Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Game #51

Canadiens Do It the 2011 Way: Comeback, OT


Date: 25/1/2011
Opponent: Capitals
Location: Washington

Win: 3-2 (SO)

Habs Goalie: Price (W)
Opposition Goalie: Varlamov (L)

Habs goalscorers: Gionta (2, SO)
Opposition goalscorers: Perreault, Knuble

Play of the game

The play of the game tonight came early. Price opened the game with a February 2010 number, but he quickly redeemed himself. Marcus Johansson took the very next Washington shot (a breakaway), and Price stoned him with a great leg save. The message to the team was clear enough: "I've made up for my mistake, your turn".

Dome hockey team

The 6 players we're playing in a no changes, do or die contest in the dome

Brian Gionta - Game Puck
Off the puck, he had competition for recognition. On it, he was money tonight. On a team that wants to defer to everyone and anyone before taking an obvious shooting opportunity, Brian stands out. He shoots, and importantly tonight, he scores. There's not much more to say.

Benoit Pouliot
This comeback began not long after Knuble scored. For me the symbolic moment was when Pouliot lost the puck but then doubled back to strip it from Ovechkin. This led to a penalty and a change in momentum. other than this, Pouliot was solid throughout the contest, his line was dangerous at times, and he was the leader.

Tomas Plekanec
TSN said Tomas had 4 or more scoring chances in the game. Not sure about that, but he did play well after the turn of the tide. Like many forwards, chances he had went missing (AK missed more) -- he'll need to be better on future nights.


PK Subban
Subban is making friends in Washington. He really got under Ovechkin's skin in this game and for the vast majority of the time, he contained him too. Did we just read that? Subban contained Ovechkin? Subban the rookie offensive defenceman. It was a game for PK to show off his true talent and I thought he vastly outshone Carlson, who for some reason gets wider praise. It was another great game in a string of great games for the rookie since his second benching. Say what you will about Martin and young players, the evidence is piling up here with Subban.

Jaroslav Spacek
With the depleted defence we have, its taking some strong efforts and discipline from vets to hold this season together. Spacek deserves a significant amount of recognition for the way he allows Weber to operate. What's more, I thought Spacek had his best game in a long while, with some good hits and even a good shot.


Carey Price
Goal on first weak shot used to spell a night of sulking and days, if not weeks spent recovering. Not so anymore. As I said above, his rebound was immediate. And, apart from a beautifully prepared second goal, Carey was perfect. The icing on the cake was the fact he got to win the game with a save on Ovechkin in the shootout. The celebration of this win was much more sincere than a statue pose.


This could have been a loss. Coming back from the break, teams take time to find the groove again, passes go awry (AK) and timing is a bit off. It would have been forgivable against a resurgent Capitals team, too. Instead, we were all treated to an outstanding show of resilience and bullheadedness. The Habs simply refused to lose. They did it conventionally, by peppering the goalie with shots and doing it till goals went in.

A perfect result. It's not to say this was a perfect game -- there is plenty of tape to review. Only to say that when the playoffs come, and the team finds itself down by two in an important situation, you wouldn't want to have had a season without moments like these.

The stretch coming up is being termed the sprint by everyone and their auntie. Clearly these people who call the season a marathon have never done a spot of distance run. The Canadiens certainly need to be in position for a sprint when the time comes (and that means winning a fair share f the next 20-odd games), but sprint from now and there'll be fade. The goal should be to avoid the sprint if possible by doing what they were doing in November -- burying chances, burying games. They did it tonight with a sprint to the finish, a comeback, with OT. And this has been the way of 2011 (8 OT games in 13). But I hope 2011 has more in store for these Habs, because this kind of hockey does not a rested playoff squad prepare.

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