MONTREAL - With six left wingers already penciled into the Habs’ lineup for 2009-10, Jacques Martin will have an embarrassment of riches at his disposal. When it comes to lighting the lamp from the left side, though, Andrei Kostitsyn has become the gold standard.
In 2007-08, his first full season in Montreal, Kostitsyn made up one-third of the team’s top trio, joining fellow talents Tomas Plekanec
and Alex Kovalev.
Last year, despite a slight dip in ice time, the Belarusian still managed to close out the calendar with 41 points. Cementing his status as a bona fide sniper, the elder Kostitstyn brother potted 23 goals – just three short of Kovy for the team lead. Coming off his sophomore campaign with two-straight 20-plus goal seasons in his back pocket, the 24-year-old will be looking to three-peat in 2009-10.
Posting two 20-goal seasons before his 25th birthday also puts Kostitysn in elite company, joining just six other players who have accomplish the feat in the past 20 years.
|No time to waste |
Andrei Kostitsyn is one of a precious few Habs over the last 20 years to have posted a pair of 20-plus goal seasons before turning 25.
|Shayne Corson ||3 |
|Stephane Richer ||3 |
|Stephan Lebeau ||3 |
|Christopher Higgins ||3 |
|Andrei Kostitsyn ||2 |
|Russ Courtnall ||2 |
|Gilbert Dionne ||2 |
Kostitsyn’s 41 points landed him fourth in team scoring, tied with Alex Tanguay on the Habs’ points leaderboard. Ringing in the New Year in style, the Novopolotsk, Belarus native helped his cause with a particularly productive January. Not only did Kostitsyn lead the team in goals during the month, he also notched five powerplay markers in that time. During a seven game point streak in January, the sharpshooter picked up 11 points.
Another first for Kostitsyn last season was the Belarusian sniper’s first career NHL hat trick. His big night came in Pittsburgh when he accounted for all of the scoring in a 3-2 win over Sidney Crosby and the eventual Stanley Cup champion Penguins back on Dec. 27.
During the Olympic break, all signs point to a little family bonding for Andrei and his little brother Sergei as the siblings gear up to launch the Belarusian attack at the Olympic Games in Vancouver this February. The Kostitsyn boys did after all represent their homeland at the 2005, 2006 and 2008 World Hockey Championships. These winter games will mark a first for the Kostitsyns who did not make the trip to Turin back in 2006.
After showing signs of his firepower over the past two seasons, the elder Kostitsyn may have only scratched the surface of his vast potential. The opposition may have to find that out the hard way in 2009-10. Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com
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