Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Game #1-4

Price Fantastic as Montreal Squeaks Out a Nail Biter

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Tuesday April 15th, 2008
Opponent: Boston Bruins
Venue: TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, MA


Team Stripes


Final Score: 1-0 - Win

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

Habs goalscorers: Patrice Brisebois
Opposition goalscorers: None



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 Career Playoff Shutout for Carey Price
1st Career Playoff game for Ryan O'Byrne
1st Playoff Goal for Patrice Brisebois



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

You could tell right from the beginning that this game was going to be close and whenever a game is close the goalies are usually the key. Price made one save that kept the game tied at 0 and that was absolutely phenomenal.

Marc Savard had the puck behind our net when he spotted his favorite target, and natural goal-scorer, Glen Murray standing in the slot. The thing was there were 4 Habs players (and Price) in between Savard and Murray. Savard, however, being the great passer that he is found a way to get the puck to Glen who had a point-blank shot at an open net. As the pass came out and just before the shot Price made a desperation lunge to his left and made the save of the game as he seemingly effortlessly stopped the goal.



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

Carey Price

The Bruins didn't really bring their A-Game tonight, but then again neither did we. All we could muster was one Power-Play goal, so it was absolutely crucial that Price was at his best. On an off night, despite Boston's mediocre performance, this could have been a 3 or 4 goal loss. He played very solid tonight and made all the saves he had to and made very few mistakes. The thing that was great was that he was as calm in the first minute of play as he was in the last.



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

Andrei Kostitsyn
- This was certainly Andrei's best game since game #1 and quite possibly his best of the whole series. He used his speed and shot tonight. Unlike most Habs he didn't over emphasize hitting, but merely stuck to what he knows works for him. He had a great assist on Brisebois' goal

Tomas Plekanec
- Tom had said that he had played like a 'little girl' in the past two games which I believe may have been a bit too harsh. Yes, he hasn't played his best, but at the same time he has been shadowed all series long. The good news is, however, he managed to break free of his coverage tonight to play quite a good game. He was fast and creative during open play and also played well on the PP and PK

Christopher Higgins
- Chris looked less lost on the ice tonight than he had done in games #2 and #3. He obviously still misses Saku (the reason he is a true NHL threat), but tonight didn't show it as much. He applied a really good fore-check and gave the Boston defence a hard time all night. He was great in the face-off circle tonight winning 5 of 7 which is a relief after some dismal showings in that category of late

Defencemen

Andrei Markov
- Andrei played a very good game as he and Komi did another fantastic job at shutting down Boston's main threats. He looked a little better on the PP tonight than in recent games, but the unit as a whole is a step or two behind where they should be. He skated a lot more with the puck tonight rather than opting for the easy way out - dump-ins

Roman Hamrlik
- Roman rebounded nicely tonight after a sub-par performance on Sunday. He was very active in his own end, both with his stick and his body. Late in the game I noticed that it was him doing the best job of all the Habs to avoid a tying goal at all costs. He didn't get too involved offensively tonight, but that is fine by me, all we need from him is solid, no goal, defence

Goaltender

Carey Price
- We could have won this series in 4 games, but if not for Carey Price we could also have been down 1-3. He kept us in the game tonight and made sure not to let Boston even dream about OT. As we saw on Sunday, OT is more about luck than anything else, and at this point I don't want anything riding on luck. He continues to have a lot of trouble handling the puck behind his net and on a few occasions almost cost us a goal. That would have been a shame, because when it comes to positioning in his net and actually stopping shots he was fantastic. One thing I didn't really like was at the end it looked like he tried to shoot for the empty net. It could have been a clearing attempt, but I am convinced the shot was too hard not to cross Boston's goal-line. As it turned out the puck got intercepted and it almost ended up in the back of our net. If he limits the unnecessary plays he will shine that much brighter



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

Kovy managed an assist tonight, but in reality was a non-factor offensively in this game. He did, however draw a penalty and was very effective on the PK. Chara seems to have Kovalev figured out and is essentially taking our star forward right out of the game. The good news is, however, that if those 2 cancel each other out Montreal is way better off than Boston. Our team is much better built to deal with the loss of Alex than Boston is to deal with no Chara. If Julien's only strategy is Chara vs. Kovalev then I like our chances of winning a fourth game very soon.

Kovalev's Assessment - Good



Overall Comments

What happened tonight was we played down to Boston's level, thus making the game closer than it should have been. In fact the series on a whole has been way closer than it should have been. I will give Boston credit as they have got us believing that they are serious threat. All we did tonight was try to out hit a team that is supposedly big and tough. The last time I checked we are a bigger team than them, so do we really have to prove it with all of these hits? We used skill, speed and creativity all year to beat the Bruins, why is that not good enough anymore? We got lucky that our goalie and our defence were at their best tonight, because as I said above we could easily now be trailing in this series, and we would have no one to blame but ourselves. We are trying way to many tactics (line juggling, different players in/out, different strategies etc.) for my liking. Didn't we win all year by having speed and skill in the line-up (Ryder and Grabovski) and ineffective players in the press box (Latendresse, Dandenault, Brisebois)?

I will give Brisebois credit tonight though. He didn't play well enough defensively to be considered for the dome, but he did do one thing right. His goal was soft, but most of all it was unpredictable. His shot is so unlike other defencemen's shots, it is actually pretty good. He has certainly made the most of his chance this post-season and seems to be playing well enough for Carbo's likings at least. If he MUST be in the line-up though why not have him at forward and Streit on D. That way you get a way better defenceman and don't lose anything on the PP. The fact that Ryder was the one who was taken out tonight was mind-boggling. Latendresse and Dandenault have certainly done less this series than Mike and what's worse is that they have no real potential to get you 'that goal' when you need it most, whereas Michael does. Perhaps Carbo thinks this will be a long playoffs and he wants to give everyone a run to see what will work best in future rounds. That is fine by me, so long as we make those future rounds.

One thing I really liked seeing was George Gillett at the game. I know he loves attending home games as I always see him in the corner against the glass, but was particularly happy to see him on the road. He truly cares about the team, and not just from the owner's perspective, but more like the way that you and I do, as a fan. I also can't think of anyone else who got to see a Champions League Quarter-Final game the same week as a Habs playoff game, ah to own the 2 best sports franchises in the world!

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