Habs Goalie: Price (W)
Opposition Goalie: Rask (L)
Habs goalscorers: Metropolit, Lapierre, Darche, Pouliot
Opposition goalscorers: Sturm
After 2 periods we were down by a goal, but I felt that 2 points were certainly within reach. I am, therefore, happy that the team believed the same and came out with a very impressive 4-goal performance in the final 20. The best of the goals, and the play of the game, was the winner; scored by Lapierre. With 12+ to play I thought both teams may hang back and secure a crucial point, but the Habs had different plans. Instead of following the Bruins' lead of not really mounting an attack we decided that the best way to win would be to score, and, thus, attack. The second goal started with a little dump-in by the hard-working Dominic Moore and was chased down by Moen. Just like Perry against the US (Kesler's empty-netter) Ference didn't really go all-out for this puck. That lack of effort enabled Moen, who was working his hardest, to get the puck. A quick, unexpected shot was stopped, but Lapierre followed up to put in a very timely rebound.
Glen Metropolit - Game Puck
Glen played tonight the way he had done earlier in the year - with fire and effort. You have to think that the veteran must have benefited from the Olympic break almost as much as CTV. He looked refreshed and ready to go and that is just what we need from our 4th line, energy, centre. His hard work paid off with a goal and an assist and he even led the game with 5 shots. A little PP time and a 4th line role is ideal for Glen as we have seen the negative effects of asking him to do too much. If he can play the final 20 games as well as he did his first 20 then that line should have a positive impact from here on in.
Max is another player who may just benefit from this fresh start. Of course, it is too early to say that he has turned his season around, but even 1 out of 3 games at this level would, once again, make Max a valuable piece. He was actually up on the 3rd line with Moen and Moore and probably wants to beat Travis out for that spot as one can only assume Sergei will be there when Camms is back. Max really looked good tonight and, to go along with his goal, there were game-highs in hits (6) and face-off % (88% or 7-1).
I think it is now safe to say that Darche has earned his spot on this team - even when we are fully healthy. He, along with Moore, have proven to be a cut above D'Agostini and Pacioretty and can not only bring strong positional play, but both players also offer an offensive upside, good NHL experience and the ability to play any role asked of them. Tonight Darche was on the 4th line - the spot that he is most likely going to end up in. He worked very well with the surprising Pyatt and Metro. Like Glen, Mat had a goal and an assist and an impressive 5 shots.
Tonight Andrei was our second best player as we once again were reminded of how much better of a team we are when he is playing. He did very well in his own end to break up plays, cover up for his teammates and to block shots (game-high of 4). I was happy he wasn't over-used for three reasons - a) we don't know if he is 100%, b) he had no Olympic break and c) we will need him a lot in the next month or so if we want to make anything of this season.
I thought about Gill tonight, but there were just too many mistakes, although he was decent on the PK. Hammer and Spacek looked energized and both played solid games, but neither to their potential. And then there was O'Byrne, who was just his usual self (not the good usual). So that leaves just one, the quiet man. That is exactly the game Josh had too; a quiet one. I think that the only time I really noticed him was on a perfect pass up the middle - a pass that was the third assist (not counted) on our first goal. Despite going relatively unnoticed he still put in 20 minutes and almost 3 of those were on the PK.
Carey started the game a little weak, but he got stronger as the game went on. Early on there was a soft goal, a post and a few bad puck-handling moments, but I am happy to say they all seemed to be isolated incidents. In the end he did what he had to do, he got us the win. It wasn't spectacular and he didn't steal us anything, but he made sure that a 1-0 lead was the most Boston would get. Was this his last night as a 1b? Was this his last night as a Hab? Or was this simply the first game, of many, after the Olympics for the Habs with two, solid, sought-after 'tenders. Only time will tell I suppose; we'll see by 3.
Tonight's game felt weird as, for some reason, 2 weeks can, sometimes, feel like a very long stretch. I think that I got so into the Olympics that I almost forgot about the Habs. So, I went into this game expecting very little and even thought that a loss, on the road, wouldn't be a huge deal. We started the game nicely, but despite 2 decent enough periods we were down and were once again shooting at a wall of a goalie. After 40 minutes, however, things changed and we stopped playing as well as Boston and instead started playing better. 4 goals and a doubling in shots (14-7) gave the Habs what I consider to be unexpected, yet welcome, points. Tonight marked the return of Andrei Kostitsyn and of Benoit Pouliot. Neither player had a great game, but their presence meant that we could take 2 Hamilton players off the team and ice 4 competitive lines. Both players will only get better and one can only imagine the impact the Cammalleri will have when he is back in mid-March.
So soon after the Olympics comes another big hockey event - the trade deadline. As exciting as this day is always made out to be (with the potential of picking up Hossa for Higgins) it is usually a bust for the Habs. We have made moves during this time in recent years, but there hasn't really been anything earth-shattering. The last move involving a big-name Hab was, of course, the trade that got us a very important (cough) 2nd round-pick for an All-Star goalie. I guess that I am hoping not to be disappointed yet again with a repeat performance of that move as I think we all know what happened a few weeks later. Right now goaltending is not an issue, but is instead is a strength, so addressing that now may be as foolish as it was when we were a top-placed team who decided they didn't need such a good goalie in order to go deep in the playoffs. Picking up a Ray Whitney or a similar type player wouldn't be the end of the world, but if we are to rent I just hope that it doesn't cost us too much. I just look at tomorrow as survival day, as in can we get through the day and, at the end of it, not say that we are a worse team than when we started? A lot of teams can't, I hope that we can.