Thursday, April 16, 2009

Game #1-1

The Refs Let 'Em Play For 25 Minutes; Apart From Gorges

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Thursday April 16th, 2009
Opponent: Boston Bruins
Venue: TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, MA

Team StripesScore: 2 - 4 Loss

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Tim Thomas (W)

Habs goalscorers: Christopher Higgins, Alexei Kovalev
Opposition goalscorers: Phil Kessel (2), David Krejci, Zdeno Chara

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

The Habs had just wasted their second (of only two) PP chances and I knew that was bad news. The hometown reffing, which gave the Bruins double our PPs, was unlikely to give us another chance so I thought that we had blown it. Just seven seconds after Yelle came back on the ice, however, Kovalev took an incredible shot to tie up the game. A great saucer pass came from Gorges and an alert Hamrlik let it go by him to the already wound-up Kovalev. Alex one-timed it upstairs above the ever-sprawling Thomas.

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

Saku Koivu
Saku was our most energetic player tonight as there was no battle from which he backed down. He was forced to play this game with only one winger (sorry Georges), but still managed to control the play and generate a lot of chances. He was back to his playoff self (although, to be fair, he has been playing like that all year) and was mocking the bigger defencemen on the other team. Toughness and size didn't cost us the playoffs last year and didn't cost us tonight (despite what TSN, CBC and RDS say - do they even watch games?) and that is because Koivu is tougher than most players that he goes up against.

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)...


Glen Metropolit
One man's misfortune (Koivu) worked in Glen's favour tonight as he played on a line with Higgins and Tanguay. The trio generated the first goal of the game and were definitely one of our two best lines tonight. Metro centered those two very well and was quite effective himself. I thought that all three players were worthy of the dome, but it was Glen, thanks to his strong fore-checking, that takes the honour.

Saku Koivu
Koivu was a dominant player tonight and proved to me (yet again) that he doesn't need Laraque's protection at all. Ask Chara or Ward how many times they got out-worked, out-positioned and out-muscled by our captain and you'll know why I say that. He played 20 minutes tonight, but hardly any of that came on the PP or with two scoring wingers. Give him back Tanguay and give us some extra-man opportunities and he would show up more than the once that he did tonight on the scoresheet.

Alexei Kovalev
I have seen Kovalev play better and get no points and I have also seen him play worse and get more, tonight he was good enough though. We can't expect Kovy to carry us every game, but, of course, we all hope that he does. His goal was certainly the highlight of what was a decent, but not excellent, game from our star. I think that he was more affected by Tanguay's departure than Koivu was as I could see times where he held the puck because there was no winger on the other side to send a crisp pass to.


Roman Hamrlik
Hammer played more than any other player tonight and it was certainly well-deserved. He has to be our leader while Markov is out and tonight we was just that. He could be blamed for his penalty if the refs had reffed a fair game and if it would have been consistent with their other calls. Apart from that one 'mistake' he played a very strong game as he was our only defenceman with a + rating and took a team-high 5 shots on net.

Mike Komisarek
It was either Josh or Mike in here, but I will lean towards Mike tonight. The reason why I liked what he did was that he played a clean, strong game. Now, by clean, I don't just mean by not taking penalties (with these refs he could have been called three times, as could have anyone), but by also having good positioning. He made three hits which is about where he should be; he didn't overdo it. I like a good hit as long as positioning is not compromised and tonight, for Komi, it wasn't. His shots from the point, however, are pathetic as it makes it seem like Brisebois has a rocket; this is one area that he must work on.


Carey Price
I could have gone either way in here, but, because Carey made 35 saves, I'll go with him. I thought that all three of their goals were ones that he could have had and I didn't like the fact that they also beat him twice (cross-bar and post) in the third. He did, however, make some solid saves to hold Boston at two goals for a long time. I think that his play tonight, and as of late, is enough to beat the Bruins, but not to steal a series win. Our defence and offence both have to be better as we now know what we are getting from Price - solid goaltending with the occasional weak and very untimely goal.

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

The lasting impression that I have from this game is of how we fought for and won pucks. Our body positioning was great tonight and was far superior to that of the Bruins. Players like Koivu, Kostitsyn, Higgins and Gorges, amongst others, did a great job at taking the Bruin players out of the play with their bodies before collecting the loose pucks. This showed a couple of things to me; one was that we are faster than them when we want to be and the other was that we wanted it more tonight. Boston may have taken the win, but this Habs team played well. We played a good playoff-type game and that all comes back to the way that we were fighting for the puck.

Overall Comments

When Boston went up by two in the middle stages of the first period I didn't get too worried or nervous at all and I don't think that our players did either. You could tell by the way that they were playing that this game was far from being over. We went on to outplay Boston over the next period and a half and scored two goals in the process. Then, for no reason, the refs decided that it was time for the home team to get a PP. Hooks, trips, holds and high-sticks had gone uncalled for almost a period when they decided that Gorges' cross-check (and the ensuing Bruin dive) was enough for them to get a few cheers of their own. We didn't play that PP very well as we let up one shot that hit the cross-bar and then allowed Chara to shoot, unchallenged, on net. I was nervous watching and you could tell that the once confident Habs were nervous now too. The shot was thanks to Kostopoulos not sticking on his man (the golden rule against Boston is, or at least should be - don't leave Chara alone) and the goal was thanks to a great shot and Price going to the butterfly, hoping it would hit him or miss. The rest of the game went fast as Boston were now playing as well, if not better, than us. The refs did a great job tonight at giving Boston every chance to succeed and I can only hope that when the games are in Montreal we get double the chances that Boston gets; even if each team plays as dirty as each other, kind of like tonight.

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