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Under the Radar

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL – Start hitting as hard as you shoot – such was the mandate handed down to Andrei Kostitsyn in his most recent NHL campaign.

In his fifth season in the league and his second under Canadiens’ head-coach Jacques Martin, Kostitsyn found himself called upon to take his game to another level. Following a receptive one-on-one mid-season meeting with Martin, the Belarusian forward was saddled with a clear directive by his coach: continue to make use of his speed and shot while also using his 6-foot, 214 lbs frame to establish himself as one of the Habs’ most imposing physical presences on the ice.

Check out Kostitsyn's goals
The result? Without drawing much attention to the fact, Kostitsyn managed to dish out a total of 140 hits over the course of the 2010-11 season, eclipsing Travis Moen’s 129 checks, for the most of any player on the Canadiens’ roster.

En route to upping his physical game, the Habs’ 2003 first-round draft pick also found time to surpass the 20 goal mark for the third time in his last four seasons, with only Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta lighting the lamp more times in 2010-11. Kostitsyn’s only year registering less than 20 markers came in 2009-10 when he recorded 15 goals after being sidelined by injuries that kept him out of action for 23 games.

Kostitsyn wrapped up his first full season since the departure of his brother, Sergei by setting a few new personal records for himself by playing in 81 games and racking up six game-winning goals along the way – a team high he would share with captain Brian Gionta.

The 26-year-old, whose three-season contract with the Canadiens expires this summer to make him a restricted free-agent, also added 25 assists to his 2010-11 tally, finishing the campaign with a total of 45 points. His latest numbers rank AK46’s recent season as the second most productive of his career, trailing only 2008-09 in which he amassed 53 points, spending the full season on a line with Plekanec and Alex Kovalev.

The lack of steady linemates this time around certainly didn’t stop Kostitsyn from answering the call.

Alexandre Harvey is a writer for Translated by Justin Fragapane.

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