Those who know me also know that I haven’t been very kind in the past towards the one who wears #46 for the Montreal Canadiens. I am one who likes a constant effort, a dedication to hard work and to the team, players who will give 100% at each and every presence on the ice. Unfortunately, Andrei didn’t spoil us in that aspect of his game since he finally managed to crack the Canadiens’ line-up.
There is no doubting his talent. He has the necessary speed, a hard shot, the physical abilities and some deceiving moves and he showed those skills in more than a few occasions, especially two years ago while he was part of a terrific line with Tomas Plekanec and Alex Kovalev. However, I often wondered if Kovalev’s work ethic didn’t have a negative effect on Kostitsyn, as he reminded me too often of a cheap version of Kovalev.
But since the start of this season, Andrei Kostitsyn is showing that his critics were right in saying that he could give more since that’s exactly what he’s doing. With Plekanec and Cammalleri, they are the Canadiens’ most dangerous line, creating scoring chances on almost every shift on the ice! We even saw him on great back checks from time to time, something we didn’t see much of over the years.
Did Jacques Martin finally get through to him, making him understand what’s expected of him? Is the fact that his brother was traded serve as a wake-up call that the same could happen to him if he doesn’t get his act together? Is the fact that he’s in the last year of his contract the reason for his much improved and inspired performances? Or did he simply find his game, becoming the player that the Canadiens picked in the first round in 2003, 10th overall?
It doesn’t really matter at this point as with such performances, it’s the team that benefits! We saw him go through such stretches in the past, only to get back to his old self and his bad habits. We can all hope that he can maintain this rhythm, this level of effort and production during the entire season this time around.
One thing is for sure: I wouldn’t want to be in Pierre Gauthier’s shoes when March approaches at the trade deadline, or in July, when it’s time to make a decision on Kostitsyn’s future with the Montreal Canadiens…