Montreal can thank former Czechoslovakia for Pleks and Jaro.
Yesterday’s game was very similar to the last few games Montreal played before Christmas. The habs were badly outshot, and were dominated for large parts of the game. But Jaroslav Halak was hot. Offensively, Pleknec and Kostitsyn keep on piling up points (10 points in 4 games for Pleks, 19 points in 17 games for Andrei). The Habs special teams were excellent again. In the end, Montreal ends up with two points. We’ll take that I guess.
This road trip is a success so far: 4 games, 4 wins. Hard to argue with that. But the way most of those games were won (The Canes game is the exception) leaves a bittersweet taste. It’s clear the habs are just a few bad breaks away from yet another losing streak. It’s really the way this season has been going so far. They win one, lose one, win two, lose four, win three… and so on. While Markov was missing, the hope was to stay relatively close to the .500 mark until his return. Since he’s back, the Habs have won 4 straight games. Special teams and goaltending are the two main things that allowed he team to stay afloat. On 5 on 5, the situation is much less flattering. The habs 5 on 5 goals for/against ratio is 0.78. That’s the fourth least in the league, above only Carolina, Columbus and the Isles. The return of Markov, the arrival of Pouliot, and the eventual return of Gionta should help the habs. But Montreal needs to keep the opponents from shoting 40 times every game and controlling the puck for most of the night.
There are encouraging signs: Earlier this season, special teams were not very impressive (Montreal was in the middle of the pack for PP and PK), and the team was taking way too many penalties. Those two things were corrected. It shows that the coaching staff knows how to address the issues faced by the habs, and that the team seems willing to listen and make adjustments. That’s a good thing, because there is still a lot of work to be done…