Thursday, November 20, 2008

Game #18

Montreal Comes Back 3 Times Before Finally Winning It

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Thursday November 20th, 2008
Opponent: Ottawa Senators
Venue: Scotiabank Place, Kanata, ON

Team Stripes

Final Score: 3-2 - Win (SO)

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

Habs goalscorers: Saku Koivu, Andrei Markov (1, SO), (Alex Tanguay - SO)
Opposition goalscorers: Dany Heatley, Nick Foligno, (Jason Spezza - SO)



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

In the second period Price made a save that was in my opinion one of the best of his career. Montreal gave up a 2-on-1 to Ottawa. Off to the races were the equally speedy Vermette and Kelly. Kelly, the puck-carrier made a nice pass over to Antoine who had a pretty big net to shoot at. A well placed shot was fired, but there, in a flash, with his right pad was Carey Price. It kept the game tied which given our fragile mental state had more connotations than may meet the eye.



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

Andrei Markov
After 2 periods I was ready to call-out Markov. He was partially to blame for Ottawa's first goal and on top of that he wasn't playing a very strong game. What he did from the third period onward, however, helped to change my mind, a lot. He not only scored our second goal and a shootout goal, but he was, for 25+ minutes, at his absolute best. This was a performance that I will not soon forget. He shut everything down in our end and got things going in the Ottawa's on numerous occasions.



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
The captain played a very good, energetic game. He was very good on the PK and defensively in general. He scored a PP goal with a very nice move out from the corner. He got stoned in the shootout, but all can be forgiven as Tanguay scored where Saku wanted to. Overall I thought he played very well with Latendresse and Tanguay and I would actually like to see that line keep going. So far this year that has been our best unit and tonight was another clear example of that.

Steve Begin
Begin was all energy tonight. He played like the Steve Begin of years gone by and I think it lifted the team in a way. He fought (where was Laraque - oh ya, right beside him pushing someone) when Hammer was hit after the whistle and later properly dropped the gloves. I don't think that we need fights for the sake of fights, but when I see Begin fighting to defend his players and to show that we won't be pushed around it makes me glad; if only we had a player designated to do that every game...

Sergei Kostitsyn
Sergei took his new line assignment (4th with Begin and Laraque) and made the most of it. Despite being the only skilled player on his line he still made things happen out there. I like seeing players that won't go out without a fight and who are capable of a demotion and doing something positive with it. Unlike Samsonov, Kostitsyn went to the 4th line, played hard and worked his way back to the third unit by the end of the game. Oh yeah, almost forgot, he assisted on both goals.

Defencemen

Josh Gorges
At over 27 minutes Josh was the most used of all players tonight, by either team. I didn't notice him much for what he did do, but more importantly for what he didn't. There were no real mistakes, no giveaways, no careless pinches. He kept his game simple and it really helped. Often times it is the little things that win you games and I think that of all our players Gorges did the most little things tonight.

Andrei Markov
There aren't many defencemen in the league that can turn an ordinary game into a win like Andrei can. This, to me, is his true value. Yes, I know he will always be solid going both ways, but at the end of the day he is a game-breaker. He has an ability not seen in years on the Habs' blue-line to take control of a game for the better. I was so impressed tonight by how he kept working and working until it finally all came together.

Goaltender

Carey Price
This was a very nice outing for Price. It was an easier night for him than Tuesday was as he only faced 25 shots, most of which were very manageable. He did, however, at times steal the show. His play-of-the-game save was absolutely beautiful and essential as were countless other stops along the way. He made a fantastic glove save (a la Roy) on Ruutu's penalty which you should all try and see - it was stunning. With the last penalty-shot going wide (Vermette) that glove save would be the last save of the night. It is, therefore, funny that the last save made by a Habs goalie while the #33 isn't retired would be made in such spectacular, Roy-like, fashion.



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

Did Kovalev save us the game? Towards the end of the 2nd period Kovalev tripped super-pest Ruutu and was assessed a 2-minute penalty. Because Ottawa had the puck they played the advantage and play kept going. 3 seconds later the puck was at the back of our net and the Sens were up 2-1 (another deficit for us), or were they? Bouillon had just swept at the puck right before the shot came in, thus stopping play (the whistle was never heard as the crowd was cheering for the goal, but it did indeed sound). So, had Kovalev not tripped Jarkko we would have been down. Ottawa failed to convert on their PP, so it was with a 1-1 scoreline that we would head to the dressing room, but more importantly with our spirits still in tact.

I am glad, for the Habs sake, how this all panned out, but come on, what a stupid rule. We made slight contact with the puck and this is why we are saved? I know it is a rule and it was the right call, but I think that the league should review this one. Considering how the league always wants goals and excitement why wouldn't they want to keep this particular play alive. So, this is what I propose as a way to keep the excitement alive. When a team has a delayed penalty I suggest that the soon to be penalized team must either touch the puck outside of their own end, or, if hemmed into their own end, then clear it. What that would do is it would allow for plays like tonight's (and countless others) to carry on while the attacking team was going for it. It would make it harder for the defending team, but would also mean that unintentional touches, like we saw tonight, wouldn't be enough to get a stoppage. Maybe this idea is too left-field for our ever conservative league, but I think it would be fun. After all, should taking a penalty really be a way to stop a goal? I am happy tonight, but I think that this one is worth consideration.


Overall Comments

This game had very good flow from start to finish, but it was obvious that both teams were playing not to lose. It was a very cautious opening 40 minutes for both sides as neither team could really afford another loss. The shots after 2 periods were 11-11, a far cry from the type of game we played the other night. I thought that the Habs did quite well to build from the back tonight. You must always start in the back, goals will come, but at the end of the day you need to be strong at the back first. Our defence and Price were solid tonight as all 7 men kept their plays very, very simple. I noticed that Price rarely played pucks behind his net and when he did, he didn't take chances. You can't go a whole season being cautious, but I think when things aren't going well it is a good way to start. We saw that by the third period, when both teams opened up, the play remained simple. Yes, there were more chances at both ends, but overall it was all based on simple play, by both teams. Once we went down in the third we started to turn it on, and it was at that point that I saw the Habs of 3 weeks ago on my TV. We were getting tons of chances and because of this increased time in Ottawa's end, guess what, Ottawa didn't get many chances of their own.

So, let's take a look - 3 game road trip, 4 points - not too bad by my standards. We all know that the game against Carolina was close and it was a good effort, but that is a road loss for you. What we have to do, more so than anything, is avoid the big blowouts like we saw against Boston. If we can keep games close, I believe that our skill will get us more wins than not. We have one more game this week and I see it as a perfect opportunity for a huge game. We get another shot at Boston, at home, on Saturday night and it it Roy's jersey retirement night. Let's win one for the fans, for ourselves, but how about for Patrick too.

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