Sunday, December 21, 2008

Game #33

'Canes Team With Refs (Again) to Beat Habs

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Sunday December 21st, 2008
Opponent: Carolina Hurricanes
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC

Team Stripes

Final Score: 2-3 - Loss (OT)

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Cam Ward (W)

Habs goalscorers: Matt D'Agostini, Robert Lang
Opposition goalscorers: Sergei Samsonov, Eric Staal, Tuomo Ruutu

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

We didn't get what we wanted tonight, the big 2 points, but the reason we got anything at all was thanks to a crazy pad save by Price late in the third period. The puck took a weird bounce off the end-boards and came back in front where Chad Larose was left with a wide open net to shoot at for the win. He got off a good, hard shot, but luckily for us Price came across with his pad and preserved the tie.

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

Robert Lang
Lang was very involved tonight and was the player who tied the game at two with a one-timer on the power-play. He was used on two different lines, but what at his best with Tanguay and D'Agostini. Between the 3 players they got 4 points and were the only forwards to get their names on the scoresheet tonight. Robert was the best of all centremen (both teams) in the face-off circle winning a very impressive 11 of 15 draws (73%).

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)...


Matt D'Agostini
Matt scored yet another goal tonight; that makes 6 in 11 games. I liked how he really used his speed tonight and once again proved how good of a goal-scorer he is. He seems to always get himself into the right place and considering he took a game-high 6 shots it is no surprise his name showed up on the scoresheet.

Alex Tanguay
Another 2 assists tonight give him an impressive 16 on the year. His play on Matt's goal was world-class. The puck came to him in the slot and he could have shot at a partially open net, but he instead realized that right beside him was D'Agostini in a slightly better position. So, like all excellent players, he passed and didn't shoot himself, the result: a goal.

Robert Lang
Lang has been a really good pick-up for the Habs and now, once again, leads the team in goals with 11. He has been one of our most consistent players all year and has certainly been our second best centre. I believe his experience, especially the years he spent in Detroit, are priceless and are essential to a team that has hopes of hoisting the cup.


Roman Hamrlik
None of the Habs defencemen really excelled defensively tonight, and, believe it or not, our 3 goals against is way better than it could have been. That being said Roman did play well offensively. His menacing shot turned into an assist when the rebound ended up on Tanguay's, then D'Agostini's stick.

Andrei Markov
Once again he was our best defender tonight, I didn't notice one single mistake by Andrei. I wish I could say the same for his partner, Komi, who had a difficult game. Marky played well on the PP and set up a few quality chances. The good news is that we are scoring more often on the PP (6 goals in 4 games) and a big reason for that is the reliability of Andrei.


Carey Price
Price was at times spectacular tonight, but at other times was quite bad. A long rebound on the first goal, over-commitment on the second and fumbling of the puck on the third can all likely be attributed to his absence. On top of that, however, there were a couple of posts and a few other, bobbled, close-calls. I have him in the dome though as he did keep the game close and I believe getting him a game before the long lay-off was essential. We need Carey to be our best player from now till the end of the year, and that all starts on Saturday.

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

I could talk about early whistles, blown calls or even non-calls, but I won't, for tonight I am going to focus on a positive, something that we did very well.

For a second straight game we were able to erase 2 deficits (yesterday it was 3). We are developing into a team that can seemingly comeback when they are down with relative ease. I am not naive enough to think we will always erase every opposing team's lead, but I am very happy to know that we are a team that just won't give up. Believing that you can comeback, and then actually doing it, are such valuable tools to have in the tool-box. As we move into the second half of the season, and beyond, we will need every bit of confidence we can get and games like this have added a few more weapons to the arsenal.

Overall Comments

This was a pretty ordinary game, but will stand out in my mind for a couple of reasons. I will always remember the 2 disallowed goals (both the results of unnecessary early whistles) and the double-standard of penalty calling. Carolina had only taken 3 penalties in their 3 previous games, so I assumed they must be a clean, disciplined team. I was wrong. They are no different than any other team we play, or ourselves for that matter. So, it is a shame that they continually get less penalties than their opposition. I felt with better officiating this game could have been put away a long time before we were scrambling to tie it up. Instead Carolina was given a pass to OT and then took advantage of us to steal two points. From a Habs standpoint, however, I am happy. I have no problem with the way we competed tonight. Price wasn't at his best, nor were the defence, but offensively we were threatening.

So, we ended our 11 game stretch with 14 points, 1 less than our goal. Obviously that is no disaster, but I really don't feel that we took full advantage of our prolonged home-stand. On Saturday a whole new season begins and I hope we will be ready after a nice 5 day break. We have 56 more points to get in 49 games. It is certainly doable, so let's keep the good play up and make a push in 2009.

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