I have to admit, I thought Jacques Martin would call on Carey Price to start this game based on his history against the Devils (2-3-1, 2.17 GAA and .932 SP in his career), but Jaroslav Halak really proved something in going toe-to-toe with a living legend in the other net.
However, that is not the changing of the guard I'm referring to in my headline, because Price will get his chance again and the pendulum will likely swing back in his direction at some point this season.
No, the change is the status of the Habs top line now falls on the shoulders of Scott Gomez, who was expected to fill that slot this season to begin with.
His line with Brian Gionta and Benoit Pouliot has been the Habs most dangerous for four games now, and Gomez has four goals and 15 assists in his last 20 games after scoring Montreal's only goal tonight.
“It still can improve," Gomez said of his line's play. "We’re getting chances, but we’re still a couple of miscues off. That’s going to come, but as a line you judge yourself on whether you’re getting chances are not and with Benny and Brian, they’re goal scorers and they’ll start putting them in. I’m not worried about that.”
No, there isn't any reason to worry about that, but the play of Tomas Plekanec of late has to be at least a cause for a little concern. His pointless streak has now hit a season-high four games, and he looks exhausted out there. I can't really blame him, with the double duty he's been pulling as a top-line centre and top penalty killer so far this season.
People will say that it's the injury to Andrei Kostitsyn that's caused this little mini-slump for Plekanec, but I don't buy it. Plekanec had a different set of wingers every game at the start of the season, and he still managed to put points on the board. No, this is a case of a guy who is tired, plain and simple.
So if there is one person this four-day break in the schedule should benefit, I would think it would be him. But what will be the effect on the rest of the team, which is playing some of its best hockey right now?
“We can play with anyone when we’re all healthy," Gomez said. "It’s too bad we’ve got the week off with the way we’re playing, but at the same time guys will get refreshed.”
The Habs don't practice for two straight days and then get two days of practice before hosting the Dallas Stars on Thursday. That's four days for this city to stew over who will get the start in goal, four days to hypothesize and analyze this team to bits.
But as far as I can see, hitting that break coming off an effort like the one they put in against the Devils should benefit the Habs. Because if they had any doubts as to their ability to compete with the league's elite teams, those should be erased now.