Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Game #57

Habs Lose 3rd Straight; Huet Shines in Florida Sun

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Tuesday February 12th, 2008
Opponent: Tampa Bay Lightning
Venue: St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, FL

Team Stripes

Final Score: 2-3 - Loss

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

Habs goalscorers: Christopher Higgins, Tomas Plekanec
Opposition goalscorers: Maxime Ouellet, Vaclav Prospal (2)

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 that we have lost 3 straight games in regulation time this year

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

Huet had the play of the game with an unbelievable save late in the third period. The puck bounced around before it ended up on the Tampa player's stick in the low slot. He snapped a low shot that would have made the game 2-3, but Huet kicked out his right pad and with his toe kept the game tied at 2.

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

Cristobal Huet

Cristo was the only reason this game was even close, without his stellar goaltending it wouldn't have even been worth playing the third. Tampa outshot us 36-21, but likely out-chanced us 20-5. Huet looked shaky early ( a carry-over from the Ottawa game?), but after the first period he was near unbeatable. The saves he made weren't just routine saves either, as Tampa's chances were very dangerous, they were mostly of the 'wow' varitey.

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 again played with a lot of energy and was one of just 3 players to finish with a + rating. He doesn't get enough credit for the work that he can do defensively. People often point to his low +/- as proof that he can't play in his own end, but I think that there is a very logical reason for that. His line is no longer called on to shutdown the oppostion's best and because of that he rarely is on the ice with Komi and Markov. Most goals can be attributed to poor play by the defence rather than by the forwards and if you always play with the weaker D of course your rating will take a hit

Christopher Higgins
- Scored a very good goal within the first minute giving him 17 on the year. He played a good aggressive game and was part of the Habs best trio on the night. It was good to see his line score again and I hope that it will only increase from here on in. We need this line (Sak, Ryder, Higgs) to be among the top 6 forwards of our team each night

Tomas Plekanec
- He scored a very nice goal, courtesy of Streit, and also had 5 shots on net. He was our most dangerous forward and had incredible speed tonight. His face-offs still need improvement as he had another sub-40% game in that department


Mark Streit
- I am going to put him as a D tonight because who wouldn't want him in that position? He split the game at forward and D logging near 7 minutes at each position. He looked very good on a rush during a first period power-play which eventually led to a great pass and a sweet goal from Pleks

Francis Bouillon
- Francis played over 20 minutes and ended up with an even rating. He played a simple game and made no major mistakes. His verteran presence has been noticed during Hamrlik's absence as he has stepped up and taken more responsibility. Did well on the PK tonight - he was aggressive


Cristobal Huet
- He rebounded well from his worst ever performance on saturday with very solid and spectacular play tonight. His team didn't perform defensively in front of him and this game could have been a huge blowout. He faced the shooters well, rarely left his net and covered rebounds in a timely fashion

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

I felt that Alex never really got into this game. He was on the ice a lot against Vinny's line and I think on this night we were simply outmatched there. His best shift was a shorthanded shift that he and Koivu played together - they held the puck in Tampa's end for over 30 seconds. What a surprise, our 2 best players can dominate when they play together. It is too bad that we don't try that more often as Koivu with a superstar winger can be one of the league's best pivot-men.

Kovalev's Assessment - Average

Overall Comments

Losing 3 in a row (4 of 5) at this time of the year is a tough pill to swallow. We are still very much in the playoff picture, but our chances at 1st or home-ice are slowly fading away. The goal has always been a playoff spot and I believe we have the team to get there. The team, possibly distracted by the recent evets involving O'Byrne and Kostopoulos and fomer teammate Zednik, didn't play as a unit tonight. The passing was off, the chemistry was gone, but despite all that we still came close. It is always a good sign when you come close to winning in your bad games. Blowing leads is tough as are missing key chances to score, but the good news is that tonight's team isn't the one that we are all used to seeing.

Our defence looked pretty suspect tonight as we were missing 2 huge pieces - Hamrlik and Streit. The loss of those 2 show us how our 'depth' in that position is somewhat exaggerated. Tonight we had Komi, Markov, Bou, Gorges, O'B and Breeze and they looked average at best. Last year we had the same first 3 as well as Rivet, Dandenault and Souray (assuming Streit at forward and Niinimaa in the press-box). I would say that what we had out there tonight was a worse unit than last year and I would say that we dropped the ball tonight. Last year's crew wasn't good enough for post-season play so without Hammer and Streit back there in their usual spots I don't see how we could claim that this year's group is. The help is on its way though - when the invaluable Streit and Hamrlik are inserted back in at the expense of Brisebois and Gorger/O'Byrne. Like I said before, we have the players to get this done, so let's just get it done.

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