Going into tonight's tilt against Vancouver, were you wondering to yourself "Who are the REAL Montreal Canadiens?" If you were one of those people, you're answer was partially answered this evening. I say partially because tonight was only one game out of 82, so it would be irrational to definitevely say that the Habs are "for real". However, optimism reigns supreme; the Habs were outstanding on a night when many probably thought Vancouver was only here to pass by and trounce the home team.
The Habs won tonight because of good team play, strong defensive hockey, FINALLY scoring a powerplay goal, and a perfect night from the penalty killers. Although caught on the ice for several long shifts resulting in sustained pressure by the Canucks, the Habs held their ground and limited Vancouver to perimeter shots and few rebounds or seconds chances. Roman Hamrlik and Jaroslav Spacek were solid, with Hamrlik coming through with the timely powerplay goal in the third period. The forwards skated hard all night, created chances off of strong forechecking, and overall had a good performance. Scott Gomez has yet to find his stride but looked a little more interested tonight, and didn't do anything to hurt the team, so that's a plus. Michael Cammalleri had a few chances, as did Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta. Plekanec was all over the place, creating chances off the rush, leading transitions through the neutral zone, setting up his linemates and killing penalties. Anyone who disagreed with Pierre Gauthier re-signing this guy long term needs to go get their head checked-Plekanec is a BEAST.
Despite all the positives that came out of tonight's game, one stood above the rest. Or should I say, one man stood above the rest. This victory was signed Carey Price, point finale. Price was solid, made the key saves, gave up few rebounds, and made several spectacular saves throughout the contest to seal the victory-topped off by his three saves during the last fifteen seconds of the third period. Usually Price has trouble keeping a clean sheet, but on this night, Carey Price would not be denied his shutout. The guy is oozing confidence, and it shows. He even tried getting in on the scoring action when he took a shot at the empty net across the rink at the end of the game, but it was blocked by a Vancouver defenseman. If I had told you a year ago that Price would one day be out-dueling Roberto Luongo, you would have laughed in my face. Called me crazy. Maybe even slap me and call me silly, if you were so inclined to do such an awful thing. But no longer; ladies and gentlemen, Carey Price is back. The Price is right, and that's a GREAT thing for the Montreal Canadiens.
If only the top two lines can start producing consistently, and the "power outage" goes back to being a powerplay, the Habs will be in pretty good shape. Vancouver was not at its best tonight, not by a long shot; but if Montreal can handle and take down such a formidable foe, what else can this team accomplish? Only time will tell, but for now-or until Thursday anyways-all is good in Habland.