Toronto Smashing Weekend is now complete, and its' safe to say that the mission was accomplished; wipe the Leafs on Saturday night, squash the Argos on Sunday afternoon. Congrats to the Als on earning yet another birth in the Grey Cup! But let's focus on the Habs for now.
The Habs came out flying in this one, looking fully like a team ready to bounce back from a sub-par performance last game against Nashville. Despite 17 shots and numerous scoring chances that included several odd-man rushes, the two teams headed into the locker room locked in a scoreless tie after one period. Jonas Gustavsson was solid and it looked like the Habs we're going to have a tough time beating The Monster...until Jeff Halpern tipped a Jaroslav Spacek point shot past the Toronto netminder early in the second period to give the Habs the lead.
That proved to be the winner, with the insurance coming from a powerplay goal by Mike Cammalleri, assisted by Mike Komisarek. No, Komi is not back with the Bleu-blanc-rouge-he simply served up a nice fat one right in Cammy's kitchen, and 13 made no mistake, roofing a laser shot into the top corner of the net. The Habs never looked back from there, shutting it down and limiting Toronto's opportunities to a few hardly dangerous moments, only to have their hopes crushed by Carey Price, who was a brick wall in the Habs net once again, collecting his fourth shutout of the year.
To give perspective on how far Price has came in only 20 games this year, consider that he has four career shutouts coming into this year; he has already matched that total through a quarter of this year. Price once again made a number of big saves, limited second chances, and was all-around solid. No slip-ups, no heart-stopping moments; just good goaltending. An encouraging sign in all this is that Price has not shown any residue of old bad habits that we're limiting his ability to perform. He doesn't sag or mope in his crease after letting in a goal, he's always in position, and he's not letting his emotions get the better of him. He's confident, but at the same time he's keeping an even keel and not allowing the early success to get to his head, like it did during his rookie year. Last year's experience have taught him that his job in never secure, that if he let's up he'll find himself right back on the bench watching games instead of playing them. Good on Price for finally maturing, and good on the Habs for finally being patient with their blue-chip prospect and not giving up on him only to watch him prosper on another team.
A tough week in store for the Habs this week as they have a rematch with the Flyers in Philadelphia tomorrow night, followed by a visit by the L.A Kings on Wednesday, and then ending the week with back-to-back games in Atlanta and against Buffalo at home. A busy and perhaps telling six days that will give us further insight on how good the Habs really are.
Although this weekend was filled with a lot of fun moments, we must remember and pay tribute to the life of one of hockey's greatest men over that past 30 years. I don't have many memories of Pat Burns besides him winning the Cup with New Jersey, but I do listen to people who did know him, and by all accounts he was a passionate, fiery, intelligent coach that will forever be remembered for not only his success, but who he was as a man. Condolences to the Burns family, and may Pat rest in peace.