Montreal - Dec. 14, 2011 - Yes, that was me on the air on Monday complaining about the lack of offense generated by the Montreal Canadiens this season. "Gallo! Kaufman! How many times has Montreal scored more than three goals in a game this season, especially on home ice?" (I think the answer was eight).
So who's complaining?
Erik Cole. Suddenly there is another legit candidate to represent the Habs in the All Star game, should Carey Price decline. A power play goal (that's 4 PP goals this season. One more than a year ago. And four more than Mathieu Darche) Six SOG and six hits. Best player on the ice. See more below.
Cole linemates David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty. Combined for another 3 points. Desharnais, especially, has to love these no - hitters.
Petteri Nokelainen. Good of him to follow fellow 4th liner Darche's game in NJ with a strong performance of his own, doubling his point output for the season.
Mathieu Darche. Maybe it's taken him 30 games to wake up. Or that there are more healthy bodies around.
Chris Campoli. Over 16:30 in his Montreal Bell Centre debut. Handled the puck well. Finished +1. Very soft on the Tavares goal in the third period. Not exactly what Carey Price needs in front of him right now.
Tomas Kaberle. Good start with three assists in two games.
The power play scored and it had nothing to do with Kaberle or Campoli, with a beauty of a Desharnais - Subban - Desharnais - Cole passing play.
Andrei Kostitsyn. Another goal and loved his fist pump afterwards. Nine goals in 21 games is very good production (36 goals prorated over 82 games).
Lars Eller. He is excellent with the puck inside the opposing blue line. Very aware play to wait for Nokelainen to jump off the bench for the winning goal. A spectacular rush 15:00 into the second period had many of us thinking about the heady days of Pete Mahovlich. Montreal fans can only dream that one day Eller can finish the way Pete did.
Hal Gill. The big man can sure hit an empty net when you need him to. Finished the night +2 hours after tweeting (@Skillsy75) how much he likes the new Black Keys album "El Camino".
Back to back wins. First time in a month.
PK Subban give away leading to the game's first goal. Still stumbling around too much. Maybe all the ice time (another 26:21 - almost 4 minutes more than any other Hab) is catching up to him. I still think his overall play is being held to too high a standard. I know he looked like a season vet in the playoff run two seasons ago and for a good chunk of his rookie season. But he's not. Think of how good he is going to be when he is a seasoned vet.
Mike Cammaleri. I'm asked more about Cammalleri during games than any other Hab. What can I say - that he's weak in his own end? That he's not the same guy we've seen? Maybe his leg/knee is not fully healed? Maybe he's not happy? Or maybe he's just lacking some confidence right now. Like a home run hitter in a prolonged slump I continue to believe that Cammalleri will break out in a big way. I smell a hat trick coming. And it should be noted that he did help set up the game winning goal.
The injury to Travis Moen. Left game after playing just 3:01. This one will especially hurt on the road. Didn't we say recently that while you wait for players like Campoli, (Spacek), Markov, White, etc to return even more will eventually go down (Gionta...)?
Jacques Martin's decision to scratch Alexei Emelin. Once he decided to bench his most (only) physical defenseman who had been playing so well, the Habs had to win. Controversy averted, for now. Definitely on the defensive though in his post game remarks as he singled out Subban and Raphael Diaz for making mistakes.
Despite eventually scoring a season high five goals on home ice the Habs once again came out sluggish in their own rink against an inferior opponent, managing just 6 shots on goal in the first period, which included a power play. And they once again blew a two goal lead late in the third period....
...good thing Al Montoya was in goal for the Islanders whiffing on the Nokelainen shot from inside the blue line, as he had earlier when he couldn't squeeze Darche's shot from the far right wing.
Erik Cole falling heavily into the Islanders net in the third period, initially appearing to injure a rib or two but more than likely was just winded. Scary for a moment. If anything typifies what Cole is about it was on the very next shift when he once again drove hard to the net, eventually, in frustration, firing the puck into the dislodged goal. Think about what happens if Cole goes down and needs help to get up.