Sunday, December 28, 2008

Game #34

Habs Hold on For 2 Points in Pittsburgh

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Saturday December 27th, 2008
Opponent: Pittsburgh Penguins
Venue: Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, PA

Team Stripes

Final Score: 3-2 - Win

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (L)

Habs goalscorers: Andrei Kostitsyn (3)
Opposition goalscorers: Pascal Dupuis, Sidney Crosby



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

By the end of the 1st period the game was tied at 1. The Habs weren't playing too well, nor were they getting many chances. But, with less than 5 seconds left Plekanec got the puck in front of Pittsburgh's net. He made a great move to freeze Fleury, but instead of shooting took the puck behind the net. He then stopped and passed the puck back out on the side that he came from. In front of the net was 1 downed-goalie, 3 onlooking Penguins and 1 wide-open Kostitsyn. Andrei made no mistake and gave the Habs a 1-goal lead with less than 2 seconds left.



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

Andrei Kostitsyn
I think Andrei, after missing a few games with injury, wanted to prove that he deserved his spot on Kovalev and Plekanec's line. He wasted very little time in having his message heard as he scored just 1 minute into the game. He then went on to score our other 2 goals on the way to his first career hat-trick.



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 played a decent game tonight. He looked like his old self back alongside Kovy and Andrei and he made two excellent passes on our first two goals. In a game where we were quite badly outplayed it was nice to have at least one centre with a +'ve rating and an above-average face-off percentage.

Alexei Kovalev
Had Andrei not scored our first goal Alex would have. Offensively he seemed to get in the right places tonight, but overall we didn't get too many offensive chances. He led the game with a +3 rating and got an assist on our second goal. In a game where our team didn't really shine it was nice to see at least one line play to their potential.

Andrei Kostitsyn
Andrei took 1/3 of our shots tonight, so it is a good thing he knows how to score. The team didn't get too many chances, but we did capitalize when those great chances presented themselves. Kostitsyn now has 9 goals on the season, but 6 of those have been in his last 10 games. In fact, over that 10 game stretch Andrei has 9 points and is a +7 - he is truly playing some great hockey.

Defencemen

Josh Gorges
I wasn't too impressed with our D tonight as I felt there were too many giveaways and too many weak plays. Gorges, however, was one of the 2 D-men that I didn't really have a problem with. He played his usual strong game at the back and even got involved offensively. Besides being used on the point during the PP he added an assist on our 1st goal.

Andrei Markov
Thank goodness for Andrei. I think that most of the team probably had too merry of a time this week as not too many players seemed ready to play. Our best players, as is needed, were our best tonight. Markov was the only real defensive standout against the high-flying Penguins attack. He is probably one of just a handful of players in the league who are not only unintimidated by Crosby and Malkin, but who can actually stop them.

Goaltender

Carey Price
Carey was the other player, besides Andrei, who could have been given the game puck. He played a very strong game which included countless great saves on what should have been gimmes for Malkin and co. He seemed really focused and I think benefited from the week off. I stand by my comment that it was right to play him on Sunday versus Carolina. I think that tonight's win had a lot to do with our loss (and more importantly Carey's first game in 2 weeks), as it was always going to take at least one game to get back into it.



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

Aren't wins nice? It doesn't matter if you win 8-o in a truly dominating effort or if, like tonight, you squeak one out. A win, as they say, is a win. Good teams have to learn to win in all situations and that, inevitably, means winning when you are outplayed. Tonight Pittsburgh played harder than us and we were out-matched in the skill department. Despite all of that, however, we found a way to win. Thanks to 3 or 4 players we got the 2 points tonight, and that is quite alright. It is nice to know you can win games like this as there will be nights when things won't go your way. If every time we were being outplayed we lost I could see how we, as a team, would lose hope. Tonight we were rewarded for having a very sharp goalie and a true scorer return to the line-up, and we took full advantage. There will be games that we lose when we are the better team, so thank goodness, for our sake, we have learned that the inverse of that is possible.


Overall Comments

The Habs started this game very strong with a goal very early on. It then seemed that Pittsburgh took over as it was chance after chance for them and very few for us. The next great chance for us came at the end of the first period and, just like Andrei did early on, we converted. The second period was a slow period with neither team really controlling play. The shots were quite even, but Crosby's quick goal made the game into a 2-2 tie going into the third. We started the third as we started the first - with a goal. Andrei's third wasn't anything too spectacular, but was another great example why a good, hard shot from anywhere is never a bad idea. We then played 'hold-on' hockey for over 15 minutes as it was a period of very few chances for us. We pretty much allowed Pittsburgh to walk all over us as we sat back and took it. Weak clearing attempts coupled with a non-existent fore-check meant Price had to be sharp. I personally didn't think that shutting down the offence for a whole period would work against the Pens, but I was wrong. I just hope that Carbo doesn't now think that this is a legitimate strategy.

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