Thursday, December 20, 2007

Game #34

Latendresse and Huet Lead the Habs to Victory

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Thursday December 20th, 2007
Opponent: Washington Capitals
Venue: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.


Team Stripes


Final Score: 5-2 - Win

Habs starting goalie: Cristobal Huet (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Olaf Kolzig (L)

Habs goalscorers: Guillaume Latendresse (2), Tomas Plekanec, Sergei Kostitsyn, Mark Streit
Opposition goalscorers: Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin



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 NHL Goal for Sergei Kostitsyn



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

The goal and play of the game tonight goes to the newest Hab for his first ever goal. It was a power-play goal (we had 2 tonight) and it was a beautiful setup from Kovy. Kovalev fired a bullet pass from the top of the right face-off circle along the ice into the slot. There Saku and S-Kots were waiting, un-marked, with their blades on the ice. Kostitsyn got to it first putting it right over Kolzig's right shoulder for a pretty fancy 1st career goal.



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

Cristobal Huet

The Habs play with confidence when Cristo is back there. I am beginning to see that confidence emerge when Price is in, but not yet to the same degree as when Huet is playing. He faced 37 shots and did what he had to - let in 2 or less, and gave us a very good chance to win. He made some very nice saves and looked well rested after a 2 week break.



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

Guillaume Latendresse
- He scored 2 pretty impressive goals tonight to quietly bring his season total to 9 - 7 in his last 14 games. The 20-year often gets overlooked when you hear news of Habs prospects, but at such a young age it is obvious that he has so much potential and could be a great player. A 20-goal season is not out of reach, let's just hope he doesn't get shipped to the top line where he rarely produces; leave him on the 3rd and he'll keep lighting the lamp

Alexei Kovalev
- 2 very nice assists tonight put him at 30 points on the season - a pretty decent mark by Habs standards. Played a great game tonight as he contributed as usual, the difference was he had his team's support

Mark Streit
- Was very effective on the PP at the right point and, like the 2 players above, had a 2 point night. He now has 19 points which is pretty impressive for the Swiss skipper. I still prefer him on D, but to tell you the truth he sure makes the most of his time up front which makes me accept the decision a little more easily

Defencemen

Andrei Markov
- Ovechkin was pretty quiet tonight by his high standards; I think that we can thank Markov a lot for making that so. Andrei always seems to play well against his good buddy and tonight was no exception. He also had a good offensive and passing game

Francis Boullion
- Bou has turned his season and maybe career around in the past couple of weeks or so. Since the '06 playoffs he had looked to have lost the spark that he had played with up until the point - likely attributed to his knee injury last season. Tonight, however, he played a very solid game and made a very good hit and pass late to send in Chipchura on Streit's goal

Goaltender

Cristobal Huet
- I am happy for Huet tonight and happy for the Habs as I believe our key to success is Huet at the top of his game. In my opinion the only way Price will play regularly is if Huet isn't himself, in which case I believe we are doomed anyway. Asked in a post-game interview if he felt that he had something to prove he simply said 'no'. Do you think Miller, DiPietro or even Nabokov gets asked that question 35 times a year? I doubt it. I liked his answer as I believe he is our #1 and he has nothing to prove to the fans and hopefully nothing to prove to the coaches



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

Ever wonder why we have had the #1 PP in the league over the past 2 years? Probably not, as it is blatantly obvious - the reason is Kovy. Markov and Koivu obviously play a huge role during the man-advantage, but no one matches Kovalev's dominance when we are man-up. He doesn't get much space (unlike some former point-men), but makes the most of it to either squeeze a shot in himself, or like tonight, make a great pass that leads to a goal.

Kovalev's Assessment - Very Good



Overall Comments

A lot of people would claim that we got outplayed tonight and I would disagree with them. We were out-shot 37-21 which on paper looks like we may have been the worse team. Let's not forget that a goalie, however, is part of your team. Maybe the forwards were outplayed, maybe even the D, but as a team we outplayed Washington. You can't fault a team for having a good goalie; Huet is part of our team and part of our game plan is trusting in his abilities. What can I say, it seemed to work.

This was a game that I am quite pleased to have won. It was the first game of a string of six away from home (likely on two separate trips) and was against a team who our fiercest rivals beat on a nightly basis; losing this one would have given more to the eastern conference race than a mere 2 points to the Caps. These are games that must be won with little effort if you wish to make a push to get into the playoffs. It also halted our latest losing steak at 1 which is way more bearable than 6. At this time of the year the wins haven't come very easily for the Habs in recent memory, so 2 points here was much needed.

After 34 games last year we had a very unbelievable 47 points. Every time I think of that it makes me wonder how on earth we missed the playoffs. After as many games this season we now have 39 points. Our total this year is respectable, but I think it's pretty obvious that it isn't too spectacular. I am glad, however, that after a quick start again this year we aren't simply copying last year's team, because obviously that formula doesn't work! The points we have now are irrelevant; the task is simple - get into the playoffs, it doesn't matter how many we lose, how may we should've have won; all that matters is that I can watch some hockey in May.

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