Sunday, February 10, 2008

Game #56

No 1st Place For Now, Focus is Still Playoffs

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Saturday February 10th, 2008
Opponent: Ottawa Senators
Venue: Scotiabank Place, Kanata, ON

Team Stripes

Final Score: 1-6 - Loss

Habs starting goalie: Cristobal Huet (L), Carey Price
Opposition starting goalie: Ray Emery (W)

Habs goalscorers: Andrei Kostitsyn
Opposition goalscorers: Jason Spezza (3), Daniel Alfredsson (2), Dany Heatley

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 Time the Habs have let in 6 goals this season
1st Career Assist for Price

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

You all guessed it - it is our goal. We did have some good chances, but we lacked the finish all but one time.

We managed to score our lone goal on a 5-on-3 power-play (funny that we could only beat Ottawa when we had 50% more players on the ice than them). Price hit Sergei Kostitsyn with a long outlet pass while Ottawa was changing their penalty-killers. Sergei then skated in on the right-hand side and fed a tape-to-tape pass to his brother who made no mistake and put it by Emery.

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

Saku Koivu

When the Habs went down 0-3 there was one player who stood out from there on in and it was Saku. He never gave up hope right until the end and put in a huge effort to get us back into the game. I am not too concerned that we didn't come back as a loss is a loss. What I was most pleased to see was this determination from our captain which I am sure we will see over and over well into the spring.

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 played a very good game tonight as he fought and fought the whole game. He got his line-mates going and though they didn't score they still had chances. He finished with and even +/- rating and was decent in the face-off circle when it counted

Christopher Higgins
- Higgins had a lot of chances and looked explosive at times. He, like Koivu, had 4 shots and he also hit one post. Tonight's game showed me that I should not be worried about him at all as he definitely still has 'it'

Maxime Lapierre
- This guy has heart and he showed it tonight against much bigger and stronger opposition. He played with the type of energy and grit that we will need down the stretch and reminded me very much of a younger Claude Lemieux. If he can get under the opponents skin earlier in games (ie. when we aren't losing by 5 goals) it will work in our favour


Mark Streit
- 4 shots, even and over 20 minutes on the ice. Mark has stepped up in Hamrlik's absence and really has shown himself as a true 3/4 D-man. Tonight his play on the PP was top notch even though he didn't factor in the goal. His creativity, speed, and vision are huge assets and more often than not that will be a big reason we avoid results like this one

Andrei Markov
- He was split from Komi and he played quite well logging over 25 minutes. Komi on the other hand looked lost without this stabilizing force. He had 4 shots on net and looked very dangerous offensively. He was unable to single-handedly stop their top line, but did put forth a valiant effort


Carey Price
- Price wasn't that great and on most nights this effort would not get him into the dome, but tonight, by default, here he is. Huet did not give us a chance to win as he let his bad luck all hit at the very wrong time. Neither goalie was able to control their rebounds at all and both have work to do if we want to beat this Ottawa team. Price made some very good saves, but by the time he came in it was too little too late as his defencemen and Huet in particular had already let him down

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

See what happens when Kovy doesn't dominate. We have relied on this player all season and it has become obvious that he needs help. Plekanec and Kostitsyn are good, but that is mostly thanks to Alex - when he goes, they go. He looked as creative as usual, but his shots and passes lacked their normal accuracy. He didn't elevate his game like Sak did once it got out of hand, but seeing as he normally does do that in a big way I am not going to worry about it.

Kovalev's Assessment - Average

Overall Comments

The Habs looked intimidated by being in Ottawa and right off the bat the Sens smelled that blood. We iced the puck three times early - a sign that we weren't comfortable in our own end and that we were unable to establish our game. After we were down 0-3 we outplayed Ottawa - for probably the next 25-35 minutes. The difference was that we weren't able to capitalize and they already had. Winning in Ottawa is the last step for us as we finally got 2 points in NJ. We play the Sens 3 more times and I think if we beat them 2 out of those 3 games we will be in very good shape. Winning the conference would be nice (especially for RDS and co. who can't talk about anthing else), but I would be equally as happy with playoffs. We have the team to do a lot of good this year and, as all teams have shown us, that means the occaisional unexplained pounding.

I didn't like seeing the switching of our defensive pairings tonight. Splitting Komi and Markov doesn't make sense. Those 2 are a big reason for our success this year and are maybe the one until that should stay intact from now until the end (forwards or D) with no questions asked. To me it seemed like we were adapting to Ottawa's gameplan, trying to figure them out. We have proven already this year (especially against Boston) that when we play OUR game we are a strong team and that when we chase teams around the ice we will lose on most nights. We know what works, we know who works with who so enough with the experiments because experimenting with losing just isn't fun.

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