Saturday, March 08, 2008

Game #69

New Goalie, Same Result; Habs Back on Top

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Saturday March 8th, 2008
Opponent: Los Angeles Kings
Venue: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA

Team Stripes

Final Score: 5-2 - Win

Habs starting goalie: Jaroslav Halak (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Erik Ersberg (L)

Habs goalscorers: Patrice Brisebois, Saku Koivu, Guillaume Latendresse, Andrei Kostitsyn, Tom Kostopoulos
Opposition goalscorers: Rob Blake, Anze Kopitar

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 In the NHL in Goals Scored - 222 (69 GP)

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

Our goaltending and defence were great tonight, but there was one goal that was better than any play in our own end.

On the Power-Play Koivu's line was being used as the first unit meaning that they were out there with Marky and Streit. Markov, from the left point, fed Streit on the right side who looked primed to shoot. He took a wind-up and shot one along the ice, towards the left corner. This was no shot, but was in fact a bullet pass right to Sak. Koivu simply put his stick on the ice (like we are always told as children) and just watched the puck change directions and jump up over the Kings goalie.

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

Jaroslav Halak

The kid (older than Price) finally got his chance to start a game and he made sure to make the most of it. He made 35 saves, 30+ of them were made to look easy. His positioning was great which enabled him to make the extra reach or stretch to gather in rebounds or push loose pucks aside. He played with the same level of confidence that we saw from him this time last year.

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
- Koivu added another goal today as his spring time/big game play continues to impress. He was quick on the ice all game and was often out-hustling the opposition. Ended in the black in both +/- and face-off wins (more than 50%)

Tomas Plekanec
- He apparently had the flu and there was actually a possibility he would miss the game. He definitely didn't let his illness slow him down on the ice as I noticed no real difference from his usual play. He had a perfect pass on our 4th goal, a goal which sealed the deal. Had a better face-off game than usual going 9-6

Sergei Kostitsyn
- Mr. Pleasant Surprise #6 of the season had another fantastic game. I knew the kid was fast, but today he actually flew. It is possible that the Kings defence and their lack of skating ability made Sergei look quicker than he is, but nonetheless he made it look easy. Had a great pass on Latendresse's first in a long time and improved his +/- with a +2 on the game


Andrei Markov
- LA had nothing against Markov and Komisarek today. They could probably claim that they just had no idea how good this tandem was and were waiting to see it to believe it. Well, they saw and after 60 minutes of hockey they are still trying to work the duo out. Put in his usual excellent performance at both ends of the ice

Roman Hamrlik
- If it wasn't for a courtesy game for the 'aged blunder' Hammer would have finished the game at +3. He played a great game today shutting down the attack on all but one occasion. To top off a great defensive effort he added two assists giving him 19 helpers on the year


Jaroslav Halak
- This start was a long time coming for the Slovak. Many believed that after his last start (New York, April 2007) he would soon get his next, likely in the following game against Toronto. We all know what happened there and that in the end the 06-07 Habs didn't have a happy ending. What we all didn't know was that a goalie who had brought us to within one game of a playoff spot wouldn't get the call in the Habs' goal for another 11 months. He has worked hard over the past year to be able to come back into the NHL and make it look so easy. Deserved the start, deserved the win - now deserves more of both

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

We have a game tomorrow night so it is a good thing that Alex didn't sparkle in this game. I know that he will give one very good/excellent performance each time we play back-to-backs, so with 2 points in the bank I am actually glad it wasn't tonight. Don't get me wrong he played a good game, he just wasn't the reason we won for once. He still played a big role on the PP and PK today whether he got points or not.

Kovalev's Assessment - Good

Overall Comments

The first period of this game did not look good. It was looking for a time that the Habs would leave the home of the NHL's worst team as embarrassed as the Senators had been just a few nights ago. That all changed when the world's worst referees (NHL) blew yet another call. This time, luckily for the Habs, the call went in our favour and it seemed to wake us up. The call was the disallowing of a Kings goal in the first - a goal that should never have been waved off in 100 years. The Habs reacted well to this turn of events whereas the Kings did not and, as they say, the rest is history. 50 minutes later we were 2 points richer and we had gotten our 3rd and 4th points of this road trip - mission accomplished.

This LA team, despite outplaying us in the first, looked like exactly what they are - the worst team in the NHL. They looked like a bunch of hot-shots down at the local rink who were only interested in making the pretty plays. They, like their management, lacked a concrete plan and played a very disorganized game overall. It just goes to show that all the skill in the world can never make up for the most important ingredient of all, teamwork. On paper, year after year, we think the Kings will do well, but after seeing today's display I can rest assured that that is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Carbo took advantage of playing the basement dwellers to give some time to oft-benched players such as Halak, ex-King Kostopoulos and the Breezer. Tom scored a goal and played quite a good game in his old haunts making me glad to have him there for when we need him. Halak was our best player and should definitely be a consideration more often than not as I am sure he can do what he did today against good teams. Brisebois too made the most of his chance by scoring a goal, but aside from a weak shot along the ice that hit a leg in front he played a miserable game. Patrice was the main reason we conceded our only even-strength goal of the game as he did what we would expect him to; he got beaten badly, threw up his hands, gave up the play and complained to the ref.

We kept each of our 4 lines' shifts pretty even tonight which is a great thing to be able to do. Each forward played between 10:56 (Latendresse) and 17:50 (Koivu) which is very rare to see from Carbonneau. Getting the 2 points was obviously the key in this one, but being able to save energy ahead of a huge match up in Anaheim was a nice added bonus. The pressure should be off tomorrow as we already have 4 points from this trip in the bank, but it is nice to see that we will be rested and ready to go.

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