Kukla's Korner Hockey
by The Upper Canadien on 10/08/10 at 11:31 AM ET
The Canadiens may have lost to the Maple Leafs last night, but there were a lot of things to like about Montreal’s game. Carey Price looked good, if not very good, making a key save early on Phil Kessel and a highlight reel save late. Yes, he let in three goals, and yes, perhaps he went down a tad early on a few shots, but his lateral movement was excellent. I am buoyed by Price’s performance, and I urge people to be patient.
Up front, newcomers Lars Eller, Jeff Halpern and Dustin Boyd all looked great in their Canadiens debut, with Halpern and Boyd both scoring. Maxime Lapierre looked excellent, notching an assist while bringing the body and helping to create both goals. PK Subban demonstrated some of the skills that have made Habs fans drool, going end to end at one point and undressing two Maple Leafs in the process. Perhaps the greatest positive of all for Montreal fans? Mike Komisarek no longer plays for the Canadiens. Anyone who watched last night’s game will no doubt agree that Komisarek looked terrible, and the simple fact the Canadiens didn’t pay him exorbitant amounts of money to play in Montreal is a good thing.
Where there are positives, however, there are a few negatives. Andrei Kostitsyn needs to be more physical and stand up to the opposing defence. And the Canadiens have a problem on defence, in that they are slow. After Gorges and Subban (and the injured Andrei Markov), the Canadiens are very flat footed. Hal Gill looked slow (although, doesn’t he always look slow?) and Jaroslav Spacek looked even worse. Spacek was outdone by Clarke MacArthur for a goal, but more than that he just looked out of sync. He was brought in last year as a free agent on the basis of his shot blocking and his point shot – both were invisible last night, with the latter being a serious concern. Last year, the Canadiens were hopeless without Andrei Markov on the power play and signed Marc-Andre Bergeron. Are we seeing a little bit of history repeating? The Habs created lots of chances on three straight power plays in the second period, yet they lacked that finish from the point.
All that said, Mike Cammalleri, Andrei Markov and Roman Hamrlik didn’t play last night. Each of them makes a significant difference, and I suspect the Canadiens will be much, much better with a healthy lineup. Lost in the shuffle of callers to Montreal radio last night and this morning raging about, what else, Carey Price? The Leafs were actually pretty good, and JS Giguere was excellent. So credit where it is due, the Maple Leafs played a great game and the Canadiens were just a bit better than the Habs.
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