I've noted before that Brian Gionta's production is always sneaky. Listen to the average fan talk about him and you hear that he was awful offensively last season, yet he quietly finished tied for second on the team in goals. Through the first two weeks of the season while Gionta was dealing with an illness in the family, the talk was that the captain had to step up. At the 10 game mark, after a two point night against a very good team, Gionta has three goals and three assists in nine games.
In a game where we were all reliving our emotional connection to a long-serving former captain in Saku Koivu, I think it's appropriate to give the current captain some love.
Also sneaky good has been Tomas Plekanec, who has also been criticized early this season, and has quietly overtaken Lars Eller as the top scoring forward on the team, with five goals and four assists in 10 games after notching a three point game.
The third part of their line is the ridiculously surprising Michael Bournival, who had his first multi-point game last night, scoring first and setting up the game winning goal by capitalizing on a turnover by Ryan Getzlaf. Bournival shows none of the typical rookie hesitancy you expect to see, and played a whopping 16:15 against the Ducks. On a four-game point streak and with five points in seven games, I think it's safe to say he won't be a healthy scratch.
At this point I'd like to remind everyone that I was the original Bournival booster, in his corner ever since the trade, and noting once again how underrated he is in the comments of this season's Top 25 Under 25. Yes, I am bragging. Yes, I know it's poor form. But look at how good he's been!
You know who else has been looking fantastic? Rene Bourque. He may only have four points on the season, but his goal tonight was a beauty backhander and the number of chances he's getting is a great sign for a depth forward. He was sprung for two clear breakaways last night, stopped on one and called offside on another (it was a very close call). He's already buried one goal on a breakaway this year, and I don't think it'll be the last.
Also encouraging was David Desharnais showing signs of life in the offensive zone, although he was once again blanked. He's still losing the puck easier than anyone else on the roster, and not engaging physically, but he's starting to make good reads and create some chances. If he can do that, he won't be such a drag on the team. However, his one point in ten game streak is officially worse than Gomez.
After playing a mostly solid defensive game, the Habs just couldn't resist ruining Carey Price's shutout bid as Josh Gorges broke out of Montreal's zone and tried to make a soft backhand pass to Desharnais instead of the east play up the boards to Bourque, which set up a 2-on-1 for Nick Bonino and Patrick Maroon with Raphael Diaz defending. Diaz isn't Subban on 2-on-1s, obviously, and he looked a bit panicked, and allowed the pass through for an easy goal.
The goal was one of the few great looks that Montreal gave Anaheim during the game, but it was symbolic of how difficult the Canadiens have been making Carey Price's life early on this year. Coming into last night's game, Price was facing the most shots per game on special teams of any goaltender in the league at 8.25. When you consider that shorthanded shots are usually breakaways or odd man rushes, and that powerplay shots involve more puck movement than normal, you have to feel for Price there. It really begins to put his brilliant start in context, as he's not being protected to a great degree, like Tuukka Rask. You listening, Team Canada?
And don't forget to check out reaction from the losing side at Anaheim Calling.
More from Eyes On The Prize:
- Canadiens vs Ducks - Top Six Minutes - Second Homecoming Edition
- Montreal gives Saku Koivu a standing ovation
- Is David Desharnais on his way to becoming the new Scott Gomez?
- Return of the King (and other links)
- Ears on the Prize - Episode 7 - Podcast