Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Game #13

Habs Back on Track After Convincing Win

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Tuesday November 11th, 2008
Opponent: Ottawa Senators
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC

Team Stripes

Final Score: 4-0 - Win

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Alex Auld (L)

Habs goalscorers: Christopher Higgins (3), Guillaume Latendresse
Opposition goalscorers: None



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

The Habs strung together many great plays tonight in the offensive zone that it really makes this choice quite difficult. The good thing, however, is that one of the best plays all night resulted in a great goal and made Auld look absolutely horrible - it was great!

The puck came to the point where O'Byrne was waiting and he really stepped into one. He blasted a low, accurate shot on net that made Auld stretch to his right. Because of the type and location of the shot a rebound was inevitable and out the puck came into the slot to Sergei. Reaching and then falling Kostitsyn made a great pass to the other side of the net to Higgins. Surely most people would have shot in Kostitsyn's position and that is obviously what the Sens thought he would have done too. Chris had a wide open net to fire his 2nd of the night and 3rd of the year into.



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

Christopher Higgins
What a performance! Higgs was at his best tonight as he was flying all over the ice and was involved in every aspect. He scored his first career hat-trick and I think calmed some people down who already were calling for a 3rd line demotion. 2 of his goals were scored on breakaways - both were great goals and both showcased his incredible speed. With Chris playing like this his line, and the Habs, looked unstoppable.



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

Saku Koivu
Koivu and his line played exceptional tonight. Over the first 2 periods Koivu was everywhere and was really creating some serious chances. He made a lob pass, while short-handed, to Higgins on the Habs' first goal and it was truly amazing. You don't see many people pull that kind of thing off, or even think about it, so it just shows how alert Koivu was.

Andrei Kostitsyn
I thought that Kostitsyn got a little unlucky tonight by not registering a point. He played very well and was taking a lot of good, quality shots on Auld. I liked how he was throwing his body around as it really opened things up for Kovy and Pleks. There was one hit in particular on Fisher that was a real bone-crusher. He was the complete package tonight and I think the Sens took notice by the end.

Christopher Higgins
Wait a minute, all of a sudden Higgins has 7 points in 7 games, 4 of which are goals. Is he all of a sudden having a good season? Can one game do that? Well, despite not showing up too often on the scoresheet and contrary to what the media has been saying, I think that Chris has had a good start to the season. Tonight what happened, however, was that he put everything together. His skating, hitting, checking and especially shooting were all at their best. It is nice to once again have a Chris Higgins who is on pace for 40+ goals and 75+ points - just the kid we remember.

Defencemen

Roman Hamrlik
Oh how we missed Hammer against Toronto. He was an absolute rock in our own end tonight as he settled things down almost every time he was on the ice. He played over 22 minutes and blocked 4 shots; both team-highs. O'Byrne seemed the happiest out there as a full game alongside the Hammer put him at ease and he actually played some decent hockey. It would be nice for both players if we could keep this tandem alive and maybe, just maybe Roman will have the same positive effect on Ryan that he did on Phaneuf.

Josh Gorges
He played 2 seconds less than Komi tonight and a hell of a lot better. I think that Carbo is starting to notice just how good Gorges can be. The problem, however, is that unlike Markov or Hamrlik he can't quite carry a dud. Gorges needs to be paired with Bou or someone better, carrying O'B, or Brisebois would be too much as he isn't that dominant type of defenceman. I think he plays a very similar style to Francis and that is why they work so well together. A nice bonus was 2 assists for Josh tonight - he deserved them.

Goaltender

Carey Price
Very solid performance by Carey tonight. I think as fans we needed to see this type of game from one of our goalies to assure ourselves that we are a complete team after all. His positioning was very sharp and he seemed to get up and down and up again for shots faster than I have seen all year. This was the type of game that, as a fan, there were absolutely no nerves. I was confident with Carey and the D in front of him all night and I think it was pretty clear that the rest of the team was too.



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

Does momentum exist? Well as we know that term is used in hockey almost as much as 'back-to-basics', '110%' or even 'keep your head up and stick on the ice', but what does it mean? Momentum is defined as mass x velocity (p=mv). So, on a hockey team let's assume that the mass of a team remains constant throughout a game, so are we really talking about speed? Is it speed that can change and shift games? You know what, in a way it is, or at least that is where it starts. From speed come chances, comes excitement, comes noise and generally come goals.

If you ever wanted to see momentum being created and sustained then you must look no further than the midway point of tonight's second period. Out to kill a penalty were Kovalev, Koivu, Hamrlik and Gorges and it really looked like we were the one with the extra man. It was chance after chance from the K brothers as Ottawa were hand-cuffed in their own zone. A loud cheer of appreciation came after this display (which easily killed 30 seconds of a penalty) as it almost seemed at that point the crowd were fueling the players. 'p', or momentum was on our side and it was only a matter of time until we scored our second goal. It seemed, after that, that we were in complete control and there was no turning back.

So in what was considered a Must Win (Victory) game it was really Momentum, as the equation states, that got us those all important 2 points.


Overall Comments

As fans we knew that the Habs needed not only 2 points, but a good win and I think that, thankfully, as a team, the Habs knew that too. Right from the start of the game it was obvious that we were going to play some good hockey and that we were not going to roll over for the Sens. We drew an early penalty and, because of that, were able to set the tempo from the get-go. Our whole team played well tonight which meant we had continuity going throughout the game. One thing that we have had trouble with so far this year is playing a good full 60 minutes, or even good for a whole period at a time. Tonight I think that we had 3 good periods and that 4-0 may not really do justice to how well we actually played. The most encouraging part for me tonight was the play of our defence. Goaltending has, for the most part, been pretty strong for us this year, so I was never too worried. Offensively we have been scoring all year, even when we lose, so never a worry there. But, it was defence that had me worried. Did we have a corps good enough to play with and beat the big boys of the league? Well, I know this is just one game, but I think I'll sleep a little easier tonight after seeing that performance from our blue-liners. We shut down 3 of the league's best tonight and really had full control in our own end. It was a long time coming, but was still great to see.

We couldn't have really asked for a better start to the week, so I for one am very happy. We got 2 points, but more importantly, for the first time in weeks we dominated a game. We can now all breathe a little easier, but we still must keep our foot on the gas. We need 2 more points from our next 2 games, but nothing is stopping us from going for 4. I still want/need to see the Habs perform like they did tonight on a more regular basis, but am very happy at how they reacted to last weekend's games. They played like a top team should at home by punishing the suddenly very-average Senators.

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