Brother combinations have, for some inexplicable reason, been significant contributors to the Montreal Canadiens’ success throughout their illustrious history.
There have been 13 of these brother combos for the Habs altogether, including Maurice and Henri Richard and Frank and Pete Mahovlich, who were shining stars during the franchise’s halcyon years several decades ago.
Now there’s Andrei Kostitsyn and his little bro Sergei, a couple taciturn left-wingers from Belarus.
Granted, the Kostitsyns have a long way to go before they can be legitimately compared to the aforementioned brother pairs, but let’s not underestimate the role these two have played in the Canadiens’ resurgence this season.
Last night in Montreal, as the Canadiens dominated the Boston Bruins en route to a 4-1 victory in the lid-lifter of their first-round playoff series, the Kostitsyns set the stage in notable fashion.
Sergei scored an unassisted goal 34 seconds after the opening faceoff. Andrei nudged the Habs ahead 2-0 with his own tally at 2:02 of the first period.
The Bruins, who were manhandled by the Canadiens in the regular season, were demoralized quickly in this one, thanks to the Kostitsyns’ goals.
Oh, the Bruins tried to bounce back, and even scored in the first period to narrow the gap to 2-1, but it was basically all Montreal after the Kostitsyns’ one-two barrage.
And it served as another reminder that, if any Canadian team has a decent shot at this year’s Stanley Cup, it’s the Montrealers.
“We have four pretty good lines,” said Bryan Smolinski, who notched Montreal’s third goal. “We had a balanced effort and that’s what we look forward to again (in the series’ second game tomorrow night).”
It was the ninth time in nine meetings this season that the Canadiens defeated Boston. The Habs outscored the Bruins 39-16 in winning all eight of their regular-season tilts.
The Kostitsyns, while shying away from the media, made names for themselves as reliable forwards during some of those games. Andrei, 23, collected 53 points in 78 games, including 26 goals and five against Boston. Sergei, 21, had 27 points in 52 games.
We really don’t know much about them since they won’t do interviews, and neither do the other Montreal players, although they’ll tell you they’re decent dudes.
“They’re quiet guys,” right-winger Michael Ryder said. “But they’re fun to be around. And they’re good players.”
And they fit right in with the Canadiens’ run-and-gun attack.
Last night, the Habs buzzed around and peppered Boston goaltender Tim Thomas with 32 shots. The Bruins, on the other hand, could muster only 18 shots against rookie goalie Carey Price.
This series is, simply, a mismatch. You can’t help but sense a sweep.
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