Regular season game #16
Hollywood has become notorious for taking safe, bankable scripts and turning them in to quarter million dollar tent pole movies that give birth to at least two sequels. Most movies following this formula are forgettable, but once in a while, a script comes along that turns things on its ear and makes us notice. Enter tonight’s game.
After a first period that saw most of the arena lulled to sleep, including the game participants, the Habs fell behind 1-0 thanks to some lazy work from Erik Cole. Nobody except for Carey Price had a better seat in the house as Stralman slid his own rebound past the prone netminder. But in a strange twist of fate that has its roots in a 100-foot knuckleball that occured 24 hours earlier in Montreal, Habs sniper Max Pacioretty finally had one of his shots find the back of the net in the final moments of the second period. That was quickly followed up with a Galchenyuk goal to start the third period, and the rest was history.
We keep telling ourselves that the Habs have not really been tested yet; that they only deserve partial credit due to a soft schedule and that teams have failed to show up to play. But at some point, especially after a night like tonight where the Habs played their second game in two nights (and third in four nights), we have no choice but to tip our caps. The Canadiens, for the third consecutive game won the faceoff battle, were disciplined and were rock solid in the third period, just a couple of weeks after being as sturdy as Bambi on ice in blowing games to the Senators, Bruins and Sabres.
What’s particularly fascinating to see is that the team is getting meaningful contributions from everyone in the lineup; Prust’s big assist, Diaz’ empty netter, Gorges looking like Markov on Pacioretty’s goal…the list goes on and on. We’ve also got to give coach Therrien lots of credit. Every decision he had made has turned to gold so far; from benching Eller (who has been terrific ever since), to going with Diaz in the final minute over a horse like Subban, it’s all coming up roses. This bodes very well for team chemistry and cementing a team identity. Not bad for a season that is only one-third complete!
Before we get too excited, it is still certainly possible for the entire house of cards to come falling down. The Habs are one Markov, Price or Plekanec injury away from potential ruin, and Therrien’s decisions could start to come up as snake eyes instead of panning out.
With the Islanders up next, it would not be unreasonable to think of this team as a 12 game winner well before they hit the 20 game mark. Nobody in their wildest dreams had that in mind as the lockout ended. Let’s enjoy the ride while it lasts, for however long it lasts.
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