Saturday, March 22, 2008

Game #76

Habs - 8, Boston - 0; Canadiens Sweep Away Bruins With 11th Straight Win

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Saturday March 22nd, 2008
Opponent: Boston Bruins
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC

Team Stripes

Final Score: 3-2 (SO) - Win

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Timothy Thomas (SO)

Habs goalscorers: Andrei Markov, Andrei Kostitsyn, (Saku Koivu - SO)
Opposition goalscorers: Marc Savard, Petteri Nokelainen

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 11-Game Win Streak Over Boston in Team History
1st Point for the Bruins this season vs. the Habs (16 for the Habs)

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

With the game in his hands Saku Koivu was put to the test as the final shooter in the shootout. Price had stopped the first 3 Bruin shooters and Thomas the first 2 Habs. Koivu skated in very fast and immediately went to the backhand. We have seen him pull a variety of moves in the shootout from that position, but this one was new, and surprised us all. Instead of coming to the forehand to shoot or faking forehand and then going back to his backhand Saku didn't deke at all. He froze Thomas with the puck on his backhand and went five-hole to win us the game.

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

Saku Koivu

Saku's line, and the captain in particular, was an incredible force tonight. He, along with Ryder and Sergei Kostitsyn dominated most of their shifts as they kept Boston in their own zone for many extended periods. Koivu had a flurry of chances that seemed to last the whole game. His puck-control was the best that I have seen from him all season as he is now definitely into playoff mode. On top of having an excellent 65 minutes he added the shootout winner to cap off an exceptional night.

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
- His shootout goal sums up Saku with one word: confidence. He was not afraid of anyone tonight and wasn't afraid to try anything either. He was at ease in his own end and was more than alright in Boston's end. The search for permanent wingers for Sak is down to 4 (Higgins, Ryder, S. Kostitsyn, Latendresse) with tonight's 2 leading the way. Boston focused their attention on Kovy's line and Koivu's line was there to take advantage. Another spectacular night in the face-off circle: 14/21

Michael Ryder
- Koivu's confidence must be contagious because Mike had to have got it from somewhere. Ryder looked more his former self tonight than at any other point all year. He played a big part on the Habs' first goal and was at the root of many more chances throughout the game. Tonight he was fast and he hit, boy did he hit

Steve Begin
- Begin made his second return from a lengthy injury this season tonight. His most recent absence lasted 11 games and it was obvious right from the opening draw that he couldn't wait to be back. He played a typical Begin-type game as he hit, he hit and he hit some more. The Habs haven't really missed him as their results were still stellar while he was out, but he does, however, add a lot to our team and makes us that mush better. Look for him to have the most impact in our games against Ottawa


Andrei Markov
- When we found out that Komisarek would be out for 3 weeks we all wondered who would fill the void left by Big Mike. A lot of names went around, but few people suggested that Markov would be the one to step up. Well, he did just that, he played an even more complete game than usual and it made me even forget Komi was out. He was incredible in the offensive and neutral zones tonight and his 15th goal of the year was a piece of beauty

Josh Gorges
- 25 minutes of ice for Josh Gorges, who would have thought. Like Mark Streit 2 years ago Josh struggled to even crack the team this year. For most of the fall he sat out in favour of Brisebois as it looked like he had no real future with the team. Luckily for Gorges (and the Habs) Brisebois' extremely weak play caught up with him and gave the youngster his chance - he hasn't looked back ever since. Tonight he played alongside Marky and he did an excellent job. He joined in on the offence which was a very pleasant surprise


Carey Price
- This was a very solid outing from Carey. I would be hard pressed to find even one mistake tonight as he played a perfect game in and out of his crease. His play in the shootout was stellar as he gave absolutely no room for the Bruin shooters to shoot at. Each time he wins a close, hard-fought game like this one it is just another lesson learned for the kid. His team is starting to play with the same confidence in front of him that they were playing with in front of Huet

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

Boston's game-plan tonight was their best all year against us, but still was not enough. They decided to focus all of their attention on Kovalev's line and on Kovalev himself in particular. He did well to create some chances and even drew a crucial penalty, but I think that it is safe to say this was his least effective game against Boston this year. His offence may have been halted tonight, but one area that he dominated was the PK, especially during the last 2 minutes of the third period.

Kovalev's Assessment - Good

Overall Comments

The Bruins gave us their best game of the season tonight, but still it wasn't enough. We have absolutely dominated Boston ever since Game #5 of the 2004 playoffs as our once fierce rivals are slowly becoming the Habs' favorite opponents. Giving them one point tonight was probably the smartest thing we could do as helping them get into the playoffs is exactly what we should be striving to do. If the playoffs were to commence tonight we would quite possibly be playing them in the 1 vs. 8 match-up; a match-up that I think we all would love to see. Our winning streak is now at 11 games over Boston which is our longest ever streak against them (our previous best was 10 straight during WWII). Boston is actually a better team against the rest of the league than we are, but thanks to our 8 wins this year we are now 10 points clear of them in the table. The Habs didn't have their strongest offensive effort tonight, but they definitely played with a certain playoff intensity. Boston was a desperate team, desperate to get into the playoffs and desperate to beat us. I would like to think that we may have helped them with their first issue, but when it comes to beating us they can forget about that for now.

This was a really good week as we got 5 of a possible 6 points giving us 94 with 6 games to play. 100 points is well within reach and, thanks to some other results, winning our division (and quite possibly the conference) has never been closer. We are only 2 points away from our goal and from what will be more or less a guaranteed playoff berth. Our 6 games left are against Ottawa, Buffalo and Toronto (2 each) and all promise to be very heated games. Unlike Boston, those 3 teams have very good records against us in recent seasons and all have a lot to play for right now. I would deem the remaining two weeks of the season a success if we won 3 of those games and didn't allow Ottawa any extra, OT points. The end of the regular season is near and then it will be time for the best season of all in Montreal - The Stanley Cup Season!

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