Monday, April 21, 2008

Game #1-7

Mission Accomplished; Habs Seal 2nd Round Berth

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Monday April 21st, 2008
Opponent: Boston Bruins
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC

Team Stripes

Final Score: 5-0 - Win

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

Habs goalscorers: Mike Komisarek, Mark Streit, Andrei Kostitsyn (2), Sergei Kostitsyn
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 Series Win Since 2004
1st Game 7 in Montreal Since 1992
1st Career Playoff Goals for Komisarek and Streit

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

With the game at 1-0 Boston was still very much alive. What the Habs needed was a little insurance and they got it with a spectacular effort from Mark Streit. The Habs were in the midst of a line change when Kovy hit a fresh Max Lapierre with a pass as he entered Boston's zone. Lapierre then dropped it for an equally fresh Streit. Mark then made a great move through the gaping hole in between Chara's legs and he was in alone on Thomas. He pulled off a great move to completely freeze the Boston goalie and then neatly slid the puck 5-hole to send us well on our way.

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

Saku Koivu

To me there is no greater playoff performer out there than Saku. He epitomizes everything that I would consider a winner to be; heart, dedication, hard-work, skill and most of all hunger. He played a fantastic game tonight as he truly led our team in all aspects of play. If there was ever anyone who knew how to use size and body position to win battles it would have to be Koivu. He brought all of his big-game experience to the Bell Centre tonight and sent 21,273 people home believing.

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)...


Christopher Higgins
- Higgs seemed like our most active forward tonight when it came to scoring chances. He was playing with 2 excellent players in Kovy and Saku and wasn't needed to lead them like he was forced to do with Ryder and Sergei earlier in the series. He was incredible winning the puck along the boards tonight and his foot work was absolutely impeccable. He may have been just 1 of 5 forwards held off the scoresheet, but he played a huge role in this win, as big of a role as anyone

Alexei Kovalev
- We all knew that Alex would bounce back after a sub-par game 6, I personally never had any doubt. The truly great players know how to handle the emotions of losing, of making mistakes and they know how to rebound. Kovy bumped his Game #7's record up to 6-0 tonight, something that I believe is no simple coincidence. He has another level which he can go to that is so much higher than the rest of the league. Tonight he made sure that not only he was playing at the heightened level, but that his teammates followed his lead

Saku Koivu
- I knew that Saku's return would be huge for the Habs as he has been the ultimate playoff performer ever since he has been with the Habs. The fact that he was able to miss 3 weeks and then come back and be our best player in 2 straight games says a lot about him, and a ,lot about his talent. Tonight he ended with 1 assist, was +1 and was 57% in the face-off circle


Mike Komisraek
- Mike played like a 20-year veteran tonight. All season long he had played with maturity and poise, but for a time in this series I thought he wouldn't show us that in the playoffs. I was wrong. Tonight he didn't play like a prospect, but for the first time ever in his playoff career, he played like a general. If you watch the hi-lights you won't see much of Kessel, Lucic or Savard - thanks Mike

Andrei Markov
- His 24:40 of ice-time was more than any other player on either team tonight. He ran the show in our own end with a lot of good, solid, calm play. I didn't notice one error in Andrei's game tonight. He did very well on the PK - he killed more than 6 minutes. I particularly liked the calm that he displayed amidst what must have been a truly out of control environment


Carey Price
- Look around the dome and I think you may see our 6 best players. That is why these players have big names, because in big games they step up. There may have been just a handful of games all year when our 6 best were actually in the dome together, if any at all. But, in a game #7 with everything at stake I wouldn't want (or expect) another group to lead the charge. Carey was fantastic tonight, especially during the first period in which he made a number of key saves to keep the Bruins off the scoreboard. I hadn't been convinced by Price for his whole career. I have been a fan and I have been hopeful, but not until tonight had I ever believed he was the real-deal. A shutout in game #7, at home in front of the craziest fans in all of North American sports is no small feat. He not only proved to Montreal tonight that he is a big-game goalie, he also proved it to his team

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

Mr. Game #7 gets it down again. Alex has an impressive record in these crunch games, a record at which I am not surprised. I have see this guy speak a lot, and the one thing that I can tell means more to him that anything else, is winning. He likes to score, he likes to be the star, but I believe that unlike other star players around the league, the team really comes first. His 2 assists tonight give a total of 6 points in the series, enough to lead the Habs. He may not have been at his best all series, but when we needed him the most he came through for us and quite frankly owned one Mr. Chara.

Kovalev's Assessment - Excellent

Overall Comments

Boston certainly came to play in this one, but seemed to lose focus and energy after the first period. The key for us, therefore, was that first period. The fact that we were able to take the lead early and weather their storm meant we got the crowd behind us early, got the confidence and momentum and never looked back. I thought that the last 2 periods were back to the way it was all season between the two of us - we played with speed and self-assurance as they simply watched us. Our whole team was on board tonight as they all chipped in and played their role. From Begin to Sergei, from Hammer to Smoke we had a complete effort. Like me, the Habs were not ready to start the golfing season, not after working so hard to get to #1. This was a long and tough series, but I am sure that the experience we gained will help us in round 2 and beyond. It was important for the Habs to see that no team is a push-over and, by thinking that someone is, you run the risk of becoming one yourselves.

So now we sit and wait. There is one more game in the East until we know who we will face. We know that we will start on Thursday at home to either Philadelphia or the Rangers depending what Ovechkin and Huet can muster against Philly. We know how to beat both of those teams, but like I said the regular season means absolutely nothing now. Since our cup win in 1993 we have only managed to win 2 games after the first round - both came against the Canes in 2002. I think it is time we put 15 years of hurt behind us and show the league that finishing 1st was no fluke. I think Saku put it best in his post-game interview when asked about the end of the series, with a grin he said ' this is not the end, this is just the beginning'.

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