The Canadiens Game in Review
Date: Saturday April 26th, 2008
Opponent: Philadelphia Flyers
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC
Final Score: 2-4 - Loss
Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Martin Biron (W)
Habs goalscorers: Saku Koivu, Andrei Markov
Opposition goalscorers: R.J. Umberger (2), Jeff Carter, Daniel Briere
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 Goals of the Playoffs for Koivu and Markov
1st Assist of the Playoffs for Higgins
1st Saturday Night Home Loss in 2 Months (Feb. 23)
Play of the game
The play you're straining to see on the press catwalk monitor...
Our first goal was a result of hard work and effort and gave the Habs life at a time in the game where it seemed like we wouldn't get anything past Biron.
The puck ended up behind the net on the Power-Play and in came Koivu. He made a great hit to win the puck, but was then subsequently knocked off the puck and he fell to the ice. While he was on the ice he got the puck back, got to his feet and took a look at Biron on the other side of the net. Martin was expecting Higgins to emerge with the puck on his right so there was a gap at the left post for Saku. Without wasting anytime Saku quickly wrapped the puck in for his first playoff goal since 2004.
Trophies are for the end of the year, play well in the game, you get a lovely puck...
For the third time in 4 games Saku was our best player. He was absolutely dominant tonight as he seemed to be involved in almost every one of the Canadiens' serious chances. His play has inspired Higgins who is playing great hockey right now too. What I continue to notice about Saku that is so unique is the way he uses his body, his stance and his skates to keep and win the puck. He is constantly not only winning open pucks, but is holding on to them long enough to find an open winger or point-man.
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)...
- His passing was on tonight, especially the passes he made to his brother Andrei. He applied a very good fore-check all night and played well in the corners. He refuses to back down from the older, tougher opposing players as he showed again tonight that he will mix it up with pretty much anyone
- Chris came ever so close to tying the game up in it's late stages when he ringed one off the left post on the PP. That was the story of Higgins' game - tons off chances, no luck. He had a great pass on Marky's goal for just his first assist of the playoffs. He did an excellent job of winning pucks tonight and getting them back to the point, or to Saku, as quickly as possible
- Just where might we be without this playoff performer? I know it was a tough loss tonight, but there are 26 NHL teams out there who wouldn't mind being tied at 1 in the 2nd round. Koivu continues to give the Habs another option around the net. He had another 2 points tonight, giving him 6 so far - in only 4 games. Once again he was big in the face-off circle as he won 58% including a few in key, PP, situations
- The more and more I see of Josh Gorges the happier I am about that trade. Then I watch San Jose play and see what we gave up to get Josh (Rivet) and I can't seem to thank my lucky stars enough. Once again tonight Josh did all the little things - he stayed out of the box (0 PIM in the playoffs), played simple D, pinched when the time was right and best off all drew a penalty late in the third which very nearly resulted in a tying goal
- Andrei didn't have his best game of the playoffs, but was still quite effective. Tonight, however, it was his offence that stood out more than his defence. He scored a key goal and played extremely well on the PP. He seemed a little lost at times in his own zone; especially on our fourth goal where he could be blamed as much as Price. The fact that he is in here despite sub-par defensive zone play should serve as a wake-up call to the others; Komisarek in particular
- Carey let in 2 weak goals within the first 9 minutes, on only 5 shots. At that point in the game I thought to myself that we would be able to score 2 to at least send this game to OT, so it was up to Carey to let up no more. Well, you can add two more weak ones to the list as he was the biggest reason we lost this game. The time was right to give Jaro a shot halfway through the first, but Carbo didn't budge. I would still come back with Price (which I guarantee Carbo does) in the next game, but he MUST cut out the mishandling of pucks, we can't afford to lose games in which we outplay the other team
Eyes on Kovalev
Did he flit and float? Someone ought to keep track...
Kovy played a decent game, but ultimately was not a factor. He looked particularly dangerous on the PP and had it not been for bad luck and Biron's heroics he would have had a few points and a higher game rating. From the red-line forward I thought he was way better than he was behind it as he seemed to lack a bit of conviction in his own end. Once again he worked very well with Saku and considering how much chemistry the Kostitsyn's have together I would find it hard to believe Carbo would put Alex back with Pleks just yet.
Kovalev's Assessment - Good
Our skaters outplayed their skaters in this one from start to finish, without question. The difference in this game was goaltending. Price was never really tested yet let 4 in on just 23 shots. Biron, on the other hand, played his best game of the playoffs as he made one spectacular save after another. Overall he stopped 34 of 36 shots, most of which were high quality. The Flyers played exactly as I thought they would; slow, dirty and disorganized. They took penalties at the wrong time (right for us) and it was almost their downfall. The Habs skated harder tonight, won more battles and must have out chanced Philly 5:1, but we simply didn't get the goaltending support we needed. We have now outplayed Philly in 2 games, but believe it or not are quite lucky not be down 0-2 in this series. Hard work is essential, but if we want to win this series we will need better team defence and more dominating performances from Carey.
We now head to Philly for 2 games and we MUST return home with at least 1 win. Boston proved to us just how hard it is to recover from a 1-3 deficit, no matter how well you play. Hard work gives you a chance to win, but it basically comes down to skill and luck for the Ws at this point. I know the type of player Price is and that makes me confident for Monday night. He will be better, so all we have to do is keep working hard. If we play like we did tonight and the goaltending differential between the two isn't so vast then we will win more games than the Flyers from here on in. If we really want to put the pressure on Biron and Philly then Game #3 has to be one of our best of the playoffs; judging by what I saw towards the end of the game tonight that shouldn't be a problem.