Monday, October 13, 2008

Game #3

Habs End Season-Opening Road-Trip With Another Win

This is LIW's first Game Review of the year and we would like to welcome back our loyal readers as well as welcome any new Habs fans to the sites. Topham's wedding and subsequent holiday meant that we have missed a couple of game reviews, but we are now back and ready for a another great season.

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Monday October 13th, 2008
Opponent: Philadelphia Flyers
Venue: Wachovia Center, Philadelphia, PA

Team Stripes

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

Habs goalscorers: Andrei Kostitsyn, Roman Hamrlik, Mike Komisarek, Robert Lang, Steve Begin
Opposition goalscorers: Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Simon Gagne



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

Carbonneau decided to come back with the line that worked oh so well last year - Plekanec-A.Kostitsyn-Kovalev. It was this line that started the scoring and supplied the footage for our first Play-of-the-Game of the year.

Andrei had lost the puck in Philly's end when he came to the blue-line and made a great check on the puck-carrier. He then stole the puck, got onside and got back in position to receive a zone-entering pass from Markov. The pass was quick and so was the wrist-shot. Kostitsyn wasted no time sending one of his patented top-corner shots up past Biron to break the ice in what turned out to be a second high-scoring performance in a row.



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

Andrei Kostitsyn
Andrei just continues to improve. After a stellar end to the season last year it was more and more obvious as we approached this season that he was going to become even more of a star. Tonight he was the best Hab on the ice. He made several fantastic plays and is playing with more size and confidence than even a few months ago. He managed a goal and an assist in the game and also finished at +2.



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

Sergei Kostitsyn
When the game started I wasn't sure what to expect from Sergei and his line. I had yet to see Lang play in a regular season game for the Habs and always knew that Kostopoulos could be hit or miss. So, I thought that Sergei may fade in and out of the game as many Habs 3rd-liners of recent years have tended to do. Instead, however, Kostitsyn, like his brother took control when he was on the ice. His great vision led to another 2 assists and numerous other chances. He sees the ice so well, which is such a great gift to have as a winger.

Andrei Kostitsyn
Andrei was the best player on his line tonight which would certainly scare me as an opponent. With the way that Kovy and Pleks have been playing of late it is quite the achievement to be the best of the lot. What I particularly liked about Andrei tonight was how he took control. It appears that he is no longer interested in being Kovy Jr., Andrei wants to become a star all of his own.

Robert Lang
I was pleasantly surprised tonight by the play of Lang. I always liked him as a player and have often thought he would have done well on the Habs. I did, however, expect less from him at this stage of his career and I was anticipating another Bonk or Smolinski. Lang played a very good game in both ends and was actually our best centre. He makes up for his age and diminished pace with great passing and very good positioning. His goal was an example of how a great hockey player never really gets old.

Defencemen

Andrei Markov
Higgins was once again absent tonight which meant a big letter 'A' for Andrei. I find that he plays better for us when he does wear a letter and tonight was no different. He was great in both ends and was a single bright-spot on an otherwise dismal power-play. His passing, puck-control and ability to keep the puck in at the blue-line made him our best player with the extra man tonight. He managed 2 assists in the game, and as usual played more than any other Hab.

Roman Hamrlik
Hammer was solid again tonight. Last year he was a model for consistency and from what I have seen it looks like this year will be no different. He was very physical as he often won the crucial one-on-one battles and was often a reason why Philly found it hard to gain any sort of momentum. His positioning and hockey-sense earned him a goal, which, along with his assist and the fact that he wasn't on the ice for any of Philly's goals, made him our most valuable blue-liner tonight.

Goaltender

Carey Price
The bottom is that Carey got the job done. He wasn't spectacular, nor was he very dominant, but when we needed to stay in the game he kept us there. There were a few instances that made it very clear he did not spend his summers learning to handle the puck. I know that he worked hard to lose weight and build strength over the off-season, but at some point the kid has to learn to handle the puck, or, this may be crazy, not come out and play the puck on every single occasion.



Eye-Openers
In this new section we are going to try and shed some light on certain plays or events that would otherwise go unnoticed

Tonight something that caught my eye were the events leading up to and culminating with our 5th goal. There was nothing special about what happened, but more so about what could have happened. With about 45 seconds left Koivu was on the ice, skating up through the neutral- zone with the puck. He had a wide open net to shoot at, but before he did, he did something very simple, he stepped over centre-ice. It turned out his shot missed and thankfully an icing call was avoided.

The Habs then worked hard to keep the puck in the zone and it eventually paid off. Like all kids (and adults) are told, Begin shot the puck at the net. He didn't know what was in the way, he hadn't lined it up just right, but with 35 seconds left all he did was throw the puck towards the goal. The result of this blind shot was a goal, some relief and a win.



Overall Comments
Tonight's game wasn't all that exciting, but at the end of the day the Habs got the job done and even managed to pot 5. I am very happy with the offensive depth that we have this year and I think it has shown by scoring 12 road goals in 3 games. I think the team shouldn't have too much difficulty making the playoffs and it looks like they will once again be a main player in the East.

One thing that worried me from tonight's game, however, was our play on the Power-Play. So much of our success over the past 2 years has been thanks to our tremendous play with the extra-man, but I think we took a certain player for granted when we assumed our success would carry forward. After losing Souray we had a natural (and possibly better) replacement in Mark Streit. Mark was so offensively talented that he was the perfect point-man. We never really missed Sheldon as Streit could move the puck so much better and it actually helped to improve our PP.

For 4 Million Dollars we decided to go for Lang and Brisebois rather than Streit this year. What that has done to our team will only be told in time, but so far, I don't like what I see. We have no player able to play the point like Streit did which was painfully obvious tonight - Tanguay had such a hard time keeping the puck in and moving it around at the back. Forwards at the point don't generally factor into the league's top PP's and I think this is a mistake for us. Beyond Markov we have no legitimate offensive-defencemen with the club and it will hurt us as the season goes on.

It was alright to take Souray for granted because our depth allowed it. After tonight though I have come to the conclusion that we lack depth at defence and the PP will be the first area to suffer.

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