The Canadiens Game in Review
Date: Tuesday October 16th, 2007
Opponent: Florida Panthers
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC
Final Score: 1-2 (SO) - Loss
Habs starting goalie: Cristobal Huet (SO)
Opposition starting goalie: Tomas Vokoun (W)
Habs goalscorers: Alexei Kovalev
Opposition goalscorers: Nathan Horton (Jozef Stumpel - SO)
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 Shootout of the season
1st Shootout loss
1st Game without a point for Koivu
1st Point for Hamrlik as a Hab
Play of the game
The play you're straining to see on the press catwalk monitor...
This was going to be simple. Choose a save from Huet's shutout performance. Nope can't do that. Then it was choose the overtime winner. Nope, foiled again. Okay, it will have to be the shootout, Koivu? Higgins? Nope. So it didn't leave me with much. Our one goal was good, was necessary, but was fairly routine.
Tonight the play of the game goes to the young Grabovski. It was his best play of the season and one of the more exciting moves I've seen from a Hab in awhile. First, he demonstrated his incredible acceleration and speed to race up the ice with the puck, beat a Panther, then a stop, (almost a spin-o-rama, Savard style) a quick spin and a low backhand shot that almost went 5-hole on Vokoun. Sure it wasn't a goal, but in a game that didn't offer much on the score sheet for us this was the play to see.
Trophies are for the end of the year, play well in the game, you get a lovely puck...
Tonight Higgins earns the puck for his relentless work in the Panthers' zone, especially around the net. He didn't get a goal, didn't set one up, but did he ever create and get a plethora of chances. Higgins is turning out to be one of the most complete players we have seen in recent years. With Ryder's goal scoring (not yet this year, but you can count those 5 games towards the 52 he will go without a goal) and Saku's playmaking that line could be good with just about any third player. With Higgins bringing so much in every game, at both ends, he is completing that line very nicely, making it one of the top units in the league.
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)...
- A goal, which was almost enough. Strong play offensively, especially with Plekanec and a solid defensive performance
- Demoted to the third line tonight meant he would see quite a bit less ice. He did, however, take advantage of his chances and had quite a few offensive outbursts. Worked well with Grabovski, but often looked like he could use another option, Kostopoulos is no offensive juggernaut
- Player of the game in every aspect. Getting scoring chances like I can't believe, eventually more will go in as long as he keeps it up
- What a skating game he had. He can bring the puck out of our end so fast and so convincingly that other players almost back away. Controlled the puck very well in both ends
- His low, hard shot resulted in our goal showing that he too has a shot, and he too can play the point on the PP, a good #44. Good in his own end again, uses his body so well to get the puck off the opposing team, saw that a lot tonight
- His team let him down, his coach let him down. The shutout was there to be had, but the buzzer came 10 seconds too late. Wasn't pummelled with shots tonight, (for a change) but made key saves when he had to, well all but once
Eyes on Kovalev
Did he flit and float? Someone ought to keep track...
Got into the right spots tonight. Always looked like he knew where the puck would be going and he got there just before the puck arrived. His goal looked routine, but most NHLers would not have scored it, he showed his great hands and patience to get it up over Vokoun. Got physically involved along the boards a little more tonight, a strength we often forget he possesses. Along with great hands he has great feet and tremendous strength when he has the puck.
Kovalev's Assessment - Good
Tonight is a game we should have won. Isn't that just the oldest cliche in sports though. If every team won every game that they should have won it would be tight to get into the playoffs with 130 points. Why did we lose tonight? It was our own fault, we didn't score when we should have and we took a penalty when we shouldn't have. Had that penalty been 2 minutes sooner it wouldn't have been 6 on 4 (they pulled Vokoun) it would have been 5 on 4 and we would have had a way better chance to kill it off. Maybe taking a penalty with 5 minutes to go is the way we should go about it rather than in the last 2. That way if they score we have a chance to get it back. The refs would even likely give us a power-play to even it up and on top of all of that the refs would probably, no matter what we did, not give us another one.
Other than not scoring the Habs played a great game. They were pressing all night in the offensive zone and had very few mistakes of their own. Huet saw a fair bit of action, mostly in the third, but never anything too threatening. The problem was, despite how well we played, we didn't score. We hit a hot goalie, again. That excuse just doesn't cut it with me. Every team has a goalie, every goalie has good games. Good teams find ways to beat good goalies, and we aren't doing that right now. I mean, come on, we aren't playing Hasek and Brodeur every night, we should be able to stop the odd guy from having a career night.
It was in the end Komisarek's penalty that ended up costing us. I usually don't like to pick one penalty as the one that killed us, since to me they are all useless and show a lack of effort or restraint. It is not the timing of Komi's penalty tonight that gets to me, inconvenient as it was, it is the manner in which he took it. All night it seemed like his main focus was to hit, disturb and get in the way of Zednik, often at the expense of his defensive duties. Former Hab or not you should never focus on one player, and that is what happened tonight. Eventually Zednik got the best of Komi and drew the game-deciding penalty. Komisarek has to careful of this, he often gets fixated on one target, whether it be Avery, Neil etc., and it will inevitably cost the team.
The worst part of the whole game tonight and most disheartening part has to be the player selection to kill off the last bit of the penalty at the end of the game. Carbo chose to have Markov, the only worth while choice, with Brisebois, Dandenault and Chipchura. Why Brisebois? He is such a liability back there, he made the 6 on 4 look like a 6 on 3 every time he lunged at and missed a player. Dandenault? We know that defensive forwards are just failed forwards, well then was is Dandenault? A failed forward and failed defenceman? Yes. Our best forward penalty killers all year have been Saku, Higgins, Kovalev, basically our best forwards, but no we went with the 'safe' approach. Then there is Chipchura. My feeling is a player with no experience shouldn't gain it at the most critical part of the game. Well at least now he has gained some experience, the experience of being part of the reason we lost.