Saturday, December 08, 2007

Game #29

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Saturday December 8th, 2007
Opponent: Carolina Hurricanes
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC

Team Stripes

Final Score: 1-5 - Loss

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Cam Ward (W)

Habs goalscorers: Andrei Kostitsyn
Opposition goalscorers: Erik Cole, Eric Staal, Rod Brind'Amour, Ray Whitney (2)

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 Time we've pulled the goalie this year
1st Game for Halak of the season
1st Game for O'Byrne in Montreal

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

One of our goals (the one that counted officially) was quite nice. It was on the PP, which should come as no surprise by now. Plekanec passed it back to Markov at the point, Andrei faked then passed it right back to Pleks. Tomas then slid it down low into Kovalev's office, Kovy held for a second and went on and fired a perfect pass right to Kostitsyn in the slot who had no trouble getting it over Ward.

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

Andrei Kostitsyn

He scored our only goal and also had a few very good shots. He demonstrated his strength again tonight with a few good battles along the boards, especially in Carolina's end. His 10 points this year (4 goals) may not seem like a lot, but I think people forget that he too is young and is also playing in his first full season. Let's not forget that he is only 22 years old; I think that he is progressing well so far, he seems to be getting more involved each game.

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)...


Alexei Kovalev
- Had a very nice pass on our one goal. Played well on the PP and got robbed by Ward at the end on a beautiful one-timer

Andrei Kostitsyn
- Of all our youngsters he may be our most exciting of the lot. Tonight he showed a lot of flash and once again convinced me that he's the best youngster we got

Christopher Higgins
- Followed up a very good game in Boston with a decent effort tonight. Had quite a few chances as he and Koivu were reunited with Ryder (huge surprise, after all do we have any other options that weren't picked up on waivers today?). Higgins doesn't quite fit into the youngster category that the 1st and 2nd year players fall into anymore, but is definitely keeping his solid play up as a young vet


Francis Boullion
- His shot that Streit eventually 'kicked' in would have been his first point of the year. Let's remember, though, that he is not here to score points. He is on the team to be a reliable 5th or 6th defenceman who makes limited mistakes and takes few chances. Tonight he was just that, the problem was a few of our top guys didn't play to their potential

Andrei Markov
- His PP quarterbacking tonight was very good. He got the 3rd assist on Kostitsyn's goal and had another beauty pass to Kovalev in the 3rd period. The past two games have been somewhat encouraging as Markov seems to be back at top form


Jaroslav Halak
- It seems like getting in here for successive games is becoming quite a difficult task for our goalies this year; Halak has just done it with less the 20 minutes of ice time. Carey once again didn't give the Habs the chance to win, he didn't make the key saves when he had to. He seems to be acting a little too cool for my liking, especially when handling the puck. Being calm and having the not-care attitude is fine in interviews, but don't bring it onto the ice. Halak, I think, has earned his shot. He didn't look great in the 3rd, but looked okay, plus the game was out of reach at that point so it is hard to really tell. I say let's role with Halak and if he does well then maybe he should stay up when Huet gets back. Carey seems to have lost some confidence over the past month and the best thing for him and the Canadiens may just be a return to Hamilton

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

Hasn't dominated a game for us for a while, but I don't see anyone else stepping up. He played a good two-way game tonight and had we won because of the efforts of the other lines then Kovalev would likely fall into the 'had a good game' category, because of the result I fear people will question where he was. He was our second best forward tonight and continues to make his presence felt on the ice, it is time the rest of the team followed his lead.

Kovalev's Assessment - Good

Overall Comments

Had the other goal counted, which isn't a stretch as I have yet to see conclusive evidence that is was not a goal, this would have been a totally different game. For some reason the goal was disallowed by the folks at goal-review-central in Toronto. I have an idea, let's get a bunch of Montreal citizens and make them the goal judges for Leafs games. Having a centrally located facility is a farce, taking away all discretion from the 4 officials on the ice is absolute stupidity.

One thing that is a bit of a farce within the Habs is our goaltending situation, the inability to name a number one keeper. We have been in this state of unrest for 12 years now - ever since Roy left, never knowing just who our #1 is. Was it Moog or Thibault? Hackett or Theodore? Theodore or Garon? Theodore or Huet? Huet or Aebischer? Or now Price or Huet? I think the choice is obvious based on stats and experience that is still amazes me that we can't decide. Successful teams put all their eggs in on basket often neglecting stats altogether. The stats happen to favour Huet this year, but even if they didn't it is important for us to go with him and be done with it. Look at successful teams of recent years, they go with one guy, do or die. NJ with Brodeur, Luongo in VanCity, Biron in Philly and even last years cup finalists; Ottawa with Emery and Anaheim with Giguere and what is important to note with the last 2 is that Gerber and Bryzgalov could have been starters (and now both are) based on the numbers. If Huet loses a game we strip him of his status and if Price wins he plays until he wins no more. This is not how it is done on better, more organized teams and I think that a stop must be put to this in Montreal. What if every time someone from our 4th line scored a goal we promoted him to the 1st line for the next game? It would be ridiculous of course, well doing that with goalies, for 12 years, is equally as silly.

The game got out of hand tonight, but that is not to say that we didn't have chances at the beginning to keep it close. Komi was hit at the beginning of the 2nd from behind and there was a delayed penalty called on Walker for the hit. The Habs could have really used the PP, it would have been the first of the game, but instead Komi went and instigated a fight. The result was 17 minutes of penalties for Komi and no PP for us. I would say to Walker - mission accomplished; take out one of our best players for a period and keep the game at 5 on 5. Stupidity will never win you games, Komisarek proved that tonight.

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