Monday, November 24, 2008

Game #20

O'Brother

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Monday November 24th, 2008
Opponent: New York Islanders
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC

Team Stripes

Final Score: 3-4 - Loss (SO)

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Joey MacDonald (L)

Habs goalscorers: Steve Begin, Josh Gorges, Maxim Lapierre
Opposition goalscorers: Richard Park (1, SO), Trent Hunter, Bill Guerin (1, SO)



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

We had tons of chances and tons of great plays tonight, but I think it is obvious what this game will be remembered by. I won't, however, humiliate O'Byrne by making his goal the play-of-the game.

For me our best play came in OT, it was a Price save He was tested point blank and made an incredible pad stop which ensured the Habs would, for an 8th time this year, head to a shootout.



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

Josh Gorges
I really liked what I saw tonight from Josh. He was very alert with and without the puck as he seemed a few steps ahead of the play all game long. He played very well in our end and was a big reason we held the Islanders to 24 (23) shots. He finally managed to score his first goal as a Hab and I don't think it couldn't have happened to a more deserving 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)...

Forwards

Tomas Plekanec
Tom was reunited with his old linemates tonight and I thought as a unit they played very well. Of the 3 flashy Europeans is was Pleks that gave the most in my eyes. He led the team in shots (4), faceoffs (9/13) and added an assist on Gorges' power-play goal. He was very active in the Islanders' end tonight as he used his body and speed very efficiently to get around their slow defence with ease.

Maxim Lapierre
The 4th line (formerly known as the 3rd line) played very, very good hockey tonight. The key word to that statement is hockey. They weren't out there to hit, to fight or to grind, but instead they were out there to play. I think that during their 10 minutes on the ice they generated more chances per line than any of the 3 other combos. Max, to me, was the standout of the group. He scored a very good goal and was visible on each and every presence.

Christopher Higgins
Like Pleks and co. Higgins was also reunited with his usual mates. I thought that for the most part he did very good work on the top unit as he was the key forechecker of the group. He led the team with 5 hits tonight and seemed like the fastest and most persistent Hab in the 'mucking-it-up' department. He also made a glorious pass to Max on the Habs' 3rd goal.

Defencemen

Roman Hamrlik
Roman was very active tonight. He helped keep the play very calm around Price for the majority of the night, but he wants you to know that doesn't include when Price isn't there. He has taught Ryan so much and because of it the kid has come a long way, but of course there will still be growing pains. Hammer's job now is to re-instill the confidence that Ryan was showing up until about the 55-minute mark of this game. We have a leader like this in place for precisely this reason, so let's hope he comes through.

Josh Gorges
What more can I say about this guy. He has been a rock this year (and last) and I can't think of a better trade of late that Gainey has made. 2 months of Rivet for Gorges and a 1st rounder (Max Pac) was a hell of a deal - makes you wonder how Huet went for so little. I think Josh will be in the Habs' long-term plans and should form a solid foundation with Hammer, Marky and Komi for years to come.

Goaltender

Carey Price
Price played a very good game tonight and made the saves when he had to. That is, however, until the shootout where he looked horrid. I think we have been to too many shootouts now for our own good and too many teams now know how he plays shooters (the same is also likely true about why our shooters are all of a sudden firing blanks). Carey has grown this year as a player, but I think if we want to get 2 points instead of the usual 1 he needs some work on penalty-shots.



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

Let's get one thing straight - O'Byrne made a horrible play, it turned out it cost us a point and he (and we) will be hearing about it for years and years. We, however, were the team that put ourselves in the precarious position where one mistake may cost us one point, and of course it did.

The Habs were all over New York tonight, it was chance after chance and there was a plethora of quality in there. You may not realize this by simply looking at the stats, but that is because at least 20 chances missed the net. I would bet that we had well over 20 quality scoring chances tonight, far more than any other game since the last time we played New York 3 weeks ago. We outplayed the Isles tonight in a way that losing a point just doesn't make any sense. When you have PP after PP and tons of chances you MUST score. You can never get too many goals and tonight, I'm afraid, we didn't capitalize. Yes Ryan made a huge blunder, but that shouldn't have mattered as this game should have been at least 6-2 by then.

So, I feel sorry for the kid tonight, and as the world looks at how he cost the team, a little bit of me is thinking how the team cost him. Every good team can absorb mistakes, but right now we aren't playing at that level. We are flirting with the title of 'OK Team' as we need everything to go our way for those 2 points to come.

All of this said, do you think anyone feels worse than Ryan right now? Do you think that anyone would have wanted to win more than him after what happened? I doubt it. So, if Carbo was a little bit more adventurous I think he should have put O'Byrne in for the shootout. For some reason the usual suspects aren't getting the job done on penalty shots, so why not try something different? I mean at this point we look like a lock to lose the shootout anyway. I think that Ryan's motivation to win would have been unparalleled and it may just have been what both he and the team needed tonight. Let's not forget O'B is here to stay (3-year, 1-way contract) so I think making sure he is confident out there should be one of Carbo's biggest concerns. I don't see how benching him after the fact will have really helped anyone at all.


Overall Comments
The Habs played well enough tonight, that despite missing their chances they should have won. It wasn't, however, to be. O'Byrne did indeed make a meal of his play, but after that we had 4 minutes of PP and OT and a shootout - a better team would have won anyway. The game itself was quite entertaining as I felt the Habs played with a real spark tonight. Our missed chances, I believe, represent a team-wide lack of confidence as players like Kovy, Tanguay and Higgins should have converted on what were, at times, gimmes. Despite all the misses we still generated 3 good goals, a couple of posts and enough chances to last a week, so overall I am happy and I think that we are on the right track. I did remark during the game how the Habs were playing very good hockey as of late and I will stand by that comment. I think what is happening now though is a realization by the players and the fans alike that we may not be 1st place material, but that we do indeed belong near the top and certainly deserve a spot in the final 8 - and I think that understanding that is a very good thing.

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