Montreal - Oct. 27, 2011 - Assistant coach Perry Pearn gets axed and the Habs respond with their best effort of the season. What does that say? That it was Pearn who was responsible for all those too many men on the ice penalties? That it was Pearn who decided it was important to have Josh Gorges on the ice as one of six skaters while pressing for the game tying goal in the final minute - twice already this season? That it was Pearn who couldn't hear the smacking of Carey Price's goalie stick on the ice as the Habs goalie was trying to find out if/when he was going to be pulled for a 6th attacker? That it was Pearn who decided that it wasn't smart hockey to have Eric Cole on the power play? That it was Pearn who thought it was smart hockey to have the league's slowest skater - Hal Gill - on the ice against two of the best skating forwards in the NHL, Phil Kessel & Mikail Grabovski, resulting in an overtime loss? That it was Pearn who was in charge of a power play connecting at a clip of 6%?
Well, yeah. Maybe. But a strong head coach makes sure that kind of crap doesn't happen. That if the team is scuffling, and already handcuffed by significant injuries, then it's all the more vital to have the true supposed leaders of the team, the coaching staff, at the very top of their game. And that clearly hasn't been the case. Much better in the win against Philadelphia but still room for improvement.
Carey Price. That was the Price we saw last season. Big saves at the appropriate time. Moments after Andrei Kostitsyn gave Montreal a 2-1 lead Price robbed Claude Giroux from in close with a great pad save. A few seconds later Max Pacioretty scored to make it 3-1. Early in the third, Price stopped James Van Riemsdyk on a clean breakaway. Moments later Pacioretty scored again to make it 4-1. A memorable 100th career win.
Max Pacioretty. Ligaments, shmigaments. Just put me in coach.
Eric Cole. Played like he was possessed. Maybe he was. By the anti - Perry Pearn.
Andrei Kostitsyn. He too came out flying and wanting the puck. What else should he be doing to earn power play time?
The defense corps seemed rejuvenated with Randy Ladouceur behind them. Subban, Gorges, Weber, Spacek, Diaz & Gill combined for four points, 16 blocked shots and a + 6.
Gorges had his best game of the season going +3 and earning two assists.
Were those really Montreal Canadiens defensemen - not named PK Subban - actually joining the rush?
David Desharnais finally won more draws than he lost (53%) and clicked well with linemates Cole and Mike Cammalleri.
Special teams. Habs scored their first goal, by Weber with two seconds left in the first period on the power play. And shut out a Philadelphia PP that had been running at 26%.
The Canadiens actually scored a goal via a face off win. Pacioretty's to make it 4-1 came after a clear face off win by Plekanic.
An important and impressive contribution from the 4th line of Nokelainen, Blunden & Darche. They contributed key shifts, especially in the third period with a game coming up the next night in Boston.
Blunden delivered 5 hits in just 6:25 of action.
The deep and sustained pressure put on the Philadelphia defense late in the 3rd by the Desharnais-Cole-Cammalleri trio, resulting in Cammalleri's third goal of the season.
No Chris Pronger to protect Ilya Bryzgalov.
Habs first win at the Bell Centre (including exhibition season) since game six vs The Bruins last spring.
The Canadiens moved out of the basement of the Eastern Conference into a three way tie for 12th with NY Islanders and...the defending champs from Boston.
Pierre Gauthier spoke publicly.
Still no Kostitsyn on the power play. A coach has to be able to gauge where his players are at on any given night. And when AK46 shows up, it's usually early. He should be rewarded with time on the PP. Enough with Darche out there.
Referee Chris Lee. Having to put up with Tim Peel & Chris Lee on successive home dates constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
The boos. They were loud after The Habs fell behind.
This recurring vision I have of Benoit Pouliot scoring his first goal(s) of the season to help the Bruins beat Montreal in Boston.