Monday, November 19, 2007

Game #20

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Monday November 19th, 2007
Opponent: Ottawa Senators
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC


Team Stripes


Final Score: 2-4 - Loss

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

Habs goalscorers: Guillaume Latendresse, Christopher Higgins
Opposition goalscorers: Patrick Eaves, Chris Neil, Dany Heatley, Chris Kelly



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 Number Retired this season - Larry Robinson #19
1st Game vs. Ottawa in Montreal this season
1st Team to beat us 3 times (all in regulation time)



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

This wasn't really a highlight-reel type of game, unless you like the Sens of course. Our passing was pretty bad, our shots and goals came from bad angles and our defence and goaltending was just simply overpowered by a superior opponent.

Tonight I waited 59+ minutes for a play to call the play of the game and it did finally come. Of course I was hoping it would come in the form of a tying goal, but we weren't so lucky. Alfredsson had the puck in our zone and was cutting into the slot with speed. Out of nowhere came Kovalev with one of the best open-ice hits I have seen in years from any Hab. It was a good, clean hit that hopefully sends a message to the Sens, from our best player to theirs, we will fight in every single game against them to get those 2 points.



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

Alexei Kovalev

Kovalev played a very good game in both ends again tonight. Offensively he had a slew of chances especially in the 3rd that made me think a comeback was possible. His play along the boards and behind the net was inspiring. The Habs didn't lose tonight because of a lack of effort and that could be best seen with Kovalev's charged play.



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

Alexei Kovalev
- Our best forward tonight ended with one assist on a sloppy looking goal from Gui. One of our few forwards who didn't look out-matched by the likes of Phillips, Redden, Alfredsson etc.

Christopher Higgins
- Scored a goal in the 3rd to give us some hope, but Gerber shut the door after that. Played very well in and around Ottawa's net showing us his early-season form. Got more involved than in the past few games

Saku Koivu
- Had a few great passing plays and looked very determined tonight. On some nights 2 goals would have been enough against Ottawa, on others it just simply won't do. Koivu competed right until the end and seemed like the player most on a mission to get Big Bird a win

Defencemen

Andrei Markov
- Yes he finished -2 tonight, but that is deceiving. Tonight I hate to say it, but, Komisarek didn't have a good game and unfortunately that meant a bad +/- for Markov. Played well in both ends especially when quarter-backing the PP. Ottawa doesn't give the point-man much time, and where lesser defencemen would have had a hard time Markov held his own

Mark Streit
- Mark, like Andrei, looked his most effective tonight on the Power-Play. He demonstrated his exceptional skating skills again tonight with a lot of good breakouts and rushes. Found his way back to the third pairing tonight to give Hamrlik yet another chance to play with the human sieve

Goaltender

Cristobal Huet
- Not his best game ever, but better than Friday night against Buffalo. He didn't give us too much of a chance to win tonight, but against a team this strong that were coming off a shutout loss near perfection may not have been enough. His play of late, however, has me worrying a bit. At the beginning of the season he was strong, near unbeatable. With the emergence of Price in the past 2 weeks Huet's game has deteriorated and this isn't the first time this has happened. Cristo seems to strive when he is hailed as the sure-bet #1 keeper. Once the media gets going with the ole' goaltending debate he tends lose his edge. We saw this last year just after Christmas with Aebischer and I fear it is happening again now with Price. Huet is our number one, but how many times must he prove himself? The sooner the people and media figure this out the better his play will be.



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

Alex showed a lot of fight tonight. If we can take anything out of this loss it is that our whole team, not just Alex, tried really hard. Kovalev's play all year has been world-class and as long as he keeps this up the Habs have a very good chance to see some success. He won most of his battles in and around the corners, winning the puck countless times. He turned a lot of those 1 on 1 battle victories into decent chances for himself and his linemates. The problem tonight, however, was that these chances just couldn't find the back of the net, but at least they were there.

Kovalev's Assessment - Very Good


Overall Comments

The night started very well with a very fitting tribute to Larry Robinson. The Habs demonstrated yet again what a classy and tasteful organization they are. The way they run their ceremonies, community work or other functions is always done with such class that it makes me very proud to be a Habs fan. Another thing that stands out about our team is the class of our players. Seeing Larry talk tonight and remembering his career I recounted how much of a gentleman he was and obviously still is. He does not stand alone in this field either as you have to look no further than Jean Beliveau, Ken Dryden, Bob Gainey and Henri Richard for other prime examples of class in the world of professional sports. I see now that this legacy is being carried on with our current players such as Koivu, Higgins and even Price and I am very happy that this is the direction the organization has chosen to take. I am very thankful to our GMs past and present that we haven't built our teams around players like Bobby Clarke, Eric Lindros or Todd Bertuzzi who in the end get you nothing more than heartache anyway.

The game itself wasn't as high-tempo as our two previous encounters with Ottawa, but was a good game nonetheless. At times we looked very good and seemed to be on the verge of cracking Ottawa, but every time that happened they came back and scored on us. Against most teams and most goalies 38 shots vs. 28 would be enough, the problem of course is their shooters and goaltender have been in a league of their own all season. We still have 5 games left against the Senators and if we ever want to go anywhere this year we must first prove ourselves against them. I believe that our performances and results vs. Ottawa in those 5 games will show the league whether we will be a true contender or not this year. The good news is that winning the cup doesn't necessarily mean beating Ottawa, we can let Toronto do that in the 1st round before we beat them in the 2nd.

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