Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Ward (W)
Habs goalscorers: Bergeron
Opposition goalscorers: Sutter, Staal
I am not about to give too much credit to Ward, so I feel a save from him is off the table (even if some did come from some nifty plays). What I preferred was our lone goal, a PP goal from Bergeron, at home, at last. Our specialist had gone almost 4 months without a home goal and we really needed not just him, but the PP as well, to get going. It wasn't however, by lack of trying that he wasn't scoring, at least not tonight as it seemed everyone of our shots on that first PP was a blast from MAB. He eventually got one by Ward after great plays by both Gionta and Gomez who got the puck to a surprisingly wide open Bergeron.
Andrei Kostitsyn - Game Puck
I was very impressed by Andrei tonight and, after having missed last week's games, was very surprised to see him be our top forward. When I left for vacation Cammalleri was still out and Kostitsyn was struggling to find his game. Well, it seems that the bad Habs week that I missed at least brought us back this talented player. He was everywhere tonight and came so close on many occasions. When he wasn't almost scoring himself he had likely just set up someone who was coming close themselves.
The one knock on Mike tonight would be that he seemed to be trying to do a little too much himself, a little too much stick-handling. Other than that, however, I felt that he played a fantastic game that was filled with chances and creative plays. I have no doubt that he will play a significant role in the last week and can only hope the rest of the team follows.
I didn't see too much I liked from our bottom two lines tonight, apart from Moore's play that is. We were hurt when Sergei went down and at that point it seemed like we were back to being a two-line team. Dom, however, did his best to give us a third option as his speed, face-off abilities (80%) and tenacity led to a few chances, for himself and his teammates, and to some pretty sound play in his own end.
I know that he didn't play D tonight, but what he did from the back end (mostly the goal and other PP-related stuff) was more impressive to me than the play of our 5 other defencemen. I am not sure if I would like to have him on the blue-line instead of the 4th line, but somehow feel that tapping his offence for more than just a few minutes a game (PPs) may very well be worth it. The question becomes would you rather see Pyatt in than O'Byrne or than Gill? I may try it as I don't feel MAB is that far behind those two in his defensive play and may even be more careful now as he must now realize that people don't really think that he is that good.
It seemed that every time I looked Spacek was blocking a shot or breaking up a Carolina play. His meager stats (which include a -1 rating and just 4 blocked-shots) don't really do him justice as I really felt he was our best blue-liner all game. What we hoped for was an offensive weapon, but we are now getting a player that is outplaying Hamrlik and even Markov, defensively, on a semi-regular basis. Spacek is key to our success going forward and I can only hope that Martin now realizes this too.
Carey got unlucky on the first goal and the second could have been avoided with better D - all in all he played quite well. What I really liked tonight was the way with which he took mid-distance shots. Those shots, the ones from about 15'-35', have often caused Carey trouble, but tonight he seemed to handle the shots themselves well and the rebounds even better. He looked tight when he faced those shots and always seemed to have a plan as to where the rebound would go. A lot of use of his blocker and upper pads tonight kept me very happy indeed.
I have to put tonight into perspective for just one minute before I get ahead of myself. Tonight was my first game in 10 days after being away in Cuba and also marked the end of my own hockey season as our team went out 2 games to 1 in our playoff series. So, when I think of my personal pain of my season ending and of missing 4 Habs games that I would have really liked to watch I can't help but feel a bit better about tonight. Yes, we didn't get points that could have helped us, but the bottom line is that we didn't need them, they just would have been nice. Our season isn't over, people, and we are still very much in the mix, so let's stop the booing and the throwing-in of towels and get behind our team for these last 5 games. I feel that 90 points is a guarantee for the playoffs, 88 probably will do it and even 86 may be enough, so with 10 potential points left (we currently sit at 82) I am not too worried, yet. Tonight's game was the type of game that you would have liked to have won, but is also the type of game that you have to be pretty pleased about. First off, we generated more quality chances than Carolina (and more shots) and we also scored a PP goal on a tidy looking Power-Play. Then there is the fact that I saw some serious chemistry from our top 2 lines and lastly the fact that the Habs seemed in control, for most of the game, in almost every aspect of play. This is a game that you must leave behind, but isn't a game that we should be ashamed of. It now, of course, puts the pressure on, however, as we seriously need some points from this weekend's two games. 3 or 4 points would, of course, be great, but right now I feel that we simply must get 2. I don't want to cut it too close, but I can't say now that without 3 points we are out of it. Other teams will lose too, so keeping pace, at the very least, should take us into the final week.