Saturday, January 31, 2009

Game #49

Boo-Birds Have All Re-Boarded The Bandwagon

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Saturday January 31st, 2009
Opponent: Los Angeles Kings
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC

Team Stripes

Final Score: 4-3 - Win

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Jonathan Quick (L)

Habs goalscorers: Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Kostitsyn, Christopher Higgins, Saku Koivu
Opposition goalscorers: Michal Handzus, Dustin Brown, Jarret Stoll

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

No question today as to what the play of the game was - Higgins, to tie it, what a beauty. With 2 minutes left and only 1 minute removed from a PP the Habs' chances of losing 5 in regulation in a row looked way better than coming away with any points. Higgins, however, had told his teammates throughout the game to get him the puck in the middle of the neutral zone. He was confident that his speed would be enough to get around the young and inexperienced Kings defence. Kostopoulos started the play with a pass to Lapierre in our own end. Then it was Max serving up a long, open-ice, pass to a flying Higgins. Chris took the pass well and had just one man to beat. With an incredible head of steam he was able to get a step on Doughty, but it was his throwing-off of the rookie that was most impressive. Drew had grabbed a hold as Higgins went by, but Chris simply pushed him to the ground and continued to the net. A great top-corner wrist shot sealed the deal and tied up the game.

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

Saku Koivu
Saku was at his best this game. He was pivoting a line composed of 2 first year players, but rather than using that as an excuse he made a point of making them better. All game long he was supplying the Habs with quality chances and great effort in the offensive zone. He scored the game-winner and added an assist to give him 4 points in his 4 games back from injury.

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)...


Christopher Higgins
Poor old Higgins seems to be out of favour as of late. For some reason he has been stripped of the 'A' as Mike 'I play like Rivet' Komisarek has taken over the duties. Chris, however, hasn't let all the politics get in the way of the fact that he is still a great player. He is no 40-goal man, probably isn't even a 1st line player, but what I do know is that he belongs on our team and that he a really great player; perhaps a secret weapon. His goal was not only super timely, but was also a fantastic effort.

Andrei Kostitsyn
With one quick shot Andrei gave us our first lead in what seems like weeks. He played quite a good game tonight, but most of all it was great to see him get back on the scoresheet. I felt that he and Plekanec brought quite a bit of effort and played well together. They both scored goals and that hopefully is a sign of good things to come.

Saku Koivu
During the second intermission I told Topham that I 'knew' Koivu would score, that I could 'feel it'. Well, it took about 19 1/2 minutes (and another 30 after the game worth of review) for my premonition to come to fruition. I don't know why I said that - normally I am too superstitious for comments like that - but there was just something about the way that Saku was playing. I didn't want to believe that the skipper would allow 5 losses in a row - I was right.


Roman Hamrlik
Hammer was on the ice for all 4 even strength goals (2 and 2) and none on the PP. He didn't really contribute to either of the goals-against, but I felt did have a positive effect offensively. He picked up an assist on Plekanec's 10th, giving him 14 on the year. He was first on the team with 3 shots and was just one behind Komi for the team lead in blocked-shots with 4.

Andrei Markov
Originally credited with the game-winner Markov ended up with an assist on the play. What really matters, however, is that he got the puck on net. He played well on the PP all game as I noticed quite a few great point-shots. He played a defensively responsible game, but most importantly drew the penalty that put us on our game-winning PP. Komi was weak tonight with multiple over-commitments, there to clean up the mess, as usual, was Andrei.


Jaroslav Halak
I felt that Jaro deserved the start after Price's string of poor performances and that notion was confirmed as I watched Carey play today. He was no better than he has been since he came back, in fact he was a goal-post away from blowing yet another one for us. His play with the puck out of the net led to 4 give-aways, and another poor pass to a woozy Gorges ended up being their 3rd goal. Tomorrow I think Halak has to start, we have to show Price that his play is unacceptable and we have to see if there is a better alternative - I believe that there is.

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

Stupid penalties come in all shapes and sizes, sometimes we are the culprits, but tonight, for a change we caught a break. Kyle Calder, a career brutal-player, took a cross-checking penalty with 5 minutes to go, but we failed to capitalize. Being the genius that he is Calder decided to take another cross-checking penalty, this time there were 30 seconds left, we had just tied the game and this was 200' from his own net. He complained, there was yelling and obviously there was a feeling amongst the Kings players that the refs had blown the call, but I am glad, that despite all of that the refs stood their ground. Stupid and dangerous plays should be penalized, no matter what time of game it is. If a team is playing cleaner (us) than the other then they should have an advantage. For once the refs were able to get that aspect right and put the appropriate Kings in the box. Stupid plays and stupid players cost the Kings a point, and bagged us 2. This should be a lesson to our penalty-takers - stay out of the box, don't assume you'll get away with everything, because eventually it will cost the whole team in a big way.

Overall Comments

Once again we started the game well, but once again we let in an early goal. A stupid penalty by Lang (after a brutal missed-call by the refs) gave LA a chance to work with the extra man. It looked like, at that point, that it was the same story in a different building. The Habs, however, refused to roll over and die, like they had done for 4 games in a row now. Instead they kept playing hard and one could sense something was happening. 20 minutes later we were in the lead and things were looking good. Then there was a slight shift in momentum, coupled with a few weak plays and all of a sudden we were down again. It was a familiar sight as the Habs went into the last 5 minutes of the game in need of a goal. That goal happened to come from a player who was waiting for a big moment to arrive - Chris Higgins. The goal brought the Bell Centre to life and pretty much assured us of our first point in 2 weeks. A bad penalty by LA opened the door for us which turned out to be quite timely as the Kings were coming very close to scoring another one on us. With our 5 best players on the ice (Koivu, Kovalev, Kostitsyn, Lang and Markov) we found a way to get the puck in. Koivu got credit, but the whole unit did very well to get the puck to the right spot. This game, however, may not be remembered for the win as much as for the dirty, dirty hit that Gauhtier laid on Gorges. It was another clear example of a player who has no place whatsoever in this league doing something incredibly stupid. I for one would say enough is enough in his case. He has never brought anything positive to our game, so why oh why is he even in the league? How many more people does he have to hurt before the league realizes this?

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