Win: 2-1 (SO)
Habs Goalie: Price (W)
Opposition Goalie: Johnson (L)
Habs goalscorers: Pouliot (1, SO)
Opposition goalscorers: Asham
We have waited a half season to see the most exciting part of all of hockey...well, at least we won. In fact, Pouliot's goal that he scored in the shootout was a true beauty. In an era when everyone tries more or less the same thing it seems to be those players who go back to actually tricking the goalie (and not merely shooting) that often break the ice. Ben made a very nice move where he took the goalie with him to one side, but left his long stick, and the puck, right in front of the suddenly very wide-open net. It was a nice way to get two points.
Benoit Pouliot - Game Puck
Benny played a good game overall, but it was his two goals that really made this a great game for him. Both of his goals, in fact, were hunger-type goals and you love to see that from a guy that you are begging to score more for you. His linemates played well, but without their goal it would have been an average night.
Mike may not be scoring, but honestly, who is? The good thing is that he still seems hungry and he still seems to get himself into the right positions. We didn't score on the PP, but I did like him at the point and thought that he was doing a good job of moving the puck around as he was making crisp, hard, accurate passes.
Early on Kostitsyn was our best player. He had some good chances, generated turnovers and was making plays for his linemates. He didn't, however, convert late in the game on the PP or in the shootout which would have been welcome. I was confused as to why he saw no time in OT as apart from face-offs he would have been my choice to flank Camms over Ples on this night.
PK now has to step up and be a #3 for us. It is a lot to ask the others boys to step up too, but I feel that Subban is perhaps more important than Wisniewski, Hamrlik or Spacek. The reason for that is we know what we are getting with those guys, with PK we don't. Some nights he is a lock for the Calder, others we wish that Mathieu Carle was up. Tonight was a step in the right direction as he was skating and moving the puck as well as we know he can. With the PP pressure off it will be interesting to see if he can become a real force at ES and forget about being too much of a special-team specialist.
Gill picked up a lot of the workload tonight and did a fine job. In all he played 26 minutes which topped the team. I did notice some very soft moments where a big hit would have been more welcome than a cautious push, but I have learned to accept that he is not tough at all. He is another guy that will have to step up. He can no longer hide in the PK column and must become the leader on the ice that we are told he is. If he can play like a true top-4 then we'll be a lot better off than we all expected.
This was a very nice game by Price and I really enjoyed the 4 saves in the shootout. There were two puckhandling issues, but, by my count, that is a good game for him. I am hoping that this game will be a big bounce-back type of game for him as the Penguins are a pretty decent team (let's all imagine that Crosby isn't their whole team as we build our confidence).
Two weeks away can be a long time in when it comes to the Habs. I kept up to date while I was away, but this was my first whole game since before Christmas. I do like the moves we have made, but am a little concerned about missing Gorges. Sometimes you don't really know what depth is until you lose a player like Josh (remember when Gomez was injured?). Anyway, we must soldier on. Wisniewski looks to be a good fit and Lapierre was always expendable in my eyes (his major redeeming quality being that he was french). The rest of the team looks a bit tired and out of ideas, but that is normal over the course of a season. If Price can get back to where he was in October and November and if we can stay healthy from here on in I think that we'll get by.
Tonight's game highlighted the issue that we are having when it comes to scoring goals, but also helped to calm some nerves regarding our goaltending and defence. Of course a Crosby-less Penguin team isn't the team that they are with him, but when you lose to the Islanders a win, against anyone, is a major accomplishment. We now quietly have 5 points in 3 games and may be back on track. Our game this Saturday, against Boston, is very important and should give us a good indication of how realistic us winning the division really is. It's good to be back; let's hope the Habs are coming back too.