Saturday, October 27, 2007

Game #10

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Saturday October 27th, 2007
Opponent: Pittsburgh Penguins
Venue: Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, PA

Team Stripes

Final Score: 4-3 - (SO) Win

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (W)
Opposition goalies: Marc-Andre Fleury, Dany Sabourin (L)

Habs goalscorers: Mathieu Dandenault, Andrei Markov (1, 1 - SO), Michael Ryder
Opposition goalscorers: Petr Sykora, Sidney Crosby, Ryan Whitney

2007/08 first
There's a first time for everything, so they say. What they didn't tell you is that every game, something happens for the first time, you just have to look harder in March...

1st Games on successive nights (yesterday, tonight - 2 wins)
1st Shootout win of the season
1st Shootout goal scored for the Habs
1st Shootout win in Price's career

Play of the game
The play you're straining to see on the press catwalk monitor...

Tonight wasn't a game filled with great plays, at least not for the Habs. Our goals in regulation were good, but nothing special. Price kept us in the game, but again nothing special. The best save that Price did make was after a brutal give away by himself, so I could hardly call that the play of the game.

The shootout, however, was a different story. Price made a few great saves against some really talented players and we scored a beaut on a surprisingly good goalie, or at least a goalie playing surprisingly well. Our 8th shooter, and 16th overall, was Markov, he skated in fast (often the key to shootout success) and beat Sabourin 5-hole on a sweet little move and sprinted to his bench yelling with enthusiasm, it was great to see.

Game puck
Trophies are for the end of the year, play well in the game, you get a lovely puck...

Carey Price

This was Price's best game in his young Hab career. After the Habs took the 3-0 lead the Pens started to play, and boy can they play. Carey took us all the way to the 59th minute with the win within our grasp, but successive penalties against us proved to be too much for the team and too much for Price. Obviously upset and feeling he had something to prove Carey stepped up huge in the shootout. He faced 8 shooters, but his imposing stature, which is even evident on TV, was too much for the likes of Crosby, Malkin, Gonchar, Recchi and co. who often missed the net or shot right at him. He got the best of the Pens on this night as he didn't let a single one by him in his first ever shootout. What a performance!

Dome hockey team
We're going into the last minute with these 6 (and they're attached to the ice, so they're not coming off)...


Mathieu Dandenault
- Well I guess this confirms it, he is a forward. Tonight he scored his 3rd of the year, his first good one, to put him on pace for over 20. He also had a very strong game defensively, not shockingly, giving our PK and forecheck game some good speed and energy all night

Michael Ryder
- His goal turned out to be crucial. It did seem to give Pittsburgh their spark, but I think they would have gotten that eventually, thus we needed at least 3 to take it to OT. Played well with Saku tonight showing more creativity than the past few games, also played decent in our own end

Saku Koivu
- Time and time again tonight he stole the puck and seemed to make things happen in the offensive zone. He played 23:49 tonight which is quite remarkable considering we played last night. Although he had 2 points last night tonight was a far superior game for the skipper, he ran the show in both ends


Andrei Markov
- A goal and another one in the shootout on a night where defensively he didn't seem to stand out. Mind you he played against Crosby all night, played 29+ minutes and was +1, not bad on an off night

Francis Bouillon
- May not have gotten on to the scoresheet tonight, but that is not what he is here for. He is here for precisely what he did in this game, block shots, throw big hits and strip the opposing forwards of the puck. Our best defensive defenceman tonight, in one of his best games of the season


Carey Price
- A mediocre 65 minutes, but what a shootout. He looked like any rookie back-up would during regulation, but in the shootout he looked like the player we all hope he is going to be

Eyes on Kovalev
Did he flit and float? Someone ought to keep track...

Kovalev showed a few signs of being tired tonight after a game, flight and possible celebration last night. His first period was fine and by the end of the third he was back to normal, doing his thing. It was during maybe a half hour period that he looked slower than usual, making a few careless and lazy plays. One of these lazy plays was his hit on Malkin which resulted in a penalty and Pittsburgh's first goal. Until that time we had looked like we were in complete control. Luckily with about 10 to go in the 3rd he was back to skating around people and giving us some serious chances. In overtime he was our best player, as the Habs almost ended it a couple of times on the 4 on 3.

Kovalev's Assessment - Good

Overall Comments

This was maybe a game that we shouldn't have won that we did. The Penguins were flying after the 1st intermission and it seemed like our team did just enough to limit them to 3 goals. Their switch of Sabourin for Fleury, making that the second time in 2 nights that we have chased a goalie out of the game, seemed to give them new life, but luckily those 3 goals would suffice. It was then Price who stole the show and essentially got us the win, with a little help from Markov of course.

This marked the first time of the season that we played back-to-back games, something we'll have to do 10 more times, for a total of 22 games, this season. Last year we played 15 back-to-back series and never swept one. We won a measly 10 of those 30 games last year, a huge reason why we missed the playoffs. Our goal this year should be to win half, 11, of these games especially the ones at home. It was obvious that tonight we were tired after a the big game yesterday. We started strong, but come halfway our legs fell off and we did all we could to hold on. Pittsburgh had the luxury of not playing last night and of being on home ice, but it wasn't enough for them this time. This is a very good sign for the Habs, they battled hard and took the 2 points, giving them 4 points in Pittsburgh this season. This seems to be a changed team from last year with a new, harder-wroking attitude which pays off in games and situations like these.

10 games into the season and we are looking good. We have 14 points, one more than after 10 last year, which was considered a lightning start, with 9 of those points coming from 6 road games. This week was a tough one with 1 home game and 2 away games against a couple of pretty good teams, but we got all 6 points to put us on a nice, little 4 game winning-streak. The question now is, can we do what we have failed to do ever since the lockout? Take a good start and turn it into a good season.

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