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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

End of Western Futility, Sort Of...

Well I'm not going to sit and write how successful the Habs' western swing was, because it wasn't!

Canucks' Ryan Kesler is hit by the puck while standing in front of Carey Price on Tuesday night. Photo by Rich Lam, Getty Images.

Still, they pulled out a much-needed win last night against the NHL tops Vancouver Canucks, winning there for the first time in 10 years, and also giving poor deserving Carey Price a win in front of his home crowd.

You may remember last year's swing out west -- which was also a write-off -- when Price was hung out to dry like Granny's bedsheets by his teammates in a 7-1 loss.

Thankfully, Price was once again on top of his game stopping 37 shots for a 3-2 win.

What is it with the Habs and the Canadian west??? As far as I can remember, we've always had trouble out there, as far back as the early 80's. Even in Winnipeg, though I'd have to look up the actual numbers.

By the way check out this fact as pointed out by Nucks Misconduct:

"The Vancouver Canucks haven’t lost in regulation at home to an Eastern Conference opponent all season while the Montreal Canadiens haven’t earned a point on the road against a team from the West."

Happy that fact is no more. Last night the Habs came out strong, buoyed from a less-than-intense Canucks squad who probably figured they could mail this one in. But the Habs showed speed and fortitude for the first 10 minutes of the game, jumping out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Desharnais and Gionta.

It could've easily been 3 or 4 zip if it weren't for Luongo, who also had a strong game.

But then the Habs got into penalty trouble and almost blew it. Even Price was called on a delay of game penalty that lead to Vancouver's first goal. They had to kill of a 5-on-3 in the first period too. Both Vancouver goals were on the power play.

Do I need to repeat how important Andrei Kostitsyn is to this team? The Canucks were putting on the heat when he scored a nice goal off of a feed from Lars Eller. Yes, Lars "would you like me to sign your jerrrrsey" Eller. Finally contributing. What gives? Both players were in an offensive funk yet supply the spark the team needed from the 4th line!?

Whatever. Point is, Kostitsyn scores Habs win. Kostitsyn doesn't score, we maybe get a point. This team desperately needs his offence, especially until Cammellari finds his groove in probably his most challenging season to date.

I still think Brother Andrei is a goner after this season, if not this week before the trade deadline. But man he can be a good player when he wants to be. In fact, the 4th line of Kostitsyn, Eller and White had a good night when they were used. Maybe Martin should stick with this.

Gomez continues to be stymied. He got an assist on the Gionta goal (the 500th of his career), but missed an open net in the 3rd that could've sealed the deal for the Habs. Man, it's not my imagination... he's missed at least 5 goals like this this year!!!!

Anyhow, unless he's traded, the hope is that he can play through his struggles and get back to what he does best for the playoffs. In that same vein, I would totally take the deal of Cammy not scoring for the rest of the season in exchange for catching on fire in the playoffs, like last year.

On a closing note, Gauthier's latest pickup Paul Mara played a solid game... and he is showing some grit and toughness the Habs desperately need. Hope it continues.

Habs Fans in Leafland! Your Habs play host to the Maple Leafs tomorrow night, surely to be a more intense game than the last time out which saw the Habs blank the Leafs. The Leafs will surely want some revenge and show resilliency. Habs can't do what the Canucks did last night... take them lightly.

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