Don't look now, but your Montreal Canadiens have a three game winning streak going! Not only that, but all three wins have come in regulation. Not only that, but their penalty killing unit has become the backbone of this team. Not only that, but their powerplay is slowly starting to get its act together. Not only that, but they seem to have 2, yes that's right, 2, starting calibre goalies in Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak. Not only that but....ok, enough of that! You get the point.
1 - The goalies have it. If it's not Carey Price stealing the show it's Jaro Halak. After getting shelled, 6-2, vs the Sabres last week, Halak turned in one of his most solid performances of the season last night. Stopping 45 out of 46 shots - the Habs were outshot 46-27, had 14 penalty minutes to Ottawa's 4, and won 24 draws on the faceoff versus the Sens' 47. We were just outplayed, again. Or rather, outshot, again. And, yet again, we were able to win. That winning all started in nets, where Halak was sensational, made the key saves at the key times, and kept the lead for his team all the way to the final buzzer.
2 - A goal and an assit for Andrei K, 3 assists for Pleks and a goal for Cammy. That is six points between them. That is Cammy's 5th goal in the last three games. That gives Pleks 31 points in 31 games this season and it gives Andrei K 4 points (2G and 2A) in his last four games. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a true #1 line. For those of you keeping track, Pleky's 31 points in 31 games ties him for 15th overall in league scoring a measly 9 points behind first place Joe Thornton and 7 points behind 2nd place Marian Gaborik. Wow. Note to Bob Gainey: You cannot sign this guy soon enough! Lock him in for 6 years with an average cap hit of 3.5 to 4Million a season...now...please...please...PLEASE!! Is it done yet?
3 - Cammalleri's 17th goal of the season ties him for 6th overall in goals scored. Cammy is in good company tied with former Flames teamate Jarome Iginla and Tampa's Steven Stamkos, and he is only four goals back of league leader Marian Gaborik (21 goals). This guy is proving all the critics wrong and is proving Gainey right. He is a bonafide goal scorer, regardless of who he plays with. Last year he scored 39 playing on Jarome Iginla's wing and the knock on him, by critics, was that he would not be able to repeat the feat without Iginla making space for him out there. Well, with 17 goals in 31 games, Cammy is currently on pace to score 45. Ummm, ya. That's right. Sounds to me like he doesn't need Iginla after all.
4 - Hamrlik and Spacek have become and outstanding duo together and will definitely be the 1st paring for the Czech Republic come the Olympics. Speaking of Spacek, he blocked a shot with his foot early in the 1st period, and did not return for the rest of the game. While O'Byrne filled in nicely for Spacek as Hamr's partner, I cannot underscore how bad a loss it would be for Montreal if Spacek is out for any prolonged period. No word yet on his condition, but he was not able to put any weight on it while leaving the ice. It certainly doesn't look good. Let's hope its just a bruise.
5 - Kill 'em all. Montreal's PK has quietly become one of their most potent weapons, over the couse of the last few weeks. Last night, the Habs' penalty killers killed off all seven Sens' PP's. This pushed the Habs PK unit to an 81.7% efficiency rate. That might not sound so great, but considering it was in the mid to low 70% range, at certain points this season, this is a huge accomplishment. From Plekanec to Moen to Metro to Gomez to SK74 to Hal Gill, all of the guys are buying in and all of them are helping the Habs' PK become stronger and stronger.
Overall, Montreal once again won a game where they were badly outshot and in which their goalie stood on his head. To their credit, the Habs were opportunisitic and good a capitalizing on their scoring chances. Also, their PP was a key component in last nights game resulting in two goals - with another howitzer of a shot by MAB.
Next stop, the Pens - who at last check have not yet arrived in Montreal. They were supposed to have an 11am practice, today, at the Bell Center but given the viscious winter snow storm that is it town, it is causing havoc on their travel plans. They now hope to be able to arrive in Montreal tonight. Ya, sure. Good luck with that boys.
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