Thursday, February 19, 2009

Game #59

Price Puts a Solid Team Effort to Waste...Again

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Thursday February 19th, 2009
Opponent: Pittsburgh Penguins
Venue: Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, PA

Team Stripes

Score: 4 - 5 Loss

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

Habs goalscorers: Tomas Plekanec (2), Mathieu Schneider, Andrei Kostitsyn
Opposition goalscorers: Petr Sykora, Miroslav Satan, Evgeni Malkin, Maxime Talbot, Sergei Gonchar


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

Plekanec's first goal was a gem, it was a fitting reward for the player that created a play out of nothing. Pleks was the player who back-checked and stole the puck from a Pen near our blue-line. He then flew up the ice with AK. A quick pass to Kostitsyn sent Andrei in and he made one hell of a fake before returning the favour with a solid pass of his own to Pleks. Tomas one-timed the puck from the slot and beat Fleury to tie up the game for the first of three times.


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

Tomas Plekanec
Plekanec continued his hot play tonight with a very good 3-point performance. 2 of those points were goals, both were good. He used all of his speed tonight and really looked good with Andrei Kostitsyn. Max Pacioretty played a decent game beside those two, but I think there is a better alternative. If Pleks is playing well because Kovy isn't around then I say keep the two apart, but if Pleks is just finally waking up from his summer hibernation then I think we would be fools not to put our biggest talent on a line with our two hottest players.


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
I thought that Pleks had been playing well for some time now, but he has only really started putting up numbers in his last 4, so on this road-trip. During that stretch Plekanec has posted 7 of his 29 points - 4 goals and 3 assists. If he can play like this from here on in then I could care a less about what he did prior to last week.

Andrei Kostitsyn
Another very dangerous looking game from Andrei tonight. Both he and Pleks looked better than Crosby tonight, but, unfortunately for the Habs, Malkin outdid them all. Kostitsyn, like Plekanec, has been playing some solid hockey as of late. He, however, has been pretty consistent for us all season long. It is interesting to note though, that he too has 4 goals and 3 assists in his last 4 games. He has been at his goal-scoring best since Christmas with 16 goals in 26 games; a 50-goal pace.

Max Pacioretty
Max didn't have that great of game and was in fact not quite at the level as his two linemates, but he was our third best forward. Saku's line looked disorganized tonight, especially defensively which cost them time to operate. MaxPac did show a lot of effort and hustle tonight and made quite a nice pass to Plekanec on our third tying goal of the night. I am not sure that he has his place on this team once the Alex's are back, but he is impressing nonetheless.

Defencemen

Andrei Markov
Markov was on the ice for 2 goals against, but I felt it was more the fault of our forwards and of Price than of him or Schneider. Andrei picked up another assist tonight and had an extremely strong passing game. He looked very comfortable with Mat tonight, which is a change. Komi is being reduced to #5 ice-time which is where he belongs as he has played like a #5 most of the season. Putting Mat with Marky represents a rare occurrence in which Carbo surrounds his talent with talent.

Roman Hamrlik
Hammer picked up an assist on Kostitsyn's goal and finished the game at +1. He also joined in on the attack quite a bit tonight and looked very good when doing it. His 3 shots were more than any other defenceman as he was never afraid to let one rip. I liked the way he played in our own end and especially liked when he flattened Crosby in front of our net. It is nice to have 3 good defencemen again, but tonight was a clear example of how you need someone strong behind them for it to make any difference at all.

Goaltender

Jaroslav Halak
What was that? Why do we continue to voluntarily throw away points? Could this game (and yesterday's) really be Kovalev's fault? I mean, come on people. Price was atrocious yet again tonight and once again cost us any hope at points. The 'All-Star' continues to let in goals at all the wrong times and has trouble making any key saves. The worst part is that his 'slumps' have now spanned almost half of his career! In his 12 games of 2009 he has numbers that would make Brian Burke make him the starter in Toronto - he is really bad enough that he doesn't belong in the AHL. A record of 2-8-1, 2 games with 2 goals or less against (both were 2 goals), a save percentage of .870 and 40 goals against for a GAA of 3.40! These numbers are horrible and are in my opinion the #1 reason why we are in danger of not making the playoffs and why I don't believe we have a chance in hell of winning the cup with Carey anywhere near our net.



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

Alright, we embarrassed our star, but I think enough is enough. We have to start winning, end of story. We could make trades, we can continue to shuffle our lines, but at the end of the day this is the team we have. We have a goalie who doesn't really know what the goal of hockey is and we are pinning a whole system on him and the prospect of him making a save from time to time. Well, Guy, it isn't working. We need action, so I think it may be time to stop trying to fit our square pegs into your round holes and to try making some square holes. We have a fast team, we have a bad goalie, why not make a system that can complement that make-up? Let the forwards go, let the D pinch, because at the end of the day we won't get that save to keep us in the game anyway. We need offence (I reckon 6 goals/game to be safe, maybe 5 during a Price 'gem') and the most painful part is we have loads of that on this team. We have tried this 'defensive' system for way too long now and I think it is obvious that we need a serious change in philosophy. I don't, however, believe that there has to be a change in personnel, just an effort by them to work with the tools at their disposal. In a good year you can hope for 3, maybe 4 trades from Bob, well we have already had 1. So, Guy, this is your squad, please, oh please start using them to their fullest.


Overall Comments

If I were on the team I wouldn't be too relieved to be ending this road-trip. A return to the Bell Centre and a match-up against the suddenly found-again Sens may be worse than anything these guys have seen in weeks. So, what we need is a core of veterans to guide this team, to show the kids how to win again. Kovalev and co. can't teach Price not to kneel on every shot, but they can (and have done tons of times before) play through this type of thing and come out better for it on the other side. I think we will really see what type of warriors Kovalev, Hamrlik, Koivu, Schneider and Markov are in 2 days time as they are the ones that I am pinning my hopes on - sorry Guy, you had your chance.

Tonight's game could have gone either way really. The 2 goalies played a game of who's worse with Price winning by a hair. I am not surprised, after seeing that display from Fleury, that the Pens are as low as they are. I can (and am sure Kovy can too) imagine Crosby and Malkin's frustration with their 'star' goalie too. We had one really good line tonight, one decent one and two (Koivu/Chipchura's) who didn't really help. Our defencemen were better than the scoreline would suggest, but with the goaltending we are getting we are actually going to need them to be way better. I liked the fight we showed to get back in this game on 3 occasions and can only imagine the disappointment and anger the group must feel. Overall we played 2 solid games in just over 24 hours and have a single point to show for it - not really 1st in the East type stuff. Kovalev has to be in, Halak has to be in and I would even put Begin back in (I can do without a boring, 1-punch, boxing match if you don't mind) on Saturday. We are running out of time and, unlike Bob, we can't really wait till the deadline to do something about this mess.

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