The Canadiens Game in Review
Date: Thursday December 6th, 2007
Opponent: Boston Bruins
Venue: TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, MA
Final Score: 4-2 - Win
Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Tuukka Rask (L)
Habs goalscorers: Christopher Higgins, Kyle Chipchura, Tomas Plekanec, Mathieu Dandenault
Opposition goalscorers: Per Johan Axelsson, Phil Kessel
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 scratched for Ryder this year
1st Career game and points (2 assists) for Ryan O'Byrne
1st Game of the season for Lapierre
Play of the game
The play you're straining to see on the press catwalk monitor...
The fourth goal was our nicest and gave us a little bit of breathing room after a stressful 2nd period. O'Byrne put the puck up the wing, there Higgins and Dandenault exchanged a few very nice passes between themselves before Dandenault floated a back-hand over the one time Leaf prospect. The passing on this goal was spectacular, the finish was just icing on the cake.
Trophies are for the end of the year, play well in the game, you get a lovely puck...
Higgins posted a 3 point night (1 G, 2 A) and looked very good all game long. The first line saw Higgins and Saku playing with Smolinski until he got hurt and then it was Dandenault to the rescue. Higgins seems to be able to play well with just about anyone which is a very handy quality to have at this level. His 12th goal of the year puts him tied with Kovy for the team lead.
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)...
- His speed was unmatched tonight. I have spoken before about Boston's slow defence and there was no player who exploited that weakness tonight quite like Andrei. Had a great pass on Plekanec's game-winner
- We needed a big game from our big players and Chris answered the call. He was zipping around the ice like we saw at the beginning of the season and was rewarded with 3 points and the game puck. His fore-checking was very effective tonight; often winning the puck to enable Sak to make a play
- The next biggest reality show could be 'Canadiens Next Top Liner'. Saku and Higgs seem to be on a constant quest to find the perfect fit (well Carbo is at least, I think Ryder is fine). Tonight Saku played a hell of a game in both ends proving that a player of his class (and Higgins too) can make it happen with just about anyone
- Back with Komisarek and no more Brisebois for Markov. The result: +2, into the dome and our best defenceman on the night. Markov has been quiet of late, but like I have said before it just isn't fair to judge someone when they are paired with Patrice; it's like the group project at school where you are partnered with the biggest slacker and you end up getting the same crumby mark. Looked good in both ends tonight with a lot of good outlet passes, looked at ease all game
- To me, of our 9 defencemen currently with the team Ryan is #5 and has been since day one of camp (Markov, Hamrlik, Komisarek, Streit). He most definitely didn't waste his chance either to prove it; 2 big hits and an impressive 2 points in his first game. He has so much raw talent and that was definitely evident tonight. The only question is, can Hammer do for O'Byrne what he did for Phaneuf? A very, very impressive NHL debut, well done
-Finally our goalie plays well enough to get into the dome. Carey was solid tonight, he made key save when he had to and made the routine ones look easy. He is starting to get a bit casual handling the puck though, maybe forgetting that he isn't Martin Brodeur. Gave the Habs the opportunity they needed to get a crucial win
Eyes on Kovalev
Did he flit and float? Someone ought to keep track...
He may not have figured on the scoresheet, but played a very good game. He obviously likes playing the Bruins, as do most of the Habs, a team we are well suited to play against. Alex had a few very good offensive shifts as his chemistry with Plekanec and Kostitsyn continues. He hasn't scored in a few, but look for him to net some in the near future. The Habs are on an upward swing and Kovy will play a big role in that.
Kovalev's Assessment - Good
Tonight's game went well for the Habs right from the beginning. We outplayed Boston in the 1st and 3rd and apart from a 10 minute stretch in the 2nd always seemed in control of the game. We scored early, on the PP, to give us a big boost. A great play by Hamrlik on that initial PP may get overlooked, but I noticed it. He was able to keep the puck in with about 12 seconds left on the man advantage and give us that extra chance we needed with one more skater on the ice. Scoring first has been our problem lately and since scoring first and winning seem to go hand-in-hand it was a crucial goal only 3 minutes into the game.
The call ups (Lapierre and O'Byrne) both played very well and gave us a much needed change. What I liked was that O'Byrne took Brisebois' spot and Streit took Gorges. I was convinced Ryan would sit and Streit would play forward, so I must say I was quite shocked at Carbo's choice. He chose to use his organization's 6 best NHL defencemen (soon Emelin, soon) for the 1st time all year and it certainly paid off. Once Smolinski and Begin got hurt we went to 3 lines. This happened in the 3rd period and was a welcome change. Having either Kovalev or Koivu on 2/3 of the time to me is way better than 1/2 of the time. It seemed to work as the 3rd was a very good period for us with a lot of flow. If you look at teams like Detroit or Anaheim last year you always see a short bench. Those teams, as should we, obviously use the mentality that better players are better to have on the ice - why would I play Downey, Datsyuk is way better.
The win tonight enables all Habs fans to breathe a bit of a sigh of relief and gives us a shot at a decent week. The changes that we have made this week will hopefully continue to work out well and I only hope that as long as we win we stick with the current line-up. I hope we don't put Brisebois in because we are winning, but maybe we are winning because Brisebois isn't in? He obviously isn't the only one to blame here at all, but it is nice to see that someone in the Habs organization is seeing what I see night-in, night-out, for over 15 years.