Saturday, April 19, 2008

Game #1-6

Bruins Get Final Say in Back-and-Forth Affair

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Saturday April 19th, 2008
Opponent: Boston Bruins
Venue: TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, MA

Team Stripes

Final Score: 4-5 - Loss

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

Habs goalscorers: Christopher Higgins (2), Tomas Plekanec, Francis Bouillon
Opposition goalscorers: Phil Kessel (2), Vladimir Sobotka, Milan Lucic, Marco Sturm

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 Goal for Plekanec
1st Games this playoffs for Koivu and Bouillon
1st Goals for Higgins (2) and Bouillon
1st Points for Koivu (2)
1st Bad Game all season for Kovalev

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

Our 4th goal was the nicest of the bunch and turned out to be the last before 'next goal wins' started.

Boston had just taken the 4-3 lead and it looked like the game may be over. Luckily for us no one told that to Saku and his line who had an answer just 11 seconds later. The puck got dumped in soon after the face-off (which Saku won) at centre ice. It was then the captain who raced behind the net and knocked the much bigger (4" taller, 20 lbs. heavier) Shane Hnidy off the puck. He then fed Sergei Kostitsyn who came out from behind the net and found a wide open Christopher Higgins who buried his second of the game; it drew the teams level on goals for the fifth time all game.

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

Saku Koivu

Well if ever there was a Hab who was known for big game heroics it was Saku Koivu. He played a major role in 3 of our goals tonight and looked liked he hadn't missed a beat despite not playing in over 3 weeks. Sadly, he was one of only a handful of Habs who realized that this was a playoff game and what's worse he seemed like the only one of that group who knew what to do in that situation. He was our best player in every aspect of play tonight and the fact that we only lost by 1 goal can be traced directly to him.

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
- It was a triumphant return for the skipper tonight and all that was really missing was the most important piece of the puzzle - the win. He had 2 assists, was 71% in the face-off circle and was just one of 3 forwards to end with a positive +/-

Steve Begin
- Steve played with a lot of grit tonight. He was the only one of our players who even attempted getting under Chara's skin as it seems the rest of the team have become too intimidated by the giant. He had a great assist on Plekanec's goal and even had a few chances of his own on Thomas

Christopher Higgins
- Higgins finally showed up in this series, and what a surprise it coincided with his move to the wing and the return of his centre. His 2 goals were goal-scorers goals and were good examples of how we can play while Chara is off the ice. Clearly Higgins was lost without Saku, do you think Carbo has figured out that the same may just be the case with Ryder


Andrei Markov
- This was not a great game by Andrei Markov and quite frankly he hasn't really been at his best yet this series. To me he is the key to our success, he runs the PP, he runs the PK and he runs the defensive corps. Tonight he was our best defenceman, but that was more by default than anything else. He made some mistakes and looked a bit sloppy in his outlet game, but overall was decent enough. Had the rest of the team played excellent that would be one thing, but when they don't it becomes obvious that we need him to shine

Mike Komisarek
- Mike actually ended the game at +2. The only goal for which he was on the ice was Lucic's which was a deflection from a point shot right after the draw. If Saku was the forward who showed the most heart then Mike was the defenceman. He played a good defensive game and remained calm and collected when Bruins players came looking for trouble. Tonight he showed that he is quite capable of playing well physically while at the same time keeping a cool head and not taking penalties


Jaroslav Halak
- The goalie who showed up tonight was the same goalie who played on Thursday - a rattled rookie. Carey let in 5 goals and had another 2 posts. That amounts to way too many pucks by a goalie for playoff hockey. Granted Price wasn't helped a great deal by his defence, but with a 4-goal outburst he could have won us this game. The time to bring Halak in was tonight for Game #6 and I fear a goalie switch for Game #7 would be foolish. Although, if there were one thing Carbo has taught me this series it is that foolish line-up decisions don't scare him

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

For the first time in 88 games Alex played a bad game. Tonight he yet again allowed Chara to get the better of him, but due to his poor play Chara's wrath was able to reach much further than in games past. We need Kovy to be a good player, he doesn't have to be a superstar every game, but we need a competitive effort. He didn't battle tonight and his play with the puck was quite sub-par. He seems frustrated at the constant attention that he is receiving and by the lack of space he has, but if he truly is a great player he has to fight through that. I know he has it in him, we all do, and if there has ever been a chance to prove yourself as an impact player it has to be in a Game #7. Markov may be the key to success, but if Kovalev is able to rise up it will make Andrei's job that much easier.

Kovalev's Assessment - Bad

Overall Comments

What happened? The shots were pretty even, both teams yet again failed to score with a man-advantage and we both made a ton of mistakes. So we were pretty even I think, well there is the problem. For the past 5 games we have been even with Boston and they have won 3 of those 5 games. The Habs are the better team in this series there is no doubt there, but what is happening is that we are playing worse than we should and they are playing better. The good news is that we will have a 50/50 chance to pull this one out, the bad news is we only have a 50/50 chance of pulling this one out. The difference may be that the Bruins believe they can achieve whatever they put their minds to, whereas I think we are stuck believing that 'we are better than them, we are bound to win'. Playoffs are a different ball-game altogether and to win a playoff series you have to forget absolutely everything that happened before it. No Habs, there is no bye to the second round, no saving injured players for later in the playoffs, no time to work on the PP - it all must be done now. We have one game left and all of sudden our 88 previous games mean nothing. I don't care who is hot, who is cold, what our percentages are or how often we win a series when we are up 3-1. None of that matters one bit. We have a one game season and the prize is passage to the next one.

It was nice to see 3 injured players return tonight. Saku, of the three, had the best return and yet again proved his true value. A player can have 100 points in the the round-robin or 40, but all that matters are these games, the playoffs, and Saku showed us why he is our best player. Bou scored a goal, but played pretty poorly in his own end. Luckily for him (and unluckily for the Habs) he was nowhere near being our wort defender. Streit came back as a forward and had a pretty uneventful game, that is until Carbo used him as a D-man when we needed a late goal. So Carbo, are you saying that if we need goals he should play D? Good to know, and it would have been nice if you employed this strategy in the past few games. I want to see our 6 best defencemen and our 12 best forwards playing on Monday. Simple really - stop goals with good players, score goals with good players. Enough with D playing O and enough with Old playing D. Out with Dandenault and Brisebois, in with Ryder and Grabovsky.

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