A Little Bit Of French Goes A Long Way
Winnipeg Jets 3 Montreal Canadiens 7
It has been one of the weirdest weeks for the Montreal Canadiens. First, Pierre Gauthier apologizes for hiring an English-only speaking coach in his state of the union address. Geoff Molson would go on to agree with Gauthier's statements. Then, Randy Cunneyworth vows to learn French. P.K. Subban and Tomas Plekanec get into it at practice. Josh Gorges signs an extension.
Then the team goes out and scores seven goals for the first time in almost a year. Cunneyworth gets his first home win. I guess saying the past few days have been weird is an understatement, but maybe weird should be the norm in Montreal. It seems when everything is in upheaval the team plays better. Maybe it's Gauthier's plan to divert all the attention away from the team. If that's the case then he is a genius; but that isn't the case.
The atmosphere at the game didn't suit a home blowout win. Fans were guarded. They want the team to win and do well but most of them want changes. That feeling grew stronger after the Jets took an early first period lead, but the Habs came back quickly and the rest of the game was something that Gauthier will be using to make sure he stays around a little longer.
Gorges, new contract in hand, scored his second goal of the season. Lars Eller scored his first of four on the night and the Habs were up after the first. Yes, Eller scored four goals, and Gauthier will say that he was at the heart of the decision to bench Lars four games ago. Tomas Kaberle, who Gauthier traded for, scored his first in the second period. The Jets made it tight at the end of the second but with four goals in the third the home team when on to win their first of 2012.
The night and the win came at the right time after the first four days of the new year. Lars Eller was obviously spectacular. He seemed to be in the right places on the ice at the right time, but his penalty shot marker was one that spoke of how high his confidence is. The Eller, Travis Moen and Andrei Kostitstyn line has been the best line all season, well that is when they play together. Moen always works hard. Kostitsyn has talent and skill in boatloads. The confidence that Eller played with last night is there every single night and every single game. He needs ice time and more of it.
Cunneyworth has definitely hitched his wagon to Erik Cole and Subban who both had the most ice time. Carey Price only made 24 saves and had an average night. Louis Leblanc was sent back to Hamilton after the game to make room for captain Brian Gionta's return. Leblanc should be happy with his stint in Montreal and should always be the first call up if another forward goes down.
The star of the night was Lars Eller. He was the first Hab to score four since Jan Bullis did it in 2006 and the first do it on home ice since Brian Bellows did it in 1993. After a long stretch at the end of last year of no practice time Cunneyworth has had a few days off to get his message across and implement a few new wrinkles. A few more days off until the next game and maybe he can learn some French.
Shahab Khan the Schoolboy