Forgetting for a moment, if that's possible, how monstrous it would have been for the Canadiens to lose to the Los Angeles Kings on home ice Saturday afternoon, I found it interesting to hear coach Guy Carbonneau talk about the impact scoring the equalizing goal might have on Christopher Higgins.
Before going into the coach's comments, let's say that Higgins was extremely relieved standing half dressed at his stall addressing the media after the game. He says he was more relieved for the team than himself, but let's be honest, the guy needed a big goal. And perhaps none were bigger than this, as a five-game losing streak going into a contest with the mighty Boston Bruins on Super Bowl Sunday would not have been an appetizing thought.
So to score a hard-working goal that allowed his team to avoid a five-game streak could not have been better for Higgins, who hadn't scored since Nov. 26, a span of eight games without a goal.
But when Carbonnneau was asked what it could mean to Higgins to score such an important goal, instead of talking about how it might take some of the pressure off, the coach heaped on a little more.
"We’ve been talking about it since before Christmas that we have a number of players whose production has dropped compared to last season," Carbonneau said. "If we want to stay near the lead pack, if we want to have success between now and the end of the season and in the playoffs, those players are going to have to produce. Maybe a goal like that will get Chris going again."
It was a strange reaction to a perfectly natural question, one that could just as easily apply to Tomas Plekanec scoring as well, and I kind of read it to mean that as nice as Saturday's win was, the coach is taking a wait-and-see approach to the weekend.
Beating the L.A. Kings is one thing, no matter how well they're playing right now, but if the Canadiens are able to beat the Boston Bruins on Sunday it will show that the team has turned a corner. In fact, just competing in that game will likely serve the same purpose.
Except that if the Canadiens play the way they did on Saturday, the Bruins will run them out of their own building.
Down a goal in the third, the Habs only had two shots on goal nearly 15 minutes in when they were handed a power play after a bone-headed cross-checking penalty to Kyle Calder. The best chance on that power play belonged to the Kings, as Carey Price kept his team in the game by stopping Alexander Frolov on a breakaway with just under four minutes to play.
Again, when asked about the save after the game, Carbonneau was reserved in his comments and very reluctant to heap praise on his young goalie. He acknowledged the save was important, but the focus of his answer was that the team will need good goaltending until the end of the season to have success.
Overall, I found the Canadiens were often sloppy in their own end, with two goals coming off giveaways in their own end, though Josh Gorges can't really be blamed for his because he had no business being on the ice in the first place.
The monster elbow he took from repeat offender Denis Gauthier was a vicious blow, one that needs to result in a significant suspension, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was only two games because that's how the NHL handles discipline.
Six games for noticing how everyone likes your "sloppy seconds," two games for trying to remove someone's head from his neck.
Makes sense to me.
UPDATE: For those who didn't see the Gauthier elbow, here it is: