Last night, the Montreal Canadiens came up with a gem.
They dominated the Philadelphia Flyers in every aspect of the game. Speed, grit, hitting, fighting, goaltending, shooting, everything related to playing hockey.
Sure this Flyer sans Gagné team was a depleted version of the squad that has steered the sharpest turn out of mediocrity the NHL has seen this season to lead the Atlantic division. From worst to first, the Flyers came to Montreal under these headings.
But Montreal came prepared last night. Still sore from the Briere incident, the players needed to show Danny Boy that he erred in his assessment of Montreal's chances this year. And what resulted was the most convincing team effort this team has come up with this year and maybe in years.
They were swift coming out of their zone, with a defense corps lead by Hamrlik delivering perfect passes to the forwards all night. In this relay, these forwards carried the baton with creativity and purpose into the offensive zone. That means speed and skill.
Briere was booed thoroughly by the Montreal fans every time he hopped over the boards. They too have not forgotten and joined with the team in delivering a very special message to the now demonized once-was hero: you were wrong.
In this sound spanking, Montreal outshot Philadelphia 41-18 and they did so with balance, distributing their dominating ways evenly across the 3 periods. They played well with the lead, coming on stronger and stronger as the game wore on.
It's as good is it gets for this team. This is the Montreal Canadiens at their best. They definitely won't do it every night, but when they do produce a jewel of an effort such as yesterday's game, leave the skepticism and devil's advocate impulses be. Enjoy it.