Montreal was finally able to spin out of their offensive lethargy last night by beating the Phoenix Coyotes 4 - 2 IN REGULATION! Yes, in regulation. For the record and in case anyone is counting, that is only their second regulation win this season. A frightening stat for even those with the most stable hearts. Ok, on with the observations:
1 - Tomas Plekanec has not so quietly become the leading scorer and most consistent player on this team. Even the other night, against Calgary, when Plekanec was clearly being targeted for punsihment by the Flames, Pleky was no shrinking violet. He became aggressive and combative, whereas last year he would have disappeared. Note to Bob Gainey: You can't resign this guy soon enough! DON'T make the same mistake you made last year!
2 - Carey Price is one unlucky guy. You've got to feel bad for the kid because despite his playing his heart out he just has no luck on his side. Both goals last night were unfortunate and unlucky. On this first goal, he was speared in the throat by his own player, Paul Mara and was on lying on his back when the puck went in the net! On the second goal, a harmless shot that was about three feet wide of the net hit Paul Bissonette's skate and deflected behind Price. Poor guy. You'd imagine that luck has to turn around for him at some point!
3 - Montreal's already poreous D took another hit last night and if they keep getting over-worked, more of them are sure to go down with injury too. Last night it was Spacek's turn to leave the game with an injury. This is what happens when you take a 35 year old third or fourth string defenceman and make him play first or second string minutes. I was wondering to myself, just this past week, how long Hamrlik and Spacek, both 35 year olds, could go playing 25+ mins per game before they go down with an injury. Well, as you saw last night, the answer was NOT very long! Yes, O'Byrne is coming back soon, but losing four regulars from your defence corp would severely weaken even the best team in the league. Things are definitely not getting easier for this team.
4 - Tom Pyatt did not look out of place on the second line. While Pleky keeps producing points no matter who he plays with and Andrei K still looks like he is asleep, Pyatt added a nice burst of energy to that second line. He is definitely not a permanenet solution but I think that at least for now, he could be a great fill-in.
5 - Montreal limited Phoenix to 20 shots on goal and very few scoring chances, as they tightened up their defensive play.
6 - Monteal only managed to throw 20 pucks as the Phoenix net and somehow managed to score goals enough to win.
With Phoenix out of the way, Montreal takes their 1-game winning streak into Nashville for a Saturday night tilt against the Preds. With Spacek potentially out of the line up, things could get even more grim for a team that has struggled to play .500 hockey so far.