Notebook - Oct. 19, 2010
A Game of Inches: While the line of Plekanec, Kostitsyn and Cammalleri has been firing on all cylinders since the start of the season, the Canadiens other top offensive pairing of Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez is still looking to hit its stride. In a season that spans 82 games, ups and downs are to be expected and with 4 points between the two stars over the first five games, the general consensus is the only place to go from here, is up.
“We’re getting some great looks, and we’re continuously coming close,” said Gomez when asked about the possibility of a spark lacking from his line. “We hit a post here, a post there and the puck doesn’t find its way in, but a few lucky bounces and suddenly it’s a different story. With the amount of skill in the league today, we know that’s it’s important to make the most of those plays, but it’s only when you’re not getting those looks, not getting those chances that you have to start to worry.”
The long wait: The Canadiens have already managed to answer a lot of questions since the start of the season, but one still hanging over the team is when top-defenseman Andrei Markov will find his way back into the lineup. While fans may find it hard to watch their team without its usual quarterback to orchestrate goals on the man-advantage, no one’s having a harder time playing the waiting game than Markov himself.
“I obviously want to be able to help the team when I come back, and so I won’t until I’m 100% ready,” promised Markov after practicing with the team. “It’s not fun to stay out. I have a tough time if I ever have to miss a few games, but I’ve been out for a few months now, and I just want to play some games. I have to challenge myself everyday to make this work and bring myself back before the end of October, but right now I know I’m not going to be ready for Thursday’s game against the Devils.”
The Disadvantage of the Man-Advantage: Counted on for years as a go-to guy when it comes to shutting down opposing power-plays, Josh Gorges has been grappling with some newly added responsibilities since the beginning of the season. Along with maintaining his stellar performances on the penalty-kill, he’s also been spearheading the Habs’ second power-play unit. After a few games in his new role, Gorges is coming to the realization that scoring goals with the extra man is getting harder to do in the NHL these days.
“Guys are getting better defensively. Not only defensemen though – forwards are getting better in their own zone too,” claims Gorges who this year has played at least two minutes per game on a power-play line, as compared to 50 seconds the year before. “Guys know how to use their sticks, cut down the passing lanes, and the goalies just keep getting better and better.”
Batman and Josh: That Josh Gorges is leading all Habs’ defensemen in points is a fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed by his teammates, especially his partner on the blue-line, Hall Gill.
“He basically thinks he’s better than everyone else right now. He looks down his nose at the rest of us, but with the kind of shot he can unload, I guess it’s all justified,” joked Hall Gill. “Me and him, we’re a lot like Batman and Robin. But if you look at our pairing, I figure I’d probably be Batman, you know, because Robin’s generally useless. Can we get to some serious questions now?”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com
Andrei the Giant
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