Daily Hab-it: Habs turn it on in third thanks to MIA crew
By Arpon Basu
Published Friday, October 29, 2010 10:09PM EDT
Was that third period in Friday night's 3-1 win in Long Island a glimpse of what the Canadiens have been waiting all season to see?
First, Benoit Pouliot stays on his feet long enough to be left wide open on an odd-man rush triggered by a great Hail Mary pass from P.K. Subban and scored the go-ahead goal with a great wrister to the top corner.
You could ask, as I did, where that shot was Wednesday night when Pouliot had a penalty shot against the exact same goaltender, but that would be petty.
The goal was an important one not only because it gave the Canadiens a lead in a game it looked like they wanted to lose while sleep-walking through the second period, but also because it might give Pouliot some confidence.
And a confident Pouliot is an effective Pouliot. But prior to Friday night his confidence was at about zero.
Then, after a great final 20 minutes, the line of Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta and Travis Moen produced the insurance goal. It was a just reward for the three of them, because they were Montreal's best line in the third period and Jacques Martin is likely hoping that carries over into Saturday night's home game against the Florida Panthers.
But if I were him, I'd actually change that line.
I still believe Pouliot is the guy that needs to play there because with his talent, admittedly untapped at times, he is the ideal linemate for Gomez and Gionta. Assuming, of course, he can play with confidence and he's given some time to settle in on the line. Say, more than a period, or a couple of shifts for that matter.
So even though Moen was there when the line played at its best, perhaps all season, I would still put Pouliot there Saturday.
Speaking of that game, Andrei Markov will be back in the lineup and Carey Price will be back in goal after Alex Auld proved me wrong by shutting the door on the Islanders with 30 saves, including 11 in that woeful second period for the Habs.
But with Markov coming back, who does Martin sit?
Logic would dictate it would be Alexandre Picard even though he's been playing well of late, and a lot of people will look at the way Jaroslav Spacek has been fumbling pucks left and right as a reason to call for his exclusion from the lineup.
But consider this when trying to look into the mind of Martin: with the game on the line, Spacek played just over eight minutes in the third period Friday night, twice as much as Picard.
In my mind, it's a clear sign of who will be watching from the press box Saturday night (hint: he's not from the Czech Republic).