Thursday, April 02, 2009

Game #77

Win-Win: Habs Get Their 2 Points, Isles Get Their Loss

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Thursday April 2nd, 2009
Opponent: New York Islanders
Venue: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY

Team Stripes

Score: 5 - 1 Win

Habs starting goalie: Jaroslav Halak (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Yann Danis (L)

Habs goalscorers: Saku Koivu, Mathieu Schneider, Alex Tanguay, Andrei Markov, Mike Komisarek
Opposition goalscorers: Jeff Tambellini

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

Markov's goal was the nicest play of the night. It was our 3rd PP goal and it gave us a 4-goal lead, something that this Islander team was in no way going to erase. The goal itself was a simple play and was probably one that has been practiced many times by the Habs. Kovalev, on the half boards, passed the puck down low to Koivu in the corner. The captain waited until he had a perfect cross-crease line to a streaking Markov. When the time was right the pass was fired across and all Andrei had to do was lift the puck.

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

Alexei Kovalev
I was a little surprised that Alex didn't score tonight as it was the type of game in which he made things look so easy. He was walking around the Islanders defence as though it was their first time on skates. He did have some good chances though and Danis had to be sharp. In all Kovalev led the game with 5 shots in his 15 minutes of play - Gainey didn't use his top line much when the game was out of reach.

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)...


Saku Koivu
Koivu set the tone early with a goal on a 1st period PP. He was skating and handling the puck very well all night. The puck movement amongst him and his linemates is quite nice to watch as they must now be considered one of the best (and probably the hottest) lines in the league. Saku added an assist to his goal and now has 47 points. He also had a great night in the face-off circle as he went 10-6.

Maxim Lapierre
Max gave it his all on every shift and, even though we were up by a lot for a good chunk of the game, he didn't stop. I love this approach to hockey and it is the way I would play too. I think we all know what happens when too many players on the leading team stop playing, if you don't know, ask the Rangers. Lapierre didn't figure on the scoresheet, but was a mind-blowing 14-3 at face-offs.

Alexei Kovalev
The best part about Kovy's recent success is that the team is winning too; all of these goals and assists would be meaningless without the wins. With better goaltending and defence his offence has really been the difference over the past few games. He picked up another 3 assists tonight and that gives him 59 points on the year. All I can do is thank Bob, though. I thank him for remembering the type of player Alex can be (and is) when the going gets tough. We need him, Koivu, Tanguay and Markov now more than ever and, oh boy, are we getting them.


Andrei Markov
I don't know how good Mike Green is on defence (despite a great +/-), but what I do know is that no one should write Andrei off for the Norris. It is so rare that one of the best offensive defenceman is also one of the best defensive. I really believe that Markov is top-3 in both categories and hope that the voters try and remember what the trophy is actually meant to reward - defensive play. He is, however, putting up those big numbers just to make sure no one forgets about him. Tonight it was a goal and an assist to bring his total to 64 points.

Josh Gorges
Josh continued his strong play beside Schneider tonight. That duo was very good in their own end although, to be fair, they weren't called upon much. He saw the type of game this was and decided to get a little more involved offensively too. He was, therefore, able to pick up another point with a good pass on Tanguay's goal.


Jarsolav Halak
What a solid performance. New York wasn't exactly the threat that most teams are, but they still had quite a few chances. I could count about 5 odd-man rushes (or breakaways) where Jaro shut the door and killed any hope that the Islanders had of getting back into the game. A low point for him (in that it cost him a shutout) was the goal against. It was the type of shot that he should have had and it may have been the result of a lack of concentration. Nevertheless he was stellar the rest of the way as he blocked the remaining 26 shots.

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

Maybe it was the defence we were up against, maybe not. All I know is that this is a team that beats us when we are slumping and is no match for us when we are on our game. Tonight the fact that they were no match really helped to open things up and I saw the type of offensive team that we can really be. The main thing I noticed was the speed at which we were passing the puck. Whether it was a pass to get out of the zone, a pass once we gained their zone or a pass once we were set up on the PP, they all seemed to be quick. I find that the quick movement of the puck is the sign of a very confident team and I think that is what we have become. The positives of moving the puck like we did are of course the fact that we open up their defence, we create more chances and we become able to get ourselves out of defensive jams. We are always called a fast team, but that doesn't always just refer to how fast you skate. Tonight it referred to how quickly we worked the puck around.

Overall Comments

It never really looked like New York cared tonight. They are obviously in need of someone better than Richard Park or Doug Weight up front, so it is no surprise that they want Tavares. The game started off at a horribly slow pace and I was afraid that the Habs were going to play down to New York's pathetic level. The Isles had a couple of early chances that were stopped by Halak which I thought was crucial. The last thing you want to do against a team like this is give them a lead; who knows, after that point they may actually try. Luckily we scored 2 in the first period to essentially wrap the game up. The Canadiens realized that there would be absolutely no excuse if they lost this one, so they made sure that they got a lead that would hold up. After we took that 4-0 lead early in second period we did slow it down a bit; that is of course when New York scored their goal. We started rolling all 4 lines, we had some new faces on the PP as all we cared about now was the result in Raleigh. The most important thing for us tonight were those 2 points, the second biggest thing was a no-OT result between the 'Canes and Rangers. We luckily got bot and now sit in 7th. With 90 points in the bank we are far from safe, but it is sure nice that we have 9 points in our last 5 games. I am glad that we control our own destiny now as all we have to do is to keep on winning.

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