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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Just What the Doctor Ordered

Habs win important game on heels of Lapierre trade to Ducks

Out with the old, in with the new.

The plane ride home must have been a good time at least -- the Canadiens ringing in the New Year with a 3-2 OT win against the Florida Panthers last night.

Just what the doctor ordered. Now the team can go home, regroup and get their mojo on again after completing a painful 2-5 roadtrip.

What's been missing in their play of late has been the compete level, a passion to win. Last night, thankfully they showed up wanting to do what it took to win. Alex Auld got the start and he was solid though he didn't look that great on the first goal. But even with the Panthers moving out to a 2-0 lead early in the second, one could see the Canadiens might just make a game out of it, which they did.

Even when they still had yet to score, it looked like they were slowly getting their collective mojos back, at both ends of the ice.

James "The Wiz" Wisniewski, our newest Hab favourite, proved why Pierre Gauthier acquired him when he scored with a rocket shot from the blueline on the powerplay to make it 2-1. A few minutes later, also on the powerplay, he then drilled a shot wide, which came out right to Scotty Gomez who faked a shot then made a sweet pass to a wide open Captain Gionta standing at the side of the crease to put it home past a sprawling Tomas Vokoun.

I love this kind of goal and it's what the Habs need to do more of. Instead of telegraphing their plays and being predictable, they need a bit more subterfuge in their game. That is, they need to confuse and make more fake plays to get their offence going. So Gomer faking the shot to then make a quick pass to Gionta -- I want to see more plays like this from everyone. Keep 'em guessing.

The Habs had a lot of great scoring opportunities in this game and if it weren't for Vokoun, they would have walked out of this one with a win in regulation time. Instead, it took the Wiz to score his second goal of the night as he popped in a Mike Cammellari rebound as the trailer on a rush.

A rebound goal!? Hallelujah!!! Something to build on moving forward.

The win was a tonic that cured a bunch of things for the Habs. Winning and getting an important 2 points to end the calendar year on a high note. First time they came back to win this season. First time they won without having scored first. And that important rebound goal, something the Habs can't seem to do on a regular basis.

Pierre Gauthier looks like a genius today with the Wisniewski trade. Let's see how long it lasts, but there's no doubt, that's what we got him for, to do exactly what he did last night. Help out on the powerplay and restart our offence. He ended the game with 2 goals and an assist. Sweet bro.

Speaking of Gauthier, before the game, he traded Maxim Lapierre to the Ducks for Dman Brett Festerling and a fifth round pick. As you can see, the Habs brass are stocking up on defense because as I mentioned in one of my last posts, there's no way this team will see all of Hamrlik, Spacek and Gill on the team next year. Maybe one of them, but not all three. So the Habs need options on defence. Could be a good move. At 6'1, 210 lbs, he could add some additional size to the Habs' blueline. He'll start in Hamilton and we'll see where he goes.

Too bad for Maxim though; I liked him, but he didn't bring the kind of gritty play that we need from a guy like that enough on a regular basis. He's an agitator who doesn't back it up with his fists, and he may have lost the respect of his teammates for this. I'm sure the French press will make a big deal of another Frenchman leaving the team, but I could care less who is playing, as long as the Habs win. I wish they would leave politics and other anxieties out of sports.

Lapierre was class as to how he took it though -- the complete opposite of Guillaume Latendresse who basically ranted and raved to RDS after he was traded last year. All the best to Maxim Lapierre and hope he enjoys his time playing once again with Saku Koivu.

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