Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tampa Bay at Montreal

Cristobal Huet Steals Lightning’s Thunder and 2 Points

Many times this season while watching the Habs, I wonder if I’ve stumbled upon an episode of The Amazing Race (which is Mrs. Pescatore’s favorite show). If a team on TAR commits a foul, they are given a 30-minute delay penalty while all the other teams get the head start. On certain occasions this year, the Habs don’t seem to get started until the second or third period this season and still manage to steal a 4-2 victory from the clutches of defeat. Chalk the Lightning-Habs game on Thursday as a sterling example. If not for Cristobal (Is it too early to anoint him Saint?) Huet turning away 41 of 43 shots including a dozen quality chances on Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards and Marty St. Louis. This game should have been over after the first period yet the game was tied at 1-1 after 20 minutes. Tampa’s Shot totals were 18-4 in the first and 15-6 in the second. When Mark Streit is your best FORWARD in the first 30 minutes of a game at home and your Penalty killing unit scores TWO short-handed goals, you have no business winning. Huet clearly outplayed Lightning goaltender Marc Denis whose lack of timely saves has been Tampa’s undoing since losing Nikolai Khabibulin to free agency after their Cup run in 2004.

Special K Not an Essential Part of Opponent’s Balanced Diet

For the third time in December, Captain Saku Koivu answers the offensive call with a 2-goal game including a game winning short-handed tally and a game clinching empty netter. It seems that everyone Koivu plays with becomes a better player and he is directly responsible for the awakening of Latendresse, Kovalev and Higgins this year. There must be smelling salts on the back of his skates because the team has relied on the captain’s lead several times this season to wake them up in games they have slept through in the early periods.

Les Kids Sont Alright

When Coach Carbonneau can rely on a fourth line of rookies Latendresse, Maxim Lapierre and second year man Mark Streit to be the best forechecking line on the ice, chip in with a game tying garbage style goal (Lapierre’s first in the NHL), and contain the ever dangerous Bolt offense late in the third period, you know the Montreal Canadiens’ future is in very good hands. The internal competition is a trademark of the Gainey team philosophy. The arrival of Lapierre and Higgins spells trouble for Garth Murray and Sergei Samsonov

The Fine Print

The goal scorers for Tampa were Richards and St.Louis. Streit and Lapierre scored their first of the season for Montreal along Koivu’s pair. The other key C-H; Chris Higgins did not play and will join the team on Saturday at the Bell Centre against the Daycare Brigade of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sheldon Souray returned after missing a game with a hand injury. Radek Bonk left the game after receiving a puck in the nose. Coaching Mr. Crosby and Malkin will be former Habs Bench boss Michel Therrien. FYI: The Pescatore family has still not forgiven him for the Carolina Hurricane playoff bench minor. I do not think he will be behind the Penguin bench when this team moves to the next level and requires a refined playoff coach with tactical skills.

In response to the question raised in my last article regarding Sergei Samsonov, the answer is Broken Clock. Was that Guillaume Latendresse singing along to BOTH national anthems?

See You At The Game,

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