The Canadiens Game in Review
Date: Tuesday January 19th, 2008
Opponent: Boston Bruins
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC
Final Score: 8-2 - Win
Habs starting goalie: Cristobal Huet (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Alex Auld (L), Tim Thomas
Habs goalscorers: Tom Kostopoulos, Michael Ryder, Andrei Kostitsyn (2), Maxime Lapierre, Bryan Smolinski, Mike Komisarek, Alexei Kovalev
Opposition goalscorers: Marco Sturm, Petteri Nokelainen
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 Time this season that the Habs have scored 8 goals
Play of the game
The play you're straining to see on the press catwalk monitor...
Putting Michael Ryder and Chris Higgins seemed to work tonight...for the whole team! Our nicest of our 8 goals (that sounds good) was Ryder's, the Habs' second.
Mark Streit sent a knee-high outlet pass to Saku across almost 3 lines. Koivu picked the puck out of the air and had it right down to his stick - it looked amazing. He kept skating towards the net as he received the pass which made it even more impressive. He then stopped at the top of the right circle and fired a perfect tape- to- tape pass to Ryder who had a very nice deflection for his 8th of the season.
Trophies are for the end of the year, play well in the game, you get a lovely puck...
Even when he plays on the blue-line Mark wracks up the points. He got another 3 assists tonight to give him him 31 points on the season, 31! He led many good rushes and along with Markov played very well at the point on the PP. His defensive play was also great tonight as he showed that speed and skill are definitely valuable assets for a blue-liner. Playing with Hamrlik seems to be the perfect fit for Mark and the team as they form one of the most effective offensive/defensive 2nd pairings in the league.
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)...
- Tom had a great game in both ends and formed a very nice combination with Smolinski and Begin. Kostopoulos' goal 14 seconds into the game gave us a very good start and after that we never looked back. He offered the Habs a certain level of grit that we haven't seem from him much this year. His fight, in defence of the likely-injured Begin, showed a lot of team spirit and showed that he doesn't only score, but that he can be tough too
- Steve was obviously itching to get back into the lineup after 6 weeks off. He came out on his first shift looking like the Begin of old and was a big reason for our instant 1-0 lead. That spark was evident all game as he constantly disturbed the the Boston players that were designated to play in front of the goalie (ie. DEFENCEmen on other teams). It looks like he may have been injured, again, in the third, which I believe would be a huge loss for our team
- It is hard to outplay players like Kovalev and Plekanec, but Kostitsyn seems to be doing it on a fairly regular basis. Tonight he got 3 points including 2 goals and if it wasn't for the Habs taking it easy on Boston after they were up 6-1 he could have had many more. With 14 goals and 29 points this season I think it is safe to say that Kostitsyn is far exceeding most people's expectations. The nicest part of this story is that the Habs have given him a chance
- He was the stat-man tonight as he excelled in almost all categories: 1 goal, 1 assist, +4, 2 blocked-shots, 5 hits. All those stats were great to see, but the one thing that stood out for me tonight was again his maturity. He always comes to the defence of his goalie and teammates, yet rarely does anything stupid or retaliatory - tonight I saw 3 or 4 great examples of this
- 31 points isn't so bad for your 2nd best offensive defenceman. The way Mark has got his points, especially tonight, is equally as impressive. He wasn't merely the last guy to touch the puck before the goal-scorer, but instead often created the goals. His puck-carrying and rushing were very visible tonight
- Not much to do tonight for Cristo, but as usual he made key saves when he had to. I would like to say that he kept the Habs in the game, but let's be honest he could have had a horrible game (5-6 GA for him) and we still would have won comfortably. Played a simple game; recovered rebounds quickly, rarely ventured from his net and stood up for most easy shots
Eyes on Kovalev
Did he flit and float? Someone ought to keep track...
He was flying around the ice all night making a mockery of the Boston 'defence' - again. I really liked a play that he did in the second period, a play on which the Habs and Kovy kept possession in Boston's end for almost 2 minutes. While making a move he dropped his glove, seeing that the puck had shot loose out towards his glove he bent down to collect his glove. With one hand on his stick, as he collected the puck, he did a very fast pivot to deke out Chara. The move earned Kovalev one of the biggest ovations of the night. His goal, the Habs' 7th, came at a point where he had yet to get his name on the scoresheet - so he took care of it, he put his name on there, pretty much at will.
Kovalev's Assessment - Very Good
Boston looked like the same team that we have seen in our last 9 games against them (all wins) - a slow, unskilled, outmatched bunch. The Habs took it to the Bruins early scoring 4 in the first and chasing Auld with 4 goals on our first 7 shots. Thomas, an All-Star instead of Huet (Ha), didn't do much better letting in 4 on 17 shots. I will have to start watching games between the Bruins and Panthers or something, because, honestly, he does not look like a good goalie and I want to see how he has good numbers. The good thing about the way we have played against Boston all season is that we don't just beat them, we own them. I would love to face this team in the playoffs again - the only difference is that this time around the Bruins won't have the most overrated centre in the league being embarrassed by Koivu.
The Habs played 6 defencemen tonight for the first time all year and although I can't say it's the reason we won I will say that it added to our attack. It would appear that Dandenault will never likely play another game as a defenceman for the Habs; I suppose that this means he is a forward then. If that is so then I am very happy that he isn't playing. The 12 forwards in the line-up tonight, along with Locke, Chipchura, Grabovski and others, are all clearly better than Mathieu so why is he still around? In 46 games he has 11 points and is -10. Maybe these aren't horrible numbers for a defenceman filling in as a forward, but we just said that he is a forward. These are numbers that would get most forwards demoted or waived, so why the wait with Dandy?
This is another great start to a week after another great week. The Habs are playing well now and my only hope is that they keep it up for 5 more months! We are now only 6 points back of Ottawa for the conference lead (and our only shot at a top-3 ranking) with 1 game in hand. We have 5 games left against Ottawa so if we are serious about being a top team at least we will have a chance to prove it. Next up is a road game in Jersey. We have been horrible there ever since Brodeur came into the league, but I have a feeling that this group may be up for changing our fortune. If we are going to win the cup we are going to have to win in all circumstances - nothing like a trip to NJ to see if we have what it takes.