The Montreal Canadiens are off to a good start this season, and they were off to a good start yesterday. Alex Tanguay and Saku Koivu scored 1st period goals to lead the Habs to an easy 4-1 over a flavorless Phoenix team. The Koivu-Tanguay-Latendresse line was the best on the ice scoring 3 goals and controlling the play in the offensive zone all night long.
Guillaume Latendresse is the most improved Habs player, as he is much faster and confident with the puck than last year. He's taking good decisions with and without the puck. Using his big frame, he created many scoring chances for his linemates, which finished a combined +9 on the evening.
Andrei Markov is another player that raised his play a notch over last year. He's making good passes and his on-ice vision is remarkable. Markov now has 8 assists and a +7 rating over 5 games.
However, the big event of the game was the borderline head shot by Kurt Sauer on Andrei Kostitsyn in the 2nd period. “I don’t know if it was dirty, but they’re trying to erase blows to the head, and it was definitely a blow to the head,” Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said.
The Canadiens will have forward Andrei Kostitsyn undergo some tests through the next couple of days for an update on his condition. Obviously, there was no call on the hit and the referees were brutal last night. No word on whether there will be a suspension or not.
The crowd immediately chanted Laraque, Laraque! looking for somewhat of a payback for Sauer's hit on #46. When Laraque got close to Sauer, who's 6'4'', 220 lb, the latter ran away like a quitter who did not want to account for his dirty hit.
But, later in the 2nd period, Sauer, accepted the invitation to dance from Tom Kostopoulos, (6'0'', 200 lbs) who was a no match for Kurt Sauer. Finally, Laraque found a dance partner in Todd Fedoruk who ran in Carey Price earlier in that period.
Wayne Gretzky proved once again he should have sticked to playing hockey, not coaching. Down 2-0 he asked his team to hit and play dirty in order to get back in the game, which led to the Kostitsyn incident. He also came back with Ilya Bryzgalov in goal after he had surrended 6 goals in 6-3 loss the night before in Ottawa. Bryzgalov has allowed 14 goals in the last 3 games.
Shane Doan, who is Price’s cousin, ruined the Montreal goalie’s shutout bid when he scored 10 minutes into the third. He was also the best player on the ice for the Coyotes. Youngsters Mikkel Boedker, Kyle Turris, Kevin Porter, Viktor Tikhonov and Peter Mueller seemed to be intimidated by the energetic crowd at Bell Centre as they were invisible.
The Coyotes will have to start winning on the road or they will miss the playoffs once again, and Gretzky's head could finally roll.