Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Game #80

Habs Blank Sens and Take the Northeast

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Tuesday April 1st, 2008
Opponent: Ottawa Senators
Venue: Scotiabank Place, Kanata, ON


Team Stripes


Final Score: 3-0 - Win

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Martin Gerber (L)

Habs goalscorers: Alexei Kovalev, Mathieu Dandenault, Andrei 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 Division Title Since 1991-1992
1st 100-Point Season Since 1992-1993
1st Win Without Saku This Year (1-1-1)
1st Fight for Markov



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

Carey Price's goaltending was outstanding, but there was no one single save that I would consider the play of the game. That honour goes to a trio of Europeans tonight - our 3 biggest and best surprises of the year.

On the Power-Play and with the score at 2-0 the Habs were looking for a little bit of insurance. Our first unit was out there doing their best to put us up by 3. The play looked to be over as the puck was heading out of the zone just before Streit knocked it back in right to Kovy. Alex then skated back towards the blue-line trying to control the puck. He got control at the last second just keeping the puck from going out of the zone. The linesman made the right call in saying that the play was onside, but the whole Senator team was literally up in arms. The fact that they stopped playing because they thought it was off-side (soccer-style) meant that Kovy could find a wide open Andrei Kostitsyn. Andrei had time to freeze Gerber, drop him to his knees and then put a rocket top shelf up over the Swiss goalie's glove.



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

Carey Price

Price was very, very solid in this game. He came up very big at times, but it was his great positioning and movement that made this shutout look like it was easy. His best save came with 2 seconds left in the game as he robbed Schubert in close with a huge glove save. He deserved the clean sheet tonight as he was really at his very best.



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

Alexei Kovalev
- Kovy played a very good game tonight, much better than on Saturday in Toronto. He still doesn't look right wearing the 'C', but at least tonight he played like our true leader. He had a goal and an assist and was a big reason why we were able to shutdown Alfie's line

Christopher Higgins
- This was a very spirited performance from Chris. He didn't get any points, but did just about everything else. He skated well, created a lot of chances and had a very good game along the boards and in the corners

Steve Begin
- Steve was at his best of the year tonight. The Habs were 8/8 on the penalty-kill and Steve was the best killer of the lot. He blocked shots, he hit and he even created some havoc in the offensive zone

Defencemen

Ryan O'Byrne
- Ryan played his best game in a while which is great to see in the absence of the two biggest hitters of our defence - Komi and Bou. O'Byrne wasn't just hitting tonight though, he was killing penalties, blocking shots and playing very solid defence

Andrei Markov
- He was excellent tonight especially in his own end. He didn't give much space at all to Heatley, Alfredsson and Spezza and as we know without those 3 going the Sens aren't that scary of a team. He played very well on the PP too and looked much more at ease tonight thanks to being reunited with Streit

Goaltender

Carey Price
- Shutting out Ottawa in Ottawa is not something that I thought was going to happen this year for the Habs and especially not forrapp Price. At the beginning of the year they were the team to beat and that generally meant throwing Huet into the mix. Getting the shutout obviously became more attainable when Carey was made the #1 and Ottawa started sliding down the standings, but it still wasn't easy. The Senators know how to score and a superb performance was required tonight and Price delivered



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

He hit the 35-goal mark tonight and is now just 2 assists shy of the 50-assist mark. In Koivu's absence he wanted to let Habs fans know that the team was in good hands and that he would take on an even bigger leadership role. The best thing a leader can do is lead by example and that is what he did tonight. On Saturday the team looked lost, with no direction, but tonight they just did what Alex did, and it worked.

Kovalev's Assessment - Very Good



Overall Comments

Ottawa were the team they have been since Christmas tonight and so were we. We did play a very good game and it was definitely no walk in the park, but at the same time this is not the same Ottawa team that started the season. Having made very few personnel changes all year it amazes me how different the Senators are now as compared to the team that beat us (and the rest of the league) with ease early in the year. Something happened to their team and luckily we are now finally able to take advantage of their misfortunes. Their defence and goaltending proved to be weaker than I remembered tonight, but I was most surprised by their offence, or lack of it. As for Montreal, we played a great game and it looks like we are very confidant with only 2 games remaining. Our team is till missing some key components, but it was nice to see that even with a diminished squad we could get the job done.

Winning the division and getting 100 points is a great feeling. At the end of the day all I wanted to be able to say was that we made the playoffs and in reality that we do well in them. Winning the division and losing in round #1 is far worse than coming 8th and going deep in my opinion. We have done well to come first, thus giving ourselves better odds of going far, but as of now we have accomplished nothing. We have done well in the round-robin and soon the real season will start.

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