“Troubled,” they said. “Disappointing,” too. And “unhappy.” “Disgruntled,” as well. “Unwilling” got tossed around. And those are some of the tamer adjectives that were applied to Guillaume Latendresse during and then immediately after his time in Montreal.
So when Bob Gainey traded him to Minnesota for another troubled, disappointing, unhappy, disgruntled, unwilling former highly-regarded pick in Benoit Pouliot (presumably because his name sounds French-Canadian and that should keep the vultures from picking at the slowly-dying body that is Gainey’s remaining time with the Canadiens), there was.. well I guess to say there was rejoicing is overstating things. But there was a general agreement that this was a trade that had to be made even if the return was uninspiring.
And while Pouliot has yet to play for his new club, which was so badly embarrassed by Toronto(?!) last night that Kyle Chipchura got traded immediately thereafter as though that would do anything for the Habs, tonight was just Latendresse’s third game with the Wild, so I imagine there was a bit of curiosity in both cities as to how the kid, who has never come close to living up to the high standards placed upon him by the Montreal press, would do.
How’s “best player on the ice” sound?
I obviously don’t know what it was that made Latendresse instantly go, “Y’know I better start playing my ass off now,” but whatever it was I’m sure everyone’s fine with it.
He had a goal late in the first period that he himself created by picking off a Shea Weber pass in the neutral zone, outbattled Marcel Goc for the loose puck, went around Weber to get a pass to Kyle Brodziak, who then returned it after he had drawn Pekka Rinne from the crease, and all Latendresse had to do was get to space and put it in 24 square feet of wide open net.
Even prior to that point, by the way, he had already produced a number of turnovers (though he was only credited with one takeaway, and that makes me wonder just who decides these things and whether or not they actually watch these games). And this was a kid the Habs ran out of town on a rail, all but saying he wasn’t good enough to play in Montreal.
And even after the goal, he wasn’t satisfied. He still played the game at a torrid pace, taking over every time he hopped over the boards. Oh yeah, and he assisted on the overtime game-winner, as other-new-guy Andrew Ebbett popped in a loose puck after he was stuffed on a wraparound try then hit the post with the rebound, all after he had won a 50-50 puck against Weber again.
He ended his oustanding night with with a goal, the primary assist on the game-winner (adding 67 percent to his season point total in the process), seven attempted shots — two of which hit the post! — two hits and a takeaway. And probably a smug sense of self-satisfaction that he got to stuff it down Gainey’s throat.
I bet that’s the part that feels the best.
Boston 4, Tampa Bay 1
Patrice Bergeron is like a ninja or something. You sleep on him for like a week and a half because he doesn’t get any points ever, then all of a sudden he goes and has a night like tonight. Hard-working goal, two primary assists, no biggie. He’s got 21 points in 27 games, but 11 of those have come in four games, which is a little too Ericstaalsy for my taste.
Vancouver 5, New Jersey 2
Free tip: do not under any circumstance spot Roberto Luongo a three-goal lead to sit on. You can try with your two little goals in just under four minutes at the end of the first period, but Bobby Lou ain’t going to blow three-goal leads all that often. Just won’t happen.
Florida 6, Colorado 5 (SO)
Keith Ballard is clearly out to kill a goalie this week. Inside a minute to go, he straight-up drilled Craig Anderson (who gave up five on 44 shots tonight). But hey, Florida won in a shootout against Petr Budaj — no shock — so I guess good work Ballard! Alright!