Saturday, November 15, 2008

Game #15

The Effort Was There, Nothing Else

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Saturday November 15th, 2008
Opponent: Philadelphia Flyers
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC

Team Stripes
Final Score: 1-2 - Loss

Habs starting goalie: Jaroslav Halak (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Martin Biron (W)

Habs goalscorers: Alex Tanguay
Opposition goalscorers: Scottie Upshall, Jeff Carter

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

Our nicest play came right after we had a goal disallowed, right after. The disallowed goal was ruled no-good because the rule states that if the net is off a goal can't stand - it is a bad rule. The net being off had no effect on the puck going in and the whistle to signal stoppage actually happened after the puck crossed the line. A ref should be able to use his judgement and determine that since Hartnell knocked the net off by no fault of the Habs the goal should stand. Instead no goal, no penalty, typical NHL no action.

It was on the subsequent face-off that the play-of the game started. Koivu won the draw back to Bouillon and went straight to his office. He got the puck back and from behind the net made a nice pass through the defenceman's legs right to Tanguay. Alex quickly swept the puck far-side; the Habs had life, the fans had hope.

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

Saku Koivu
All night long Saku showed heart. He was the one applauding loudest for our Olympic medalists before the game, he was the one winning the one-on-one battles and he was the one at the heart of our goal(s). Tonight, however, he was on his own, I felt that his linemates - Tangs, Higgs and later Gui didn't add too much.

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)...


Saku Koivu
It is funny that Saku and Kovy can't seem to pile on the points at the same time. Last year was Alex's turn and it would appear, that thus far, Saku is up now. He has had a great start to the season and has been our most consistent player. Tonight was another great example of how he is leading by example this year, let's just hope he can get more followers on a game-by-game basis.

Maxim Lapierre
Max was forced to play with 2 absolutely useless players tonight, but then again what else is new. He can really fly up the ice, but when he gets there he is always alone. Big Georges and Begin lack the hockey skill to either get open or to not do exactly as the other is doing. Max created a few chances that hockey players would have likely converted. It is a shame when you decide you are a 3-line team and yet play 4 lines. Max, unfortunately, is the odd man out here as he could certainly play on the 3rd.

Christopher Higgins
A switch to Plekanec's line made Chris a little more noticeable tonight. I would still like to see him to play with Sak and Tangs on a regular basis though. We don't have to switch the lines every time that we go down in a game. I liked seeing Kovy with Chris, but I don't think that it brought anything to the game. Yes, Chris got more involved, but what good did it do for the team?


Roman Hamrlik
This was a great game for Hammer. He was exceptional in the blocked-shot department tonight as he got in the way of 7 Flyer shots - 4 more than any of his teammates. As usual he played a very calm game in his own end and was also decent in Philly's zone. O'Byrne, Brisebois and Bouillon all had trouble knowing when and when not to pinch tonight, Roman made it look like child's play.

Josh Gorges
Josh got the promotion tonight to Markov's pairing and I think he did well. I am not sure if in the long run this a tandem we would want to exploit (too strong? or does Marky need a hitter?), but tonight it certainly looked OK. Gorges' strong play as of late coupled with Komi's return to 2004 form has made Josh a true top-pairing contender. What I liked best tonight about Gorges was the way he moved the puck, it seems to be his main strength.


Jarsoslav Halak
Jaro played quite well tonight, especially early on when Philly was all over us. I think that 2 goals against should have been enough on most nights against Biron and the Flyers, but the offence for some reason has gone AWOL. He had some trouble handling the puck tonight which made me wonder if Melanson the problem? It isn't too far-fetched of an idea to think a brutal goalie would make a brutal coach, is it?.

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

Carbo had another chance to do something creative tonight, instead he shuffled the lines. With a struggling Power-Play (and offence in general) we had the chance to have a 2-man advantage with 3 minutes left. Once we had possession in the Flyers' end (or even before) I think we should have pulled Halak. Let's try 6-on-4 and see what happens. Odds are at 5-on-4 for 2 minutes and then 6-on-5 for one things would end up as they did. If we try 6-on-4 for 2 minutes, or less, then our odds would have gone right up. I would deploy an extra man in the centre, at the top of the circles to act as a quasi-point-man/extra shooter. It is decisions like this (or lack thereof) that unfortunately make Carbo a standard coach, the type of coach that can be groomed by studying the NHL Handbook on Safe and Boring Coaching; coincidentally being used by 28 other coaches presently employed in the league.

Overall Comments

Tonight wasn't a brutal game, it wasn't a reason to panic, it was a loss, and that is all. It was a good, old fashioned, loss; close until the end. The Habs could have easily played better, but at least for they weren't blown away. It was actually only the second time in 6 games that we haven't played bad, that is encouraging to say the least. The problem becomes, however, is this our best? After seeing so many off games, is this 1-goal performance all we have left? Did we just happen to hit a good stretch at the start of the year by chance? Have we tricked the league and the fans? I for one am not throwing in the towel, and I can't yet believe that we aren't good. I know we aren't going to go 8-2 every 10 games, but I also know we can win more than 1/2 of them. I know this because of the amount of pathetic teams there are in the league. We don't have to shine every game, and frankly not shining till April is fine by me, but me must pick up some points along the way. Tonight was a must win, which of course makes tomorrow the most important game of the season. Will 20 players show up tomorrow, will Carbo coach a good game? I think we need a lot to go right to get 2 points in St.Louis, but you know what, I still think that we are a good team.

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