Habs Report: Week 4 brings season’s first winning streak

There’s nothing like writing a Habs report when the boys have performed beyond expectations for the whole week. They’ve won four in a row and have played solidly throughout each game. Let’s start with Monday. Roman Hamrlik played very well in his 1000th NHL game; he seems to really be finding his place in the Canadiens’ lineup.

There’s nothing like writing a Habs report when the boys have performed beyond expectations for the whole week. They’ve won four in a row and have played solidly throughout each game.
Let’s start with Monday. Roman Hamrlik played very well in his 1000th NHL game; he seems to really be finding his place in the Canadiens’ lineup. Chris Higgins hustled and is looking increasingly good. Alexei Kovalev had an awesome goal almost directly off the face-off, a sniper shot snapped off with no hesitation that went by Bruins’ net minder Manny Fernandez.
Although this game was obviously about offence, Cristobal Huet looked really good in nets and actually kept the boys in the game for a huge portion of the first period while the Bruins actually looked like they had a chance. Among Boston’s chances was an awful two-on-one, created by Patrice Brisebois.
Steve Bégin played really well. His performance on the penalty kill was great, not to mention he got his first goal of the season. Tom Kostopoulos’ pass to Bégin on the two-on-one that ended with Bégin scoring with just over two minutes to go in the second period, that was gorgeous! He was patient and played the puck very well.
Kyle Chipchura deviated from his position sometimes, especially when trying to make a hit. Bryan Smolinski and Mikhail Grabovski set each other up really nicely at various points in the game, they seem to have great chemistry. Cheers to Grabovski for getting his first NHL goal!
Andrei Markov’s goal was also beautiful; after Saturday’s game he can arguably be thought of as man of the week. Mike Komisarek played really well, clearly irritating the hell out of the Bruins with relentless hits. Zdeno Chara made his frustration clear by giving Komisarek a bad hit from behind with less than a minute to go in the second. Even though Boston out-shot them, the Habs clearly dominated Monday’s game, winning 6-1.
The shooting gallery continued on Friday as the Canadiens battled the Hurricanes in Carolina for the second time this year. It was the Habs bringing on the storm this time, as the boys took it 7-4. This game could’ve gone either way; Carolina has been playing really well to date.
But the boys seemed to still be full of the energy they had on Monday night as they ripped into the ‘Canes with ease. Tomas Plekanec played extremely well, putting up two goals and two assists for the first time in his NHL career.
Of course, it’s exciting to see your team winning by such huge margins, but the true importance of Monday and Friday’s performances was that all lines were producing nice plays and great goals. When all of the lines are producing like this, it takes the pressure off the top two lines to do all of the offensive work. Everyone generally has a more relaxed attitude and they play better as a result.
Carey Price was back in goal on Saturday, as the Habs took on Pittsburgh in what was probably the most exciting, edge-of-your-seat game so far this season. Kovalev played his worst game of the year to date; many are making the argument that he can no longer do back-to-back games because of his ailing knees.
Price played OK in regular time, though he did let in a couple of weak goals. Nevertheless, he made up for it by being incredible in the shoot-out. He used his six-foot-three, 226-pound frame to physically block as much of the net as possible.
His strategy worked like a charm as several of the Penguins’ shooters shot wide towards the net, while trying to get the puck into the minute openings left around Price.
I can’t say enough about Markov in this game, not only for netting the winning goal as the ninth shooter, but also for his performance during regulation time. He roofed a beautiful backhander on the power play, which stands at No. 1 in the NHL at 30.4 per cent. Michael Ryder also scored on screened shot for his second goal of the season. Ryder has been somewhat of a disappointment to date.
As the Habs’ leading goalscorer last season, you’d expect him to be raking in more points than the five he has so far. Mathieu Dandenault netted his third of the year and is looking really comfortable being back as a forward.
Overall, it was by far the Habs’ best week of the season. They played with tangible passion and had fans on their feet in homes, pubs and bars throughout the city. With the boys facing the Atlanta Thrashers tonight and the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday – both for the first time of the season – and then the Leafs on Saturday, it’s sure to be an interesting week. Check back next week for a recap of how our Habs did in week 5. Needless to say, we are all hoping that they’ll add to the four-game winning-streak.

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