Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Elliott (W)
Habs goalscorers: Spacek, Gionta
Opposition goalscorers: Kovalev (2), Smith
The play of the game, for me, was a play that really shaped how this one ended, one that hurt a lot. I thought that this was the most important play as its timing and implications were crucial. The play that I am referring to is the penalty that Spacek took when he hip-checked Spezza. The refs called this seemingly clean (they let a hip check go later on) play and the result was a power-play which bore fruit for Ottawa. It was a shame that the refs decided that that play warranted a penalty and then let so much go for the rest of the contest.
Kostitsyn is now in charge of getting Gomez and Pyatt (Pyatt!) going. It is funny that the coach's answer to a successful line is to break them up, to play the best (at least as of 10 days ago) component with a 4th liner and an absent centre. The result was a strong game from Andrei, but, shocker, not from his linemates. I would have kept a working combo intact and worried about the rest on its own.
I liked the way that Darche played tonight as he was the best bottom-6 for me throughout. His minutes were up, he was responsible in his own end and played well in Ottawa's. The hit that he threw in our end was very good and seemed to give us momentum for the rest of the game after it.
I suppose it is more important to get Gionta going than to keep Kostitsyn going; at least that is what the lines told me. I think that it was a poor trade-off, but did think that Gionta played a bit better than he has been doing. He at least helped his cause tonight with a goal. The goal itself was lucky, but confidence comes from scoring goals, even if the goalie dropped the ball on the play.
Jaroslav Spacek - Game Puck
Spacek has a long way to go to earn back the trust of most of the fans out there. With each passing game, however, he seems to be playing better and the pleas for Picard seem to be getting fewer. His goal was lucky, but was crucial and I felt he played a good game the rest of the time; he also happened to be +2 and added an assist. His penalty cost the Habs, but I can't fault him when I am clear in my mind that the refs were the ones to blame on that call.
Tonight Hammer rode shotgun to Spacek. It was actually a taste of last season as it wasn't always Roman who was leading the way. He, like Jaro, was also +2 and also played a clean, responsible, team-like game. When a pairing that most have written-off as your third is the best in a particular game it is a good sign. The fact that they have the potential to do that, to me, is one of the most encouraging aspects of this team.
This was an average game from Carey. There was nothing to really complain about, but nothing to marvel at either. None of the goals were bad, but when you let in 3 losses will come as easily as wins. I would like to see Auld next week for the purpose of keeping Price fresh as we are getting to the meat of the schedule and we have to manage our resources properly or we may get burned.
What stood out tonight was the fact that Montreal never really got going, offensively, until towards the end of the game. We had a lot of rushes, a lot of positive movement through the neutral zone and a lot of possession in their end, but our execution and drive were poor. 2-on-1's looked sloppy, passes were poorly placed and shots weren't hitting the net. When you add all of that up and then allow the other team to score a couple of weaker/luckier than usual goals it is no wonder that you lose. After 14 games I think that I can say I am pretty happy in many areas (3rd/4th line's play, Pleks' line's play, defence, goaltending, fitness/health), but there are 2 areas that really bother me. The first is, of course, the PP. Now, I don't need our percentage to recover or for us to be at the top of the league, but when the going gets tough and the team needs a goal the PP MUST convert. The other area of concern, for me, is the play of Gomez and Gionta. They aren't playing horribly, but we won't be able to wins games on a consistent basis with 7 points out of every 14 games from them (on pace for ~ 15-25 points each). We will need them badly in the coming weeks and I think that it is about time that they pick up the slack. Unfortunately (only unfortunate if things remain this way for the balance of the season), at their salaries, they are with us for the long haul, so if Martin can't get them going the team could be in some serious trouble.