Meanwhile, Tremblay tried Damphousse at center on the second line, where left wing Benoit Brunet, who has never scored more than 10 goals in a season, responded with seven in eight games, six of which were set up by Damphousse. But Tremblay's most creative move was putting together what he dubbed the Smurf Line of 5'9" Saku Koivu, 5'10" Valeri Bure and 5'8" Oleg Petrov, which had four points against Boston. True, the Smurfs were manhandled by the Washington Capitals' best checkers in a 5-2 loss on Nov. 1, which ended Tremblay's record 6-0 start. As a result, he might have to put some muscle on the wing when the Canadiens are on the road and he doesn't have the last line change.
The team's offensive surge has coincided with the resuscitation of franchise goalie Patrick Roy and robust work by the defensive pairing of Peter Popovic and Patrice Brisebois: The 6'6" Popovic, a Swede, used to play as if he came to Canada as a conscientious objector, and no one calls Brisebois "Breeze-by" anymore. "Patrick's the biggest factor in the turnaround," Recchi said. "We feel we don't need four, five, six goals to win." After an amateurish .802 save percentage in his first four games this season, Roy finally cracked .900 after making 35 stops against Boston. "At the start of the year I had trouble breaking in new pads," said Roy, a two-time Stanley Cup MVP. "It gave me trouble here"—he pointed to his head—"and here"—he pointed to his legs.
The Canadiens have their legs now, skating rings around the Bruins as they did in Tremblay's day. The coach knows that bumps loom on this joyride, that sometimes the game will spin at 45 while he's working at 33?. But, so far, what's the big deal about coaching? Tremblay and assistant coaches Yvan Cournoyer, Steve Shutt and Jacques Laperri�re—all former teammates of Tremblay—have won 28 Stanley Cups among them. "That has to show up somewhere in what we do," Tremblay says. The Cup is awarded for hockey, not rocket science.