Friday, October 19, 2007

Game #6

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Thursday October 18th, 2007
Opponent: Ottawa Senators
Venue: Scotiabank Place, Kanata, ON

Team Stripes

Final Score: 3-4 - Loss

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Martin Gerber (W)

Habs goalscorers: Guillaume Latendresse, Michael Ryder, Alexei Kovalev
Opposition goalscorers: Wade Redden, Nick Foligno, Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza

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 Goals for Latendresse, Ryder
1st Point for Kostopoulos as a Hab
1st Point for Latendresse this season, or ever in October
1st Loss for Price
1st Game without getting a point on the road

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

2 of our goals were nice, one was pretty sloppy, lucky, but appreciated. There weren't too many spectacular defensive plays, just a lot of solid, responsible play. Saves? A lot of good ones. Despite letting in 4 goals Price actually looked pretty good, coming up with many key and spectacular saves. Letting in 4 won't get this team too many wins, but remember this was only his second game.

The play of the game goes to a player we were all waiting for to breakout, Michael Ryder. His goal itself wasn't anything too special, but it was the play leading to the goal as well as the timing of it that was the key. The Habs were down by 2 in the 2nd at the time and in need of a lift to maybe give us a chance of winning the game. In came Ryder with a brilliant move around a Senator which turned into a goal-mouth scramble and eventually a goal for him. Ryder showed us all his stickhandling skills and then did what he does best, collect the garbage on the PP.

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

Alexei Kovalev

No Hab dominated tonight, it was a solid team effort, a game we were in right to the end, but as a group we came up a bit short. Kovalev played very well again in both ends and was, as most night he should be, our best player. His goal was timely and quite crafty. I have to give credit to Breezer on the goal as it did show us his decent vision from the point. (When the puck is on his tape, there is no one around to beat him and we have an extra man - to compensate - on the ice)

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)...


Alexei Kovalev
- Our best player tonight. Gave us hope, until Kostopoulos took that away, in a game that could have been really one-sided. Strong defensive presence tonight, will hopefully lead to more PK time

Michael Ryder
- Had his best game of the season. Quite a few rushes/plays with his linemates that made you remember what he is all about. His first of the year topped off a good night for him

Saku Koivu
- Defensively he is a changed player from last year, basically back to his old self. He is reliable in his own end, even bailed out Breezer at a crucial moment by Price's net. Led the attack tonight and used his linemates so well. This line is the real deal, night in, night out


Andrei Markov
- Not much out of the ordinary for Markov. A solid defensive game, now paired with #71, he had to be even more alert. A few good offensive moments, especially on the PP

Roman Hamrlik
- Looked imposing back there. A force we have lacked the past few years, a big, responsible, offensively and defensively gifted blueliner. Took control a lot in the neutral zone tonight enabling a lot of puck possession going into the Sens' zone


Carey Price
- Maybe not as good as last game, but still solid. Is he going to get 40 shutouts a year? Nope, not this year at least. Is he the best player the Habs have ever drafted? Come on. Is he our number 1? Not now, not this year. Is he going to be a good goalie and give the Habs a chance to win every game? Yes, already is and already does

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

All season Kovalev has been our go to guy, in fact, since we traded Balej (what a steal) for him he has been our go to guy. Tonight was no different. What I liked tonight, and most of this season, more than the past 2, is the defensive coverage he is providing. He is so strong on and off the puck, that getting control of the puck or the situation in our own end is almost assured. It is nice to see that when he is on the ice he can be trusted in both ends. He actually out performs half our defence corps in our own end on most nights.

Kovalev's Assessment - Good

Overall Comments

A one goal game, on the road, to the best team in the conference is not that bad at all. Eventually, though, we will have to beat this team if we ever want to go anywhere, even on the road. Scoring 3 goals against them, however, is encouraging, getting over 30 shots, again, is encouraging, knowing that we were one goal away with our back-up in tells me that eventually we will get to them, which again makes me confident for this year.

The game can be summed up by a few mistakes that we made that cost us goals #3, 4.

If you ever wanted to know what Topham is talking about in his Brisebois posts you have to look no further than goal #3. 71 was pushed down in the neutral by Heatley who then got an outlet pass, went in alone and beat Price. Was this play by Dany against the rules? Yes, I would never argue that. Did he do it when the refs weren't looking, thus making a great play? Absolutely. This is the bending of the rules that I am suggesting the Habs get into. Because as we saw with Toronto, and now Ottawa, playing cleaner than the other team generally means: the same amount of penalties against and a loss at the end of the day. My main beef with this play isn't what Heatley did, although it was frustrating, it was seeing Breezer's reaction to this. Not only did the man of glass get so easily knocked over, but he then so calmly got up, looked at the refs and skated 1/2 speed back towards Heatley. Too late. After Heatley scored Brisebois threw his hands up in the air, the very play Topham has been talking about, as if to say 'thanks a lot Price, the least you could have done was make a save' or maybe 'ref, he pushed me...and it hurt' or maybe even 'If I get blamed for this I swear I'll be pissed'. In his post-game comments there was nothing about how he could have helped the Habs win, nothing about the direction of the team or the game on a whole. Nope, it was all me, me, me...poor me. I got tripped, stupid refs. This goal wasn't the game winner, we had 27 more minutes to play, to try and win. In Brisebois' head, however, the game was over, it was - 'get me a microphone and a box of Kleenex'.

The second disgraceful play of the night was Kostopoulos' tape to tape pass to Alfie which led to the game-winner, goal #4. This couldn't have happened at a worse time, we had just tied it up, had all the momentum, and for some reason he was on the ice again. To me this is just more proof that a 4th liner from the 3rd worst team in the NHL last year shouldn't be playing for us, playing everything game mind you and on top of it all on the 3rd line.

The result to me isn't that bad, we just have to make sure we win a few games now to stay up there. One thing that has to addressed, however, are our lines. If you think of good teams you think of lines, or even duos, that are always together, never separated. Spezza-Heatley-Alfredsson, Sakic-Hejduk, Cheechoo-Thornton, Sedin-Sedin etc. With us who is it? Kovalev-Kostitsyn, Kovalev-Smolinski, Plekanec-Begin??? Beyond our top line, which has stayed in tact for a record 6 games, we have no defined lines. How are players expected to improve, to learn to play together when every game, every shift they are playing with different people. I have no problem with Latendresses at all, but scoring a softy from behind the goal-line tonight shouldn't mean up you go, sorry Andrei, Mikhail. If Latendresse is going to be on our 2nd line, put him there, keep him there. If Smolinski is a 2nd line winger give him that chance, for a full game, if he is a 4th line centre find him some permanent wingers. I feel all of the switching and confusion is costing us in the end. Afterall, when Carbo changes the lines in the last 10 minutes, of every game, how often do we actually come back and take the win? Not yet this year. I want to see consistent performances from the Habs, I want to see consistent winning, I think this requires Carbo to show us some consistent coaching.

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