The Canadiens Game in Review
Date: Thursday April 17th, 2008
Opponent: Boston Bruins
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC
Final Score: 1-5 - Loss
Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Timothy Thomas (W)
Habs goalscorers: Alexei Kovalev
Opposition goalscorers: Phil Kessel, Glen Metropolit, Zdeno Chara, Marco Sturm, Vladimir Sobotka
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 Regulation-Time Win for Boston vs. Montreal this year
1st Goal for a Hab without a helmet this year (Kovalev)
1st Loss for either team this year after scoring 1st
Play of the game
The play you're straining to see on the press catwalk monitor...
The play of the game was quite simply the only play of the game tonight. Kovalev started and ended the play that got the Habs off to a great start in this one. He had the puck in the neutral zone when he was hit at the Bruins' bench by Chara. On the hit his helmet flew off and the long, blond hair came out. Kovy quickly got the puck back and was soon in on the left wing working his way through the Boston defence. He then dropped the puck back to the point where Hamrlik quickly passed it to Brisebois at the other point. Patrice let a knuckler go which ended up being head-high and about 10' off target. Luckily Alex was skating by and grabbed the puck with his glove and put it right down to his stick. As he skated across the high-slot he sent a low-backhand in past Thomas.
Trophies are for the end of the year, play well in the game, you get a lovely puck...
Alex may have been our best player tonight, but this was not a great game for the Russian sniper. His goal was the single bright spot for him and his teammates tonight, and granted it was nice. There were a few other scoring chances, and though they weren't much, they all seemed to start with Kovy.
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)...
- He continues to play well, but didn't see enough of the puck tonight. He is a scorer more than anything else, but to score he needs passes. When he did have the puck he did well as he put a couple of challenging shots on Thomas
- He was our best player tonight, but at the same time played quite an individual game. I think he is trying too much these days. He is trying to prove that he can handle the intense coverage from Chara by often times trying to beat him (or other Bruin defenders) 1-on-1. He is a great player, but a lot of his greatness comes from passing, something we need to see more of
- Plekanec was our most creative player tonight, although nothing much came of it. He played a lot in this game as Carbo is all of a sudden realizing that he only has one good centre in the line-up. He played with the most heart of anyone out there and had another strong game in the face-off circle (13/22)
- More than anyone on our team Josh understands his role. He doesn't think he is Bobby Orr (Brisebois), Chris Pronger (Komisarek) or Dion Phaneuf (Ryan O'Byrne), he just simply realizes he is a 3rd pairing defenceman and he plays like it. He played a very simple game which meant few chances around our own net and few giveaways. If the rest of the defence played with this caution the series would have been done
- Like a player playing without a stick or skates Hammer was paired with Brisebois. Now that the french media wants to knight Lord Breezer there is no measuring his arrogance. Tonight Patrice played one of his worst games in his NHL career (extremely hard to do) and it was Roman who was forced to clean up the mess. Roman played 27 minutes and was the only player to end with a + rating
- Price played his worst game since December tonight and quite possibly of his NHL career. I can tolerate 5 goals against and I can certainly understand that we will lose games. What I have no patience for, however, is cockiness, arrogance, but most of all players who give up. All game long Carey he was the goalie the media is saying he is - the next Dryden, Roy or Brodeur. He wasn't playing with his same assured confidence, and this was new. There were two plays in particular that make me really worried. The first didn't result in a goal, but came very close - it was a poke check right back to the streaking Bruin on a break-away. The second was releasing the puck in his crease with two Bruins behind him, done simply to avoid a whistle - it gave Boston the lead. No player should ever make a blind pass in front of the net (or in the crease!), let alone the goalie. The fact that he stayed standing up on this play showed the arrogance I speak of more than any other play. After that play, when he'd realized he blew it for us, he didn't seem to try, he just gave up. To me that is not a champion's attitude, that is a child's attitude. At 1-2 we had a chance, but thanks to Price we no longer did at 1-5. The rest of Carey's game was pretty bad too, especially his puck-control. If I were Carbo I would seriously consider putting Halak in for game #6. Young players have a tendency to easily lose confidence (Raycroft -2004) and once they do there may be no turning back. While I hope this isn't the case for Price I don't really want to find out in game #6
Eyes on Kovalev
Did he flit and float? Someone ought to keep track...
Let's not forget who Kovalev is. He isn't Crosby, Malkin or Ovechkin, he is just a really good player on a really good team. He has been our best player lately, but he isn't the only reason we are where we are. My fear is that Alex thinks he should be doing more, and he seems to be forgetting how he had so much success this year. Shooting on the PP and using his teammates is something that worked all year, I just wish he would go back to that now. He needs help and he needs to be reminded that he doesn't have to do it all himself.
Kovalev's Assessment - Good
The only difference tonight from games 2-4 was that Price gave up. Our team played a one-goal hockey game and it really probably should have ended 2-1 for either us or Boston. Defensively we weren't great, but when you consider that 3 of the goals were absolute gifts it doesn't look so bad. Offensively we only scored one, but what worries me more is that we didn't generate many other chances. We took more dumb penalties tonight which was a bit risky as it was only a matter of time until over PK returned to normal; we allowed 2 PP goals. Once again we didn't score on our PP, but I would argue that if Streit and Koivu were in we would have scored at least 2 more power-play goals so far in this series. What we are doing is ok in that department, we just aren't getting lucky yet.
The fans tonight were a bit much. Since when do Habs fans bring homemade Stanley Cups to first round playoff games? I thought we smart fans, classy fans. Also I heard fans singing 'Nah-Nah-Nah-Nah Good-Bye' before the game even started. I wonder if this arrogance or cockiness was somehow adopted by some of our players. The worst of all, however, was the clearing out of the Bell Centre after the 4th Boston goal. I am smart enough to realize that not every game will be a miraculous comeback and by that point tonight it was obvious we weren't getting the V. As a fan, however, you should never, ever give up on your team like that, it is simply disrespectful. We all have to realize that 4 wins (and hopefully 16 overall) don't happen in as many games. The other team is out there trying to win too and if we want the Habs to succeed they will need all of our support.
The time has come now for offence. Enough is enough with 3 non-offensive lines. Also, enough with defencemen playing forward. Before tonight we were 21-6-2 in our previous 29 games, and that didn't come by not scoring goals. That happened by having players like Grabovski, Koivu, Ryder and Streit in and players like Brisebois, Dandenault, Latendresse and O'Byrne out. Now that this series could go either way it is time to play injured players. I am willing to risk re-injury just like we risk injury with all of all players in each game. There is no point resting players for round 2 at this point, because if we do there won't be a round 2.