Blackhawk doing full Monty
RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency
Steve Montador’s ability to contribute offensively for the Chicago Blackhawks shouldn’t come as a complete surprise.
Not to Calgary Flames fans.
Think back to May 2004, when Montador was the hero with his overtime winner to give the Flames the 4-3 victory in Game 1 of the Western Conference final.
It was a dandy goal, too, coming after the defenceman called for the pass from Jarome Iginla — banging his stick for the puck — and then, after getting the biscuit, cut toward the goal and put a snapshot past Evgeni Nabokov.
“I haven’t heard that story. I’ll ask him to hear it,” Chicago forward Patrick Sharp said. “I’ve been there, when pucks are going in, you want it on your stick.”
Montador, whose career high for goals in a season is eight coming in the 2007-08 season for the Florida Panthers, headed into Friday night’s clash with the Flames riding an incredible run, with four goals and six points in a four-game span.
It’s surprising to his teammates and the rest of the hockey world, but only because the 31-year-old blueliner hasn’t bothered to let anybody know about his prowess.
“You know me well enough. I’m not going to be pumping my own tires for no big reason,” Montador said after Friday’s morning skate.
He does deserve a moment in the sun.
Montador’s outburst has come in conjunction with the decision to put him on the powerplay, but not on the point.
He’s been playing havoc with opposing goalies by being parked in front of the net.
“Getting in some fortunate situations, where I haven’t had a lot of opportunity before,” said Montador, who’s been paired with Duncan Keith lately.
“I think that’s been part of the excitement — a new challenge and seeing the game from a different part of the rink — that’s been really fun for me.”
It helps that the Blackhawks are flying high these days.
Last season was a step back for the 2010 Stanley Cup champs, but they’re back where people expected: Atop the Western Conference standings.
Montador, who was acquired in the summer via trade from the Buffalo Sabres and promptly signed a four-year, US$11-million contract, struggled in the early going of the season, but he has fit into the team seamlessly.
Admittedly, he floundered under the weight of the big contract, but stepped back and realized he didn’t need to change his game because of the paycheques.
“When you look over my career, I don’t feel I was supposed to come in here and do anything I hadn’t done before. That’s reality,” Montador said. “I feel I’m taking advantage of an opportunity.”