The Canadiens Game in Review
Date: Wednesday November 21st, 2007
Opponent: New York Islanders
Venue: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY
Final Score: 4-1 - Win
Habs starting goalie: Cristobal Huet (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Rick DiPietro (L)
Habs goalscorers: Steve Begin (2), Christopher Higgins, Tomas Plekanec
Opposition goalscorers: Mike Comrie
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 Assist of the season for Huet (2nd in his career)
1st 2-Goal game for Steve Begin of the year (1st since Feb. 14, 2004)
1st Multiple Point Game for Dandenault this season
1st Road Goal for Higgins this year
1st in Eastern Conference All-Star Voting - Andrei Markov - D-men
Play of the game
The play you're straining to see on the press catwalk monitor...
We were out shot 45-33 tonight which would lead you to believe that we were outplayed and that our goaltending must have been spectacular. Huet did play a very solid game, but of the 44 shots that he saved there weren't many that challenged him. Our defence, like Huet, played a good solid game, but nothing too much to write about. Our offence was quiet, but got the job done.
The play of the game goes to Long Island native Chris Higgins for a superb goal. Higgins burst around and Islander to the outside, on the right, and cut back in towards the net. He floated right across the top of the crease, dropping DiPietro to his stomach, before he lifted it over the keeper for the eventual game-winner.
Trophies are for the end of the year, play well in the game, you get a lovely puck...
Begin has good nights and bad nights, but rarely on either of those does he notch a goal, let alone 2. Tonight he played a very solid defensive game, especially on the PK. He lead all Canadiens forwards in time played on the PK, 4:33 as the Islanders PP was held scoreless - 0 for 7. His offence tonight was an added bonus and a very good example of what can happen when someone from your 3rd or 4th line steps up. He finished with 2 goals and a +2 rating.
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)...
- Made the most of his shots tonight and played a good overall game in their zone. A strong defensive effort and was our grittiest forward
- Finally got one on the road, fitting it was in his old neck of the woods. Looked explosive at times and again had chance after chance. How he isn't a 50 goal scorer I'll never know, I've never seen someone get so many quality chances. 8 goals, however, on the season is quite respectable, he should be able to hit 30
- This game was won thanks to the efforts of our 3rd and 4th line. Mat played a very good game and like Begin was very effective on the PK. This was a game where we took penalties, which in turn gave us some PPs of our own. Thanks to the work of Begin, Dandenault, Kovalev and all the other penalty-killers we were able to keep a clean sheet on the PK. Dandy chipped with 2 assists including a great steal right at the start to set up Begin's 1st of the night
- Was on the ice for the Islanders goal, but it was more the forwards mistake than his or Komi's. Played a very good transition game tonight and held the puck well in the offensive zone. The PP looked good all night despite just the one goal
- A very good game for Roman. He played text-book defence tonight and never really made a mistake. Had a great outlet pass to Higgins on his goal for his 9th assist of the year. Finished +2 with over 25 minutes played
- It is nice to see a goalie in here who got in because of his own good play, not the poor play of his teammate. He faced a season high 45 shots tonight and came very close to posting his second shutout of the year. The goal he let in can't really be blamed on him as the Islanders turned a 3 on 2 into a 2 on 1 as the D left Cristo out to dry. Huet played a very technically-sound game and I noticed his puckhandling was way better than usual. I attribute this to the fact that he didn't come out to play every single puck, only the safe ones. Tonight was one of those nights where you knew Huet wasn't going to let us lose - you could see the confidence in his movements.
Eyes on Kovalev
Did he flit and float? Someone ought to keep track...
A good all around game for Alex tonight. He spent some very effective time on the PK this game showing that icing the puck is a good option, but keeping possession is better. Again tonight we got to see Kovalev throw his weight around with a few decent hits and he also won almost all of his 1 on 1 battles. He was effective on the PP tonight as well. The pass he gave Plekanec for his goal was quite something, it was a cradled one-timer, worth a look.
Kovalev's Assessment - Very Good
This is what a game between Columbus and Chicago must look like. Seldom do the Habs go into a building with so little atmosphere, usually there is a strong contingent of Canadiens fans. This was the type of game that wasn't driven by the crowd, thus the play looked a little slow. Well, that suits me just fine. We all know that the Bell Centre is the loudest arena in the NHL, but it also seems like, because of our road fans, that when we play on the road we play in front of some other very deafening crowds. I like exciting games, I especially like when the crowd is into it, but to play 82 games like that would be too much for our team. We can consider tonight's game a rest night, a rest from the circus that usually surrounds us, a rest in which we bagged 2 points. The key in these games, and the Habs had this down to a tee tonight, is to be better than your opponent. You don't have to be great, you don't even have to be good, just be better than the team at the other end of the ice. These are games that the Habs must win this season. With every game in places like Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa or Boston, or against any french player, being a big deal we won't get many chances to get the 2 points on a 'night-off.'
We are getting in the habit of not playing 2 bad games in a row and I am liking it. The Flames used this formula to march all the way to the cup final in 2004, but fell short in Game 7. I am not saying that our team is going to the cup, although of course I want them to, I am just saying if we keep this pattern up we should earn a post-season berth, and from there you never know. We just have to take this season 2 games at a time.