Friday, November 23, 2007

Game #22

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Friday November 23rd, 2007
Opponent: Buffalo Sabres
Venue: HSBC Arena, Buffalo, NY


Team Stripes


Final Score: 2-4 - Loss

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Ryan Miller (W)

Habs goalscorers: Christopher Higgins, Tomas Plekanec
Opposition goalscorers: Derek Roy, Tim Connolly, Thomas Vanek, Dan Paille



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 Major Injury Scare of the season - Markov in the 1st
1st Team to lose twice to the Sabres this year
1st Game for Price against the Sabres



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

There weren't many great plays tonight, just a few. There was a spectacular dive from Komi to strip Roy of the puck in the middle of the 3rd. For some unknown reason the ref called this is a penalty. What a brutal call - if you take out the man, but got the puck first that's no penalty, right? Maybe the ref was swayed by Roy faking an injury (he came back on right away). Either way that penalty led to the goal and stole play of the game honours from Mike.

The play goes to Plekanec for quite a nice goal. Kostitsyn hit Pleks in the neutral zone with a quick outlet pass, something that would have been whistled under the old 2-line pass rule, Tomas then blew around his man to get in alone on Miller and finished with a pretty sweet move.



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

Tomas Plekanec

He scored the goal that gave us life, and had it not been for home-ref advantage the goal that would have given us at least one point. His first period, like the rest of our team, wasn't great, but he came alive in the second. His line was probably our best tonight creating our best chances and getting us half our goals. His defensive zone coverage looked stronger than usual tonight.



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

Tomas Plekanec
- Good work in the offensive zone and a nice goal. Controlled the puck well behind Miller's net all night creating chances for Kovy and Kostitsyn. His faceoffs weren't great as it continues to be a problem for him, but he won a couple when he had to

Guillaume Latendresse
- You at some point have to feel somewhat sorry for this guy. If you think the pressure that players like Samsonov, Bonk or Ryder have or had on them is or was immense just imagine poor old Gui's situation. Most fans and media alike have pinned their hopes on this homegrown talent, hoping he'll be the next Lafleur when it actually looks like he's going to be the next Gilbert Dionne. I am not shocked, however, at his 4th line status or lack of production considering the junior career he had and the bad experience with the Canadian team. He is probably lucky to even be playing in this league, that being said he is making the most of it and tonight the effort was there. A few good hits and good scoring chances, one of the few forwards who played with passion

Alexei Kovalev
- Another Friday night in Buffalo, another poor result and quite frankly another sub-par game for Alex. Despite him not playing to his usual excellent standards he was one of our best forwards. Followed Plekanec's lead in the offensive zone and managed to create a few decent chances of his own

Defencemen

Andrei Markov
- In the 1st period I was scared. Andrei went down hard and stayed down for awhile. It looked like one of those 2-4 month deals on his shoulder. Luckily for us, the Habs and Markov himself, he seemed fine and played a fantastic game after that. I can't imagine losing a player of his calibre for a prolonged period, it would change our team completely. Great defensive game, was never got caught off guard and played every play within the limits of the rules, cancelled quite a few decent scoring chances

Mark Streit
- Had a good game on the PP, as usual, but also a strong defensive game. Clearly Streit is our 4th defenceman and it is only a matter of time till he sees those kinds of minutes. For the second half of the third he was playing with Markov as Komi was nowhere to be seen; possibly benched. Chipped in with an assist on Higgins' goal and finished even on the +/-

Goaltender

Carey Price
- Made all the routine saves look easy, like he wasn't even trying, it's incredible. Reminds me a bit of Roy in that regard. The problem tonight, and throughout his young career, has been the inability to stop the non-routine, the unpredictable. He played a good enough game to give us a chance to win, but not good enough to steal us the game. He has yet to steal one for us this season. The Habs are the type of team that has so many off-nights (tonight) where our only real chance of winning is goaltending robbery. So far Price isn't this goalie, but he has a long way to go to reach his peak so let's hope that one day he will be. His puck control and passing are excellent for a young keeper, showing that there is obviously more emphasis placed on this aspect at the grass-roots now than ever before. This is such a welcome change from what we are used to in Montreal - goalies who should never, ever, leave their crease (Theodore, Thibault, Aebischer etc.)



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

Alex needed a little nudge to get going tonight and it seemed like that came from Plekanec. Once Tomas started moving in the 2nd Alex was quickly on the same page. The Buffalo penalty-killers didn't give him as much time as he may be used to getting from passive box type teams - Toronto, Boston. Because of this his options are limited on the PP, usually taking away our best option - his shot. His play in our own end wasn't great tonight; he looked quite confused when he came out the box, not knowing where to go, that was when Buffalo scored their second goal.

Kovalev's Assessment - Good


Overall Comments

The game started out slow with neither team taking any real chances. What got the game going was the Sabres' first PP; that is when they scored their first. After that the game had some good tempo and I thought the Habs were up to the challenge. Ryan Miller proved tonight that he is more like the goalie we saw the past 2 seasons than the one we have seen throughout the start of this year. That, for us, is pretty bad news; dominant Buffalo keepers have been known to take away a lot of points from the Habs over the years.

Tomorrow will be another big test for us with the second half of the home and home going in Montreal. If we lose then we will have had our worst week so far and it will leave me wondering if this may just be the start of something far worse. If we win then we end the week 2-2; a decent week all things considered. The Sabres have traditionally not been the best of Saturday night teams always having played a home game the night before so this may be where our advantage lies. We all as well what can happen to the Habs on a Saturday in Montreal, it can be electrical, so this one should be quite a battle. Let's just look at like this - we are a good team due for a win, they are a bad team due for a loss.

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