predicting they wouldn't make the playoffs. This team is for real. They've found the formula, found their identity and are a hungry bunch. This isn't a cocky, swagerring bunch like the Flyers, or an over-confident group like the Caps who think they can take 2 periods off and still win. This is a dangerous, for real team with proven winners in their lineup. If they are playing like this come April, those who picked the Canucks as Canada's cup contenders will be wearing red instead.
The Flyers are a good team no doubt but I sense they're a streaky team, like they were last year. I think there's more of a question whether the Flyers goaltending will continue at a high level than with the Habs. The Flyers give up a lot of quality scoring opps. For Bobrovski to continue at this pace would be asking a lot. And I was never a big fan of Leighton, he just went on a fortunate run last spring but his bubble was popped by the Hawks -- possibly never to return.
As an aside, the Flyers were playing their second game in as many nights, so expect a much more spirited bunch for the rematch in Philly on Monday. Then we'll see how the Habs react.Also, I really like Peter Laviolette as a coach. He really knows how to motivate his players and make 'em believe. And when the game is lost, as it was for the Flyers las night for sure, send a message for next time. But I think it got a bit out of hand last night, no? Putting Jody Shelley on the powerplay? Give me a break...I wouldn't mind seeing Martin chew him out between benches next time. But this also shows a small hole in the HABS' lineup. Who's our enforcer? Laraque was a waste. Lapierre can't fight for his life. O'Byrne wasn't the answer either -- who btw, got punched out in a fight the other night against St. Louis.
We need someone specifically for these games. To me Moen is the closest we have to a reliable enforcer, but we need him more to continue doing what he's been doing. Any idears?