Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Game #80

2 Games in 2 Nights; Apparently Too Much To Ask

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Tuesday April 7th, 2009
Opponent: New York Rangers
Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

Team StripesScore: 1 - 3 Loss

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Henrik Lundqvist (W)

Habs goalscorers: Mathieu Dandenault
Opposition goalscorers: Chris Drury (2), Nikolai Antropov


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

I don't know if this was the best play tonight, but it was probably my favorite. I actually wish there was an offensive play that stood out, but alas I choose this play in what wasn't a huge game for the Habs. Completely out of position Price had to scramble as a Ranger player attempted a wrap-around. He got over to the right side with his stick and made what was quite an incredible save. The save alone, however, wasn't it as right after Avery was drilled into the net as he crashed for a rebound. Seeing that guy get hit like that makes about every hockey fan other than Avery's parents pretty happy.



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

Matt D'Agostini
This was hard to choose, but not because there were a few good choices, mostly because there were none. Of the players though Matt stood out for me as he brought a certain new energy to our team. With the defence we are icing we are going to need a lot of goals and so I was glad to see goal-scorers like D'Ags and Andrei K back in and can only hope Sergei and Lang will be back soon too.


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

Mathieu Dandenault
Mat played a decent game as he more often than not does. He was the only Hab to score tonight and, even though the goal wasn't too pretty, he was right to take that type of shot. A desperate team (like a team trying desperately to make the playoffs in a centennial year) must play with desperation. I didn't see enough of that tonight, but Dandy's goal was a good example of what we need.

Matt D'Agostini
Plekanec's line had the most jump tonight of any line even if they were on the ice for a couple of goals against. I for one will venture to look beyond the stats and claim that horrible plays by our goalie and D were hardly this line's fault. Of the three players Matt was the best and came the closest to scoring. He hit the post in the third and also put a game-high 6 other shots on net.

Alexei Kovalev
Kovy didn't play a bad game tonight, but he was neutralized a bit too easily for my liking. When he had the puck he did fine, but in the end he wasn't getting enough of the it. Without Markov we don't have that player who can find Alex at all times on the ice; instead we have guys who's passes go to the other team. Kovy needs help out there, tonight he looked alone.

Defencemen

Roman Hamrlik
I'm not sure that I like Roman's penalty tonight, but given the fact that about 10 worse plays went uncalled I will not complain. He was the most complete of our D-men and one of the only ones to play responsibly in his own end for the entire game. There is no way that Gorges should be seeing more ice than Roman as we need him to play close to 30 minutes if we are to have any chance at all.

Ryan O'Byrne
This just happens to be a classic case of: best of the rest. Ryan obviously didn't play too badly tonight as I didn't notice any major mistakes - on a night like tonight that means that he played well. He avoided stupid penalties and played close to 17 minutes of 'no-goals-against' defence.

Goaltender

Jarsolav Halak
Carey may have only let up 3 goals tonight, but let's face it he was lucky. That total could have easily been higher with a little more Ranger luck. A post, a shot that landed on the top of the net and another one that got through, but trickled wide are all examples of his poor play tonight. He didn't play to the level that we need right now, it wasn't playoff (on an injury-ridden team) type hockey. Over the past two months Halak has been our man - it should have continued tonight.



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

Tonight, thanks to the lack of 3 of our top 6 defenders, we had a lot of trouble moving the puck up the ice. We didn't have the guys at the back that can either carry the puck themselves or, better yet, hit our forwards in full stride. Instead our most successful zone-gains came when our forwards took matters into their own hands. This meant that these players often had to go back to retrieve pucks which in turn allowed for New York to be better prepared. Gone was anything up the middle as our new, slow approach happens along the boards and with dump-ins. I am not sure what impact this aspect of play will have on us long-term (I am hoping long-term is more than 2 games), but tonight it killed our attack. For the first time all year I am doubting whether we actually have the players in place to get the job done. Where are you Francis? That would at least be a good start.


Overall Comments

Our first period was alright, but it wasn't that good. I never got the feeling like we were trying to win the game, instead it looked like we were trying for that single point. Why on earth the Habs don't start the game as though they are a goal down with a minute to play or with the goal of beating a team by 5 goals, I'll never know. Like a high school student 6 hours from deadline we are trying to do the minimum amount of work possible. New York played into our trap in the first period, but soon realized that this game could be theirs with little to no effort. The Habs looked tired, out of ideas and worried as this game just kind of went by with little emotion. A win of course could have clinched a playoff berth, but we are now getting very close to the 'depending-on-others' stage of playoff qualification. I remember how 2 years ago we didn't take matters into our own hands in the last week and we watched as a Islander team - playing with tons of spirit - came out of nowhere to stun us and the Leafs. We have 2 more games, as do FLA and NYR, but, for heaven's sake, let's do the smart thing and win a game ourselves. 1 point and we are in, but boys, trust me, play for the win.

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