Friday, March 06, 2009

Game #65

Shutout in Georgia; What's Going On?

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Friday March 6th, 2009
Opponent: Atlanta Thrashers
Venue: Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA

Team Stripes

Score: 0 - 2 Loss

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Kari Lehtonen (W)

Habs goalscorers: None
Opposition goalscorers: Bryan Little, Rich Peverley


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

In the second period Price made a very good play to slide across and rob Colby Armstrong of a certain goal. With the game at 0-1, and our offence going nowhere, we needed a big stop like that one. From left to right and almost in full splits Carey kept us in the game.


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

Carey Price
Not too many positives tonight, but one had to be the play of Price. He looked more focused tonight and delivered some long overdue complete play to the Habs. The goal against was a typical PK breakdown and thus wasn't his fault. Price seems to know when he has let in a bad goal and when he hasn't. Atlanta's goal tonight wasn't bad and thus his play remained solid. I am convinced that his lingering problem is a mental one and until he rebounds from a bad goal I won't go as far as saying that he is back.


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
Tomas was the best player on a line that could have done more tonight. The only moments that they made me get out of my seat (other than defensive miscues) were generated by Pleks. He had a few solid chances on net, but wasn't able to keep his 9 game point-streak alive.

Saku Koivu
Koivu's line was our best by far tonight and that is thanks in large part to the return of Tanguay. Unfortunately for Alex his 2 careless penalties cost him a dome. Saku won some key face-offs at the end of the game, was a strong penalty-killer and distributed the puck very well all game.

Christopher Higgins
Higgins was the most energetic player on the ice which was quite evident as a big portion of our team played with little to no energy. He played well with Saku and Alex, but I still think he may be better suited on another line. If he could finish a bit better then I wouldn't want the switch, but with Kostitsyn slumping I think a clean trade of those two should be an experiment we try.

Defencemen

Andrei Markov
Our PP did everything but score tonight and Markov was our best player while we held the man advantage. He also played a very solid defensive game as he was making up for quite a few of Schneider's mistakes. I think, however, that we could get more out of our best player than the 22-24 minutes we currently get. Our defence is weak and it remains a mystery why we wouldn't opt to use Andrei for closer to 30 minutes much like other teams use similar players.

Roman Hamrlik
Tonight Roman played with Komi and O'Byrne as once again the search for a competent 2nd component to our 2nd pairing continues. I felt that Hammer played quite well in the offensive zone as there were a few timely pinches, some good hold-ins and a few quality pucks thrown towards the net. One thing that some of our defencemen have a problem with is getting quality shots through traffic. There are too many head-height wrist shots or poorly-timed knucklers for my liking, Hamrlik, however, seems to know how to do it.

Goaltender

Carey Price
Carey gave his team a glorious chance to win tonight. All they had to do was score 1 goal against this weak, weak team and we would have at least had a point. Atlanta didn't really light the world on fire with their play either, but I am happy to report that when asked to do so Carey made the saves. Our defence kept the shots down for a second straight game and that meant Price only had to make 26 saves.



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

The one thing that I thought lacked tonight was emotion. The team seemed to be going through the motions of an away game in the hockey-hotbed of Atlanta. We let the lack of fans, noise or of an atmosphere, completely deflate us. It didn't help that the Thrashers excel at this type of slow, lifeless hockey either. We sunk down to a very bad team's level tonight and there is really no excuse. The worrying part about all of this is that we are now only 2 points out of 9th and even though we sit in 5th we are in serious danger of missing the playoffs for the second time in 3 seasons in a very similar fashion. What does it take to get this group going? Why must we sit through these occasionally mind-numbing displays every few games? Something obviously must change before now and the end of the season if we expect to even get a sniff of playoff hockey. We know that the players we have are the ones we have and we know that the coaches are likely going nowhere either, so there must be some sort of mental change. I want the players to show me, on a nightly basis, that they care and that they want to make the playoffs. The bottom line is, the more we care, the more chance we have to win games, especially those that we should lose. Atlanta played like a team that should have lost tonight, but, then again, so did we and so it became merely a game of chance. The problem right now is that the teams below us are winning at an impressive rate and if we don't wake up soon (and I mean this weekend) then we will be at the bottom of a very deep hole.


Overall Comments

I could start this section with excuses - Halak was out, the refs killed the momentum by calling too many penalties or maybe the building was too dead for our liking. Those of course all were true, but none were reasons for that effort. The first two periods came and went as they usually do in Atlanta - with nothing going on. In the the third period we played a bit better and had more chances, but we let a bad goalie out play us. This game should be an easy win, in fact it should be a huge win. I think the players go into that building thinking it will be a cake-walk and, by never trailing by more than 1 goal, always think that it will be no problem to get back into it. That attitude is, of course, a pathetic approach to sports at any level. We should be able to walk all over this team and our goal should not be 2 points, but should be to blow them out. We have the potential to pound this team into the ground and win by 4 or 5 goals. Instead, we set our goal at 2 points and that of course isn't the right way. If we were to set a goal of a 4-goal win then I am positive we would have seen a better effort and we would have seen a few goals. The best part, of course, about setting the goal well above the win/loss level is that if you fail you may at least walk away with some points. In our case we tried to do the minimum possible to get a win, each player tried to work as little as they could and of course we all know the result.

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