The Canadiens Game in Review
Date: Thursday November 8th, 2007
Opponent: Boston Bruins
Venue: TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, MA
Final Score: 2-1 - Win
Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Tim Thomas (L)
Habs goalscorers: Alexei Kovalev, Tomas Plekanec
Opposition goalscorers: Marco Sturm
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 Multiple point game for Kostitsyn this season
1st Game in Price's career letting in less than 2 goals
Play of the game
The play you're straining to see on the press catwalk monitor...
The plays to talk about tonight are our 2 goals. Both goals were created by the same three players, so no matter which I choose they should all be happy. They were both very nice goals, but the second one (the one Plekanec actually scored) was the nicest. A quick pass from Kovalev to Kostitsyn at the blue line led to a quasi-2-on-1 break. Kostitsyn then floated a backhand pass right to Plekanec who then made no mistake (feeling somewhat shafted after losing the 1st goal to Alex), double-deaked Thomas and slid it home for one of the prettier goals of the year thus far.
Trophies are for the end of the year, play well in the game, you get a lovely puck...
He played his best game of the year tonight and one of the best of his short career thus far for sure. He was a big reason behind the two goals (as were Kovalev and Plekanec), but he brought so much more than his passing tonight. He is a fast player and tonight he was flying. It may be that the Boston defence can make any player look fast, but even so Andrei was the fastest of our bunch. He also played very physical, using his body well to win one on one battles and he even threw a few hits. What a difference one player can make to a team. Tonight he showed we don't have to rely merely on duos, a full line is way better.
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)...
- Great to see the youngster, and forgotten prospect, do well tonight. A lot of people forget that he is still young and still a very valuable commodity. He has only suited up for 45 games in the NHL, but still has posted 19 points. That isn't bad considering he has had to fight almost every game for a top 2 line spot. He proved again tonight (+2) that he can be trusted in our end too, he is now +4 this year
- No points for the top line tonight, but they played well, all of them. Of the three, however, it was Higgins that led the charge. He had quite a few chances to score and looked very sharp all night
- Another 2 points tonight for the Czech centre, very nearly 2 goals. He seemed to work well with Kostitsyn tonight as their speed complimented each other very well - we all saw that on both goals. One of the fanciest goals of the year, he had us all thinking backhand (his speciality), but, alas, it was forehand, along the ice
- Tonight Andrei was called upon as the #1 defender and penalty killer and he was up to the task. The Habs didn't see much PP time, but unlike our past 'PP specialists', Markov was called on in all other situations. Fantastic in the last 6 minutes killing off a 5 on 3
- Our trusty #2 lived up to his billing tonight, and much like good 'ole #1 he delivered on the PK. On the 5 on 3 Roman was called upon for most of the kill and he did just that, he killed any chance Boston had to tie it up. Used his body so well tonight to gain position and win the puck
- A solid 1 goal performance tonight. Nothing spectacular to show, just a lot of good, well-positioned saves. He covers so much of the net, especially when he comes out to challenge shooters, as he did tonight. Great puckhandling behind the net and good clearances and passes
Eyes on Kovalev
Did he flit and float? Someone ought to keep track...
If the dome could have 4 forwards in it tonight Alex would have been the 4th. He managed to have a quieter game than usual despite his goal and assist. I thought he played quite well in both ends especially going forward. He seemed to be very much in charge of his line and the other two seemed to respond. This is exactly what you would hope for from a veteran of his calibre dealing with 2 very gifted young guns. It was another game in which we didn't see much PP time, thus not too much time to see Alex at his best, he did, however, manage to show us a lot of other good stuff.
Kovalev's Assessment - Very Good
This was a pretty slow game where not much really happened. One of those games if you win (and Ryder doesn't score) you couldn't care what it looked like at all. If you lose these types of games you are always left to wonder why your team didn't show up. We did have a lot of chances and 2 very nice goals, so it wasn't all bad, it just seemed to lack the flow we saw on Monday against Buffalo - I blame Boston. Coming into the game I think we were all pretty surprised to see Thomas in the top 5 in both Save% and GAA (not as surprised as seeing Leclaire there though). The little man can't see to get any respect around the league, in his division or even from his own team. It does seem that despite all that he is getting the job done and giving a sub-par Boston team a chance to win most nights. We should, based on Thomas' play this year, be quite happy with 2 goals and a win.
According to our good friends at RDS Kostitsyn seized his chance tonight. Thanks to Latendresse's absence Kostitsyn got the 'unlikely chance' to play on the 2nd line. He did have 2 very nice assists and even RDS agree with me that he was the game's top player. What annoys me about this reporting is that he wasn't on that line because Gui is hurt he is on it because he deserves it. The folks at RDS know very well, as do I, that Kostitsyn played on the 2nd line all last game and parts of the game before, both games in which Latendresss played in. So Andrei wasn't there as a last minute solution to fill Latendresse's hole, he is and should remain the solution to the quest for a 6th top 6 forward the Habs. That is a job Gui that has proven time and time again he can't handle and a job that we all know is tailor made for Kostitsyn. Once again you have to be careful reading a biased news source, it seems they will always try and protect their own.
One thing that I noticed tonight, and in the past few games for that matter, is the reduction in penalties we are taking this year compared with last. I knew that Rivet and Souray's departures would help in this category, but even that can't account for what is happening. It seems we are playing harder, keeping up with the play more and not taking as many lazy penalties. We are also playing with much more discipline this year, not just when it comes to penalties, but the whole game - backcheking, passing, changes etc. The fewer penalties comes as very good news for a team that has struggled, and become one of the league's worse, on the PK in the past year.
Tonight, like most games Carbo adjusted his lines in the last few minutes to add a more defensive presence. Ryder was replaced with Kostopoulos, Grabovski replaced by either Begin or Chipchura and overall the bench got shorter. I noticed the coach doing the same thing with the D. In the last minutes of the game Carbo went to 4 D-men. He had Markov and Komi as usual and then Hamrlik and Streit. Now I can understand why Ryder and Grabovski are taken off, it makes sense. Tonight I even understand why Francis was taken off, having just come back from injury. There is one more player that wasn't, and usually isn't allowed on the ice at the end of the game, and that is the Breezer. I think we all know why we wouldn't want him out there at the end, hey I don't want him out there ever. So why is it we have this defenceman who we can't play because he can't be trusted on defence? We know that his offensive skills aren't the reason he is on the team as we have 3 very good PP D-men already and I'm sure that the other 3, not playing on the PP, could miss the puck at the point just as well if they had to. So what is the point of having him on our team? Can someone answer this for me? A defenceman that can't play D and has very limited offensive abilities. Sounds like a poor man's Dandenault to me. With Gorges, O'Byrne and Dandenault himself waiting to crack the lineup I still sit back and wonder. Why is it that we dress a player who can't be trusted in any situation?