Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Game# 27

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Tuesday December 4th, 2007
Opponent: Detroit Red Wings
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC


Team Stripes


Final Score: 1-4 - Loss

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Dominik Hasek (W)

Habs goalscorers: Christopher Higgins,
Opposition goalscorers: Pavel Datsyuk (2), Niklas Kronvall, Henrik Zetterberg



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 Game on the roster for Halak this year



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

Tonight Detroit provided the highlights and I don't really feel like describing any of theirgoals. My favorite play came towards the end of the game and was by Dandenault. Mathieu, playing his former team must have some lingering regrets within him about no longer being with the best team in the league, but that didn't stop him from playing with a lot of heart for his current team.

Koivu was in a little scuffle with Samuelsson towards the end of the third when out of nowhere Dandenault came to Saku's aid. I am sure that the Finn would have loved to have continued feuding with the Swede, but Mat put a stop to that. Dandenault came flying in, jumped in the air and tackled Samuelsson down. To me this showed heart, it showed good team loyalty and showed us that the Habs, despite some bad games, haven't lost their fight.



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

Saku Koivu

Saku always gets up for big games whether it be at the Olympics, in the playoffs or in the regular season against the league's best. Tonight he played a very strong game in Detroit's end and had a very nice assist on Higgins' goal. He was involved in a few altercations which is always a good sign for Koivu - we all know how great of a leader he is off the ice, tonight he was a great leader on it.



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
- One of the few Habs that could match the skill of the Red Wings tonight. Detroit obviously has a great team, but if you look closely they are also carrying a lot of dead weight; Downey, Drake, Cleary, Ellis etc. Alex was able to exploit the Red Wings' weaknesses tonight and actually drew a few penalties which is always a great play

Andrei Kostitsyn
- Along with Kovalev and Plekanec Andrei was a threat for the Habs tonight. We definitely didn't have too many shots on net, but the chances were there. Kostitsyn showed off his very quick release tonight with a couple of very good shots, but Hasek was up to the test

Saku Koivu
- Good game for the skipper despite the loss. Streit and Higgins were his linemates for most of the game until Mark commited an error in the defensive zone that led to Detroit's second goal - the game-winner. After that point Koivu's line changed with every shift. I'm sure Saku is like me - I don't care who Koivu plays with, just let it last more than 1 period at a time

Defencemen

Mike Komisarek
- It was a quiet game from Mike tonight, which for a defenceman is a good thing. He has now been paired with Hamrlik for a few games which may be beacsue of Markov's injury. Unfortunately for Andrei that leaves him with Brisebois so look for his +/- to plumet. Some good hits for Komi with some solid defensive-end play, ended up +1

Roman Hamrlik
- Roman and Komi were the only two + players for us tonight. This partnership looks very good, but shows again that the Habs need a 4th top 4 D-man to play in the top two pairings - if only we had, I don't know, a player who is the captain of his country's team, who may have beaten Canada...Hammer played more than any other Hab, looked good in both ends

Goaltender

Jaroslav Halak
- I don't just want to get in the habit of putting the back-up in here if we lose, but tonight I think it is the right call. Halak was called up because Price was sick, then all of a sudden Huet gets retroactively injured, so Price is back in. Halak has a great home record and has nothing to lose at this point. I feel that a start for Jaro would have been the right thing tonight. Price didn't play horrible, but he didn't play that well either. He continues to look very ordinary so far in his career making me wonder if his stock is maybe falling? If we ever want to improve this team it will have to be via trades and if you trade while your player's stock is low you get ripped off. (Theodore - Aebischer, Riberio - Niniimaa). At some point something has to give bewteen these 3 keepers, now is Halak's chance to show if we actually have a problem



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

Alex played his usual game tonight, very much the game you would expect from him at this point in the season. This game was very fast as Detroit set the tempo early and Kovalev was one of the few forwards who could match the cadence. He came very close to tying it up on the PP, but missed the net, but again at least the chances were there.

Kovalev's Assessment - Good


Overall Comments

The game was fast, was fun and believe it or not was close. Until the end of the second I really thought the Habs would find a way to win. The bad thing is that the Habs just can't seem to come from behind this year. Last year throughout the early part of the year you could count on them coming back to force OT and then generally going on to win, but we aren't so fortunate this year. Scoring the first goal seems to be the way to go about it these days, back to way it was before the lock-out. The good news is there are usually more penalties called in the 1st than in the other periods, so scoring 1st, on the PP, should be doable for us.

Tonight's game started with a nice tribute to the Red Wings-Canadiens rivarly. I couldn't help but feel a bit of pride seeing Chelios, a former Hab captain, out there on the carpet with his ex-co-captain Guy Carbonneau. The Chelios-Savard trade obviously had a good short term gain for the Habs as Denis was a key ingredient for our '93 cup win. Just imagine, though, had we traded someone else for Savard and kept Chelios. If Chris was still with the Habs he would most certainly still be the captain making it 19 seasons as the skipper. How many more cups may we have won? Think of all the years where our defence was a right shambles (Laflamme, Traverse, Dirk, Baron, Popovic etc.), now imagine Chelios there to guide the way. I believe that he could have become a legend in the same mould as Harvey, Robinson or even Beliveau. It was great to see him in Montreal, even better to see him still playing, well done Chris! It was also nice to see former McGill Redmen captain Mike Babcock back in town. He was wearing McGill tie for the game which I found quite interesting. You would have thought, though, that a local boy might at least let us get one point!

The Canadiens had the effort tonight, but seem like they need some help out there. With the recent struggles of Ryder, Koivu, Smolinski etc. we area always leaving it to the same 2 or 3 guys each game. I would suggest calling up O'Byrne or Cote to play wing, afterall aren't defencemen the best wingers? You would have to think that that is what Carbo is thinking, or is it juts getting that hard to justify having Breezer in the lineup? How about Recchi or Selanne - both have had great success with Saku and both could probably be snatched up for a fair price. If we continue to play around the .500 mark over the next few weeks we have no need to worry, but if we drop below that then I think that it may be time for a re-shuffle. Like Topham said - stay in the mix right until March and give ourselves a legitimate shot at the playoffs, I think we all knew that 4th overall was a little beyond us.

2 comments:

Topham said...

Tobalev, i don't think 4th overall is beyond us at all. I could really see a situation where the 4th place team only clinches a playoff berth with 2 or 3 games to go and the 9th place team will be left lamenting the fact that 4 more wins would have had them in a home-ice situation.

If the league has changed at all since the lockeout, it is that the perennial doormats no longer exist. Goodness knows the changes to calling penalties only lasted until Don Cherry spouted for 6 consecutive weeks after patiently watching 14 minutes in 2005...

Tobalev said...

If you look at it that way, no 4th is not out of reach. I guess what I meant was running away with 4th while the Sens ran away with 1st was probably not going to happen.

Someone obviously read my post as the Habs have called up yet another D-man (O'Byrne), they have also called on Maxim Lapierre while Grabovski has been sent to Hamilton. Now we have 9 defencemen on the roster and unless we plan on sitting 3 I assume we'll see at least 1 or 2 on the wing. The bad part is that I know it will Gorges who sits to make room for O'Byrne and Streit who plays wing making room for our single biggest problem of the year - Brisebois.