The Canadiens Game in Review
Date: Tuesday December 11th, 2007
Opponent: Tampa Bay Lightning
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC
Final Score: 2-3 (SO) - Loss
Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (SO)
Opposition starting goalie: Marc Denis (W)
Habs goalscorers: Alexei Kovalev, Tomas Plekanec
Opposition goalscorers: Vincent Lecavalier, Andre Roy (Brad Richards - SO)
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 Win of the Season for Marc Denis (that says it all)
Play of the game
The play you're straining to see on the press catwalk monitor...
Our first goal was quick, on the PP and gave us that elusive first goal. It was, however, not the play of the game for the Habs; that was the second goal. For 5 minutes of the third period, OT and a bit of the shootout Habs fans actually thought their team may win a game. We weren't getting any penalty calls as the refs were reverting back to pre-lockout (Tampa cup winning) tendencies - anything goes (for Tampa). It became blatantly obvious that we were going to have to score an even-strength goal; something that hasn't been coming so easy as of late. Trust Kovalev to be the one to get things going though, I mean who else can do anything anymore?
Hard work by Alex in and around Denis' net kept the play alive in Tampa's zone long enough for Pleks to get a shot off. His first shot was a nice effort and luckily the rebound came right to him. Plekanec then put a top-corner snapper right by Denis, who was already on his knees. Denis looked very much like himself on that play - for the rest of the game we made him look like an NHL goalie.
Trophies are for the end of the year, play well in the game, you get a lovely puck...
Like that kid on your team who scores 50 goals a season in 15 games we need Kovy, but apparently we need more than just the one player. Didn't Washington prove that having only one player was effective? Yes they did actually; effective for getting people fired, emptying the seats and putting your team in the basement year in, year out. Kovy needs help, he played a fantastic game, but he needs some serious help.
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)...
- Was our main offensive threat all night, confused a very sub-par defence and goalie on numerous occasions
- Despite a pretty weak shootout effort Andrei played a decent game. He made his presence felt down low and worked hard to get an assist on Alex's goal
- Played over 23 minutes tonight and looked a lot like a number one centre to me. People seem to be at him again saying that he is not #1 material. Well I ask them this - show me another team that makes their #1 centre play with their 8th best defenceman (by default - Dandenault would be most team's worst; may be the league's second worst). The minute this team makes an effort to get Koivu a legitimate linemate is the minute he turns his (and the Habs) season around. Was our heart all night, made a lot of nice stuff happen with Higgs and was very effective on the PK with over 3.5 minutes logged with a man down
- He is now at the top of the league in blocked shots and very nearly there in hits adding another 8 tonight. He played over 30 minutes and looked at his best this game. The offensive and defensive woes on the Canadiens are certainly evident, but you don't have to bother looking at Mike or his partner Andrei for any answers as they are both having outstanding seasons
- Looked very good all night in his own end and was on the ice for both of our goals. Made things happen in their end and stopped a lot of chances in ours. It is no easy task playing against 3 of the league's best all night, but he did very well
- Carey played well enough tonight to get into the dome, but not well enough to get us the win. Halak will surely get a start now you would think. Carbo's logic all season (at least when Huet is here) has been lose and you sit. Price must be given some credit for keeping us in this game as Tampa had far better chances than us thanks in large part to Patrice. It must be nerve-wracking playing behind #71 - probably as nerve-wracking as watching him play. Price didn't allow any bad turnovers to be turned into goals and when we needed the game to be held at 1-2 he did just that
Eyes on Kovalev
Did he flit and float? Someone ought to keep track...
A scary moment came in the 2nd period when it looked like Alex had hurt his wrist and went to the dressing room. Luckily for him and for all of us it was nothing serious. He scored again tonight and was a major contributor on Plekanec's tying goal showing us all that at 4.5 Mil. he is still a great bargain in this league. He had a great interview on RDS before the game which is probably worth a look. Follow this link, go to the Canadien list and then look for 'Entrevue avec Alex Kovalev'.
Kovalev's Assessment - Very Good
This game had it all, if you are a Lightning fan that is. The Canadiens had a lot of opportunity to take this game by the horns, but again, like we do so often, we played down to our opposition's level. We allowed a team with 2 previous road wins to come into our house, start quite possibly the league's worst goalie (who had 0 wins prior to tonight) and beat us. If we can't win this game which ones can we win? What more opportunity or incentive do the Habs need to grab 2 points. They showed character to get 1 point, I'll give them that, but at some point we need the deuce. Toronto crushed the Lightning last night giving T. a virtual 4 points over us. Playing a team after a tough loss is the worst time to see a them, it's just too bad that that doesn't make us a threat.
Brisebois played 11 minutes and after his 3rd absolutely brutal give-away in the 3rd I didn't see him come back on the ice. We need offence and it seems like we are playing defencemen up front, thus limiting our offensive potential, all to enable a one-time (and current) Hab dud some playing time. We have potential in this organization to either call up or make a deal, I think it is time to move. Or we could of course wait 2 months and hope for next year. Ha. I would suggest that Carbo may be losing his patience with Brisebois and all of his mistakes, I wouldn't expect him in Thursday night's line-up, O'Byrne may sit too.
Playing for the shootout is a fine strategy if you think you can win. I think that we actually have the talent (scoring and goaltending) to win most shootouts. The problem is, or at least was tonight, that we didn't use our 3 best players. Tampa is known for having only 3 players and big surprise those were the 3 in the shootout. They weren't saving anyone for 4th, 5th or 6th because on most nights those guys won't shoot. We apparently were. Where was Kovalev? I really like Kostitsyn and Plekanec, but those are the players that are gems in the 4 and 5 spot likely beating Prospal and Gratton. It should be Kovalev, Koivu and Higgins; if there was ever a time to put all your eggs in one basket it is most certainly the shootout. If you ever wanted to see how to take a penalty shot take a look at what Brad Richards did - he flew in at top speed (Bure style) and went top shelf - always good against a butterfly goalie (90% of the league). If you use your speed you will win games, shootout or not. Apparently we have speed, so I think it is time we start using it and start winning us some games.
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