Habs Goalie: Halak (W)
Opposition Goalie: Boucher (L)
Habs goalscorers: Plekanec
Opposition goalscorers: None
Jaro made a series of two stops with about 5 minutes to go in the 2nd that not only 'won' us the game, but were also two of the best saves that I have seen, back-to-back, in quite some time. Within a matter of seconds he stoned van Riemsdyk and Richards with his left pad as both players were left with a lot of net to shoot at. Stoning those two players was very consistent with what he did all game as I could have chosen from at least 10 other saves for the play-of-the-game.
Our goal was pretty much all Andrei as he did all of the hard work and spotted a wide-open Pleks (surrounded by 4 confused men in orange) in the slot. Andrei did have a good first couple of periods and was certainly a threat beyond that goal, but, like the rest of our team, did a lot of watching in the third.
Being in the right place at the right time is often used as a term to describe luck...by people who assume you have to be lucky to be good. Well, the right place at the right time is exactly where Tom was for his goal, but he wasn't there by chance, no, instead he was there because he knew that he should be arriving in the slot at that precise moment in case Kostitsyn would be able to win his battle and centre the puck. Finding a hole in Philly's defence to stand alone in front of Boucher was certainly his best play all night, although, to be fair, he was decent for most of the rest of it too.
Choosing another forward from this game was done by a method that I hate using (as it generally means the team played badly) - process of elimination. After I went through the roster and thought of bad things for most of the other forwards I was left with nothing too bad to report for Gionta and Gomez. Of the two, however, I did remember noticing that Scott was slightly better at most times during the game. I think he, and his line, will have to be better in the coming games, though, as we will need goals at some point as the goal isn't just to simply squeak into the first round and stop, is it?
If Halak accounted for 85% of this win and shutout then I would have to give a big portion of the remaining 15% to Markov. He was outstanding in our own end all night and really helped Jaro out at times. I felt that this may have been his best defensive game for quite some time as he was going against a talented group that did not want to lose at all tonight. He played the most minutes of any Hab tonight so I hope that he will still be good to go full-tilt tomorrow as more points for the playoff race are certainly a must.
Josh carried the second of our three trios tonight. Like the other two he was also dragging around an anchor, but you wouldn't have known it. The look on his face of desire and ambition screamed playoffs to me and I am that Josh will give us a solid effort in each and every game between now and the first game of golf of 2010.
Jaroslav Halak - Game Puck
That may have been the best single game performance of Halak's Hab career as he was simply outstanding. Philly came at him all game long with not just shots, but with some serious quality chances. He seemed to be making a game-saver just about every other minute as Philly, at times, was all over us. The win marked his 25th of the season and the shutout his 4th in a game that will hopefully have some serious implications. I see no reason to not go back to him tomorrow because if he can play as well as he played tonight then a win at home, against Buffalo, is a serious possibility.
Any time that you get a chance to beat a team that is neck-and-neck in a race with you you have to do it. Well, there were two teams thinking that tonight and both teams wanted this one bad. Montreal started well, but over the course of the first 40 minutes it became obvious that Philly was the more motivated and stronger team on this night. The third period wasn't even close as the Flyers outshot us 14-3 and were all over us in our own end. It is, therefore, lucky for us that the best of the 38 players happened to be the one in our net. Without Halak tonight we may be wandering just why our team didn't show up and where the offence was. Instead we are in 6th and prevented a rival from getting any points. I, however, can't be so blind and must ask the question - where was our team? Is this what we are taking into the playoffs? Is it that hard to get up for a game like this? We have scored 10 non-empty-net goals in our last 7 games and I have a feeling that that just won't cut it beyond next Saturday. We have to be more than 1 line, a goalie and a couple of D. We need Pouliot, Cammalleri, Moore, Lapierre, Moen and, heaven forbid, players like Maxwell, Pyatt, Gill and O'Byrne to actually contribute. These are all players that must step up as a team with no depth is a team that will not go into the playoffs into any depth. I'll take the win and will look to tomorrow, but I seriously hope that some of our players start looking at themselves.