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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Hal Gill Shoots, Hal Gill Scores -- AGAIN!!


That's right. Fitting!!! Everyone gets a come-uppance once in awhile. Even the best of 'em get their noses rubbed in it sometime in their lives. And that's what happened last night in Tampa Bay with the Canadiens posting a solid 4-2 victory to end a 3 game road swing with a 3-0 record.

Canadiens captain Brian Gionta arrives to congratulate teammate Hal Gill on the latter's first period goal. Photo by Scott Audette, Getty Images.

What am I talking about???

Guy Boucher, that's what I'm talking about. Former Hamilton Bulldogs coach, motivator extraordinaire. He got his come-uppance last night when his Lightning team was soundly defeated by his former proteges and AHL players Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais.

Pacioretty put two past Tampa goalie Dwayne Roloson including the game winner and Desharnais scored on a nice, poised and in-control move across the crease after receiving a perfect pass from Andrei Kostitsyn -- who also continued his recent strong play last night.

But this isn't about Kostitsyn for a change. This is about the Canadiens finally getting real -- and consistent -- contributions from prospects who did their time and worked hard to finally have it pay off for the big club. Desharnais matched Marty St. Louis stride for stride last night and beat him points-wise. Pacioretty played the power forward role to perfection and was everything that we would have wanted from Lecavelier had that trade been realized.

A rebound goal! What a joy to see our Habs getting dirty, gritty, bang-it-in type production. He would fit in nicely in Philly eh? Except that, we need him here now more than ever. Not gonna make a Johnny Leclair-type mistake again.

With Eller starting to contribute offensively since being teamed up with Brother Andrei, it's nice to see the Canadiens getting meaningful imput from their younger players. Push that even further, Weber still had a good night even if he did look a bit awkward with new partner Brent Sopel, and P.K. Subban had another solid, if uneventful night -- which is fine by me. Anytime a defenseman goes unnoticed in a game is usually a good thing.

Hopefully this isn't a flash-in-the-pan because the Habs can really use this. Gomez is still not out of his funk and although Plekanec had a good night he's not exactly firing on all cylinders in my opinion. So to get another goal from another unlikely source in Hal Gill is really very exciting, but I can't help but think that if this dries up, we're going to be up shit's creek if the top lines don't start posting better offensive numbers.

Gill's second goal in 2 nights proved what I thought about his goal the other night against Florida. He's changed his slapshot and it's paying off big time. I don't know if you noticed this, but he has shortened his follow-through in his shot in an obvious attempt to get the puck on net.

Look at it next time you see him shoot. He takes the stick back normally but noticeably shortens up his follow-through once making contact with the puck. I like it! Shows he's working on things in an effort to get better. If Gill can regularly put pucks on the net and we can have MaxPac sitting there to chip in rebounds, the team will be much better off for it.

Boucher put our noses in it when he came to Montreal earlier in the season and watched as his team came back to then win in OT. Last night was the Habs turn to return the favour, and they took full advantage.

For me last night was yet another recent example as to how the team is beginning to ramp up their playoff play based on last year's formula. Score on the power play and win the special teams, take advantage of great goaltending, use their speed on turnovers and capitalize on opportunistic scoring opportunities. If the Canadiens can use the rest of the schedule to sharpen that pencil and work out a few other nagging issues, they might once again be poised to make a run.

Why the hell not? They did it last year, and this year -- THEY HAVE A BETTER TEAM!!!


This is going to be a fun week of hockey. Thursday night, the team travels to St. Louis for the "Clash of the Goalies" which unfortunately looks like it might not happen. Jaro Halak is injured and might not be ready to go against Carey Price. But let's see the Habs take care of business down there.

But first we'll get to see what kind of character this team has when they face the Boston Bruins in Montreal on Tuesday night. We all remember the 8-6 drubbing in Beantown last month. Let's hope the Habs pull a Boucher back on them.

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