Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Pavelec (W)
Habs goalscorers: Gionta (2), Cammalleri, Plekanec
Opposition goalscorers: Little, Peverley, Popovic, Kubina, Armstrong
I really liked the 4th goal, Plekanec's. Can you believe that at the time I actually thought that it would be enough to send us to OT; I obviously underestimated Price's consistency. The play started at our blue-line when Latendresse grabbed the puck and quickly got it to Lapierre on his right. Then, that line, all 3 of them, went off up the ice. Lapierre sent it back to Gui who kept the puck going to Pleks who was out wide on the left. Tomas froze Pavelec and then, from a sharp angle, went upstairs to tie it at 4.
I had the list down to 4 forwards and I think Pleks was third on the list. So, I just wanted to mention that Gomez, despite not being chosen, played almost as well as Pleks and could have easily been placed in here. Tomas, however, had the edge thanks to his goal and a few other key offensive plays. He also had 3 shots on net, was 60% at face-offs and was quite gritty all game long.
Another 'pure-goal-scorer' game from Mike. Whether it be the fact that he always seems to be in the right place or that he can rocket the shot from just about anywhere or that he took 4 quite menacing shots or that he scored a very soft 5-hole goal there is just one way to describe this player and that is - amazing. Too bad he can't play D or goal...although come to think of it would it be that bad? I mean some of our players in those positions also have that deficiency.
Brian Gionta - Game Puck
I was very happy with Brian's game tonight and quite liked the way in which he scored his two goals. They were both quick and accurate shots that caught this 'phenom' off guard. He wasn't too great defensively tonight, but made up for that by spending most of his 21 minutes in the other end. In all he took 6 shots and could have easily ended with more than two goals.
Spacek and Hammer each gave the puck away 5 times and both took more silly penalties. As good as those two can be they can also be quite careless at times. Neither played horribly, but neither shone. Bergeron and Carle were just bad, they brought nothing apart from poor, uncomfortable and defensively-inept play. That leaves two players. Josh, once again is one of those players that I didn't really notice for good or bad. That is why I am happy that that calming influence was actually on the ice for over 20 minutes.
Mara stood out a little more than Gorges did and that, for the most part, is thanks to his play in the offensive zone. I thought that he did quite well on the PP and had a few other moments where he supported the attack nicely. He made a good pairing with Josh, but that may become a luxury that Martin will have to reconsider unless he really thinks he can roll with 4 D-men each night.
Price was bad tonight and likely cost us points. We have to look beyond a few things here to get to the truth about this game. I'll forget that our D, at times, was weak as, let's face it, they are always weak. I will give Carey the benefit of the doubt and forget that Atlanta isn't quite what you would call a 'cream of the league' type team. I'll even forget that he only faced 30 shots. No, for this assessment I will just look at the 5 goals (I'll even forget the other, non-goal, pucks that seemed to get by him with a certain regularity). I will forgive the first goal as it was unlucky. Yes, maybe he is the 'unluckiest' goalie ever, but I'll move on. The third goal, Popovic's, was pathetic. It was a floater from the point which never deflected, but Price still had trouble lining his foot-wide trapper with it. Then, the other three goals, were all pretty much the same and this is clearly something other teams have seen. Carey, on all of them, over-committed to the left side of his net. He stayed deep, hugged the post and crouched down. It is probably a great way to defend against low shots from the corner, but apparently not a good way to defend against much else. In all 3 cases the puck was passed across the crease to his right where an Atlanta player had very little to do but put it on net. This lesson in physics (pucks move faster than Carey) has obviously been lost on our 'positionally-sound', 'franchise player'. Now, the reason I choose Halak tonight isn't because I necessarily think Jaro is that great, but, no matter how bad Price is, we know one thing for certain; Halak, right now (and for most of the past 3 years), is far and away the better goalie.
You outplay a team, you out-chance a team and you even out-shoot them by over 25%, but you can't get a point. Why is that? Well, for the most part we have too few skilled players to get the job done. That said, I think that the forwards are getting the job done offensively. In fact I'll add our D to that list as I feel they are helping enough on attack. Our big problems, as you all know, are in our own end. Tonight we dressed 4 NHL players from the blue-line back. Carle, Bergeron and Price all played quite terribly and, in one way or another, cost us. All the effort in the world, unfortunately, can't make up for that deficiency. Not so fast forwards and other D. While you aren't horrible in your own end, you aren't that great either. This aspect of our play really has to improve if we want to go far. Yes, Markov is injured, but why is that an excuse? What kind of management is that? If you are a production manager and your best employee leaves do you just let productivity decline? No, of course not, you do something about it. Right now, however, Martin can do little to help the sinking ship that is our D (apart from not playing Price) because he has been supplied with elbow patches, from Gainey, to fill head-sized holes.
This is a rough start to the week and one that may cost us a good start to November. I know what the thought was tonight; 'Price has learned his lesson, he is ready, he's our number one and he'll have no trouble against Atlanta. This win will build his confidence and we'll build on that'. Well, cliches didn't work, but what may have is the simplest rule in sports - use your best pieces whenever you can. There is no rule that states Carey has to play games is there? Does he need a certain amount of starts? Nope. They dropped the ball tonight by hoping a worse option in goal would be good enough. After seeing Price play this year there is only one certainty when it comes to him - no games will ever be easy for this kid.