Saturday, 7 January 2012

Game 41: Montréal 3, Tampa Bay 1

They were due. The lethal combination of Mike Blunden and Mathieu Darche clicked tonight after a mild lethargic spell, ably assisted by notorious blueline quarterback Hal Gill. Those three are automatic, it's puzzling that they weren't checked more closely by Tampa Bay's stifling defence. That was a big mistake, since they sparked the big comeback, the Canadiens storming back from a 1-0 deficit, which sometimes seems an insurmountable lead against the Glorieux.

Randy Cunneyworth is showing his independence from the Jacques Martin regime and its orthodoxy. Sure, he's also playing seven defencemen, but not by grafting the odd man out on a fourth line ipso facto rendered ineffective. Instead, he plays all seven of his defencemen on the blue line, and they all get significant minutes, which allows him to reduce the wear and tear on Josh Gorges and P.K. Subban, and equally importantly, to focus Hal Gill's role on being a shutdown defencemen in defensive situations or on the penalty kill. He then makes up for the missing forward by double-shifting his most effective forwards. It's an effective solution to the lack of depth on the Canadiens roster, and a way to make do with the singular attributes of our defensive corps. Personally, I much prefer seeing twice as much of Erik Cole or David Desharnais, as opposed to the diet of Aaron Palushaj and Andrea Engqvist we were force-fed earlier this season.

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