Saturday, February 16, 2008

Game #59

1 Goal is Enough, Price Shuts-Out Flyers

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Saturday February 16th, 2008
Opponent: Philadelphia Flyers
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC

Team Stripes

Final Score: 1-0 - Win

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Antero Niittymaki (L)

Habs goalscorers: Andrei Kostitsyn
Opposition goalscorers: None

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 Career Shutout for Carey Price

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

Have you seen Ovechkin's unbelievable goal that he scored while on his back? Want to see it again?

On a PP (1 of our 7) Kovalev took a great pass from Markov. Alex then broke into the zone and deked out a couple of Flyers before losing the puck. At that moment Kostitsyn came flying in to pick up the loose puck and work his magic. He cut in front of the net from left to right and tried to stuff it in, but Niitty got the leg out. Then, as he was falling Kostitsyn reached back behind himself and slid the puck in while falling to his back. It was absolutely fantastic.

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

Carey Price

Carey just played his best game as a Hab and considering he has never played at such a high level I would argue that it was his best game ever. He made 34 saves and was definitely deserving of his first goose-egg. During a third period 5-on-3 Price was unbelievable. At one point during the two-man disadvantage both he and Hamrlik had lost their sticks, but that was no problem as he just did what he had been doing all night - he stood on his head.

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)...


Andrei Kostitsyn
- His goal was something quite special and I urge you all to try and see it if you missed it. The goal was his 18th of the year; quite something for a prospect that 90% of Habs fans had written off. Hopefully that will make people think twice about the value of Koivu, Ryder and Higgins and the potential of Chipchura, Halak and Locke. Andrei looked threatening all night, he used his speed very well

Maxim Lapierre
- Max didn't back down from the bullies tonight showing that he has what it takes to be an NHL agitator. He showed a lot of zip around the ice and hit everything that moved. Finding him permanent linemates may be a project that will have to wait till next year as I feel his offensive potential is still being under-exploited

Saku Koivu
- Another good game from Saku. The chances were there for him and his linemates, but a stingy Flyers D and keeper would have none of that. He excelled on the PK, especially during the 5-on-3. He was used in the last 1:20 for his face-offs and defensive play and he didn't let us down - winning key draws and clearing the puck twice himself in the last minute


Roman Hamrlik
- We have missed Roman over the past 5 games (1-4 in his absence). He was a calming influence all night and looked like he hadn't missed a shift. I had forgotten just how much he means to our team, sometimes taking him for granted. With Markov and Komi shining every night it is easy to forget Roman, but that would have been hard tonight. He played a very smart game in both ends and was our best penalty-killer

Francis Bouillon
- He stepped up while Roman was away and the good news for us is that he didn't let Hamrlik's return slow him down. He hit absolutely anything he could tonight, never at the expense of his defensive responsibilites. With Streit at forward Bou can make a good #4, but would be best as an above average #5 as we should build around a solid core of 6 which includes Mark


Carey Price
- This is what we have all hoped for for as long as I can remember. Carey stole a win for us on a night that could have easily been a 1-5 loss. He got lucky a few times with some early whistles and some goal-mouth clearances, but luck is a big part of being good. He was hounded when we were killing our penalties, but he stood his ground and never looked intimidated. His positioning was perfect; he stood up, moved with the shooters and best of all rarely left his net

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

Kovy had an assist tonight, but that goal was about 99.9% Kostitsyn. Kovalev usually plays well against the slow Flyer defence, but tonight he failed to get into his groove as the penalties stopped the flow of the game on many occasions. His penalty-killing was the best part of his game tonight, especially during the 5-on-3. It is great that your top offensive player can be called on to play defence - a complete hockey player.

Kovalev's Assessment - Good

Overall Comments

The Habs needed to get at least 2 points this weekend agaisnt Philly, so, mission accomplished. We will try and get two more tomorrow, but at least now the pressure is off. After losing 4 of our previous 5 games we could ill-afford another regulation loss. We probably cut it way closer than necessary by only scoring 1, but luckily Price was at the top of his game. The game was really just a series of power-plays and had no real flow other than that. The NHL wants each team to get their fair chance with the man-advatage to make sure the maximun amount of fans are interested. This baseball type of your-chance/my-chance works for the league, but is hard to watch as a fan. It doesn't seem to matter how dirty (or clean) a particular team may play as the penalties will always even out. Why do you think Carbo/Gainey saw the necessity to have a potent PP?

With our 2 best D in the box Carbo had a choice to make during our 2-man penalty-kill. He had to choose 2 units of 3 to hopefully kill off the penalties - the league's attempt to force OT. He looked to his 2 best available D (Hammer and Bou) and his 4 best forwards (Sak, Kovy, Higgs, Pleks). I liked how Carbo didn't get sucked into the idea of playing defensive forwards (aka bad forwards) in a 2 D/1 forward unit. He made the call that Kovalev was a better choice than O'Byrne or Kostopoulos and so on. It worked really well for the Habs, although without Price it may have been all for nothing. Carey did well to get us the win, but let's not forget recent history - Price has only won twice since mid-December (the Habs past 2 games). Huet, on the other hand, is the reason we are where we are - just 2 points out of 1st. We got the 2 points we needed out of this deal, the pressure is off, so it is time to call on Cristo for tomorrow's game. If we neglect him like we have done at least 3-4 times already it will kill his confidence and that is not something that we do not want to be doing at this stage of the season.

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