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Thursday, January 24, 2013

HABS TAKE CHARGE IN 4-1 WIN AGAINST CAPS

GAME NUMERO 3: HABS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF LISTLESS CAPITALS FOR 1ST ROAD WIN OF 2013

It's nice to be wrong every once in awhile. Once in awhile, okay?

My Habs vs. Capitals pregame thoughts were this: playing in Washington, Caps are 0-2, Ovechkin has yet to score and with all of that, figured we would should could be in for a long night.

Markov is back en force. Habs beat Caps 4-1 in Washington. AP

Then when the Habs took the early momentum on a power play just over a minute into the game and didn't capitalize, I thought "oh boy, I've seen this before." The Canadiens continued to create solid chances but couldn't finish. Brian Gionta open net, missed! Bourque in tight, no go! Alex Galchenyuk barging to the net and flicking a high backhand... nice save by Caps 'tender Neuvirth.

The Habs were skating, clicking, making solid first passes, turning the puck up the ice quickly and the Caps were completely flat. But yet the score was still 0-0.

That always scares me.

What I expected to come then was the Caps would get the first goal and then take the game by the scruff of the neck.

Instead, the Caps took two quick penalties to start the second period, went down 5-on-3, Tomas Plekanec scored his second in two games and the Habs never looked back in a solid 4-1 win in Washington.

The Habs' power play, its bread and butter for so many seasons of late -- except last year -- suddenly seems to have roared back to life with the return of Andrei Markov, who scored the second goal of the game and whose pairing with Raphael Diaz appears to be a stoke of genius on Therrien's part.

Should could would you have ever thought, even dreamt of uttering the following after the last few years of futility and hard times for the Russian:

Andrei Markov leads the Montreal Canadiens in goals!?

Well it's true. The veteran blueliner now has three. Not only that, with his goal and assist tonight he's now the fifth highest scoring defenseman in Habs history. Not bad. He's got to be feeling great for himself and what an impact a healthy, confident and surgically-repaired Andrei Markov has on this team.

When even Josh Gorges gets into the scoring action, you know things are going the Canadiens' way.

With all the good that is going on with the Habs -- for these past two games at least -- let's not forget how bad the Capitals were. Goalie Neuvirth could not be blamed for this one. The Caps came out completely listless. No energy, no tempo, no synergy. And the Canadiens took full advantage.

And all this without the first line really going on all cylinders as of yet. Pacioretty picked up a couple of assists and Erik Cole hit a post but that line has yet to fully assert itself.

Brian Gionta continued the trend of the bounce back with his second goal of the year on a nice set up by Rene Bourque. And you know what? Suddenly, Bourque brings a size element to the Plekanec line. Another nice move by Therrien. The man is pushing the right buttons so far.

And where was Ovechkin in all of this? Did he play!? Personally, I think he's not into it. He doesn't want to be in Washington. If he's going to play in the NHL, the guy wants to win. And it looks like already, the Capitals' time has passed.

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Last night I had a bit of a negative twitter exchange with a hockey writer (who shall remain nameless) who was absolutely adamant that trading P.K. Subban would be an absolute disaster, and that I was completely WRONG for suggesting that he could be traded for the better of the team. Personally I found his tone completely unprofessional and insulting. But I guess that's the twitter-verse.

While I like P.K. and think he's a great player with so much upside, I also think that he isn't bigger than the team, and if Carey Price and Max Pacioretty can take the so-called "bridge" contracts of two years before they cash in longer term (which they did) then so can Subban. What makes him so special?? He didn't win the Norris. He didn't drive into the ground lead the power play last year. He still needs to grow up.

If Patrick Roy can get traded, anyone / anything is in play. Geez Wayne Gretzky was traded!! This talk that trading Subban would be a disaster is utter nonsense and is a purely emotional response. I'm not saying I want him to be traded. I'm saying if the deal is right, it's an option.

And the Canadiens all of a sudden seem to have depth on the blue line. Raphael Diaz is taking full advantage of the P.K. situation playing with Markov. Frankie Bouillon is eating up solid minutes. Josh Gorges is doing his thing as usual. And Kaberle is trying his best to stay out of their way. And with Tinordi and St. Denis just a call away and Nathan Beaulieu working on his development... well, I'm not saying I want Subban to be traded, but what I was trying to communicate to this "writer" was that Bergevin should do the best move for the team... whatever that should be.

With tonight's victory and Markov, Diaz and the rest of the defense pairings performing as they did, the score is now:

Bergevin 2 - Subban 1

It's certainly bringing up a lot of emotional responses from Habs fans. But hey, if we could get a Sean Couturier from the suddenly nosediving Flyers, well, why not?

It dawned on me today that the ebullient Subban is the Canadiens' version of Gary Carter. Carter was a bit despised by his teammates when he played in Montreal because he was always smiling, always camera-ready and always available to talk to reporters. He was misunderstood. We know he wasn't grandstanding. As we probably know that P.K. isn't grandstanding.

But the difference is, Carter took more than a few years to assert himself as a leader on the Expos' teams of the late seventies and early eighties and he did it with style, integrity and grit. Not to knock P.K. but it's true, the guy has rubbed some of the veterans on this team the wrong way; and if you know hockey, you know how tight the room has to be for a team to win.

I personally feel P.K. needs to sign his "bridge" deal, find his place on the team's pecking order, and keep his flash for the ice.

Next game: The Devils are in Montreal for a somewhat rare Sunday night tilt at the Molson Centre.

And by the way: Alex Kovalev is no longer leading the league in points. :)

Follow moi on le twitter: @HabsFanLeafLand

1 comment:

  1. Habs win 4-3 over Jersey and Jets. Love this trend!

    ReplyDelete