It was a long time coming, but the Habs halted their home losing skid, and in high style, soundly beating the streaking Maple Leafs 4-1. In a near replay of their 4-1 win over the Flyers, the Canadiens put forth a solid sixty-minute effort, executing their hybrid-trap neatly. Carey Price made thirty saves, and probably should have stopped the one that beat him, a 40 foot wrist shot that didn't look remotely dangerous. For the rest of the night, his solid positioning and good team defence made him basically unbeatable.
Among many positives, captain Saku Koivu broke out of a slump with the game's first two goals, one a fluky bounce-in, the other off a nifty move in front of Toskala. He was strong on face-offs, back-checked briskly, and generally made life hard on Mats Sundin and the rest of the Leafs. It was a display of vintage Koivu that, in truth, we haven't seen enough of lately.
Michael Ryder's struggles continue. He only had one shot on goal - in only a little more than ten minutes of ice-time - and was not noticeable for most of the night. His latest replacement on the top line, Sergei Kostitsyn, again showed great speed and playmaking, and registered his first NHL point, an assist on Koivu's first goal of the game. Can Kostitsyn adapt to the NHL as well as his former OHL line-mates, Patrick Kane and Sam Gagner? Habs fans can only hope so. The only potential problem is that the bulk of Kostitsyn's junior points were assists on goals potted by his linemates, and he doesn't really have a true finisher to play with on the top line. Saku Koivu could tell him a thing or two about what that's like. I wonder if Coach Carbo would contemplate a Kostitsyn-Koivu-Kostitsyn top line, on the theory that hockey-player siblings often seem to possess some sort of playmaking telepathy? It would also reunite the very successful Higgins-Plecanek-Kovalev line from pre-season. The Plecanek line has been fine with Andrei Kostitsyn on the left wing, but he has been the least statistically productive member of it. A banger like Higgins would help create the space Kovalev thrives on. Just thinking out loud ...
The Leafs may have been a little over-confident, after putting together a solid winning streak of late ... albeit against some weak teams whose defence and goaltending are as bad or worse than the Leafs. Or maybe their just getting tired, having played a lot of hockey lately. More likely, they're just reverting to regular form.
Is this bad or good news for the Leafs? Defenseman Bryan McCabe went down with a broken wrist after a harmless looking hit from Andrei Kostitsyn, and will be out at least two months. To hear Paul Maurice after the game, you'd think Kostitsyn had hit McCabe from behind with the Zamboni. It's hard to understand why Maurice is so upset about losing the defenseman who has played a major role in just about every Leafs loss this year, and been the sole cause of at least three of them. It's probably because Maurice thinks McCabe is an all-star, and regularly plays him for thirty minutes-plus ... hmm, did I just say McCabe was responsible for those losses?