Friday, February 06, 2009

Game #52

Komisarek One Ups Rivet in Defencman 'How Not To' Department

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Friday February 6th, 2009
Opponent: Buffalo Sabres
Venue: HSBC Arena, Buffalo, NY

Team Stripes

Final Score: 2-3 - Loss

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Ryan Miller (W)

Habs goalscorers: Saku Koivu, Roman Hamrlik
Opposition goalscorers: Jaroslav Spacek, Nathan Paetsch, Tim Connolly


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

I really liked Saku's goal. On our first PP of the night we were applying all sorts of pressure. After D'Agostini was hit by a wayward Gorges point shot in the face he was replaced by Pacioretty. Max did very well in the corner as he laid a hit and won the puck for the Habs. Koivu collected the puck in the corner and walked right out into the slot. Possibly not wanting to do all he knows how on his best friend (cross check) Rivet let Sak right in on net. The result was Saku's ninth and yet another PP goal for the Habs.


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

Roman Hamrlik
The Hammer is simply on fire as of late. He has been one of our best players for a few games now and I really like what he is bringing to our team. Unfortunately the rest of the defensive corps (save a couple of exceptions) hasn't been that great recently and neither has our goaltending. Roman is setting an incredible example, but I wish more of his blue-line teammates would follow his lead.


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

Saku Koivu
Once again Saku was our best forward. He was very energetic all night and I felt that his linemates, despite their lack of raw skill, responded very well. Koivu could have easily had a 3 or 4 point night if he had the 1st line wingers we have deprived him of since Recchi's departure. Instead Saku only got the one point, a goal. I felt that he fought all game long and that he constantly won battles against the Sabres' defencemen.

Christopher Higgins
Can you imagine if Higgins scored on just 10% of his chances? Tonight he took 5 shots, missed the net with another 2 and I think fanned on at least 3 more. He was always in the right spot and actually had a good passing game, but he should have not left the ice pointless at the end of this one. I did, however, like the energy that Chris brought to the game and I feel with a proven goal-scorer (Tanguay) on his line with Saku it should fall into place a little easier.

Maxim Lapierre
Max had a great effort tonight. I think he has earned a spot as our 3rd line centre as I find myself looking forward to his shifts. He tries so hard in every situation that I am no longer surprised that he occasionally scores and that he has won a permanent spot on the team. He had a golden chance towards the end, but unfortunately he fell on his potential breakaway. Then Rivet lifted the net off to kill any and all chances of that rush.

Defencemen

Roman Hamrlik
Roman scored a very nice goal late in the third to give the Habs hope. The refs, however, had a different plan as they soon called Kovy on the hold, but overlooked the obstruction against him. Hammer was the only Hab with a positive rating tonight and led the team in blocked-shots with 4. I never saw him out of position and as usual his pinching was bang on.

Andrei Markov
Andrei played another great game offensively as he led the team in shots with 6. He did very well at the blue-line on the PP keeping pucks in the zone. Defensively he played a solid match, but once again his +/- takes a hit thanks to yet another horrible play by Komisarek. Like Koivu longs for a winger I can bet you that Andrei longs for a partner. Can you imagine how impressive a Norris win would be knowing that he didn't play with Pronger, Rafalski or Beauchemin all year. Mike, unfortunately, played more like his ex-mentor, Craig Rivet, than anyone else present tonight.

Goaltender

Jaroslav Halak
The lack of focus after a bad goal and the inability to win us games is getting a bit tiring. How long must I watch the same display in our net before Carbo considers an alternative approach? Price let in 2 (possibly 3) goals that he should have stopped tonight. We were facing a team right behind us in the standings, one that has a goalie who is red-hot, so we needed a big performance. I can't remember the last time a goalie stole us a win and that makes doing anything considerable this year seem like a long shot. I am not saying that Halak is a lock to steal us some games, but right now I know that Price certainly isn't.



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

This section is supposed to talk about events that would otherwise go unnoticed, so I thought of talking about Laraque's return to the line-up. A lot has been made in the french media ( I wonder why?) about Georges' return as if he was a regular before his 'injury'. Well tonight I felt that he cemented his spot as a press-box observer. He did absolutely nothing all game and it was really painful to watch. RDS may tell a different story, but they are just so desperate for this story to pan out that they will dream up anything. I really don't know why we have him. Is it to fight? Didn't do that. Is it to agitate? It can't be, after all we have about 10 better players at that. Is it to score or skate? God, no. Is it to protect our players? Against who, Kaleta? Maybe it is to be intense and to always be in the middle of scrums? Nope, afraid to fight smaller players. Tonight's game was a glimpse at what Georges has done in his 52-game Habs career: absolutely nothing. I cannot believe we are wasting a roster spot for this guy. Giving up the puck and always being behind the play aren't really great ways for a player to make his mark on a game.


Overall Comments

We have to start scoring the first goal. When we don't, like tonight, we seem to implode. If the opposition also happens to score a weak one (like their first) then not only is our team playing with low-confidence, but our goalie at that point seems to be playing with none. This was a game that we could have won, a game that Buffalo, I felt, invited us to win. They managed 22 shots, 15 less than us, but were still able to hold the momentum for more than half of the game. Miller did play a strong game, but I felt that quality chances weren't really happening for us. We showed quite a bit of spirit along the boards and in the corners against what seemed to be a bit of a wimpy team, but we didn't have that fire around their net, or ours for that matter. It is a shame to lose games that you really could have won without exerting too much effort. The worst part about this loss, of course, is the fact that Buffalo is catching us fast. Eventually we are going to have to start winning more games than we lose (or at least we could start losing some in OT) because we won't be able to hold onto to our playoff spot with play like this for very long.

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