Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Luongo (W)
Habs goalscorers: A Kostitsyn
Opposition goalscorers: Kesler, Raymond, Bernier, H Sedin (2), Samuelsson, Burrows
Not a pretty game to watch. On the flip side, the Canadiens kept it really simple for those of us who must choose a play of the game -- how considerate. The candidates on the night were a few shots directed at Luongo's net with purpose. The ultimate winner was the goal. Off a faceoff, the play was a relatively simple one. The key, however, was Andrei Kostitsyn making the space for himself rather than finding the boards or the end of the rink. His turn followed by a quick wrister on net was about as good as it got on this night.
Mike Cammalleri - Game Puck
On this night, Cammalleri did all that we would ever asked him to do. He skated, he shot the puck and he looked dangerous on the ice. Since he wasn't around for the 7-1 drubbings last season, Mike stood out for his play once the game was beyond reach. Instead of giving up on the affair, he kept going and seemed determined to salvage a shred of something, anything from the game. The top line was the best line all night, and Mike was the best on it for me.
Apart from the goal, there was really one other moment in the running for the play of the game. It was the moment where Gui brought the puck around the net, looked poised to give the quick shot but instead waited patiently until he gained his opening right in the slot. On a night of scrambling, this moment of patience and poise is something to applaud. In general, I thought Guillaume made the best of a bad situation, being that he was trying to create real offensive chances on a line that thinks you get points for holding the puck on the backboards. There were several occasions to look up and take notice during the game from Guillaume, only further enhancing the case for him to usurp Pacioretty. Oh, and the goal was scored when Martin succumbed to the idea of taking the youngster off in place of Latendresse with Plekanec and Kostitsyn.
No, Kostitsyn didn't have memorable defensive moments, no he wasn't everywhere. But let's not get confused here. We want Andrei Kostitsyn to score and to concentrate on scoring. He scored. Apart from that moment, he certainly had his faults. However, if being overly generous with the puck after a strong carry wasn't one of them (again), we'd all be raving about him as a bright (OK, slighly less dim) light in this game, I think.
Remember last year when Josh Gorges quietly took the mantle of third most reliable defenceman on the team? Well, if things continue this way and Markov's tendon is slow to heal, Josh will take the place at the head of this group before long. There were some true horrors on D last night, not least among them the PK, but Josh largely kept his hands clean. He seems to manage it by keeping it simple -- something the others might do well to watch.
To make a point, I almost put Markov in the dome after this one. It really is getting distressing how defencemen are chosen by how they limited errors, as opposed to actually exerting a positive effect on the games. I feel like a teacher with a class full of C students, thirsting for just one student who cared about learning. Oh, to be Jacques Martin with this crew. Paul Mara, of the three remaining possibilities (Gill and Weber were disastrous all around) seemed to be the most palatable in the end. Though he was on for goals against, he was also the one who ultimately passed to our best goalscorer for the goal and put in some good PP time. Plus, as a 5th D, he actually put in the kind of effort one might expect on a slightly off night.
Speaking of distressing: second game in a row with the goalie who didn't really play? Not good. Jaro isn't in because he made 3 saves, as you know, he's in because he wasn't in for the blood and gore. Would it have gone differently with him in goal? Perhaps not, but you can't think it would have been much worse. Sure, there was one great glove save, but Carey had 3 or 4 opportunities to make one of those amazing reflex efforts. To take but one is not very satisfying for the observer. And while he continues to position himself well to be hit, the contingencies he makes for what might happen after the puck strikes him are not anything I would show a peewee team. In the end, perhaps this was the game Carey should have played in February, as he ironically turned in the 52 minutes he missed last season in Vancouver with a stunning replica of his form at the time. I look forward to a new script submission for 2009-10, from either goalie at this point.
Just as a win is a win, a loss is a loss. At this point in the season it is disappointing to sit through such a disengaging spectacle, however it's not that unexpected. If there are positives to be taken from this game they must be unearthed from the steaming pile of manure the team heaped on top of them. I feel there are some.
First, if anyone needed a reminder that the practices shouldn't end when training camp does, this game might help. The defencemen must surely have some impetus now to actually start learning that system everyone seems to be talking about.
Second, Carey Price was at his best last season after he practiced. After a summer of convincing himself nothing was wrong, perhaps a flashback to February might get him a little more keyed up about working with new coach Groulx. After all, even if he didn't let in 7 goals, his game needed work this fall.
And, finally, Martin was shown what happened last season and more. He was given examples of why Max is PacioNotReady and why Moen, Mara and Gill might have dispatched from their previous teams without fuss. He was given a lesson in how long time between the scoring line passes when you stack it with all your hope. He was shown that he'll have to rely on a very strict system in Markov's absence, since innate talent for doing anything in the home end is severely lacking. Up until now, he's had a bit of a honeymoon, but as a 4-day break approaches before the home opener, this game provided stark reminder that seeing how things pan out (Carbo-style) won't work this time around.