Last night was a great night of hockey. Around the league, lotsa fun.
Starting with the Habs. Nice 3-2 win against the Florida Panthers last night. Second victory in 2 nights, always a pleasure.
Alex Auld is flanked by teammates after last nights 3-2 victory against the Florida Panthers in Montreal. Photo: Getty Images/Richard Wolowicz
Especially considering, again, the Habs gave up the first goal. But they're finding a way to win, and showing veteran-style patience in not panicking, not getting too down or worried and sticking to the game plan -- which they know, if they execute, will result in being on the right side of the win/loss pendulum more often than not.
But coming from behind on a regular basis is not a sustainable, long-term recipe for success. Goals are still a premium for the Habs, but it looks like after a few blips, the Habs defense has reigned things in. Last night Spacek made some excellent plays, Hamrlik joined the rush on a few occasions, and even Yannick Weber is beginning to find his place within the team/system. He has yet to score, but he will. Regardless he's showing more confidence and poise on the blueline. He did have a brutal giveaway last night and was saved by Auld.
Speaking of which, Alex Auld rebounded with a solid outing after his first Bell Centre start against Calgary went south. His numbers are great, exactly what we asked for from a backup. Pundits around the league (namely TSN) have stated the Habs could use a "better" backup to relieve Price of some games, and they could be right, but for now, why waste time/energy on this when what the team really needs is that big body up front (bonjour Dustin Penner).
And what about Max Pacioretty??? He had a fine outing last night and was all over the ice. Gionta's winning tally was set up by him flying around the Florida dman and almost putting the puck past Vokoun. Gionta cleaned up the trash.
The only real minus from last night, besides their slow start, is the powerplay. Ech! At least in Washington, they had a lot of shots and good presence. Last night was a joke. Funny how they can't score 5-on-5 -- now they can ONLY score 5-on-5. Let's be honest... if the Habs were able to get consistent production 5-on-5 AND score on the powerplay, they'd be a pretty dangerous team. Well we can always dream!!
Habs are now in 6th place, passing the Rangers and still have a game in hand on the blueshirts. If they maintain this position, they'll face the Bruins in the playoffs. Why? Because it doesn't seem like either Boston or Montreal will catch Tampa/Philly, so the winner of the Northeast Division will end up 3rd in the conference. So whoever doesn't win the division, all it takes is for either team to finish 6th for that matchup to happen. Hello Timmy!
Get some rest, Habs play 2 matinees this weekend against the Rangers and the Devils because of the SuperBowl.
OTHER NOTES FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE:
-- Johan Franzen (love that guy) scored 5 big ones -- that's right, 5 goals -- against the now officially pathetic Senators in Ottawa last night. His last coming into an empty net. It's been awhile since anyone has scored 5 in a game, and he's the first to ever do it against the Sens. He's the kind of player that MaxPac could morph into, but we should get someone else like him -- did I mention Dustin Penner????
-- Johnson vs. DiPietro: poor Islanders goalie, gets completely clocked by Johnson of the Pens in a rare goalie vs. goalie tilt. And loses the game 3-0. Nice night for Johnson posting the shutout and the K.O.
-- Marc Savard: he's done for the year. Shut down by the Bruins. Concussion. Not good. Could have been worse though. The Leafs could have traded away their first round picks in '12 and '13 for him to the Bruins. Thank god that didn't happen.
-- Ruff to coach Leafs? Not exactly, but Damian Cox thinks he'd be a good fit. I think anyone would be better than Ron Wilson. I've never been a fan of that guy. Ruff would be exactly what the Leafs need: someone who's tough and holds players accountable. But he's too smart to take the job... I'd be shocked, but hey maybe he's in for a challenge.