Date: Tuesday January 8th, 2008
Opponent: Chicago Blackhawks
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC
Final Score: 4-3 (OT) - Win
Habs starting goalie: Cristobal Huet (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Patrick Lalime (OT)
Habs goalscorers: Saku Koivu, Patrice Brisebois, Andrei Markov, Guillaume Latendresse
Opposition goalscorers: Jack Skille, Robert Lang, Kris Versteeg
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 Game for Corey Locke
1st Game in the Press Box for Dandenault this year
1st Game that Price hasn't suited up for the Habs all season
Play of the game
The play you're straining to see on the press catwalk monitor...
Giving a point away often hurts, but giving one to the West is fine by me. We had to win this game as I felt another OT Loss would be a bad way to start the week and the 2nd half. Luckily the team seemed to believe they needed the 2 points tonight as well - their game most certainly showed that.
In OT we were trying hard for the win as we aren't the greatest squad in the shootout. Streit, being used as a defender in the extra frame (replacing Komisarek - showing our desire for offence), gave a nice breakout pass to Lapierre. Max then came into Chicago's zone with a head of steam and skated through the slot - bringing a defender and Lalime across to the right. He then flipped a pass back to Latendresse who was waiting on the edge of the crease, Gui made no mistake in shelving it to the roof for the win.
Trophies are for the end of the year, play well in the game, you get a lovely puck...
The captain played his best game in the past few weeks as he started the 2nd half of the season as he did the first; with 2 points. He was very involved in all aspects of the game at both ends of the ice. He looked to be in charge of his team all game with a lot of talking and teaching as he continues to work with the younger players.
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)...
- Koivu now has 33 points, but what I think is more impressive are the 12 points in his last 11 games. We will need Saku to give efforts like the effort we saw tonight right till the end of this season if we want to get into the playoffs. Tonight he seemed more energized than in the past little while as the negative effects of his virus seem to have gone away
- Great goal for Gui in OT - the Habs needed that one. Played a good game along side Saku and Sergei Kostitsyn. He continues to get chance after chance and tonight he was rewarded with a goal and a rare assist
- His speed was noticeable tonight as we played against yet another slow defence corps (status quo for the NHL?). Was held off the scoresheet, but looked dangerous all game. As Chicago focused on shutting down Kostitsyn's line it opened the game up for our 2 other scoring lines
- Roman played a good game in both ends. I noticed that his defensive play was sharper tonight than in the loss to Washington on Saturday. He got involved offensively, often pinching and charging Lalime's net
- It was a big day for Markov. Not only did he tie the game at 3 and finish at +1 he also was selected as a starter at the All-Star Game and took the lead in goals by a defenceman in the NHL (11). His play tonight is what we have grown to expect from the East's best D-man - superb defence and superb offence
- It looks like someone was taking notice of us here as it seems that Huet may now finally be our uncontested #1. It is also possible that Price took himself out of the running. Cristo didn't play spectacularly tonight, but again did what he had to for the win. Since returning from injury on the 20th of December he is 5-0-2 and a big reason the Habs are back near the top of the East. He looked a bit shaky at times tonight, but made the key saves when asked to
Eyes on Kovalev
Did he flit and float? Someone ought to keep track...
It was a quiet game for Kovy tonight - just one point. His line was held in check for pretty much the whole game, but they did generate some good chances. His 5 - on - 5 play might not have caught my eye this game, but his penalty killing and play on the power-play definitely did. With Alex leading his line and Saku and Higgs leading theirs we should have a very good second half. People have spoken about how our youngsters are the reason for our success this year, but I would suggest, however, that our veterans are playing an even bigger role.
Kovalev's Assessment - Good
The game started with a nice ceremony to mark the 'rivalry' between us and Chicago. This was the third of 5 such ceremonies we will have this year and next with the original 6 teams. I never thought there was too much heat between these two teams and looking back at the stats I think it is safe to safe that there was never really much of a contest. It is nice, however, for the Habs organization to have events like these, because if we weren't to do anything of the sort I am sure no one else would.
The actual game started well for the current team too. We looked to be in control right from the start, but a bad penalty let Chicago temporarily take the lead. For all the hype about Chicago being a fast, young and exciting team I was quite disappointed. They didn't seem any different from the Hawks teams of recent years although I must note they do have some key injuries. Trying to avoid their 6th straight loss the Hawks seemed quite content to take it to OT and test their luck there. As we have shown all year we have no problem with this strategy either, especially against a western team. It can be said that when you lose in OT you lose ground on the team that beat you and with this I can't disagree. The upside, which certain readers have a hard time grasping, is that you lose half as much ground than had you lost in regulation and you actually gain 1 point on every other team that lost that night. If there were two teams in the league then I can see how the argument that playing for the extra point is stupid, but as long as you are competing with 14 other teams I say if you're going to lose, do it after 60 minutes. It is a stupid rule, no doubt there, but we would be stupid not to take advantage of it.
Tonight's game marks the start to the 2nd half of the season and we started on a very good note. We are now one of just 4 teams in the East with 50 points, but all of that means is a whole lot of nothing as there is plenty of work to do. Tonight we managed to score more than 3 goals for a 6th straight game for the first time since December 2001. Last year our scoring, or lack of, was what cost us down the stretch. I don't expect 3 or more goals in every game, but as long as we can find ways to score at even-strength I am sure we will avoid any major catastrophes.