Gonna keep this one short people...
The Habs came out on top yet again last night in a convincing 7-2 victory. Carey Price was solid once again, picking up his 10th win of the year, and his teammates were fantastic in front of him. Seven different goalscorers, twelve players with at least one point...everything went right on this night. I'm sure more than a few started getting nervous when Carolina roared back with two quick goals in the second, but the Habs did not let up and took control of the second half of the contest. The big positives were that the majority of the goals we're scored by the guys who are getting paid specifically to do just that; Plekanec, Gionta, Cammalleri, Kostitsyn, and even Pouliot to an extent. The powerplay struck yet again, scoring on its last three opportunities of the game, finishing a solid 3-for-7 on the night. The PP unit has scored on 6 of its last 15 opportunities, which adds up to a 40% efficiency rate in the last three games after going a dismal 3-for-47 to start the year. Clearly things are starting to turn around for the powerplay, which is excellent news going forward.
The not-so-excellent news is the fact that Andrei Markov looks to have severely injured himself for the third time in a little over a year. First the sliced tendon, then the knee tear, and now a potential re-injured right knee, an injury that Markov just recently returned from. Seven games later and he could be back on the shelf for up to three months, according to early reports from RDS. The Canadiens have not made this official, but if you watch the replay of the injury, it did not look good. Markov's knee clearly buckles under the weight of Carolina captain Eric Staal, and Staal isn't a pushover. Over two-hundred pounds being forced against a reconstructed knee is never a good combination. Markov pounded the boards in frustration after falling to the ice, and looked devastated and dejected as he was being helped off. Let's just hope that its nothing serious-although the Habs started 7-2-1 without Markov this year, history shows that this team is straight up better with him than without him. This year may be different though-this team isn't relying on one player, or their goaltender, to win games anymore. The victories are definitive team efforts, and that could reduce the impact of losing the All-Star defenseman-but only time will tell...starting this Tuesday when the Flyers are in town, marking the first opportunity for the Habs to extract a little revenge on the team that ended their Cinderella run during last year's playoffs.
Speaking of all-stars, someone please explain to me how Tomas Plekanec and Carey Price aren't on the All-Star ballot? Last time I checked, All-Star rosters were based on the performance of a player during the current season. So, according to the NHL, Plekanec is performing well enough to beat out Alfredsson, Krejci, Oshie, Lecavalier (injured), Parise (injured), Statsny, Umberger, Doan, Hedjuk, Smyth, Vanek, Hemsky, Morrow, and PHIL F***ING KESSEL, just to name a few? I get that the NHL wants firepower. Names that sparkle. The guys that people idolize, and the guys the NHL want to see strut their stuff in their glorified shinny game. If Tomas Plekanec isn't considered on of the top centers in the NHL, then clearly my ideas of the adjectives useful, talented, electrifying, and reliable are overrated and outdated. Plekanec DOES IT ALL.
The NHL wants scoring? The NHL wants playmaking? The NHL wants razzle-dazzle? In a nutshell, they want Tomas Plekanec. But they decided to go with the "big names"-as much as I love them both, Brian Gionta and Mike Cammalleri should not have been picked ahead of Plekanec.
In an even more mystifying decision, Carey Price was also left off the All-Star ballot. Guess consistent play, solid performances, and top-of-the-league statistics weren't to impressive to the NHL. Guess a 10-5-1 record with a 2.18 GAA, a .923 save percentage and two shutouts weren't good enough. Guess Nikolai Khabibulin's 4-9-1, 3.97 GAA, .879 save percentage and single shutout stat-line just jumped right off the page.
Well done, NHL, well done.