Thursday, December 27, 2007

Game #37

Habs' Big Names Steal the Show in Tampa

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Thursday December 27th, 2007
Opponent: Tampa Bay Lightning
Venue: St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, FL


Team Stripes


Final Score: 5-2 - Win

Habs starting goalie: Cristobal Huet (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Johan Holmqvist (L), Karri Ramo

Habs goalscorers: Maxime Lapierre, Guillaume Latendresse, Alexei Kovalev, Andrei Markov, Andrei Kostitsyn
Opposition goalscorers: Vaclav Prospal, Jan Hlavac



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 Goal of the Season for Lapierre



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

Finally the Habs played a game that made me think about which good play could be the play of the game. It seems that home games around Christmas time may be a bit hard to get up for with the added excitement of being in one's hometown and Tampa proved that tonight. They didn't really show up, and because of that the play of the game is neither a save nor a defensive play.

The Habs scored 5 pretty decent goals, but seeing as tonight we won comfortably I will consider quite simply the goal itself rather than considering its timing and the situation surrounding it. That being said, the nicest goal, and play of the game, tonight goes to Kostitsyn's goal. Kovalev fed Plekanec a nice pass, which was handled very well by Pleks, and created a 2-on-1. Plekanec, on the right wing, drew the defender and then saucered a beautiful backhand pass to Kostitsyn. Andrei had an open net to shoot in, but shelved it nonetheless.



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

Andrei Markov

Markov had a great game highlighted by a goal, an assist and a +3 rating. Lecavalier and co. were nowhere to be see tonight and for that we can thank Andrei. His defensive game was absolutely superb, making it more and more obvious that he may just be the top defenceman in the Eastern Conference; it seems like the rest of the league's fans already thought that anyway as he still leads in Eastern All-Star Defenceman voting.



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

Saku Koivu
- He notched assists #21, 22 tonight and played quite a good game. He was a constant threat and had a few pretty decent chances himself. Played well with Sergei and Gui on what is quite an exciting combination

Alexei Kovalev
- Another solid performance in both ends and another 2 points taking him to 16 goals and 33 points. He is a constant fixture in the dome and I would want him on the ice in all situations

Tomas Plekanec
- Pleks, like all the other non-goalie domers, had a 2 point night. His offence tonight was explosive as he looked dangerous throughout the entire game. His faceoffs weren't so great, again, but no one on the Habs did well in that category tonight

Defencemen

Andrei Markov
- Another great game for Markov as he tries to put the memories of his partnership with Brisebois behind him. Offensively he was our best defenceman and defensively he was our best too. That of course should come as no surprise and I think it is time to seriously consider as one of the NHL's top 10 with the likes of Lidstrom, Niedermayer and Pronger. He is now +11 in his past 10 games bringing his rating from a dismal -9 to +1 very quickly; thanks Breezer

Mike Komisarek
- 2 assists as well as a very strong defensive outing. Markov isn't the only person to thank for shutting down Vinny and Marty as Komi deserves a whole lot of credit too. He now has 11 points, which for a defensive defenceman is quite good. He should be able to hit the 25 point mark this year and 30+ is attainable in his career

Goaltender

Cristobal Huet
- Huet did what he had to tonight, again. Tampa never looked like they were going to get into this game, but I have seen teams lose in those situations too. Once again, however, I felt he played well enough for the shutout, but his teammates let him down as they got sloppy with 5-0 and 5-1 leads



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

Alex rebounded well from the back-to-back games last weekend to have a very good game tonight. He looked very well rested and seemed to be a step ahead of the Lightning all game long. He is no longer on the 40-goal pace, but it seems likely that he will hit 30 or 35 and quite possibly 75 points.

Kovalev's Assessment - Very Good



Overall Comments

The Habs came out flying tonight and Tampa came out flat and we were able to keep that going for the whole game. The Lightning had played last night as well which no doubt helped us out (but will likely hurt us tomorrow) and I think they may have been just a bit to stuffed with some good 'ole home-cooked Christmas food too. I have often said that we must take advantage of tired teams and tonight we did just that.

The Habs are now 2-1-1 on their current 6 game road trip and stand a very good chance of coming home with 6 points - which I believe was the goal at the beginning. Being in Florida at Christmas is great for the Habs as I am guessing that more Quebecers are in Florida than any other place outside of Quebec itself. Just by watching the game on TV it was obvious that there were more Habs fans than Lightning fans. Let's hope that tomorrow the fans have the same effect in Miami.

Our 6 best players tonight (see The Dome) were quite possibly our 6 best all around players (honourable mentions to Higgins, Hamrlik and Streit). It is often said that when your best players are your best you will win. In order for our best to be our best they have to outplay the other team's best as they will often be asked to play at the same time as them. Tonight our top 6 shutdown their big guns and I believe that was the reason we won. Between our big 6 we had 2 goals, 8 assists, a GAA of 2.00 and a Save % of .933 - with those kinds of efforts I see why we once thought (and I still think) we could compete with the Ottawas and Detroits.

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