Isn't it a thing of beauty to see what Alex Kovalev is capable of doing to a hockey puck? Fifteen points in his last six games is phenomenal, and he doesn't even look winded while he's at it. For the first time in a very long while he gives the impression that something good is going to happen when he has the puck. He's going to the net, his shots are finding their target and he's making the powerplay make people pay for fouling his team. Life is good in Kovy-land.
Then you've got Chris Higgins. After an injury-riddled, desperate season in which he's looked by turns completely lost and completely disinterested in continuing as a Hab, Higgins is experiencing a renaissance as a solid defensive forward who can pot the occasional goal. He looks happier, his point totals are increasing and best of all, he's making an important contribution to the team's overall turnaround.
Mike Komisarek's another one. After nearly an entire season of lousy giveaways, mis-timed hits, positional gaffes and bad puck handling, he's suddenly simplified his game the way he needs to do to be successful. In the last ten games, he's using his body more effectively, and if he's not exactly reaching Markovian standards with his outlet passing, he's at least not icing the puck or handing it to an opponent in the neutral zone quite as frequently as he had been.
While all this is great for the team and for the individual players involved, it's creating quite the dilemma for Bob Gainey. He's been watching these guys all season with an eye toward whether he wants to re-sign them to new contracts, and if so, for how much. Two weeks ago, I bet he planned to let the moody, inconsistent Kovalev go, and offer Higgins and Komisarek lowball take-it-or-leave-it offers. Now he's got to re-evaluate and decide how much two great weeks are worth.
Of course, if their fine play continues and translates into a deep playoff run, all bets are off. Whomever manages to salvage this Centennial and bring glory back to the franchise will be rewarded. But an early exit from the post-season festivities will make Gainey's life a lot harder. No one told him when he signed up to save the Habs that he'd have to play the role of Soloman and the Prophet too. I'm glad he's the one making the decisions. I don't know if I could do it.