BOSTON — Montreal Canadiens defenseman Mike Komisarek remembers the feeling he left the TD Banknorth Garden with the last time his club visited the Hub. And he’s going to do all he can tonight to make sure there’s no repeat of it.
“The last memory you have of this building is obviously us losing and (me) getting hurt,” said Komisarek after his team’s morning skate in preparation for its showdown with the Boston Bruins. “And you always want to go out there and sort of erase that memory with a win.
“Boston’s playing really well. They’ve been one of the hottest teams in the league and they’ve been setting the pace in the conference. So when things are going well and you’re playing with confidence, you want to be challenged, you want to see how you measure up against some of the top teams. And we did that against Washington (Saturday) and have another big challenge against Boston tonight.”
The Bruins pounded the Habs, 6-1, Nov. 13. That night Komisarek departed the line-up and started a 16-game injury absence with an upper-body ailment widely believed to have been suffered in a fight with Bruins winger Milan Lucic. Komisarek returned to the line-up Dec. 18, and the Habs are 9-1-1 over that span — despite injuries to captain Saku Koivu, wingers Chris Higgins and Alex Tanguay, and goaltender Carey Price.
“We’re scoring goals, we’re playing well defensively and I think guys are playing with a lot of confidence,” Komisarek said. “We’ve had a lot of key injuries … and the young guys have come in and stepped in and they’re trying to make a name for themselves and contribute. We’ve seen it all year long, one guy goes down and someone else picks up the slack.”
The Montreal power play, the most lethal in the NHL the last two seasons, has enjoyed a resurgence as well. While still ranked just 24th in the league, the Habs’ man-advantage has scored six goals in 18 chances over the last three games.
“I think a change in attitude, maybe,” Montreal head coach Guy Carbonneau said when asked for a reason the PP has improved. “Just starting to realize that the cross passes are nice, the behind the net and controlling the puck for 25, 30 seconds makes it really cute, but it doesn’t give you anything. So we started to shoot the puck a little more and put more traffic in front of the net. And from there, once we got a few goals it opens up other options.”