It was after the 3-2 shootout win over Carolina at the Bell Centre Tuesday night that Alex Kovalev said the the current Canadiens are not playing the same kind of hockey that the 2007-2008 edition of this club finished the season with, last year.

It’s a refrain that was still ringing in the visitors locker room after the Habs escaped the Xcel Energy Center last night with a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild.  Despite another listless performance by the forwards, except for Alex Tanguay’s two-assist night, the Canadiens were able to steal two points to move their record to 7-1-and-1, thanks to Carey Price’s 28-save performance, and the magnificent work of the Habs‘ penalty-kill unit, which shut down 10, count ’em, 10 Minnesota power play opportunities.

Up next: the Islanders tomorrow night on Long Island.

Happy Birthday Tomas Plekanec.

Plekanec celebrated his 26th birthday a day early with the Habs‘ win over the Wild.  But I’m sure the native of Kladno, Czech Republic, isn’t in much of a party mood today.  Plekanec can’t buy a goal this season, with one empty-netter to his credit.  And so far this season, Montreal’s most effective unit of one year ago, PlekanecKovalev-and-Andrei Kostitsyn, has been missing in action.

How exactly is it that the Canadiens have managed to win seven of their first nine games while their number one line sputters?  And their power play falters?  And their defence struggles?  The Canadiens need to ensure that the law of averages doesn’t catch up to them, before they find answers to those questions.

I’d like to see the Canadiens lock up Team Captain Saku Koivu with the same kind of deal that the Ottawa Senators came up with to secure the services of their captain, Daniel Alfredsson, to a long-term.  The Sens have signed Alfredsson to a four-year deal worth in the neighbourhood of $20 million; which will keep the Swede in an Ottawa uniform until he’s 40.

Sure, as Koivu admitted prior to last night’s game in Minnesota, it would be fun to play on the same NHL team with brother Mikko, a member of the Minnesota Wild.  Koivu was answering a hypothetical question, of course.  However, if in his heart of hearts, Saku would really like to make that a reality as he winds down his inspirational career, more power to him.  However, Koivu is a Hab. He’s been a Hab for life.  And I hope he gets an opportunity to retire as a Hab, when The Captain and The General Manager sit down and talk contract at the end of the season.

Where’s Pavel?

In Russia, where he’s said to be attending to personal matters.  Apparently, he’s also taken the opportunity to sign a three-year contract with the Moscow Dynamo, according to that team’s web site.

As of late last week, Valentenko had apparently told the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs that he would return to the team after taking care of some family issues in Russia.  At the time, Valentenko apparently gave no indication that he was going back to Russia, to play hockey.

Head Coach Guy Carbonneau says although the Canadiens didn’t have room for Valentenko on the roster short term, he was in the mix with the other young defencemen in the organization, like Ryan McDonough, Yannick Weber and PK Subban.

In fact, it was in the opening days of training camp this season that Canadiens’ Director of Player Development, Trevor Timmins, told me that Valentenko was perhaps the type of player who could find himself in a Montreal uniform at some point this season, if the Habs found themselves in need of a player “like that.” In other words: a stay-at-home type with a big, physical presence.   Said Timmins at the time:  “He’s close to being NHL ready.”

Not any more, if you believe what you read on the Moscow Dynamo web site.

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