What do you do when your pipes are leaking and there's a flood in your bathroom? Or when you're trying not to flush an entire season down the crapper? Call in the plumbers, of course. That's exactly what the Habs did last night, and, for once, the drain surgeons answered the phone and came right over. They didn't even charge after-hours rates.
A good dozen of the Habs many losses this year can be attributed to the other team's third and fourth liners outplaying theirs. Watching Laraque and D'Agostini swim aimlessly around the ice while guys like Maxime Talbot and Milan Lucic wreaked havoc in the Canadiens' zone was just painful. The Habs' bottom-six is still missing some size and grit, but I have to admit Darche, Moore and Pyatt are vast upgrades over the guys who started the season in those positions. They came through in the clutch last night, forechecking hard, chasing the puck doggedly and going to the net in a way their more talented teammates failed to do. Metropolit was his usual dogged self and Max Lapierre showed up for the fourth time this season. If they can maintain that kind of effort, the Canadiens' chances of landing in the playoffs when the dust settles in April improve markedly.
The defence looked better than it has in a while last night (although I fully expect it to be terribly exposed against the Sharks). The two weeks off really seemed to help Spacek and Hamrlik catch their breath. Markov played a strong game, which has those of us who worried about his health based on his Olympic play slowly letting out the breath we were holding. It was good to see Martin hand out more balanced minutes than he had been doing before the break.
Carey Price was solid in goal. I think part of cheering for him will always involve accepting the inevitable flukes and softies that seem to squeak past him in just about every game. But to his credit, even though he admitted feeling sick to his stomach after that Sturm goal got behind him, he didn't give in to that sinking sensation in the gut. He locked it down for the remainder of the game, making some very nice, solid saves, and he gave his team a chance to get back in it. If he'd given up the second goal and let it become 2-0 for Boston, I think the team would have faded. So, a big part of the credit for the win has to go to Price.
The top two lines looked a little disjointed, which was a bit worrisome. They can't take much time to find their groove with the next three huge west coast games coming up. The team will need every goal it can get, so the likes of Pouliot and Andrei Kostitsyn will have to shake off the post-injury rust quickly.
The two points last night were a small step in the right direction for the Canadiens, who didn't let a hot goalie on the other side get them down. They managed to move past Boston in the standings, preserving their fragile grip on a playoff spot. There are still weaknesses in the lineup, but they pulled together and played a strong team game. And, as we saw in the Olympics, a team that plays as a team can find ways to beat more talented groups of individual players.
This one though, has to be credited to the plumbers. They worked their butt cracks off and stopped the points leak that had been threatening to drown the Habs' playoff chances.