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|5 января 2008 года.
Kostitsyns kick-start CH offence // Montreal The Gazette
Habs' brother act lights scoring fire
The hottest offensive player for the Canadiens during the past dozen games has been Andrei Kostitsyn. Heading into this afternoon's game against the Washington Capitals (12:30 p.m., RDS, CJAD Radio-800), Kostitsyn has three goals in the last two games and has scored 14 of his 22 points in the last 12 games.
And coach Guy Carbonneau said it might not be a coincidence that Andrei has stepped up his play since the Canadiens called up his younger brother, Sergei, from the Hamilton Bulldogs.
"I think there's probably a little rivalry there," Carbonneau said after practice yesterday. "I know if my brother was playing with me, I would want to do better (than him). I'm sure they play to see who buys dinner, does the cooking, washes the dishes." The Kostitsyns insist there is no sibling rivalry, but said there is a comfort level that comes with playing on the same team.
"I like playing with him," Sergei said. "He helps me sometimes, gives me ideas on how to play." When asked whether he gives Andrei a boost, Sergei said simply: "No, he's older." Carbonneau said Andrei's play on the top line with Alex Kovalev and Tomas Plekanec is no surprise. Andrei was drafted 10th overall in 2003.
"He's been in our organization for three or four years," Carbonneau said. "The last year and the year before that, you could see he had the talent, but the consistency wasn't there. Sometimes, it takes some time. The kids we have this year have shown some consistency right away, maybe not every night, but they've fit in." The Canadiens took a chance on the younger Kostitsyn. He was still available in the seventh round of the 2007 draft, but there are those who believe he could be better than his older brother. He had two successful years with the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League and started this season in Hamilton.
The younger Kostitsyn has been given some weighty responsibilities since joining the Canadiens, but he has responded with two goals and four assists in 10 games. Sergei has been playing on a line with Saku Koivu and Guillaume Latendresse and has also been playing the point on the power play.
"We decided to look at him there because he played there in London and they had a good power play," Carbonneau said of Sergei Kostitsyn. "He has really good hockey sense and he doesn't panic with the puck. He makes good hockey decisions. Obviously, there's always a dangerous situation when you put a forward on defence, especially because more teams will go on offence when they're killing penalties, but he's a good defensive player so the risk is not that high."
The younger Kostitsyn said he was worried when London coach Dale Hunter first put him on the point two years ago, but said he now feels comfortable.
The Canadiens will be hoping to build on their 6-3 home win over Tampa on Thursday night but Carbonneau warned his players about taking the Capitals too lightly.
"They're down there in the standings, but they've beaten
Ottawa twice," he noted.
In fact, the Capitals, who are coming off a 2-0 loss in Boston Thursday, are undefeated in Canada this season with two wins over Ottawa and one over Toronto.
The Capitals have a bona fide superstar in Alexander Ovechkin, while Nicklas Backstrom was named rookie of the month for December. They'll be facing rookie goaltender Carey Price. Cristobal Huet has started the last four games, but he skipped practice yesterday because he was under the weather.
"It's a similar to what Saku (Koivu) had last week, but it's not as bad," Carbonneau said. "We don't want to take any chances so we told him to stay home."
Canadiens rookie defenceman Ryan O'Byrne skated before practice yesterday. He's out until mid-February with a broken right thumb.