I thought the loss of Sheldon Souray to Edmonton this past season was supposed to cripple the Canadiens' power play. Apparently, that wasn't the case, as the Habs have the second-best extra man unit in hockey and are clicking at a higher frequency than last year's top-ranked unit did.
That power-play efficiency (they have scored the second-most power-play goals in the League while giving up the second-fewest shorties) has made up for a poor penalty kill and a bad five-on-five ratio and has left Montreal with a 16-12-5 mark, good for sixth in the Eastern Conference.
The Habs have been a better team on the road (10-5-1) than at home (6-7-4), but haven't won in Washington on a Thursday since October 31, 1974 (take that, Elias Sports Bureau!), and traditionally have had a tough time around the holidays (thanks to ephperson for the link).
Alex Ovechkin has often said that the Habs' Andrei Markov is one of if not the toughest defenseman in the League for him to play against and the stats reflect that - there's no team in the Eastern Conference against whom AO has fewer goals (2) in his career than Montreal. But even if #8 doesn't solve #79 tonight, the Caps have shown recently that they have enough scoring depth to win. Let's hope that trend continues Thursday night at the VC.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
On this date in 1981, Lou Franceschetti's first NHL goal proved to be a game-winner for the Caps in a 3-2 win over the Rangers.... Down on the farm, Derek Meluzio has a holiday-themed Q&A with Freddy Cassivi.... Vote Weagle.... Finally, Happy Birthday to former Cap Bill Clement, Clement Hands of Cement who turns 57 today but will never look as good as he did in this brilliant hockey card.
And now, your goofy picture of the day (with corresponding "must read" article, in case you missed it):
Update: Here's the video. Fantastic stuff.
- Hart: Ryan Miller (W, 41 saves on 42 shots against)
- Ross: Niklas Kronwall (4 points)
- Norris: Niklas Kronwall (4A, +3, 2 SOG)
- Vezina: Ryan Miller (W, 41 saves on 42 shots against)
- Richard: Patrick Sharp, Robert Lang (2G each)
- Calder: Jonathan Toews (Short-handed A, +1, 63% faceoffs won)
- Aiken: Chris Mason (2 goals allowed on 2 shots against in just 5:23 of work)