Thursday, March 06, 2008

Game #68

It Wasn't Pretty, But Mission Accomplished

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Thursday March 6th, 2008
Opponent: Phoenix Coyotes
Venue: Jobing.com Arena, Glendale, AZ


Team Stripes


Final Score: 4-2 - Win

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Mikael Tellqvist (L)

Habs goalscorers: Tomas Plekanec, Saku Koivu, Andrei Markov, Sergei Kostitsyn
Opposition goalscorers: Shane Doan, Zbynek Michalek



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 70+ Point Season for Kovalev as a Hab (72)



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

To seal the much needed victory Higgins, Kostitsyn (S) and Gorges hooked up for one great play towards the end of the third.

With the game at 3-2 and with less than 2 minutes left in the game it was looking like Phoenix was going to score to tie it up. The Coyotes were applying a lot of pressure around Price, but we caught a break when the puck squirted loose in our high slot. Josh Gorges made a great play to stretch out and get it to Higgins who quickly put it up the right wing to the speedy Kostitsyn. Sergei easily beat the slow defender and was in all alone until, that is, the equally speedy Higgins caught him up. It was then 2 quick passes and 4-2 - Kostitsyn-Higgins-Kostitsyn-back of net.



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

Andrei Markov

Andrei was on the ice for 3 of our goals and neither of the Coyotes'. He played another stellar game on D tonight as he shut down Phoenix's 'big' names. He was very dangerous on the power-play and was a big reason that our league-leading PP struck for two more against the unsuspecting 'Yotes.



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)...

Forwards

Saku Koivu
- Koivu had the fire in his eyes tonight that we so often associate with him and big games. When he scored to tie it up and then when he was near by as we took the lead he was the Hab leading the cheers. He led by example tonight and played a good hard game

Alexei Kovalev
- Another great effort from Kovy as his season just keeps getting better and better. He had 3 assists tonight to give him 43 on the year for a total of 72 points. In his last 17 games he has 26 points which would equal a 125 point season - truly amazing from our star winger

Christopher Higgins
- Chris played a very aggressive game and was more noticeable tonight than during our 4-6 loss to the Sharks on Monday. He was a force along the boards using both his speed and strength to win battles one-on-one. He ended the game at +1 and added 2 assists to his totals this year

Defencemen

Andrei Markov
- By adding a goal and an assist tonight Marky now has 53 points on the year which puts him third overall in the NHL for defencemen. He, along with Lidstrom, Pronger and Niedermayer, has proven to be one of the best all around blue-liners this year. Rarely does a game go by where Markov doesn't do something spectacular\

Roman Hamrlik
- As the season wears on Hammer is asserting himself more and more. His veteran presence was very evident tonight as he showed he will stand up for his teammates and back down from no one. He has been playing with a certain hunger over the past few weeks, a hunger that will be a big help at getting us into the playoffs

Goaltender

Carey Price
- He rebounded nicely tonight from a very bad performance on Monday night. He stopped 37 of 39 shots in this one keeping us in the game early when we were being outplayed. The Coyotes tried their hardest to get Carey off his game tonight, but the young goalie kept his head and stayed very focused. He made his best saves in the first 2 periods (29 of them); two periods in which the Habs were badly outplayed



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

Gretzky said today before the game that Kovy should be considered for the Hart Trophy this year and after another performance like tonight's it is hard to disagree. It may be quite a stretch to call him the league's best player (especially since voters rely solely on stats), but it is worth considering him as one of the league's elite. The Habs surely wouldn't be atop the East in March without him playing the way he has done for us all year and, trophy or not, his contributions have not gone unnoticed. In my eyes, however, he is the same player he always been for us, the difference being that this year his line is completed by two very gifted young stars.

Kovalev's Assessment - Excellent



Overall Comments

The Habs didn't look that great in the first two periods of this one. It looked like we were going to leave the desert with nothing which would have been a shame considering the line-up we were facing. Carey Price, however, kept us in the game long enough that when we drew our penalties we were in the position to go ahead. Phoenix didn't have a great third period which was another reason that we were able to come away with 2 points here. They are a team that are in a 'battle' for their playoff lives, but after seeing their third period performance I am not one bit surprised that they are well on the outside looking in.

Thanks to a Pittsburgh loss, an Ottawa loss (0-2 to LA...ouch) and our win we are back in 1st place with 83 points. My goal is to come out of our LA area games with 2 points and return home for the last 12 games with at least 75 points in the bank. Things seem to be falling into place for the Habs as of late, but with 1/6 of the season still to be played the job is still not even close to being done. We will face a lot of teams who are playing for their lives from here on in and it is up to us to realize that our playoff life is more important than any of theirs.

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