Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau tried to sugar coat Tuesday's 5-4 "win" over the Atlanta Thrashers and look at the positives of the game.
That should tell you everything you need to know about the state of his team, because under similar circumstances last year Carbonneau would have blown his lid after watching the Thrashers score three goals in a franchise-record 59 seconds to erase a 3-0 third period deficit.
He wouldn't have cared that Andrei Kostitsyn scored the go-ahead goal at 14:49, completing a three-point night, or that the Habs have now won two in a row and three of four. When given the opportunity, he would have bashed that 59 seconds far worse that simply calling it a "brain cramp."
When I asked if that lapse took away any of the momentum the team may have built in playing so well - albeit against a horrific team - for two periods, Carbonneau didn't bite. I was stunned.
"We did some really good things," Carbonneau answered. "There was a minute there, a minute out of 60. We scored a power play goal, which was good. We scored more than two goals, which is another good thing. For the first 40 minutes I think we only gave them two or three scoring chances. So we did some good things and we just need to keep building on it."
All that is true, and I think Carbonneau was being just a little sarcastic, but if his crew was running on all cylinders he would have ripped them a new one there. Especially considering it was Georges Laraque simply not going on the ice on a line change that led to the first goal for the Thrashers, and Ron Hainsey's point shot came from the exact spot Laraque would have been covering were it not for the fact he was sitting on the bench doing God knows what.
Thankfully, not everyone in the Habs entourage drinks the same Kool-Aid as Carbonneau, and Tomas Plekanec was able to at least acknowledge that sometimes, two points isn't simply two points.
"It's definitely unfortunate what happened in that third period," he said. "If we played solid the way we did in the first two periods for 60 minutes it would definitely be a better feeling for everybody in this room. Everybody's obviously happy about the two points, but the way we got it, it's not pretty."
So the Canadiens are now 2-0 on this seven-game homestand and have won three of their last four, but can anyone really say this team is streaking? That it's playing to its potential? That it's hot? I certainly can't, and I would imagine there aren't too many of the guys wearing red Tuesday night who can either.
The Thrashers dressed guys named Nathan Oystrick, Joseph Crabb and Boris Valabik, they had Ilya Kovalchuk playing on a line with pluggers Marty Reasoner and Chirs Thorburn, they had a goalie who came into the game with a 3.88 GAA and an .880 save percentage. Yet the Canadiens managed to escape by the skin of their teeth with a win.
But, if we must, let's look at the positives, and the number one bright spot was the possible awakening of Andrei Kostitsyn. His goal and two assists gives him five points in two games, nearly matching his seven-point output from his first 20 games.
Kostitsyn mentioned how he's felt more comfortable the past two games, but Carbonneau claimed some credit for this mini-revival.
"I would like to think the reason goes back two games ago when I put him on the fourth line and he didn't play much," Carbonneau said. "The last two games he's playing like the player we want to see every game. He's involved, he's skating, he's getting pucks on net. I think if you ask him which player he wants to be, it's the one we just saw."
Kostitsyn's line with Saku Koivu and Matt D'Agostini was easily the best of the night, but Carbonneau is going to wait an see how long it lasts before falling in love with it.
"Every time we've tried to light a fire under guys it’s worked, but only for a short period of time," Carbonneau said. "The line with Saku, Andrei and Matt D’Agostini played well the whole game, they were involved defensively and offensively. Tomas' line played well and so did Robert's, we just hope it keeps going."
But in order for it to keep going, Carbonneau has to show some patience and give the lines that produce some leeway if they have a bad period or two.
"It’s a surprise for everybody," Kostitsyn said of the constant line shifting. "You come to practice and you don’t know what line you are playing on. Coach puts the lines (out), you can't say I don't want to play with this player."
What will happen now with Sergei Kostitsyn and Guillaume Latendresse? Do they sit out another game? If they come back against the Rangers on Thursday, where will they be slotted? It's questions like these the Habs players must be asking, and Carbonneau says that's just how he likes it.
"(The lines) will stabilize if we keep winning," Carbonneau said. "If they come to the rink and they have to think a little bit more, maybe that's a good thing. You can't get bored."
One thing's for sure, the Habs definitely kept things interesting against a Thrashers team that had no business being in the game. If they pull the same stunt Thursday night, they'll be right back where they started.