Saturday, December 06, 2008

Game #26

Habs Struggle to Breakthrough the Trap

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Saturday December 6th, 2008
Opponent: New Jersey Devils
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC

Team Stripes

Final Score: 1-2 - Loss (OT)

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Scott Clemmensen (W)

Habs goalscorers: Matt D'Agostini
Opposition goalscorers: Jamie Langenbrunner, Zach Parise



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

The game started very well for the Habs and our good start included a pretty nice goal. Markov sent D'Agostini away up the left-wing and he flew with the puck. He almost got right around the defenceman, but instead stopped. As he stopped he fell, but rather than giving up on the play he kept fighting and was able to tip the puck to Saku. Then, more impressively, he got up in a flash and headed for the net. At that moment a high shot came in from Saku which the goalie was unable to catch. That meant there was a fat and juicy rebound sitting right outside the crease for Matt to simply sweep home. Matt's effort level on this play was very high and that is how he got himself into the right position at the right time.



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

Carey Price
One mistake by Price allowed New Jersey to tie it, but I think without him our one goal would have never been enough for OT. He made a lot of great saves on what turned out to be a pretty good night for the Devils. There were dangerous shots and chances coming in from everywhere and for the most part Carey was up to the test.



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

Matt D'Agostini
Matt now has 3 goals in 4 games which is quite something for a rookie on the Habs these days. He was the best player on his line tonight as his speed put him above the rest. I like how he just keeps going and going and I can only hope that if he wins a full-time spot he keeps up this high-tempo (want to make a good impression) style of play.

Saku Koivu
The captain moved into sole possession of 11th spot on the all-time Habs scoring list and now sits just 12 points back of Elmer Lach for a spot in the top 10. He played well tonight as his line was by far the most dangerous and the only one able to break the trap consistently. He happened to be on the ice at the end when New Jersey scored, but there was little he, or anyone could have done.

Tom Kostopoulos
This was a very good game for Tom as he was the best player on his line. As a Habs fan you never want to see players like Tanguay and Plekanec be outplayed by Tom, but at least Tom is playing really well. It would be a bigger issue if he was the best of the 3 while playing badly. He got himself into some good positions tonight, but unfortunately lacked the hands to convert. I liked his work ethic all night as there was good forechecking coming from him.

Defencemen

Andrei Markov
2 things about Andrei tonight weren't so pretty. The first was the fact that the goal against us was more his fault than any one's. A mal-timed pinch sent New Jersey in on a 2-on-1 which led to their goal. Then, late in the third, he got hit in the face with the puck. The blood seemed to be coming out very fast as he skated quickly off the ice. He didn't return, but at that stage of the game I wouldn't have expected it even if he was OK. So we hope he is alright, but as of now we know nothing. Life without him, as we know, is always bad news. Aside from those two incidents he played a very strong games, most notably he led the team in shots with 5.

Roman Hamrlik
Not much to report tonight about Hammer. The one thing I noticed was that he played with a bit more caution than normal. Brisebois had a particularly bad game and I think Roman was very aware of this. He led the team in ice-time and was used a lot once Markov went down.

Goaltender

Carey Price
There were some great saves tonight and very few trips to play the puck. Overall he played a very good game. I felt that he over-committed on the winning goal, but in reality not many goalies would have been able to make that stop even if they had played it safe. He took a couple off the mask tonight, but I don't think they shook him up in the least.



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

As much as we have been scoring lately and as well as our play has been I think it is time to bring one of either Sergei or Guillaume back in. Tonight it was painfully clear how useless Laraque really is. We all get excited when he makes a pass or holds the puck which shouldn't be the case, we shouldn't applaud everyday plays, we should expect a lot more from an NHLer. Why not have a third player on that line that could compliment the play of Begin and Lapierre who are both currently playing at the heights of their talent. A player like Kostopoulos would do very well alongside those 2 and that would then make a pair of skilled hands available to play with Plekanec and Tangs. Having a player who will only fight other fighters is all very well, but when it costs you the chance of playing a hockey player I question it. Yes, Georges got 2 assists last game, but I seem to recall they weren't the type of assists that Gretzky used to get. Having a puck hit you in the foot, to me, isn't reason enough to stay in the line-up. Maybe an OT loss was all #'s 74 or 84 needed to get their next chances.


Overall Comments

Brodeur not being around didn't seem to matter at all as it was the same old New Jersey team that we have grown to hate over the past 15 years. The game started well for the Habs as in the first period they applied the same type of pressure that we have being seeing recently. After that it seemed like the Devils were able to completely shut us down and our scoring chances dropped dramatically. The game still had its moments, but didn't live up to the type of play that was on display earlier this week. We outshot the Devils 13-7 in the first period, but then over the remainder of the game we were outshot 24-13. I thought that we were able to match their defensive play quite well, but we didn't catch too many breaks. The first goal against represents plays that both Markov and Price usually excel at, but tonight they both gaffed at the same moment. As for the OT goal, that came on the PP while Kovalev sat in the box. It was an unlucky penalty as Oduya simply skated over Kovalev's stick; thus the tripping. It was a fairly even match that was always going to be a game of patience, a game of waiting for the mistake. Tonight New Jersey won that game.

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