Saturday, November 10, 2007

Game #16

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Saturday November 10th, 2007
Opponent: Ottawa Senators
Venue: Scotiabank Place, Kanata, ON


Team Stripes


Final Score: 1-3 - Loss

Habs starting goalie: Cristobal Huet (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Martin Gerber (W)

Habs goalscorers: Andrei Markov
Opposition goalscorers: Daniel Alfredsson (2), Chris Neil



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 Afternoon Game of the season
1st Fight for Saku this year (and likely his last)

1st Regulation Loss when leading after 2 periods



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

Markov's shot was beautiful and for almost 45 minutes it seemed like it would be enough. There were some great defensive plays by the Habs today - the best being yet another 2-on-1 break up by Komi. It was Huet tonight, however, that gave us the play of the game. He actually gave us about 10 highlight-reel saves, but I have to choose just one.

During the second period Cristo played his best hockey of the season, probably his best period ever as a Hab. It looked like the unbeatable goalie from Monday was back to turn another trick. The save that stands out was a glove save off Randy Robitaille. The original shot from Huet's right was stopped and a rebound went to his left where Robitaille was waiting. Huet quickly slid across and got his glove on a quick, rising, wrist shot to keep the game at 1-0



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

Cristobal Huet

After seeing Huet give us his best of the season on Monday we didn't have to wait long for a repeat performance. He made so many great saves today. Spectacular saves are often a sign of out of position goalies - think Thibault or Theodore - but today that was not the case at all. Huet played as well if not better than he did on Monday, well for 55 minutes at least. He gave the Habs a very good chance at beating the NHL's top, and most complete, team in their own building. Unfortunately 16 3rd period shots against proved too be much for Huet and the Habs to handle this afternoon.



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)...

Forwards

Saku Koivu
- Our best forward tonight. He played with grit in both ends and was our leader on and off the ice. We all thought he had a goal in the third, but replay showed a clear post. Unfortunately he wasn't awarded a penalty-shot after being hauled down on the breakaway, making me wonder why Alfie was

Christopher Higgins
- Despite being a -3 tonight I felt he was not that bad, nor was he the reason for any of the goals. It is for his constant forecheking and play in the neutral zone that he is in the dome tonight. Let's just say playing his usual offensive game was enough today

Michael Ryder
- Ryder seemed to be playing quite a good game until the last 5 minutes, but again, like Higgins, none of the goals were his fault. Had 4 shots, an assist and looked like the Ryder of old. Believe it or not the 30-goal Ryder of years gone by used to have games where he didn't score. Today he played like the old 30-goal Ryder

Defencemen

Mike Komisarek
- A very strong defensive game for Mike. He seems to always play well against Ottawa and likes mixing it up with their scrappier players. Made a few outstanding plays, especially in the 1st. Had me wondering tonight why we only saw him for 20 minutes, Mike should be a 24+ minute man, unless we spend more than 10 on the PP

Roman Hamrlik
- A very sound game for Roman today. He was, other than Markov, our most menacing D-man in the offensive zone, but continues to be unlucky in close to the net. Brisebois had one of his more classic 'Breeze-by' games today, and as he has done all season Hamrlik was there to clean up the mess. We've all heard of a centre carrying his wingers right? Well this player has been carrying his partner all season

Goaltender

Cristobal Huet
- What more can you ask of a guy? Let's face it, we probably aren't going to ever shutout Ottawa, so we should have to score 2+ goals to win. Huet did all he could tonight, we just couldn't catch a bounce in their end. Huet's perfomance today coupled with Monday's shutout are very encouraging signs as the season moves on



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

Kovalev and his line didn't look too great tonight. I am, however, not one bit surprised about this. We are talking about the best team in the league, the best by far, here. They, like the rest of the world, can easily recognize that Kovalev is our main threat, as is his line. Great players seem to find a way around great D and Goalies, that I realize, and Alex has done that all season and will continue to against his future opponents. Today just happened to be one of those games where his line wasn't at their best and their opponents were. Offensively, he played well, nothing special, but nothing horrid. Defensively he played his usual solid game along the boards and around our net.

Kovalev's Assessment - Good


Overall Comments

It was too good to be true. Through 55 minutes it looked like back-to-back shutouts for Huet, a road win against the NHL's cream and a stunning 10-3-3 record. This afternoon though Ottawa found a way to win. After losing to Washington (what???) on Thursday I think we all knew a win today would be very hard. Teams like Ottawa rarely lose two on the trot.

This game started great, we were flying, we looked like the team that beat Buffalo on Monday. The first 2 periods were probably our best two of the year. No, we didn't score the 5 goals we had earlier in the year in one period, but remember this was Ottawa in their house. It seemed that after 2 the Habs were happy with the way things were going and felt they could hold on for the win. Against a team as strong as Ottawa we should be thinking about continuing the attack and not about playing 'solid D'. Playing 'solid D' to me is the worst way to win a game. If you are losing hanging back just doesn't make sense, obviously, nor does it make sense if you are leading. How did we get a 2 period lead on them? We attacked and we didn't stop. Sure there was only one goal to show for it, but it was a lead and we had tons of chances. The minute that you think a particular lead is enough is the minute you let the other team back into the game. Today that was the second intermission.

The week obviously ended on a low point today. After 2 wins you always dream of 3, but looking back now 2-1 with the schedule we had is just about what I expected. One thing that does bother me though, and must be addressed soon, is our inability to beat an Ontario team, especially in their rinks. The Leafs and the Sens have caused us serious problems over the past few years and if we really want to be a top tier team in the league it is time we take care of this problem. We have no problem competing with them or keeping those games close, we just can't seem to find any wins against them. Our record this year against the Leafs and the Sens is 0-3-1, and is 9-1-2 against the rest of the league. With 12 games left against these two teams I hope we get it together, if we can't beat them now what chance will we have come April?

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