Saturday, January 05, 2008

Game #41

Ovechkin Gets the Better of Habs, Price

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Saturday January 5th, 2008
Opponent: Washington Capitals
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC

Team Stripes

Final Score: 4-5 (OT) - Loss

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (OT)
Opposition starting goalie: Olaf Kolzig (W)

Habs goalscorers: Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Kostitsyn, Roman Hamrlik, Alexei Kovalev
Opposition goalscorers: Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Ovechkin (2), Boyd Gordon, Mike Green

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 Goals Ever for Ovechkin in Montreal
1st 5 Goal-Game against Carey Price
1st Game for Elisha Cuthbert at the Bell Centre this season

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

There is no doubt about what the play of the game was tonight, it was our second goal. The unfortunate part about this goal is that it seemed to have a negative effect on the team making them think that this would be a cakewalk.

Halfway through the second period Andrei Kostitsyn took a nice pass from Plekanec at Washington's blue-line. He then entered the zone and made an amazing move on a stunned Capital defender. The puck went through the D's legs and out to Kostitsyn on the other side, there he quickly snapped a hard, accurate, shot to the top left corner.

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

Tomas Plekanec

Plekanec finished the game with 3 points in what was his and the team's 41st game (halfway point). That now gives Pleks 36 points and puts him on pace to break the 70-point plateau which would be quite the feat for the 3rd year centre. Since the start of December Plekanec and his linemates - Kovalev and Andrei Kostitsyn - have been on a tear. In those 16 games Tomas has 18 points and what is even more impressive are his 7 points in his last 3 games. The future is bright for Plekanec and that means it's bright for the Habs too.

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)...


Saku Koivu
- Saku generated a lot of chances tonight, but was held off the scoresheet. I am all for the experiment with the Koivu-Latendresse-S. Kostitsyn line, but I feel for Sak at the same time too. He is used to playing with experienced goal-scorers and passers, and these two, although talented, are having a hard time keeping up. Latendresse cannot pass for his life and as we saw today isn't a sure bet around the net for a goal. Sergei can pass and can shoot, but has much to learn. Koivu played a solid game, but for most of the game looked alone on the ice

Alexei Kovalev
- When we played Atlanta Kovy skated around showing us all of his best moves and maybe showing Kovalchuk who the true Russian stick-handler is. Today with wrist shots going in on Price from anywhere (2 by Ovechkin) Kovalev brought out his wrister - likely to show Alexander who's boss in that department. He has an amazing shot and his goal was indeed a wrist shot. He played an excellent game, but unfortunately his efforts were not enough for 2 points

Tomas Plekanec
- In a game that was all about offence Plekanec shone. Showed great passing, shooting and all around playmaking. Still has work to do in the face-off department, but it has been getting slightly better


Mark Streit
- Had a great pass on the PP and played a solid game on defence. I think that he has found a permanent home on the second pairing with Hamrlik. With those 2 logging 20-22 minutes/game and Markov/Komi logging 26-28 we are quite well equipped in our own end for 3/4 of the game

Andrei Markov
- 2 more assists for our top defenceman today. He held Ovechkin down for most of the game, but was unfortunately on the ice for his first goal. The problem with that goal is no one could defend him as the face-off alignment gave Ovechkin enough time alone with the puck to make it count


Cristobal Huet
- Carey Price played what can only be described as a bad game. If you want to be the best NHL goalie in the world (or even an NHL goalie at all) you must be able to stop 40' wrist shots. Tonight, playing the butterfly to perfection, Price dropped on every shot from that distance and 3 times the puck sailed into the top of the net. It is amazing that over-sized pads and chest protectors can't stop pucks in the top of the net - seems like skill is required after all to be an elite goalie

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

Another fantastic game for the Russian sniper with yet another 2 points. He now has 18 goals this year and with half the season left I am quite sure he'll top last year's total (18). 40 goals may be out of reach, but I would say that 30+ goals and 75+ points are reasonable targets which would mean the best of his 3+ seasons with the Habs. He has such great chemistry with Markov on the PP - they continue to blow other teams out of the water while man-up. With the Canadiens still at #1 on the PP I thought I'd check to see how our good friend Sheldon Souray was doing with his new PP - 29th of 30 in the league, Sheldon has 7 points (3 on the PP). Kovalev now leads the league with 22 PP points.

Kovalev's Assessment - Excellent

Overall Comments

Today's game was loud, no one played defence and the Bell Centre was full of kids - it was actually quite the spectacle. The Canadiens continued their recent trend of scoring a lot of goals, but let in a few too many to get the 2 points. The week, however, should be viewed as a success. We bagged 3 points of a possible 4 and we look to be playing with a little more confidence at home than a month ago. Our balanced attack continues to be exciting and gives us a great chance to win every game. We are now halfway through the season with 48 points in the bank. Topham called for 96 to make the playoffs and I would say we're right on track. As we saw in the first half losing streaks will happen, but then again so will winning streaks. The key is to not go and change everyone and everything every time we lose. To make the playoffs with those 96 points we can still lose up to 17 games in regulation. Each time that happens let's not get too excited, but instead let's stay behind our team as they'll need our help to get into the dance.

With the trade deadline fast approaching I am beginning to wonder if Gainey may make a move. Trades for the most part are always exciting especially if your management believes you are a 'contender'. With 3 NHL capable goalies I can only imagine we would consider moving one if the price were right (no pun intended). Of the 3 to move now a smart GM would move Huet, which as we all know would be ludicrous. For me, the move to make was trading Price before he ever put on a Habs shirt. Think of the kid's value last summer when everyone thought he was the next Roy or Brodeur. Maybe Price + Ryder for Lecavalier, Hossa etc. - who knows. Now, after performances like this one, Price's stock has fallen and any trade would be a rip-off for the Habs. Selling a potential Roy is a far better position to be in than selling the next Cam Ward and the longer he plays like he did today the worst those scenarios get. Let's hope for the Habs sake now (wins) and for the sake of the future of our team (trade or future wins) Price finds his game (or a game) soon otherwise we may actually have a goaltending hole of our own to fill in the next few seasons.

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