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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Battle of the Backups

Budaj records first win of the year as Habs beat Flyers 4-1 in Montreal


It's the Canadiens' slogan this year, emblazoned in large letters in the dressing room.

Habs continue their winning ways by beating the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 in Montreal. AP

The Flyers were coming off a loss in New Jersey last night while the Canadiens waited for them in Montreal, having won two straight in Florida.

NO EXCUSES not to win.

And they didn't disappoint. The Canadiens came out flying against the Flyers, taking the lead 1-0 on a goal by first star of the game Brendan Gallagher, who took a pass on the fly from Max Pacioretty and beat Flyers goalie Brian Boucher to the stick side.

Yes it was the battle of the backups, with Brian Boucher getting the nod while Peter Budaj took the crease for the Habs after it was announced that my man Carey Price was suffering from an intestinal flu.

Right away, twitter was ablaze, firebombing the Habs' chances with Budaj between the pipes. True the Habs backup was winless so far this year in two starts and more true, his career numbers against Philadelphia were pretty weak: 0-2-0 with a 4.5 GAA and .842 save percentage.

My view? Budaj was due. And he delivered when he had to.

But kudos to the Canadiens, they played a strong game in front of their netminder tonight keeping the Flyers to the perimeter. They made it 2-0 early in the second after Max Pacioretty drove the net then set up David Desharnais for the score.

Then the Habs got into penalty trouble and handed Philadelphia the momentum for the rest of the middle frame. Danny Briere got the Flyers on the board after his shot deflected off of Andrei Markov's skate past Budaj.

The third period so far this year has been a problem for the Habs so it was nice to see them come out and win the period adding goals by Plekanec and Bourque in an empty net. Final score 4-1 Habs and for now placing the Canadiens second in the conference with 19 points, one ahead of the Bruins but Boston has two games in hand.

The Canadiens faced a Flyers team that looked lost. Their best player, Claude Giroux, was nowhere to be found pretty much all night. Average goaltending and defense combined with injuries to Scott Hartnell and suddenly the Philadelphia Flyers are a pretty normal team. If this is any indication, they won't make the playoffs this year.

Unfortunately for Montreal the game didn't come without a price (ahem). Brendan Gallagher didn't finish the game as he fell awkwardly into the boards and Max Pacioretty also left the game after driving the net and apparently taking a skate in the ribs!? Let's hope both will be okay. Well we know Pacioretty is invincible, but Gallagher we'll have to see.

Other good points for the Habs on this night:

  • Max Pacioretty seemed to have a lot more jump on the night and was driving the net -- as he needs to do to succeed; still goalless on the year, he finished the night with two assists;
  • The Canadiens dominated the Flyers in the faceoff circle;
  • The powerplay was powerless, but the penalty kill was perfect on the night.
Habs have a busy week, starting Monday against the suddenly hot Carolina Hurricanes.

New book: Montreal Canadiens -- Stanley Cup Champions

Twitter has brought me into contact with a whole new world of Habs fans and so I wanted to give a stick tap to Habs Fan in New Brunswick Jocelyne LeBlanc, the author of the upcoming book Montreal Canadiens -- Stanley Cup Champions.

Jocelyne grew up cheering the Habs along with her father in Dieppe, New Brunswick. Her decision to write this book, celebrating the Habs' 24 Stanley Cups, is a tribute to her love of sports, hockey, the Canadiens and especially, her father who passed away in 2011.

I look forward to reading it when the book is ready, which she hopes will be this coming fall.

For now, you can check out the links below for more information:

Follow me on le twitter: #HabsFanLeafLand

1 comment:

  1. Another win! This one without a doubt. Budaj gets my applause. Hope MaxPac is not injured seriously; same for Gallagaga, I mean!