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Price Too Much For Leafs

To quote former Habs coach Jacques Demers on RDS about Carey Price after this win, "I have never seen a goalie with this much talent, have such coolness and composure at the age of 20!"

No kidding Jack...the kid reminds of Tuukka Rask!

Joking aside, tonight Carey Price very adequately lived up to every superlative that has ever been claimed for him.

And this game lived up to it's billing in every way as well.

Both teams played decently well head to head. The Leafs as usual, outshot the Canadiens.

Darcy Tucker was a pest, while Alex Kovalev was at his best. Montreal's powerplay was on. Wade Belak did something dumb. Guillaume Latendresse took advantage of his promotion to the top line. Mats Sundin almost played Hab killer again.

The usual, sprinkled with the usual strangeness.

The officials missed calls, virtual muggings at times on both sides, and let the teams play. I often like the idea of letting wide open games unfold, but as the Canadiens have the league's best PP, you can understand why I might grumble some, as this letting things go method surely hurts the team with the best PP more.

The zamboni driver might be fired before John Ferguson Jr. Either that or he is getting paid under the table by Master Card. It's unthinkable that he has to pass the mat four times over the ice before both teams are satisfied. File that scene under things you might never see again.

The duo of Roman Hamrlik and Patrice Brisebois looked more like Abbott and Costello for two periods.

Chad Kilger, still one of my favorite players (A Cornwallite and former Hab) when he puts it together, looked like vintage Eric Lindros on one rush. Happy Birthday Chad - but your team still bites it!

Paul Maurice looks like Michael Douglas in "Falling Down", right before he losses his marbles.

Enough of the strange, many Habs did good things worth mentioning tonight, starting with Price.
Ridiculous claim time for Price? The Habs goalie of the future has arrived. His time is right now, and I'll say it like this - the Canadiens have two number one goalies. The younger one has a better winning percentage. Should the trend continue until playoff time - who is the starter for Game One?

Another proclamation in the high hopes department. Everytime I watch Kyle Chipchura play, I raise the bar on his upside. This kid is solid, smart, poised, and aware on the ice. One day, he'll score 20 goals and be one of the best shutdown centers in the league.

Latendresse didn't look out of place with Chris Higgins and Saku Koivu - far from it. Kudos to him for not giving up on play that only he and a referee knew wasn't dead. He was exactly where a player of size should be in a scrum, and he was justly rewarded.

Speaking of young players of size....

( Interupting the writing of this post game report, was an RDS feature on Habs first round pick Max Pacioretty. For those who didn't tune into RDS after the game, Max was lauded by his Michigan state coach Red Berenson, as well as Habs scout Trevor Timmins, who was on hand in Michigan to catch some games. Old Red seemed thrilled with Max's play, adding that he has 12 points in his last 10 games. He was compared favoratively to a Ryan Smyth or Erik Cole type. Berenson noted that Pacioretty is getting the ice time of a veteran, which is unheard of for a rookie in the University ranks. Max is surprisingly playing on both the PP and PK units. Timmins noted that Pacioretty is precisely the type of player a team cannot trade for, as no one gives up on such physical specimens whose games include a scoring touch combined with size. The report concluded by agreeing that Pacioretty is so far ahead of his expected progression, that it is highly doubtful that he will be left to complete his four year stage at Michigan Tech.)

I had to share this. Back to the game now.

The second coming of Alex Kovalev continues. He is to Leafs fans what Sundin is to us. Give him five square feet of open ice, a distracted defender, a puck and a split second, and he'll point that little black blur up high before a goalie wonders what blew by him. I declare his questionability and his purgatory over for now. All heap praise on Alex.

How about that Andrei Kostitsyn shuffle in the shootout? A dandy move and highlight reel worthy.

On the downside of things, I can't say the same for Tomas Plekanec's effort - in both the shootout and the game as a whole. It might look as though Plekanec has turned into a streaky player, but I believe he is just adjusting to being keyed on a whole lot more. No fears that he won't eventually adjust to it.

Before Patrice Brisebois sneaks towards the net, he might want to run it by a winger to cover his ass. He did a lame brain move, scooting into the slot without so much as a look at Higgins who would be the guy to cover him. Higgins was still alert enough to make it down ice and break up a two on one a whole six feet from Price. Back at the bench, Carbonneau looked like he wanted to say "If I need to explain where the goof was to a 15 year veteran, I might as well slap you with this clipboard!"

His partner Roman Hamrlik played his worst game as a Hab. If this side of him only comes out every 22 games, I'll stop beating on him now.

Andrei Markov, had his rough spots tonight as well, but how many other D - men can zing a pass as crisply and on tape like the setup on the first Kovalev goal. Goalies pull groins on such precise plays.

Why were Koivu, Steve Begin, and Bryan Smolinski out against the Sundin line with less than a minute to go?

Smolinski might be the next Habs player to garned the hot lights of inscrutible critics. He's simply not bringing consistency to his shifts or any part of his game.

Mike Komisarek loves playing the Leafs almost as much as Price and Kovalev appear to.
Finally, much as I regale in these division battles, can't we start facing opponants other than Toronto, Buffalo, Boston, Ottawa, and Carolina. The NHL shuffles it's schedule like a cheating card player stacks a deck.

It gets hard to truly size up the Habs against the rest of the league when they haven't played them yet. Watching teams adjust to the Canadiens one game at a time has been educational and dull.

What I'm curious about for now, is whether the Canadiens make this win a springboard for a winning streak, or whether they continue to wallow in the mire of mediocrety.