HABS DEFEAT FLORIDA 4 – 1 FOR THEIR FIRST WIN THIS YEAR

Robert Lafleur January 23, 2013 1
Dario Ayala/The Gazette

In this, the Habs most important game of the year, you’ve got to hand it to Canadiens coach Michel Therrien for realizing (especially after the Leafs game), the fact that the players who played in the AHL during the lockout are in mid-season shape, while the players who played in Europe, or haven’t played at all, still have a long way to go. Perhaps that was one of the reasons Therrien decided to dress newcomer Brendan Gallagher in place of Lars Eller. Gallagher played throughout the lockout with the Habs AHL farm team, the Hamilton Bulldogs. Perhaps the other reason, as Therrien put it, Eller “needs more intensity,” while Gallagher has “speed, and intensity.” Therrien placed Gallagher on a line with Brandon Prust and centered by Alex Galchenyuk, a more natural position for him than on the wing. Therrien’s move proved genius, as the line played well all night, resulting in a third period goal by Alex Galchenyuk, his first in the NHL. Galchenyuk redirected aBrandonPrust shot, between his legs, beating Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen high, glove-side. Clemmensen started in place of former Habs goaltender José Theodore, whom the fans wanted to see, but will take this result, a much needed 4 – 1 victory.

Standouts

Andrei Markov, playing over 23 minutes, blasting in two goals from the point. His last goal coming back in 2010.

Carey Price was excellent, stopped all but one of the 28 shots he faced, many of them excellent Florida scoring opportunities.

Alexei Emelin with nine big hits.

More Grit

Towards the end of the first period, Habs defenseman Josh Gorges went for a big hit on Florida’s tough guy, the 6’5” George Parros. He half-missed and clipped Parros in the knee. Parros glared but that was the extent of it. In the third period however, the Panthers Tomas Fleischmann decided to exact some retribution on Gorges, driving him from the back, face first into the glass. Ryan White dropped his gloves and immediately went after Fleischmann, landing a couple of good shots before Fleischmann turtled. Hopefully this is a sign that the Habs will be sticking up for each other this year under Therrien’s rule.

Firsts

Alex Galchenyuk’s first NHL goal and, first time as being named first star.

Brendan Gallagher’s first NHL point.

Marc Bergevin’s first NHL win as a general manager.

Michel Therrien’s first win as Habs coach since January 13, 2003.

The Return of “l’Artiste”

Alex Kovalev made his return to Bell Centre ice after playing last year in the KHL. Kovy got a loud and healthy ovation from the Habs faithful, in contrast to the night before in Ottawa. The Montreal fans always appreciated Kovalev’s unique talent with the puck, if only he would have been a little more consistent with that talent. The 39-year-old has been paired this season with Florida’s 19-year-old rookie phenom Jonathan Huberdeau and both have had a good start to the season, playing well together. Get this, Huberdeau wasn’t even born when Kovalev began his NHL hockey career.

Elmer Lach

Speaking of old hockey players, former Habs great Elmer Lach turned 95 today. Happy Birthday Elmer. I never saw him play but I was around at the time.

The Habs next game is Thursday night against the Capitals in Washington.