The Canadiens Game in Review
Date: Saturday November 3rd, 2007
Opponent: Toronto Maple Leafs
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC
Final Score: 2-3 - Loss
Habs starting goalie: Cristobal Huet (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Vesa Toskala (W)
Habs goalscorers: Mike Komisarek, Christopher Higgins
Opposition goalscorers: Tomas Kaberle, Mats Sundin, Matt Stajan
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 Home game against the Leafs this season
1st Goal of the season for Komisarek
1st Multiple Point night for Smolinski as a Hab
Play of the game
The play you're straining to see on the press catwalk monitor...
We were treated to a good old-fashion Leafs-Habs game tonight, so old-fashioned that they played without refs. The tempo was high all game, but there weren't too many plays that stood out. Offensively we were OK, defensively not great and Huet played his usual game, but looked soft at the end.
I am going to go in a different direction tonight for the play of the game. It was an open-ice bodycheck thrown by Andrei Kostitsyn in the 2nd period. Kostitsyn came out of nowhere to hit an already marked man and force a turn over. The hit generated an odd-man rush going the other way, a play on which the Habs almost scored. What made this great wasn't just that the skilled Kostitsyn was making a hit, but that someone, anyone on the Habs was making an open-ice hit. This is something that I hope we see more of. Generally, knocking a player down and stealing the puck is good thing and it will often lead to a scoring chance.
Trophies are for the end of the year, play well in the game, you get a lovely puck...
Higgins played a great game tonight and was rewarded with the go ahead goal in the 2nd, unfortunately it wasn't enough. Tonight Higgins looked so good and so much better than his linemates, who too played OK, that it meant a relegation for Ryder to the 4th line. It seems that against the Leafs no one has to tell Higgins to get pumped up, the problem remains we aren't getting the wins in those games.
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)...
- Tonight he played a great game in the offensive zone and made the 3rd line look threatening most of the night. Anytime he plays well offensively he is almost a lock to get in the dome as his defensive play (for a winger) is always way above average
- Again Higgins played excellent against Toronto, but again we came out empty-handed. Higgins just has to keep doing what he is doing against this team and hopefully his teammates will follow him
- This guy can really do it all. He his so solid defensively most nights, as he was tonight, and can show flashes of greatness in the other team's end. Tonight he was our best defensive centre and led the attack with 2 points. Of course none of this should come as a surprise, he is after all a former 30-goal scorer and attended the best hockey school in the world - The Ottawa Senator Hockey Academy
- Turning out to be a given as a top 2 defenceman this year. To me that is very exciting considering we have Hamrlik and Streit that are also #2s or 3s. He scored a nice goal in the 1st to tie it up by just 'throwing it at the net'. Like Dandenault, when Mike adds offence he becomes a very valuable player
- Another very solid game for him and his partner in both ends. Markov didn't see much power-play time as the refs forgot their whistles at home, but made it count when he did. A great bit of passing on the 5 on 3 (4 of Toronto's 6 PIM all night) led to the second goal
- He definitely didn't have his best game of the year tonight, but considering that he only let in 3 that's a good thing. At some point I am sure he will steal a game or two for us, but we have yet to really see that this year. The thing that is most remarkable is that he never seems to blow games for us. I can't remember the last time we weren't in a game. Tonight, like every other night he made most of the saves and gave the team a legitimate chance to win. Nothing spectacular and nothing disastrous (well nothing disastrous that led to a goal)
Eyes on Kovalev
Did he flit and float? Someone ought to keep track...
Kovalev had a good game, but tonight he didn't get as involved as usual. I feel there were two main reasons for this. The first we just never got on the power-play. We all know that Alex is his best on the PP, proving he is a better PP quarterback than Souray so far. The second reason was that his line mates didn't really show up tonight. Plekanec played better than Latendresse, but nowhere near as well as he can. Guillaume tonight proved yet again that skating is a huge challenge for him and he just can't keep up. At times this really costs that line and the team. I would like you to find me another player in the league, regarded as his team's best, playing with a player who lacks the skills and speed to play at this level and really has no place in this league. That might be hard as you may not find many other teams that hold onto players for the sole reason that he is from that neighborhood. As long as Latendresse plays with Kovalev it will make Gui look way better than he is (which is a scary thought - how bad is this this guy actually?) and it will slow Alex down, making him have the odd off night where he just couldn't keep doing it by himself.
Kovalev's Assessment - Good
Well we got my wish, no OT. I didn't mean it like that though. Tonight the Leafs proved yet again that when the refs decide not to call any penalties the team that cheats the most will likely win. This is something that I can't stand about the Leafs. They seem to win games they have no business winning. That being said, what are we waiting for. As I have said before, why don't we cheat too. This style of play has gotten the Leafs so many undeserved points over the years that clearly they are onto something. Right before Toronto's 3rd goal, and all period mind you, the Leafs were tripping us, hooking us, cross-checking us, and nope, there was never a call. The sad thing is that the referees don't want to be the deciding factor in a game. They don't want to hand out a power-play to either team in the 3rd while it is tied as a PP could very well determine the game's fate. Unfortunately this backward logic is flawed and always has been. Because what happens when someone trips you, there is no call, they skate up and score the game-winner? I'll tell you what - 3-2 Toronto. Goals for Toronto - 3. Goals for Montreal - 2. Games decided by the refs (probably to their astonishment) - 1.
With 3 home games and at least a night off in between all of our games this week I think I can say it wasn't a good week, especially considering the teams we faced. It wasn't, however, a complete write-off as we did finish with 3 points. I think the next few weeks are crucial though. It is important that we keep playing like we have done all season. If we never let ourselves get down by more than a goal or two in any particular game then we stand a very good chance of winning the majority of our games.
The good thing is November has started, the start of the season has ended and it looks like Gainey has finally got it right and that this team is for real.