Friday, November 28, 2008

Game #22

Habs Lose Tight Game in Tough Building

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Friday November 28th, 2008
Opponent: Washington Capitals
Venue: Verizon Center, Washinton, D.C.

Team Stripes

Final Score: 0-3 - Loss

Habs starting goalie: Jaroslav Halak (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Jose Theodore (W)

Habs goalscorers: None
Opposition goalscorers: Tomas Fleischmann, Alexander Ovechkin, David Steckel



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

With Markov pinching the Habs gave up a 2-on-1 in the second period. Out of the zone raced Ovechkin and Kozlov. With the score at 0-1 we needed a big stop as it seemed we would never get one by Theo (where was that for us Jose?). Alex came down the right-wing and made a perfect pass to Kozlov who one-timed a very well placed shot on net. Halak showed great lateral movement by getting across and keeping the game close.



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

Jaroslav Halak
Do you think the team has something against Jaro? For a second game in a row he played very good hockey, but all his teammates have to show over that period is 1 goal. He was very effective for the first two periods as he was the sole reason we were still, at that point, within striking distance of the Caps.



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 worked very well tonight with what he was given. Kostopoulos is a good, hard-working player, but he should not be playing on the top line. With Sergei, Lang and Latendresse all available it was a joke to see a 4th liner up with Sak. Koivu, as usual, worked hard and was very effective during the second period - a period which we dominated. He went 9/15 on face-offs, the only centre above 50%.

Maxim Lapierre
Max was one of our most dangerous forwards tonight as he and his line did some very good work in the offensive zone. He isn't afraid to get involved in all aspects of play which makes up for sub-par skills. I liked his play with Andrei, but can only hope that was a one-game trial.

Guillaume Latendresse
Gui made a nice return to the line-up as he played quite well with Lang and Sergei. His play was a good reminder of how much better he himself is than he was last year. He takes decent shots, controls the puck well and can now actually move up and down the ice at an NHL level.

Defencemen

Josh Gorges
Josh was the only defeneman not on the ice tonight for a goal. It was unfortunate that Boudreau recognized a weakness and had Ovechkin out whenever O'Byrne was around (at least Brisebois didn't score in his own net this week otherwise the game may have ended up 0-7). Had Gorges and Markov been able to see more ice against Alex (like during a home game) then we would have been fine. Whenever Josh got the chance he shut down the Caps top weapons and left them very little space.

Andrei Markov
Good for Andrei, Josh and Roman to be in the dome so much, but you know what, it is bad for the Habs. Imagine every night you saw Kovy, Koivu and Pleks in as forwards just because our other forwards, even at their best, could never be better than those 3 at their worst. Well that is the situation we have on D right now. With no Komi, Streit or O'B v.07-08, we are really stuck. The other 3 players that make up our 6 blue-liners are, at best NHL 6th D-men (not so fast Patrice). So, Markov didn't do too much tonight other than be Markov.

Goaltender

Jaroslav Halak
Who would have thought that the goalie that may be better than the goalie that was better than the goalie that was better than Theodore would be beaten by that very villain. That my friends is hockey, weird things will always happen. I thought Halak played just fine and really had no chance on 2 of the goals. The third was, well, #8's magic, so how can you blame the kid there. Of his 27 saves I would say at least 10 were both crucial and spectacular.



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

Why must everyone (RDS, media, Carbo) give up on the team every time that we lose? Are we, as fans, really that foolish to buy into all of this nonsense, loss after loss? We just beat Detroit in Detroit, so why can't we beat Washington, right? No, wrong. There isn't a secret formula in hockey that once figured out you can just go on and win forever. It is upsetting to lose to a 'worse' team two nights after beating the best, but come on folks, be realistic. I mean do we say this? Kovalev scored a goal, so why didn't he score on his next 3 shots? I mean didn't he just figure it out? I am upset that we dropped 2 potential points tonight, but am realistic enough to be happy with 2 points on our 2 game trip in 2 very tough buildings. There are no givens in hockey which make it fun to watch over and over. Tonight we expected a win and got a loss. Reminds me of the reverse happening all but 48 hours ago.

So, I will not call for Kovalev's head, ask for one Kostitsyn to be traded, the other to go to Hamilton and I won't even go on about how glorious the all French 4th line is. Let's not forget these are the same 'experts' that were riding that Kovy and Kostitsyn trains hard last season. Everyone wanted to be Kovy's best friend, everyone claimed they always knew he was a superstar. Where exactly are those people now? I'll tell you where: right here. I am not going to throw in the towel on certain players or the team until they show they are not willing to play. I couldn't care a less about individual stats as all I care about is how an individual performs and competes and where the team sits in the standings. After 22 games I have to say I have no complaints. Not every player will be at his best every night (goes without saying if you've ever played a sport) and not every game is a win, and all of that is just fine by me.


Overall Comments

I saw a lot of good tonight and most of that came from Montreal. Washington got a lucky goal off an errant Bouillon pass, but aside from that had nothing to really offer (that our D or Halak couldn't handle) until a shift which came after 1:42 spent on a 5-on-3. As for us, we had a mediocre 1st period followed by a very good period and a half in which we hit a wall named Theodore. It is that simple - we had great chances and Jose decided to play better than he has done for over 6 years. Our 2 penalties (even-up calls) ended the momentum we had and we were never able to regain that thanks to Carbo's concession. After the Caps went up by 2 out came the towels as Kovy and co. (read: good players) were benched in favour of grinders. A power-play goal of our own could have made things interesting with 10 minutes left, but was a near impossibility as Begin, Lapierre, Kostopoulos and Dandenault's knee-high wrist shots from the half-boards aren't the hardest things to block. The one thing I am most angry about tonight is how Carbo just gave up. He ran out of ideas (A. Kostitsyn on the 4th line - cunning...) and simply mailed it in. With Doug Jarvis absent I am wondering if Guy lacked half of his brain tonight.

Heads up boys as tomorrow is a new day and another chance to move up those standings. Tonight marked the second to last road game before Christmas as we have just one quick trip to Raleigh in the next 4 weeks. Believe it or not that amounts to 10 of our next 11 games at the Bell Centre. We all know that we need a win tomorrow for the sake of this week and month, but let's also start this home-stretch on a good note. We have a unique opportunity in our hands over the next month and I hope that the Habs take full advantage of this scheduling miscue. I would like to see 15 points over the next 11 games and think I will make that our goal as we forge ahead.

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