Thursday, January 29, 2009

Game #48

New City, Same Effort; Habs Blown Away Again

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Thursday January 29th, 2009
Opponent: Florida Panthers
Venue: BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise, FL

Team Stripes

Final Score: 1-5 - Loss

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Tomas Vokoun (W)

Habs goalscorers: Robert Lang
Opposition goalscorers: Jay Bouwmeeter, Stephen Weiss, Richard Zednik, Radek Dvorak, Michael Frolik


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

Wow, now this is hard. Choosing a play of the game is actually proving harder than it was to watch the entire game. I suppose I will focus on our only good play of the game - our goal. It took place on a one-man PP, right after we had blown our chance on a 5-on-3. Kovalev, at the right point fed Koivu down low, Saku tried to come around, with his left-hand shot, and take a shot. The puck came out into the slot where Robert Lang had planted himself. Lang quickly put the puck up past Vokoun who had no real chance on the play.


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

Roman Hamrlik
OK, so you didn't notice him either? Well that, to me, makes him the ideal recipient of the Game Puck. He wasn't on the ice for any goal-against, didn't make any visible mistakes and led the team in blocked-shots (2) and led our defence with 3 shots.


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

Steve Begin
Steve played with a lot of energy tonight. He shot from everywhere - rarely, however, were his shots threatening - and actually applied pressure in the offensive zone. His attitude should be an example for those players on the team that possess the skill that a guy like Begin longs for.

Christopher Higgins
Like Steve Chris played with energy and also like him, he lacked the hands. Higgins definitely has the brain of a goal-scorer and of a chance-creator, but I have never seen someone miss so many good chances. He took 7 shots tonight, which led the team, and actually got things going around the net. Had he converted on just one or two of those he could have won the game puck and could have possibly had more of an affect on the game.

Tomas Plekanec
Every time we take Tom away from Kovy he seems to play well. Then, like the genius he is, Carbo rewards Pleks for his improved play with a promotion back to Kovalev's line. I thought that he was our most dynamic centre as he wasn't purely thinking linearly in this one. I thought he did quite well on the 4th line and he, after Lang, was our second best in the face-off circle.

Defencemen

Roman Hamrlik
Carbo put Hammer back with Brisebois tonight - a move I don't quite understand. I am guessing that he will play with Brisebois, O'Byrne and possibly anyone else who may come along from now until season's end. This may be due to the fact that Gorges hasn't been playing that well of late, maybe because Roman himself hasn't either. What I do know is that we need Roman to be our second best defender from here on in - tonight was a step in the right direction.

Andrei Markov
Don't let Komisarek's horrendous play tonight fool you as Markov didn't really have that bad of a game. He wasn't too noticeable offensively, apart from being on the ice for the duration of our only PP and contributing to our goal. He played solidly, but unfortunately that was it, he was nothing more than average tonight.

Goaltender

Jaroslav Halak
It seemed that Carey wasn't as cocky tonight, but he was equally as bad. Another 5-goal against effort leaves me wondering if goaltending, once again, is our biggest weakness. Some of the goals weren't his fault, but on a couple of them I felt that his lack of awareness and fight, to find the puck, cost us. Halak must get a start this weekend, if not for the team's sake, then please for Price's.



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

Tonight Florida didn't give us much room to operate and I think that was the main reason we couldn't generate much up front. This is now the second time in three games (New Jersey) that we have been smothered by a solid defensive team. Yes, I am equally surprised to be saying that about Florida. I think this is a problem that skeptics associate with the Habs - great in wide-open games, but unable to fight through traffic (playoff/Canada style) to score. I know players like Kovalev, Kostitsyn and Koivu all can excel in this type of game, but I really think we need to see that soon, before it is too late. With the East as tight as it is now we'd better get used to playing games of this nature as it may be playoff-type hockey from now till the end.


Overall Comments

We started the game well enough, but once we got into penalty trouble we were never able to regain our early momentum. It doesn't take much to crack a non-confident team, and that is precisely what Florida did as they went up by 2. Unfortunately for us the refs didn't return the favour as we had many PP opportunities that simply weren't called. Add that to the fact that we weren't willing to fight very hard at even-strength and you'll see why we never really stood a chance in this one. Our defence and goaltending were suspect to say the least, but I am making no excuses for our forwards either. We need to start scoring, but more importantly getting some leads. Enough is enough with this trailing/giving-up style of play. We have an opportunity with two home-afternoon games this weekend and I think two W's would make me forget the past 4 games very fast. LA at home should be a win (and now is a must-win), so I think our big one is that game on Sunday against Boston. It would be huge for our spirits to get one over the Bruins and I think it could be the kick-start we need as we head into the last 2 months.

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