Thursday, April 10, 2008

Game #1-1

Playoffs Are Here; Habs Take Early Series Lead

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Thursday April 10th, 2008
Opponent: Boston Bruins
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC

Team Stripes

Final Score: 4-1 - Win

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

Habs goalscorers: Sergei Kostitsyn, Andrei Kostitsyn, Bryan Smolinski, Tom Kostopoulos
Opposition goalscorers: Shane Hnidy

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 Home Game #1 Since The Kings in 1993
1st Career Playoff Win for Carey Price (1 GP)
1st Career Playoff Goals for Sergei, Andrei Kostitsyn, Kostopoulos (1 GP each)
1st Career Playoff Points for Komisarek, Streit, Lapierre

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

The 3rd line was applying a very nice fore-check all game and were particularly effective on this play.

The Bruins were unable to get control of the puck and tried clearing it by the boards. At the left point Streit made a great play to keep the puck in and instead of shooting he took a look and made a great bank pass to Lapierre behind the net. Max wasted no time with the puck as he quickly fired a perfect pass to Kostopoulos in the slot. Tom one-timed the puck, from his knees, and for the fourth time all game we scored a goal through Thomas' 5-hole.

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

Roman Hamrlik

Gainey made some great acquisitions last summer, but none may be more important than the big Czech defender. He may have been the steal of free-agency, a question that will be answered with a resounding yes if he keeps this play up throughout the playoffs. He was absolutely fantastic in his own end tonight, he really controlled the flow around Price. He had a game high 6 hits and they were all big hits too. Carbo recognized the type of game Roman was having tonight by rewarding him with more ice-time than any other Hab.

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)...


Maxim Lapierre
- It is still hard to believe that Max didn't make the team at the start of this year. Tonight he was our biggest pest on the ice and even though he may be small he backed down from no one. He led the team in shots with 5, hits with 6 and had a beautiful assist on our fourth goal. He brought a very good mix of offence and fore-checking to the game tonight

Bryan Smolinski
- Smoke built on his hot play of late to put in a very good game #1 performance. His line was a constant nuisance to the Bruins who just couldn't match the depth of our 4th line. His goal came at a very good time as it looked like Boston could have gotten back in the game. I think that he has come to realize that offence is still very possible and encouraged so long as he plays well defensively - which he certainly did

Tomas Plekanec
- The slow Bruins have now had trouble containing Plekanec in 9 games this season and it seems no matter what they try he has the answer. He was very clever with the puck in this game as he not only created chances, but never put himself, nor his linemates, in compromising situations. He excelled in the face-off circle winning 13 of 19 draws


Andrei Markov
- We looked at Markov and Chara as the two game-makers of this series and I think it was pretty obvious who came out on top tonight. Chara has been Markov's main competition this year to win the title of Eastern Defenceman of the year (be it points, defensive play or all-star votes). Markov, however, showed tonight why he is really in a league of his own. His play in both ends was again so dynamic that no opposing team seems to have an answer to his style of play

Roman Hamrlik
- It is great when one of the best defenceman in the league has a great game and is outplayed by a teammate. Hamrlik played with passion and desire tonight showing that he values nothing more than winning. He played with Brisebois this game, but wasn't called on too much to bail out Patrice as Hammer just seemed to take control of all situations himself. He will be almost, if not as, valuable as Markov and Komisarek this series and is truly a gem as a third defenceman


Carey Price
- As predicted Carey showed no signs of nerves tonight as this was just another night at the office. Granted he only faced 18 shots, but he still had to make the saves to give us that chance. The team looked 100% comfortable in front of him, a trait that is necessary at this stage of the season. His communication with his teammates was great tonight as he made very few (if any) mistakes handling the puck. Price's rebound control was fantastic and it meant that Boston's perimeter shots were nothing more that that

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

Kovy played well tonight, but was never called upon to steal us the game. He played a smart, conservative game, which is good considering how many tough contests lay ahead. The Power-Play lacked a little bit of synchronism tonight, but I am glad that an 0/5 night came now and not when we needed a goal. He had a few good chances and played well defensively, pretty much what you would expect from the player wearing the 'C'.

Kovalev's Assessment - Very Good

Overall Comments

What a start! Within 2 minutes we were up 2-0 with 1 goal from each of the Kostitsyn brothers. From then on we never really looked back. Boston did play strong during a 15-minute stretch which spanned the first intermission, but all they could muster was a single goal. After that it was back to good old Habs-Bruins hockey; Montreal shear dominance that is. All season long we beat them with speed, speed and more speed and tonight it was the same deal. For some unknown reason Tim Thomas has no confidence against the Habs and if they even want a fighting chance in this series they will have to make a switch at some point. The atmosphere was absolutely electric and the players fed immensely off the energy of the crowd. No team does pre-game psych-ups better than Montreal and I have to admit I was totally pumped at the start of this one. If playoff hockey means non-stop effort and action then we were treated to a true Montreal playoff classic tonight.

I was a little disappointed to see Brisebois and Dandenault playing tonight as I really thought O'Byrne and Grabovski had earned their spots. I know that Guy wanted to go with experience and experience is what those two have. I would like to point out, however, that in their 4 combined Stanley Cups (Dandy - 3, Breezer -1) neither player had anything to do with the victory. We aren't talking about Yzerman, Sakic or Niedermayer here, we are talking about guys who were in the right spot at the right times in their career. Youth and inexperience has been getting the job done all year for Montreal, so I was sorry to see this move. After all how else will those youngsters gain their experience. Soon, however, we will be getting two very good veterans back which should end this debate. Look for Koivu and Bouillon to take the spots of Brisebois and Dandenault and to add even more to this great group.

In all 5 Habs played in their first career playoff games tonight and all 5 had outstanding efforts - Kostitsyn, Kostitsyn, Lapierre, Kostopoulos and Price. I don't think that experience will play such a huge role in this series as we just have too many weapons for that to be a deciding factor. We know what to do against this team and more importantly we know how to do it. All four lines were going tonight and all 6 D. We played like a team and got the result because of it. The rest of the series will get tougher, especially the games in Boston, so the key is to keep fore-checking, keep skating and to keep exploiting a team we know oh so well.

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