Sunday, March 09, 2008

Game #70

Defending Champs Overwhelm an Intimidated Group of Habs

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Sunday March 9th, 2008
Opponent: Anaheim Ducks
Venue: Honda Center, Anaheim, CA

Team Stripes

Final Score: 1-3 - Loss

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Jean-Sebastien Giguere (W)

Habs goalscorers: Alexei Kovalev
Opposition goalscorers: Todd Marchant, Chris Kunitz, Samuel Pahlsson

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 Game that Plekanec has missed all season

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

Grabovski made the most of Plekanec's absence tonight by figuring in on the play of the game - our only goal. Mikhail skated behind our net and left it there for Hamrlik and then sprinted up the ice. Hammer hit Kostitsyn (A) with a perfect pass and Andrei just simply directed it back towards Grabo. Grabovski then skated in, accelerating past perennial Norris Trophy winner and NHL fastest skater Scott Niedermayer, and drew a penalty. Instead of giving up on the play and waiting for the whistle he deked out Giguere and got the keeper to fall to his knees off to the side of his net. Then, instead of shooting Mik did a tight turn to the right of the net and hit a wide open Kovalev who easily put the puck in an equally wide open net.

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

Carey Price

Price faced 37 shots tonight and without him back there this game wouldn't even had been this close, never mind being tied with 7 minutes to play. He was often hung out to dry by his teammates and he did really well given the circumstances. I thought he made a lot of smart plays with the puck, but he was also smart about leaving the puck to the defence when it was a close call.

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)...


Mikhail Grabovski
- I once again was impressed by the play and poise of this young prospect. He was asked to fill some big shoes tonight in Plekanec's absence and I thought he didn't look out of place one bit. He was fast, creative and was a constant threat for Giguere

Alexei Kovalev
- Kovalev scored his 30th tonight, a mark that tells us yet again the kind of season he is having. He was explosive out there and was one of only a handful of Habs who didn't seem intimidated by the reigning champs

Tom Kostopoulos
- Tom is doing all that he can to keep his line-up spot as he put in a second straight impressive effort. He had 5 of our 21 shots on goal, the second most by a Hab tonight. He played a physical game along the boards and in the offensive zone; it was the type of game we need from him on a constant basis


Andrei Markov
- Markov didn't have his greatest game of the season, but was still one of our top 2 D-men tonight. He skated very well and his passing was as good as ever. Tonight Komisarek wasn't too sharp and that simply meant our top combo was not as opposing

Roman Hamrlik
- With 70 games in the books for the Habs you really start to see what certain players are made of. Hammer played another solid game tonight showing us that he is a player built for the stretch and hopefully the playoffs. He would have finished in the positive tonight if he didn't have the misfortune of being teamed with Breeze-By for a second straight game - it was Patrice's pathetic attempt at defensive zone coverage which allowed Anaheim to take the lead


Craey Price
- Normally when Price loses it is because of poor play on his behalf. It is a rarity to see this year's Habs only put up one goal and to show so few signs of life. He deserved a better result tonight as I thought he gave an undeserving bunch a serious chance at winning. It will be interesting to see where Carbo goes from here, because we all know if tonight's game was Halak's (or Huet's before him) there would definitely be a goalie switch. Will we see win and you're in, lose and your out or will the Habs stick with Carey and you're in, anyone else and you're out

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

As predicted Kovalev had a solid game. Unfortunately it seems that the rest of his team were not quite up to the challenge of beating the Cup Champions. He made Grabovski look very good this game as they clicked with each other as though they were long time linemates. He has 12 games left to get us to where we want to be. It is now up to him, Saku, Hammer and all of the other veterans to take charge of this team and make sure we get the job done.

Kovalev's Assessment - Very Good

Overall Comments

If you missed this game and want to know how we played all you have to do is remember back to when we last played Ottawa or Detroit. We were scared tonight, we were intimidated, we were unsure of ourselves and worst of all we refused to play our game. For some reason we thought that the middle of the playoff-pack Ducks deserved some kind of respect since they are the Cup holders. This, unfortunately, is the same way we play against all of the 'big' teams. We refuse to stick to our plan as we skate around in awe of their players. We are the Montreal Canadiens, we have won 24 Cups, we are the ones people should be intimidated by. Until we get over our fear of beating successful teams we will never become one ourselves.

With the score at 1-3, with less than 4 minutes to play we got a Power-Play. We knew that nothing was really working all night, but instead iof changing anything up we just kept at it. In order to score 2 and force OT we were going to have to get lucky, because that was all we had left. The best way to increase your luck in cases like these are to increase your odds of scoring and that can be quite easily achieved by increasing your players on the ice. Carbo should have pulled Price to give us a 2-man advantage and give us a serious chance to get back within one. Unfortunately the guide to being a standard NHL coach doesn't have a chapter on creativity, thus we did not see this happen. I love having players that get creative, fancy and take risks, I just wish that the coaching staff would occasionally follow suit..

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