It's Not About Being Pretty
When the season schedule is released some games jump out at you. There are some games that excite you. There are some games that you plan for. And then there was last night’s game. A game in Phonenix on a Thursday night in the middle of November which comprises one of the 82 the Habs will play. Playing the Coyotes in Phoenix has become the least exciting part of any teams’ season.
So, all you can hope for is an easy win and to get out of Arizona without any injuries. Last night’s win wasn’t easy. It wasn’t pretty but it was a win and we won’t have to go back for another year. No one got hurt and the points will keep the Habs from losing ground in the playoff hunt.
From the get go, coach Martin had to shorten his bench. Mike Cammalleri and Andrei Kostitsyn did not dress and both are questionable for Saturday’s game against Nashville. Mike Blunden played only slightly over a minute and Martin went with five defensemen for most of the night. This made it easy for Erik Cole to get his deserved ice time and he did not disappoint. Once again he was the best Hab forward. Everyone pulled their weight.
A very dull affair saw Brian Gionta and Travis Moen put the Habs up one in the second period. The Coyotes fought back to send the game in overtime. Overtime lead to much the same type of play as during the game. Both teams played a neutral zone trap for much of the three periods. A weird bounce and good work from Lars Eller gave Josh Gorges a shot from the top of the circle and he buried it. Gorges first goal of the season was celebrated by his teammates as if they won the Cup.
We don’t get to see Phoenix very much on the east coast. The game gave me a chance to learn some new things. First of all, goaltender Mike Smith, although having a nice win loss record, should never ever handle the puck. Also, it was nice seeing ex-Hab Kyle Chipchura get some minutes on the ice. He was once touted as being the next Canadien captain. Now he can live out his days in the desert and walk around not having to worry about anyone knowing who he is. Finally, seeing Patrick O’Sullivan doing some of the things he can do on the ice was nice. He was once full of so much potential and now at least he might be able to stick with one team and just play.
This isn’t a true west coast trip. The Habs go to Nashville and then come right back home after Saturday’s game. West coast trips usually define a team. But after one game in the West, it was easy to see what coach Martin has to do to keep this team in the playoff hunt. We learned that Alexei Emelin is not ready for the NHL. We learned that Raphael Diaz is. We learned that we need Campoli back in the line-up quick. We learned that all the top six forwards have to play over twenty minutes for this team to succeed. We learned that we need to play with three line and three lines only. We learned that if we add Gomez, Kostitsyn and Cammalleri to the line-up that our top three lines could actually be successful. We learned that Josh Gorges, Hall Gill and P.K. Subban are horses.
So maybe a mid November game in Phoenix wasn’t as blah as we all thought it would be. A win is a win and now on to Nashville.
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Shahab Khan the Schoolboy