The Canadiens Game in Review
Date: Friday November 30th, 2007
Opponent: New Jersey Devils
Venue: Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
Final Score: 0-4 - Loss
Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Martin Brodeur (W)
Habs goalscorers: None
Opposition goalscorers: Zach Parise (3), Brian Gionta
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 Game in New Jersey this year (ie. our 1st guaranteed loss)
1st 4 minute 5 - on - 3 against the Habs this season (maybe ever?)
Play of the game
The play you're straining to see on the press catwalk monitor...
Ha. Tonight I am going to try something different as the play of the game is going to an NJ goal. I chose to use a goal against us this time was for 2 different reasons. The first: I just simply couldn't think of a good play. The second: it was the point at which I realized the Habs could not win this game; it made the score 1-0.
Hamrlik made a soft pass along the Devils' blue-line to quite possibly the worst NHL player of all time. Being the worst player made it very difficult for him to receive a pass that most 4 year-olds would have no problem controlling. As Brisebois juggled with the puck Parise came in and took off with the puck on his stick. At this point Breeze-by showed us his great pivoting skills and skating ability by being beat by nearly 10 seconds to the Habs goal. Parise made no mistake beating the best breakaway goalie in the league (well is he or isn't he?) 5-hole. This play killed all of the momentum the Habs had in the first period and essentially ended our chances of snapping a 6 year drought in the swamp (and now Newark).
Trophies are for the end of the year, play well in the game, you get a lovely puck...
Kovalev was our most exciting player tonight creating all kinds of chances, especially in the first period. There was a great moment in the third where he shared a laugh with Marty; I hope they weren't laughing about our 5 0n 5 play, I was.
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)...
- Showed a lot of strength and speed tonight, but his line failed to make an impact on the scoresheet. Thanks to Kovalev's 'depart canon' this season Kostitsyn and his line are now facing the opposition's best defensive lines (like Dandenault and Smolinski you mean? Ha, no, this was New Jersey, I didn't mean to say their worst offensive line)
- If Tom makes it into the dome and he didn't score you know the Habs must have had a bad game, no offence to Tom of course. He played a good gritty game, especially in the offensive zone. One of Montreal's few forwards not to be intimidated by this 'big' team
- Had his chances to score, but unfortunately we hit the best goalie ever playing against his favorite team to beat in a season that he is being asked to prove himself (why exactly?) on the road. Made New Jersey's defence look like a bunch of regular players - who knows why the rest of our team still thought they were playing against Stevens, Niedermayer and Rafalski
- Poor guy. You make one pass to who you may think is a reliable D-man (although come on, he must know) and you get burned, even blamed by Brisebois' biggest supporters over on RDS. I put him in the dome simply for him to get a taste of playing with a reliable partner for once
- Mark was a rare bright spot on an otherwise dismal looking team. Tonight he skated well and played a responsible game in his own end playing for just under 20 minutes. Had a few good shots, one in particular that gave Brodeur quite a bit of trouble in the first
-Players that may have given us a chance to win tonight: Huet, players who didn't: Price. Player who is the leading vote-getter for the All-Star Game: Huet, players who aren't: Price. Carey showed us tonight he is quite simply no Martin Brodeur. He had a chance in the first to keep us in the game on Parise's breakaway, but instead made himself look very easy to beat as he knelt down with his legs under him and with his stick way off the ice. Price just didn't give us a chance to win tonight - a spectacular performance is always required to beat Marty in his own house, so granted most goalies can't give their team that chance. He had a few Theodore-like puck-handling moments which could have easily caused 2 goals early on. Huet, to me, deserved the start on Tuesday in Toronto, which Price almost blew for us, and deserved it again tonight. Cristo surely will be ready to go tomorrow; who wouldn't be after being told to sit for a week after only letting in 2 difficult goals to a surging team.
Eyes on Kovalev
Did he flit and float? Someone ought to keep track...
Had the team won I am positive that Kovy would get a better assessment than he is now, but that being said it is generally up to him, in part, whether we win or lose. Like the Habs have done in recent years we seem to be depending on one line or even one player to lead the way to the V; that seems to be Alex this year. He played better than he did last Friday, but still not as well as he does on other nights. Something about Friday night games just doesn't sit well with me and it obviously doesn't sit well with the Habs either.
Kovalev's Assessment - Good
This game started with 3 straight power-plays, which could have been a good thing, but in our case tonight it was a bad thing. If you are awarded this rare gift you MUST capitalize, because if you don't you won't be able to get any more help from the refs in the game, guaranteed. The refs seem to be programmed like a computer game, a game I would never want to play. As soon as one team gets their chances the other team will get theirs. The pre-programmed refs will look for any incident that may look like a penalty and award the other team a PP. Maybe they are told to do this so they don't look to be biased, maybe it is better for Bettman's pocketbook or maybe they are actually just dumber than they look. Tonight the penalty that got things rolling for NJ was the one given to Hamrlik. On the replay it is blatantly obvious that the Devils player fell at the Roman' feet, but that was enough for 2 minutes. The ref sees a Devil on the ice, he doesn't care who, where or how he even got there he just reaches for his whistle. It makes you wonder why you need any experience to ref in the NHL, as long as you understand how to alternate, like most humans do, you would excel at this job.
Another thing that has been bugging me since the lock-out is the high-sticking penalty. I really think that the NHL should sit down and think about this one. What is the penalty for? Is it for raising your stick too high? Well, yes it is, that is why it is called high-sticking. Correct; according to the rule book when your stick is above your shoulder or the cross-bar, whichever is higher (eh Gionta), you have a high-stick. Tonight we got 2 - 4 minute penalties at the same time for 'high-sticking', but wait neither of Chipchura nor Latendresse's sticks were above their shoulders nor the crossbar. So why the penalties? It appears that the call isn't for a high-stick at all, it is in fact a penalty when your stick touches and un-visored face. Basically the penalty is for when an opposing player throws his head back. It doesn't matter how high your stick was, whether you were swinging at someone or simply skating; if your stick touches an un-visored face - 2 minutes. The next best rule in hockey is of course the extra 2 minutes for making someone bleed, while having your stick come in contact with their un-visored face. Sticks to the face seem inevitable as we always seem to get this penalty so I suggest a new strategy. From now on let's practice hitting each other, on the un-visored face, in the cheek or maybe the neck. As long as we stay away from easily cut areas like the brow and nose we should always avoid the extra 2.
This is a game to forget. It was probably always going to be a game that we would lose so let's just move on. We have only won 1 game in Jersey since the '93-'94 season so I can't say I'm surprised by the outcome. Tomorrow is a new day and a different game, it is a chance to make this a good week and start a new month on the right foot. With Nashville coming off a huge win in Ottawa and us coming off a huge loss tonight I like our chances, GHG.