Smart, passionate and somewhat biased commentary about the Montreal Canadiens (HABS) from a lifelong fan now living in Toronto (LeafLand).

Play the System = Habs Win

Last night’s 3-1 victory against the New Jersey Devils in Jersey last night was more of a morale booster than anything. But it also showed that the team took a step to evaluate themselves, and return to the kind of hockey that has proven to be successful for this team. Carey Price checks out what’s behind him on Mattias Tedenby’s penalty shot last night in New Jersey. The puck hit the post before touching Price’s right pad to keep it out of the net. Photo by: Paul Bereswill, Getty Images. Jacques Martin’s squad played a solid, 60 minute performance that wasn’t fancy or spectacular. What it was was a team that decided to buy back into the system and do what it needs to do in order to be successful. It was a solid, much-needed win keeping the Habs in 6th place in the Eastern Conference, with 3 games to play. The Sabres lost in OT against the Caps, while the Rangers beat the Flyers in a SO this afternoon. So the Habs remain 2 points up on the Rangers, and 3 points up on the Sabres who have a game in hand. Mathieu Darche potted 2 goals, almost instant replays of eachother. He drove the net while Brian Gionta put the puck right on his stick allowing Darche to tip it past a helpless Martin Brodeur. Although the Devils weren’t at their best, especially since they played the night before, Carey Price did what he had to do and only lost his shutout with less than 7 minutes left in the game. Darche provided a little of what has been missing on this team since Pacioretty went down to his injury: driving the net, using his speed, getting some important, but not necessarily pretty, goals. He’s not MaxPac, but we need this kind of offensive push. P.K. Subban continued his fine rookie season with the 2nd goal of the game early in the 3rd period on the powerplay. And who was right in front of the net, but Andrei Kostitsyn. I don’t know if this guy has grown up or finally realized what he needs to succeed, but he’s been taking hits, giving hits and looking like one of our best all around forwards of late. Good for him. And the team only took one… that’s right, one penalty during the game. In order for their offense to get in gear, the Habs need to stay out of the box and that’s what they did last night. Hopefully their disciplined play continues. The turning point of the game came in the 1st period when Mattias Tedenby hit the post on a penalty shot while the score was still tied 0-0. If he scores there, game might have been very different. But luck was on the Habs side on this night. The Habs now return to Montreal for their last regular-season game against the Chicago Blackhawks. 2 points would almost certainly clinch their spot in the postseason. The team holds its fate in its own hands. Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leafs continued their last season surge with a 4-2 win in Ottawa against the Senators. But unfortunately for them, they only gained 1 point on the teams they’re chasing. And with the win, the Habs cannot be caught by the Leafs, so that’s one less team to worry about. Good for the Leafs to hang in there. It doesn’t look like the playoffs are a reality, but the team can certainly build on their play of late for next season. Ultimately though, the Leafs aren’t as good as they have been playing of late, while they’re not as bad as they were at the start of the season, especially with a good goalie backstopping them. I didn’t like Ron Wilson’s quote the other day saying “It doesn’t matter who’s in nets…the way we’ve been playing.” Is he serious???? Give me a break. With an average defense at best, the team needs to rely on a good goalie who can save the day. Boy, I bet he wished he had started James Reimer in that game against Florida the other week. Those 2 points could have made a difference.

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