Location: New York
Habs Goalie: Auld (W)
Opposition Goalie: Roloson (L)
Habs goalscorers: Plekanec, Pouliot, Moen
Opposition goalscorers: Martin
The lob-out has become such a big part of hockey over the past few years that I am not surprised that teams are using it more and more often as a way to break-out rather than simply to clear the puck. Tonight's game-winner was a prime example of this. Subban, who has this move down, flicked one up, high in the air into the neutral zone. Anticipating that type of a pass was Halpern who caught the puck and found himself on a 2-on-1. Instead of passing to the player on his left, however, he went back to the trailer, Pouliot. Ben then showed us the shot we all thought we remembered that he had and picked the corner very nicely.
Jeff has been playing well and I was hoping that he would again tonight as he deserves some recognition for his hard work. He took advantage of an off-night (well, less on than usual) from the top line to be our best centre. His play on the winner was very nice indeed, but so was his 2-way play the rest of the time and his 8-3 record on face-offs.
Another good game from the skipper. He keeps putting pucks on the net and that was rewarded tonight when Moen tipped one of those in. His speed, shot and responsible play are all so valuable to this team right now and are all contributing factors to our success.
Another bottom-line forward to do well tonight was Max. Had Andrei, Pleks and Camms lit it up for 2 or 3 more goals this effort would have been forgotten, but on this night I couldn't ignore it. 6 hits and an aggression and energy that we don't see every night in the regular season from him. His goaltender interference penalty cost us 2 minutes, but if it even helped in a tiny way to throw Roloson off his game then it may have been worth it.
Roman and Jaro played well tonight. I actually wanted to get Spacek into the dome as I thought this was one of his better games. I couldn't, however, overlook Hammer and Gorges in this one. Hamrlik played a team-high 24 minutes in his last game as acting general. Tomorrow is part 2 of our season and I think we're all pretty excited to be getting our best player back.
When Hamrlik and Subban are playing well (which they have been doing) our D all of a sudden has some serious depth. In fact, with Markov back our top-4 is very, very good. Josh, as a number 4, is so reliable, patient and clever that I think he may be one of the best #4's in the league. Spacek and Gill also played well tonight which gives us a very good top-6. Gorges led the way tonight with 5 blocked-shots and also had one very good one-timer which he almost scored on.
Alex Auld - Game Puck
I was pleasantly surprised with the work of our back-up tonight. In all he faced 31 shots and did a very good job to keep all but 1 of those out. His positioning looked good, he was quick and he made some important saves when he had to. I think that this game will have earned him a lot of confidence and respect from his teammates and a few extra starts from Martin. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw him about once every five games rather than every eight or ten.
10 games without Markov and here we are with 15 points in the bank - unbelievable. Tonight's game was the type of game that you know you should win and if you lose it you are left wondering what could have been. New York played a decent game, but their defence and goaltending has too many holes for us to let an opportunity like that pass us up. The Habs didn't play as well as we did on Wednesday, but what we did do was we played a simple road game. We had very few mistakes, didn't over commit too many times and took advantage of our limited opportunities. We took a few too many penalties for my liking, but that may have more to do with Tavares, the actor than the Habs, the criminals. John made sure that every time he was touched there was a dive or a fall that followed. He earned his team a few chances, but our PK and Auld, in particular, would have none of it. It is back home tomorrow to play against another very beatable team. Florida then Columbus - could we be at 10 wins by the end of next week? It starts tomorrow when #79 comes back and I, for one, can't wait!