Opponent: Red Wings
Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Howard (W)
Habs goalscorers: Moen, Pouliot
Opposition goalscorers: Lidstrom, Kronwall, Datsyuk, Eaves
Quite a lot of good plays for a loss. There was a lot of solid early defending and the third was full of nice chances. The play of them all was the Pouliot goal though. In what has become typical for the young sniper, he took a pass and then with great confidence walked right down the middle of the Detroit defence and let rip. The way he set himself to find a lane was superb and the shot itself was obviously dead-on. It was the goal that re-ignited the team's hope, and the signal that Montreal players were actually allowed to make their way down the middle portion of the ice.
Tomas Plekanec - Game Puck
Plekanec drew a tough assignment in this game. He was asked to check a line with a couple of 80 point men. All the while, he was asked to pick up the slack for Gomez while playing against the Selke owner. Did I mention he had to play lots of PK as well. I thought he did really well, and considering the third was an offensive breakthrough for the whole team, really that he beat out the Datsyuk line (who incidentally scored during a line mismatch). Pleks had a couple of shots and fed Gionta for a team high five, he had a couple of takeaways as well. his one blemish was a slash that led to a 5-on-3. But I'm not going to pretend that was the only slash in the entire game like the refs did - it was a weak call and the fact a goal was scored doesn't change that.
Speaking of touch assignments, how do you like Cammalleri with just about anyone except for Plekanec, Gionta or Kostitsyn. All this and the guy still manages to create chances and goals. I thought he was off track for a while in November. It feels like he's back on track now, and definitely in the coach's very good books.
I'm going to go with the coach on this one. Martin chose to put Darche and Lapierre on with Pleks and Cammalleri at the end of the game - his dome. I don't really agree with Darche, but I thought Lapierre was one of a number of forwards who had a decent first half and a storming third.
Another good game from Hammer. Although the NHL website says he was on for a goal against (as well as the empty netter). A pair of eyes can tell you he wasn't. Throughout the game, he played Red Wings conservatively and managed his end of the ice well.
Gorges was on for goals against, but I find it hard to fault him directly. His play on the first goal was probably the right one given the seconds remaining, unfortunate only that Red Wings can turn a turnover into 3 passes and a goal in the blink of an eye. Really, Gorges was solid for most of the game, especially the first period. He set a good tone for the game as he constantly bumped Red Wings as passes were coming their way. Subban watch this guy on how to throw a tactical body check.
For me, Carey came closest he has in a long to not making this dome. Not that it was a close call. But coming out of the gates he was reckless, and as if to fulfill the promise set out by articles on his puck-handling prowess and quest for a goal, he continued all game with dangerous handling. The scoresheet says 2 giveaways, I guess that depends how one gauges a giveaway. Apart form that, he was really sound again. Really sound. While his defenders worked on the premise they'd allow any shots from a limited angle, Carey worked very hard to shift and cover for each instance. The first goal was a 5-on-3 (really 5-on-1 if you consider how the D played it). The second he was completely screened and the third was a breakaway. All standard shots, therefore were saved. Many non-standard ones too.
This was a fun game to watch. The Canadiens were tested by a team that came in with a plan tailored to beat them. The Red Wings left Habs forwards to skate with speed all they wanted to the outsides, but rarely in the middle. They tried attacking across the ice to move the defenders, as Hamrlik and co. are still sealing off good shots against static attacks. The Habs hung in there in the first and second, despite not really having a good scoring chance in my books, and then to the encouragement of all fans and critics played one of their best periods of the young season just when they needed to play one of the best periods of the season. Ultimately, they fell short, but the wound doesn't smart as much for the knowledge that if the game had been 10 minutes longer, the result might have been very different.
This is especially encouraging to me, since I have been worried that the Canadiens were a team that thrived only when things went their way (i.e., scored first and closed the deal). The fact the Wings came back, made the Canadiens feel out of it for a while and the team came back was a first this season, I think. We knew they could rebound with a day off to think about things, now we know they can rebound on the fly.