Tuesday, February 5, 2008

9 Points For Plekanec's Line; Habs Down Sens 4-3

Plekanec's line continues its dominance, as each member of the line would register 3 point nights hosting the Senators Tuesday night. AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson/ESPN.com

Come pre-season, many doubted the possibility of the Habs even qualifying for the post-season. Now, February 5th, the Canadiens have the 2nd most points in the East and the 4th most in the NHL.

That's right: The Montreal Canadiens are now one point away from top spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Habs improved their record to 29-16-9 thanks to a 4-3 win tonight on home ice vs. the Eastern Conference leading (currently injury riddled) Ottawa Senators.

Chris Kelly opened the scoring 2:42 into the game with help from Antoine Vermette, but that goal led to a series of 4 unanswered goals for Montreal.

Getting it started was Andrei Kostitsyn, or as I like to call him, AK 46. Andrei was able to notch a powerplay marker by planting himself at the tip of the crease and being the beneficiary of a beautiful display of puck-control and passing courtesy of linemates Alex Kovalev and Tomas Plekanec. Kovalev stickhandled the Ottawa defensemen out of position before laying it off to Plekanec, who dished a perfect cross crease pass to Kostitsyn, who battled for the tip-in goal with Andrej Meszaros on his back.

Up next was Tomas Plekanec, scoring what was certainly considered the goal of the game and a definite possibility for Habs goal of the year. Kovalev was able to catch a long cross ice pass from blueline to blueline, gain the zone, go cross ice through a few Sens players to Andrei Kostitsyn, who then went cross crease again through a couple of Sens to find Tomas Plekanec streaking hard to the net, and Plekanec was able to beat the visibly confused Martin Gerber with the re-directed wrister. Tic, Tac, Toe with a dash of beauty.

The Habs' next two goals came 1:46 apart, midway through the second period. Mark Streit padded the lead to 3-1 after accepting a breakout transition pass from AK 46, gaining the zone, and unloading a slapper that redirected off Joe Corvo's outstretched stick to wind up lasering its way home top corner. Plekanec then scored his 2nd of the game on the powerplay after taking a feed from Kovalev and quickly throwing it towards Gerber from the goal line, bouncing it in off his catching glove arm for a goal that Gerber certainly wishes he could have back.
That goal would in fact come back to haunt Gerber, as it would stand as the eventual game-winner. The Sens would rally for two third period goals courtesy Jason Spezza and Antoine Vermette, the latter scoring shorthanded, but all for naught as the Sens fall by a goal.

Cristobal Huet was sensational in this outing. Despite giving the puck away to Kelly for the game's opening goal, he made the saves he made when he really had to, making at least 5 saves on what could be considered as golden opportunities for the Senators, including two saves on Chris Kelly in the dying moments of the game to preserve the victory. He had 26 saves in the win, and made a strong case to coach Carbonneau who now has to decide who to start for Thursday's outing vs. the Maple Leafs.

The line of AK 27, AK 46, and Tomas Plekanec (TP 14 just doesn't have that ring to it...) each tallied 3 points on the evening en route to leading the Habs to their first win against Ottawa of the season. Montreal hadn't beaten Ottawa since a 3-1 win on Jan. 29, 2007.
The Habs first half of the game was excellent, but there were questionnable moments in the second half of the game which certainly went noticed by the coaching staff.
Saku Koivu was benched for most of the third period after taking an absolutely useless hooking penalty immediately after the Sens reduced the Habs' lead to 4-3. Carbonneau's patience with Koivu's lack of discipline in key moments has finally ran out, and the captain found himself in Carbo's doghouse for the thrid period.

RDS and TheScore television reported that both Daniel Alfredsson and Dany Heatley might return to action Saturday, conveniently in time to face Montreal in the two clubs' 5th meeting of the season.


kev said...

Nice stuff from prob the best line in hockey right now, especially with 2/3 of ottawa's big line injured. You'll find a nickname for plekanec soon enough Sal... I'd vote for Tommy Turtleneck.

sasabainga said...

Kev, I'd definitely second that motion...Tommy Turtleneck is awesome! hahahah!

Agreed that we're seeing some awesome action from the new #1 line in Montreal, and they are definitely as exciting as any of the other big lines around the league right now. Surreal vision, passing ability and goal scoring flare are three qualities found in all 3 linemates, and the Habs are definitely making noise around the league these days.

Tommy Turtleneck...God that's just perfect. They should coax AK 46 to get a turtleneck; I bet that would make for the first all-turtleneck line in NHL history.

jerrytuts said...

The habs are playing great, although scoring from their "1st line" would help. Once playoff time comes along i dont believe that only one line can bring you to the stanley cup. Secondary scoring is very important.
I have been realizing that Koivu takes that same penalty every game, he gets beaten on the boards and then gives a useless hook resulting in a minor penalty.
The second problem with the "1st line" is Higgins not being able to finish. He does it all except finish.
Maybe i am right and maybe i am wrong, it just seems that habs fans always find something to complain about whether we win or lose.
What do you think sasa? and have you heard any new or older trade rumours getting more serious since montreal has been playing very well and we are getting closer to the deadline/playoffs?

sasabainga said...

One line is certainly not going to get ANY team a cup. Even when Tampa won it, it wasn't just the big three getting it done: they had secondary guys like fedotenko and modin and prospal, vital to the team's run.

Montreal need a bonafide scorer to work with Koivu and Higgins, and Hossa would be the perfect fit in my opinion.

Koivu HAS been taking bad penalty after bad penalty, game in and game out, but in the long run, should the plek's Kovy Kosty line go dry for a stretch, what are we going to do then? We need Koivu to accept his new role as a secondary scorer, plain and simple. Fans have been calling into radio stations suggesting Koivu be dealt...it makes no sense. Make sure we work with him on discipline, and tough it out with the guy who's been the heart and soul of this team for 5 or 6 or 7 years now.

As for Higgins, you pretty much nailed it. The guy is doing it all but finishing, occasionally coming up with the clutch goal here and there. His goalscoring will have to improve, but we shouldn't even be expecting that of him, as he's already doing SO MUCH for that line other than scoring. This is why I say we need a goalscorer a la Hossa to compliment the grinding power and hustle we get from Higgins, and the playmaking and speed we get from Koivu.

Habs fans are certainly the roughest bunch there is, and as you said, they always nit-pick to find flaws in what we should be praising. But it is what it is, and we as fans have no say on what goes on on the ice, so all it comes down to is an overstock of arm-chair coaches and GM's. Let the fans have their opinions! I have mine, you have yours, and we all love sharing them, it's only normal...it's just that we do it with more passion than everyone else!

No new rumours really to report at this time.