Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Game #30

Refs Gift-Wrap a Win For the 'Canes

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Tuesday December 16th, 2008
Opponent: Carolina Hurricanes
Venue: RBC Center, Raleigh, NC

Team Stripes

Final Score: 2-3 - Loss

Habs starting goalie: Jaroslav Halak (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Cam Ward (W)

Habs goalscorers: Guillaume Latendresse, Alexei Kovalev
Opposition goalscorers: Eric Staal (2), Joe Corvo



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

Midway through the third period Halak came up with yet another unbelievable save. Brind'Amour won a battle in the corner and found a streaking Scott Walker in the slot. The pass was crisp and the shot came fast. Jaro, however, didn't like the idea of a 2-goal deficit, so in spectacular fashion he slid across and made an unbelievable glove save. It was truly a thing of beauty.



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

Alexei Kovalev
Kovy may have got more more penalties than goals tonight, but the key is that he got a goal. He played very well and could have had a few. Ironically it was his worst chance of all that ended up in the back of the net. It was a good example of how you just have to keep throwing the puck at the net and things will happen.



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
The kid showed a lot of spirit tonight and I thought played well in all situations. He was used a bit on the PK and the PP and did some good work on those. Tonight, however, it was hard for him to see much of the puck as his centre, Maxwell, is clearly no Koivu. Matt will have a tough time putting up numbers if he continues to play on a line with Ben.

Alexei Kovalev
I am happy that Alex finally scored. I mostly feel that way because I feel he has been playing well and that this goal will be enough to quiet certain media-folk and fans down for a while. It was unlucky that he took two penalties, but considering he played no different than any other night I am not concerned. What was a trip tonight will be, undoubtedly, a good play next game (ref).

Guillaume Latendresse
Guillaume's 'speed' seems all but gone now which makes me wonder if I was dreaming at the beginning of the year. Perhaps he came into the season in better shape than most and over time (and benchings) things just caught up with him. I really liked his goal on the penalty-shot. It showed a lot of confidence to take a shot like that and I hope we see him in the shootout in coming games. He played quite a solid game tonight, but I am still having trouble identifying his role on this team.

Defencemen

Roman Hamrlik
Hammer was another victim of the ref's whistle tonight. He can't really be blamed for his penalties as both were questionable calls. Aside from that he played a very strong game defensively. He was called upon at the end of the game on a 2-on-1 after Brisebois got caught on a pinch. He made an incredible play to break-up Carolina's pass as he crouched down to take away the slot.

Andrei Markov
I wonder when the last time that a player spent over 10 minutes on the PK during a 60-minute game was? It was unbelievable to see, but,without Markov, it could have been much worse. He played very well in our end even though he was on the ice for 2 goals-against. He didn't get much of a chance to play offence, but for the little time that he did, he played quite well.

Goaltender

Jaroslav Halak
Who is the best goalie in the NHL never to win any games? You guessed it - Halak! Jaro continues to play well behind a team that doesn't support him nearly as much as they should. He makes great saves look routine and rarely lets in a bad goal. All 3 goals were scored on the PP tonight and all were quality goals. Our PK needs some work, but I don't think Halak does. He was very calm all night and gave us every chance we needed to win this one.



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

I can take a lot of penalties in a game. I can even take a game where one teams gets 11 and the other team gets 1. The one thing I can't take, however, is when both teams play the same and one team gets 20 more minutes in the box. Tonight you can't blame the players or the coaches, you can only blame the refs. Could someone explain to me how a stick-shaft to the hip is a penalty and a punch to the face isn't? How is a trip in the 1st period any worse than one in the third? Why does arguing a penalty warrant the call of one more? How do we expect the players and coaches to learn how to play this game if we can't even keep the rules the same for 60 minutes? I applaud the refs for calling one team more than the other and, for once, thus not turning this into a baseball-like game of innings, but I can't see how tonight's game was the time to do that. I could put together a piece of 20 situations, from both teams, that were as bad or worse than some of the calls. So, how does a ref choose to call one team on 11 of 30 and the other on 1 of 20?

This was a truly pathetic display of officiating and just made the NHL look like more of a joke than it already is. I am sure markets like Carolina live for Power-Plays, but this was a bit much. I don't know what the refs motivations were for their display tonight, but I for one am not impressed. Had we won the game I would feel the same as I don't really think this is the reason we lost. We lost fair and square and did a good job on the PK. My problem remains with the lack of consistency and the apparent randomness of their calls.


Overall Comments

For the 39 minutes that was played at even-strength I thought the Habs played quite well. We were in fact the better team and we had a ton of chances, many coming at the end of the game. We exposed what I believe is a very weak goaltender and an equally weak defence. Cam Ward, to me, seems like a lucky goalie. He dropped almost every shot that came towards him and often it was us that put it back into his possession. The defence, for their part, do little more than stand around in the defensive zone. They sit back as we go at the net and then react, almost too late, to what has just happened. It is a shame that we let this one slip away as I believe a team like Carolina offers a glorious chance at 2 points. Hopefully we learned something about this team tonight, a team that I believe is very beatable.

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