Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Life Without Markov Part 3, Chapter 1

As statement wins go, it doesn't get much bolder than the message the Canadiens delivered last night at the Bell Center. Within hours of confirming that blue line anchor Andrei Markov is lost for the long term with another serious injury to his surgically repaired right knee, the Habs shut out the Philadelphia Flyers - last year's Stanley Cup runners-up and the team that's dispatched Montreal from the playoffs in two of the past three seasons. It didn't hurt that the Flyers were playing their second game in as many nights, but they came to town on a serious roll with nine wins and an overtime loss in their last 10 games. No matter. Carey Price logged his second shutout in four games and the Canadiens continued to demonstrate the collective work ethic that's carried them to the top of their division and the number three slot in the conference and league standings, behind only Washington and Philadelphia. Losing Markov is a blow, but it's not like Washington losing Alex Ovechkin or Pittsburgh losing Sidney Crosby. The Canadiens identity isn't wrapped up in one player, or if it is, that player right now is Price and not Markov, and as long as Price remains healthy and the rest of the team continues to buy into what Jacques Martin is selling as a system, there's no reason to think they can't compete successfully against the NHL elite. It was only one game in mid-November, but in the one-game-at-a-time, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of professional sports, last night was as good as it gets.

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