Saturday, November 22, 2008

Game #19

Yet Another Shootout as Habs' Scoring Struggles Continue

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Saturday November 22nd, 2008
Opponent: Boston Bruins
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC

Team Stripes

Final Score: 2-3 - Loss (SO)

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Tim Thomas (L)

Habs goalscorers: Andrei Kostitsyn, Tom Kostopoulos
Opposition goalscorers: Milan Lucic, Matt Hunwick, (Blake Wheeler - SO)

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

On our 33rd shot of the night we tied the game and essentially bagged ourselves a point against the league's hottest team. We were applying tons of pressure midway through the third period and we were getting chance after chance which in turn had me believing that a goal was forthcoming. Brisebois got the puck at the point and either missed the net by 6' or missed a pass by 4', but either way Kotopoulos reacted well. He turned around and was able to re-direct the puck up past Thomas. I think that the puck must have been re-directed by about 60 degrees and by another 60 degrees upwards - it was a very skilled (and probably lucky) play.

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

Andrei Kostitsyn
This was a very good game for Andrei. He was very involved tonight, at both ends, as he was on the ice for all 4 goals. He wasn't, however, negatively involved during Boston's goals. He worked hard in the offensive zone as he wasn't afraid of getting his nose a little dirty. With speed, grit and determination he was able to generate more chances for the Habs tonight than any other player.

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)...


Alex Tanguay
Alex hasn't been at his best over the past few games, but I thought that tonight he looked a little better. Maybe he was inspired by the presence of his old landlord (he lived in Roy's house in Colorado) and teammate. He took the most shots of anyone tonight (5) and was really generating some quality chances. Along with Saku he formed a good duo, but tonight they were just that as I think they had at least 4 different wingers with them.

Andrei Kostitsyn
I think that over the past few games I have noticed something very important - Lang and Andrei play well together. If you are going to build your lines on duos then that may be where I go for duo #3. I love when Andrei is up with Kovy and Pleks, but for some reason that isn't working right now. Lang gives Carbo a viable 3rd option down the middle and he showed tonight that he is quite capable of keeping up with Kostitsyn's blistering pace.

Tom Kostopoulos
I always like when a player like Tom makes a difference in a game. Unlike Begin, Laraque or Dandenault I feel that Tom has some good offensive potential. His 2 points tonight were more about him being in the right place at the right time rather than his skill, but then again knowing where to go is a major skill in hockey. He works hard every night and apart from the odd mistake (Van Ryn) is a clean, hard-working grinder. Tonight he seemed to be on. He was very effective in both ends and was just 1 of 2 players (both teams) to end the game at +2.


Andrei Markov
The Habs were all over Boston towards the end of this game and everywhere I looked there was Markov. He didn't figure in the scoring tonight, nor did he pot his shootout goal, but I think he was one of our best offensive players. Chance after chance was crated by him as he did very well to launch attacks from the blue-line. Defensively what can I say, as usual he was a rock; he finished the game at +2.

Josh Gorges
Are we a better team without Komisarek? I would say no since Brisebois is his replacement, but I would also say that our top pairing is now better. Gorges was very strong in his own end in this game as he and Markov had the answer on almost every Boston rush. He played a very cautious game which I think is great. When you are playing with such a dynamic player like Markov there is no need to ever get out of position or to pinch too much. So far I like this tandem, I just don't think in the long run we are rich enough to keep using it.


Carey Price
This was a so-so game from Price. He let in one softy (the 2nd) and didn't seem too in control tonight. It wasn't a bad effort, but he didn't steal anything for anyone, that's for sure. He got a bit unlucky in the shootout when Wheeler scored as it appeared the puck got away from both players and ended up in the back of the net. He spent very little time away from his crease tonight which I think is fantastic. Shots against, for a second straight game, were low tonight and that is something that we must take full advantage of. I think we need Price to be a goalie that can steal games and one that can at least beat a team that we outshoot them.

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

When I think of hockey I think of one thing: Habs wins. I usually don't worry too much about what is going on elsewhere, all I care about are the Habs. When I watch Montreal play my main concern becomes winning, rarely am I interested in how they get there. I know for a fact that I would rather see a horrible hockey game in which we win 1-0 than an end-to-end game of excitement where we come up short.

Tonight, however, was different. I don't have that bitter taste in my mouth, so why is that? It certainly isn't because it was the Bruins got the win; I despise them, always have, always will. I think there are 3 factors that come into play tonight that made this game almost as good as a win.

The first is the fact that we got a point. I hate the rule and wish they would take it away, but as long as it is here I am happy to exploit it.

The second reason is that in all honesty that was a very entertaining game of hockey. There were chances at both ends, some good goals, the crowd was into it and it was really any one's game.

The third, and probably most important, reason why I am happy tonight is that I got to see my childhood hero back in a Habs sweater for the first time since I was 14. This jersey retirement was extra special for me as Roy was the reason I love the Habs, the reason I wanted to be a goalie (still do, but trust me it isn't working) and for once, there getting his number raised, was player I had watched and grown up with. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Gainey's, Dryden's, Cournoyer's etc. shirts going up, but I really had no memory of their playing days. Tonight it somehow seemed personal to my generation and it felt special. The Habs as usual put on a very classy ceremony and at the heart of it was a very classy (tonight at least) champion. Patching things up with the Habs after 13 years away, simply put, made losing a point not that big of a deal. One day, who knows, maybe Patrick will be employed by the Habs in some way, but today, I am happy enough to say that he is back in the family and that he is back home.

Overall Comments
What a great night in Montreal. It all started with a touching ceremony in which we saw the third Habs goalie to have his sweater retired. There in attendance to see their old friend accept this honour were numerous old teammates from Habs days gone by. Damphousse, Lebeau, Keane, Desjardins, Denis Savard were just a few of the familiar faces I caught a glimpse of at the Bell Centre. It was great to see all of those old boys and was also a great reminder of the talent we possessed back in those days. When you add Carbo, Chelios, Schneider, Bellows, Richer, Turgeon etc. to the list it really makes you remember just how strong of a team we were. So, as great as Roy was, he had a very strong supporting cast and you could tell by his words he knew it and was very, very appreciative of it. All it took, however, was one man to change things, well 2 I suppose. With the joint intelligence of Rejean Houle and Mario Tremblay rivaling that of a pea-pod it still amazes me how we have already recovered. Roy's return was a bitter reminder of how high we once were and of how low we had since fallen. What Houle would go on to do to the Canadiens (starting with the Roy trade) would cost us about 8 years of development. Poor trade after poor trade and the constant drafting of duds left this storied franchise, and their fans, out in the NHL wilderness. I didn't think I'd ever see the day when the Habs would retire Roy's number, but I also never thought I would see the day where we would have such men as Gillett, Boivin, Gainey and Carbonneau at the helm. Tonight the new Habs, in all their glory were on full display. It is thus quite funny, because as it turns out what once was old is indeed new again; class, wins and family, the current team in a nutshell.

As for the game itself it was a very spirited affair. Both teams were playing at their best and at times it actually felt like playoff hockey. There weren't really any poor performances from the Habs as Boston was simply just too good of a match. Our goals were the result of hard work and I thought that we really earned our single point tonight. This week turned out far better than the last as we finished with 5 points out of a possible 8. That isn't fantastic, but that pace would put us in the playoffs. This coming week promises to be quite charged as well as we have 4 games in 6 nights which includes a visit to Joe Louis. We are playing some good hockey right now, so let's go out and keep it going, let's get at least another 5 of 8.

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