Andrei Kostitsyn has shot out of the starting gate like a bat out of hell, hes looking stronger than ever, more aware, and thank the lord he figured out "hmmm...if me shoot...me...score?" While most Habs fans -including myself- have been infuriated by Andrei Kostitsyn's play season after season, it may be safe to say Andrei Kostitsyn has finally found his groove. We can all agree that he has game-breaking ability, and that when he was drafted he was said to have the potential to be an 80 point 40 goal scorer. While it is premature to say he will net anything close to those numbers, we can say with certainty AK46 has 6 points in 7 games in the 2010-2011 NHL season.
Where is this coming from? What happened that could have sparked this great start to a season? While none of us could possibly be in Andrei Kostitsyn's head -nor could we understand what the hell he would be saying- we can take a few educated guesses as to what might have helped Andrei raise his game to the level we've seen so far.
First off, I think we can safely say with a big sigh of relief, that with the departure of Andrei's brother Sergei Kostitsyn ,a shadowy veil of negativity that had been surrounding the team ever since Sergei was called up from Hamilton, has been lifted. Whether Andrei spoke to his brother, and was consulting him through these dark times, is unknown, however it wouldn't be far fetched to say that this had caused some sort of a distraction. With Sergei gone, and a clean slate on a new season, Andrei can focus on what he does best, trying to speak some form of english -lets call it Russlish-, making nice dekes, passes, and finally shooting that puck like nobody's business.
Secondly, Andrei arrived to camp looking more buff than ever. He is currently playing some of the best hockey of his career, and it is not a stretch to say that his fitness level, and his current play go hand in hand.
Thirdly, Andrei's confidence level is at an all time high, and when you have a skilled russian with speed, and confidence to burn you better get out of the way. Players with Andrei's skill, speed, hockey IQ, and potential, are rare, and if they pan out and discover their confidence, their groove if you will, they are extremely dangerous to play against, and just when you think your goalie made a huge save, you realize the rebound that he gave up landed back into your own net, as Kostitsyn grins towards his teammates for a good ol Butt slap and a high five.
And Lastly, Kostitsyn is playing with Tomas Plekanec 2010 edition. Pleks has been showing us why he signed that 5 million dollar contract, and why he is our 1a center. When your number one center is playing with confidence you would think it would eventually rub off on his line mates, and we could hazard a guess to say that's whats happening with AK. He's playing with a line mate that has elevated his game to a whole new level, and Andrei has discovered that he is also capable of so much more. With Pleks becoming a silent leader by example, Andrei has stepped it up and is playing great hockey.
It could be argued that yes AK is in his final contract year, and wants to play hard for a contract, but there have been many players that have had god awful contract years, and had proven absolutely nothing, at least AK is starting to prove why he should stay.
While we can't predict how the season will pan out, or who will get injured, we can only hope that Andrei continues this pace as he is slowly solidifying his position as a top six forward, and while AK might have dry spells as he searches for consistency, at least we know for certain that Andrei Kostitsyn is capable of playing First Line minutes, of scoring 70 points if he were to be consistent, and is capable of being a game-breaking forward that Montreal has desperately been searching for.
Until next time!