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01-11-2009, 12:10 PM
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Plekanec turns it on.

He had a rough start , he wasn't close to half the player he was last year for us. In a 82 game season , there are obviously ups and downs. Every player on the team had a cold streak at one point, and we are just half way into the season. Plekanec always had better stats after the christmas break, it's a fact. But this year , I was concerned about him. He clearly turned it on two weeks ago and a dramatic change in his game can be observed. In contrast to others , his cold streak lasted 3 months. Usually players in mtl would have a bad or a good season , and that was it. A player stepping up after the all star game was nearly impossible to see ... we've come a long way.

I can't say what the turning point was. Was it a kebab on st-catherine? A discussion with his aunt Gretchna ? No one knows , but he changed his mentality and the team certainly benefits from it.

What I want to adress is the winning culture that we are slowly building up with this team. Its one thing to have an individual like Plekanec who wakes up at the mid season mark, but in my opinion , the rest of the team should be given credit too. Players aren't dumb , they know just like we do that he half assed a good chunk of the season , but its the reaction the team had that made the difference.

I want to pay tribute to kids like pacioretty and Dago who filled in perfectly. But to me the big difference this year is the way players are stepping up and making the difference. This month , Andrei , Lapierre and Lang scored hat tricks. I can also single out a couple of moments where Begin , Kostopoulos , Latendresse and Sergei made the difference. With Koivu, Price , tangay and higgins away with injuries, what this team has accomplished shows the mental force and the confidence the team now has. Kovalev and Lang really stepped up as leaders and the return of Komi certainly helped.

when players on a winning team aren't performing up to the expectations, because of a lack of effort, they are singled out. The pressure builds up on them slowly , and eventually , they step back in line with the others. Latendresse is starting to fit as a 3rd liner with kosto and lapierre, which is the best example there is. Is latendresse a leader ? of course not. But the mentality that we are seeing today prevents him to coast for another season. You're either in or out of the boat, and players know that. We are not a sinking ship anymore. It makes us win games , but it also allows us to develop our youth in a strong winning/confident mentality.

I remember two years ago , When the team was going nowhere. One player at that time rose above all the others in my mind. He was an underdog , nobody really cared about him. He outplayed our best players and proved to be a phenomenal hockey player who led by example. His name was Thomas Plekanec. Good thing he's back.

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