Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Varlamov (W)
Habs goalscorers: None
Opposition goalscorers: Beagle, Green, Ovechkin (EN)
Making it hard for poor bloggers, these Habs. I thought the play of the game (yes, the whole game) was Pacioretty's drawing of a penalty in the final frame. The Canadiens desperately needed someone to step up. And in his own way (by falling down actually) he did it. It took little more than putting the puck behind a defender and then looking like he wanted to retrieve it. Play of the game? See score above.
Andrei Kostitsyn - Game Puck
On a night when there was far too much floating, it was the master floater who stood out most. I think it would be a fair assumption to say, however, that Kostitsyn floats on purpose - in order to find open ice in little coverage. The most dangerous shot in the game was Andrei's, the three most dangerous shots in the game were Andrei's. He even made some passing plays that almost resulted in goals.
Of the other forwards, I thought G-Love stood out. He used speed to exploit some weaker Caps Dmen and create a bit of confusion. Not enough, but enough to be noticed as a stand out on his team.
Because his teammates were so liberal with their penalty taking, Halpern played more minutes shorthanded than at even strength in this game. And shorthanded play was the one area where one could say the Habs excelled. Because he barely played at ES, he was also unable to undo to good he did killing penalties like Plekanec did for himself.
By far the best defender on the night. By far the hardest assignment, too. Spacek looked good all night as he kept Ovechkin quiet and disinterested for the most part. Spacek blocked 5 shots and had a lot of unscored bodychecks as he faced off against the Caps' top line. He also continues to exhibit his uncanny talent for being checked face first into the boards and drawing some important penalties in the process.
Hammer was the best of the rest. For the first time this season, I thought the Habs dressed 4 pretty poor defencemen. Subban was diving as if he never learned a lesson about that, Weber hasn't learned anything about blind passes, Picard is showing he needs support to thrive and Gill had some serious Gill moments. Hammer wasn't that good and he took another really costly penalty, yet he wins the dome and the battle for real ice time for a lack of options.
My word, Carey also needs to go back to October and try to remember how he prepared for the season, because he's losing his mojo. Officially he let in 2 goals, but the third was somehow disallowed again, the caps hit a post on an open net and then missed on a glorious 2-on-1 and somehow got a whistle to stop play. Carey played a good game, but the team probably needed better to halt the streaking Capitals. He's often liked playing the Lightning, and the Panthers aren't known for their outbursts, so a back on track game is in sight.
Oops. Can't beat the best team in the East still battling back from a bad losing streak without a bit of coordinated effort. The team left a lot to be desired in their play. The defence and goaltending, I've covered. The forwards? Wow, pretty poor. Probably time to resort to following up their shots, maybe.
Besides this, the coaching and personnel decisions were poor on the part of the coach again. Plekanec was having an off night and sitting in the box for 6 minutes yet still played 10 minutes more than Eller, Pouliot, Darche, Moen, Lapierre and Halpern. Pacioretty may have been brash enough to demand the time, but has he really earned twice Pouliot's chance. We've seen more NHL level stuff now. Martin can't coach from behind and it is killing the team at the moment. When his top lines are neutralized, he's not trusting enough to play his lower lines and only butts the proverbial head against the wall. It's quite painful to watch, and if this goes on, I think I'll reconsider watching beyond goal goal one, as it really is becoming a senseless waste of my time.
Two games in two nights before the New Year will be quite critical for this fragile group. Another two losses will just about completely undo any faith they had of accomplishing things without Markov (sorry Wisniewski). A couple of wins, or points from a couple of hard fought games could restore right back to where they were. Call them must wins, pivotal, potential turning points, watersheds, whatever - you need to watch the next two games because they'll define where this season goes.