Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Brodeur (W)
Habs goalscorers: Pouliot, Plekanec
Opposition goalscorers: Smith, Alfredsson, Phillips, Fisher
Our first goal was very nice and it got us back into the game a mere 1:23 after we surrendered the first goal of the game. Pouliot had just coughed up the puck in the neutral zone to Alfie who sprung Smith on a shorthanded break. The kid subsequently scored his first career goal (is it just me or do a lot of 4th liners and kids, scoring their first of the career, manage to score on us?) and our kid must have felt bad. So, it was nice to see his line back out there on the next shift as they looked to put that goal behind them. The play started with a Gomez rush which seemed to end at the blue-line. Yes, Scott was stripped, but Gionta made a great play to get the puck back to his centre. Gomez then found an open #57 in the slot who had no trouble putting one by M. Brodeur.
Scott Gomez - Game Puck
I wanted more from our goalie tonight, more from most of our D (especially Markov) and a whole lot more from our forwards (would it kill the 3rd or 4th liners to do something?), but the player that I felt was the closest to normal, and stood above the rest, was Scott. His execution and defensive play weren't at their best, but they were close and, after all, he was the best chance we had. He did have a few effective rushes, collected an assist and ended at 10-6 on face-offs.
Brian again gave it his all tonight and came out with a respectable 1 point. He could have, however, had a few more, but, for a second straight week, we were stoned by M. Brodeur. This week, though, is a bit much. The Habs, and Brian is not exempt, must find a way to beat goalies - it can't always be our excuse. Every team has a goalie...doesn't seem to stop other attacks.
I suppose it is safe to say that Pleks is in a slump. We would, of course, do that as we have now come to expect higher than PPG production from him - which is unfair, to say the least, to Tom. I for one don't think he is in a slump and simply think he was playing well above aveare in December and had linemates that were also playing at extremely high levels. All that said, tonight he was decent and was actually our third best forward. He scored a pretty weak goal, but it was nice to see him finding a way to contribute as he continuess to wait for Andrei's (as do we all) return.
I am not sure what is happening with Markov as our best player has hit a bit of a snag. I can live without the offence and without the PP production, but I need to see strong play in our own end. One pairing that wasn't too bad tonight was Roman-Spacek. Hammer played a very cautious game, which unfortunately included 4 giveaways, but he also kept himself in position most of the time.
Like I wonder about Markov, I also wonder about Josh Gorges. The once very solid #4 (acting #2) hasn't been too good as of late and, to tell you the truth, has not been playing his best hockey ever since he was paired with Marky. Lucky then, again, for us is that we have a player like Spacek who can fill the role of #2 man on a top pairing quite nicely. Tonight he was decent and, although he also had 4 giveaways, his ice-time was up and he tallied an assist.
Carey didn't give his team a chance to win easily, but with 6 PPs it should not have mattered. This was a game in which we out-shot Ottawa, out-chanced them and had triple the PPs. So, our offence, in my mind, let down Price. I can't, however, be blind to the fact that he let in one bad goal (the 1st) and at least one other that I would expect a player with as much potential to get. His 'hope-it-hits-me' technique didn't translate into 2 or less tonight and unfortunately the offence took care of the rest of the bad news.
I expect a lot of the next few games to be like the three we have just played against the Devils, Stars and Sens. In that stretch we have proven that we are not a deep team on defence, our goalies are good, but not great and that we only have about 5 forwards with any business seeing real minutes in the NHL. It is no surprise, therefore, that we came out of that trio of games 1-1-1 as I think luck and chance had more to do with it than anything. Take tonight for example, we tried hard, we got chances on the PP and at even-strength, but we couldn't make it work. Too many times do I see a Lapierre in front of the net mishandle the puck or miss the net. Too often is a D'Agostini skating to the outside only to make the 40' hope-pass and I can't even count the amount of times that our D just retreated and conceded not only the zone, but quality shots too. The bottom line is that we don't have the talent to win a lot of games and we don't have a system that will allow for a team of our calibre to win on a regular basis. So, don't get upset as loses like this will happen, as will big wins. Ottawa, however, like us, has problems and that is the most encouraging part about all of this. You see, we are in a race with other teams that aren't that good either and that must be equally frustrating to watch on a nightly basis. Sure, we get down when the Habs lose a few in a row, but come on, we are still better than so many teams in the East, I mean, can you imagine watching 82 Hurricane games? The playoffs are certainly no guarantee for this Habs group, but, if this week taught me one thing, it is that they are no certainty for almost every other team too.