Habs Goalie: Halak (W)
Opposition Goalie: Vokoun (L)
Habs goalscorers: Gill, Cammaelleri, Plekanec, Bergeron, Pouliot
Opposition goalscorers: Ballard, Horton, Frolik, Dvorak
I am going to go for the nicest goal tonight as it not only was very pretty, but it also put us in the lead for the first time; a lead that we would never give up. The goal started with some hard work behind the net from Plekanec and then Pacioretty (filling in for the injured Andrei Kostitsyn). It was Max who eventually got the puck to Markov at the point and it was Pleks who went to the net. The shot came in from the left point and then, from his knees, Plekanec spun around and scored what may go down as one of the best 10 Habs goals of the year.
He did it all on this night and ended 2009 on a very high note. He potted his 10th goal and 46th point, played over 22 minutes, took a game-high 8 shots and had another better than 50% night in the face-off circle. It is amazing the difference that a year can make as he now heads into 2010 as our top offensive forward and our best chance at a 90-point season.
Another Hab to end the year very well is of course Mike. He hasn't scored at the same pace lately as he did throughout earlier parts of the year, but as 2010 starts he already has 20 goals in the bank. The best part about the way Camms has played is that he has found chemistry with 2 of our 2008-2009 holdovers which means we didn't have to use all 3 of our UFA signings together. He has been a big reason for the resurgence of Kostitsyn and Plekanec as the Habs can now count on 2 very good lines - something that was a serious concern in September.
Brian's hard work and high-energy style of play continued in this game. He is the biggest reason that we now have a quality second line as Gomez and Pouliot are now much better players thanks to his presence. In all that line had 5 points last night with Gionta getting 2 of those; his 16th and 17th of the season.
Andrei Markov - Game Puck
It is hard to think of a new thing to say every night for this player, but I am wise enough to know that I will likely have to. What I liked most from this game was that he was on the ice for 3 of our goals and 0 of theirs which is quite impressive. He doesn't, however, just happen to be on the ice for our goals, but is actually a big reason we score them as he picked up 3 assists in all. He now has an amazing 11 points (all tallied on this road trip) which puts him at fourth on the team for defenceman scoring already. I can only hope that he starts 2010 as strong as he ended this year as he has not only proven himself to be a top talent in the league, but he is also helping the Habs (in most areas of their play) to establish themselves as a quality team from the East.
It isn't often that you'll see Hal Gill in here, but he does actually deserve the credit. In fact, he has been a much better player than any of us had thought which means our defence is quite a bit deeper than we had all predicted. I was happy to see Hal score his 2nd on the year as I feel he is the ultimate team guy and generally does all of the thankless tasks. He clocked in at just over 16 minutes which I think may be ideal when you consider than our top-4 are quite capable of about 20-24 minutes each.
Halak didn't play too bad in this game, but he wasn't the reason that we won either. You can still look at his 5 wins on this trip, however, and thank him for at least 6, maybe 8 of those points as he has been absolutely dominant. In this game, though, he wasn't at his best and, thankfully, his teammates took care of him. The first two goals were tough to stop and the other two may have been gettable, but in the end you can't really let up 4 to Florida on the road. Now, I will certainly let him off of the hook thanks to his recent play, but I will still put Carey in the dome as I know Jaro could have been better and that Price probably would have been.
This game was wide open and exciting and was exactly the type of game that you would expect to see from the Habs at this stage. They certainly had the will to win, but you could tell, especially by some of their defensive lapses and giveaways, that they were a bit mentally fatigued. This game marked the end of a ridiculous December which included 17 games, a 7-game road-trip, Christmas, the Centennial and Gala and quite a few injuries. You have to, therefore, hand it to this group for ending on such a high note and for, somehow, finding the will to win this game. No one would have batted an eye had they lost as their trip was already deemed a success, but they were greedy and they had no interest in seeing 2 winnable points go to waste. So, they ended this most hectic of months (and most tumultuous of years) on a very positive note. They didn't reach my (ambitious) December goal of 20 points, but to get 19 (and 12 of 14 on the road to finish up) is still a major accomplishment. They are now very much in the mix for a playoff spot which I think is now goal #1 (and only). They have 39 games to go of which the majority (21) will be at home which should serve as a bit of an advantage. First up, however, is January which won't be nearly as crazy a month as December was. In all we have 13 games (4 less than last month) of which 7 will be at home and I think this our time to make a move. I am hoping for 15 points and will, therefore, set that as our goal as I continue to take this season one step and one challenge at a time.