Location: Tampa Bay
Habs Goalie: Price (W)
Opposition Goalie: Roloson (L)
Habs goalscorers: Gill, Desharnais, Pacioretty (2)
Opposition goalscorers: Moore, Lecavalier
Price made a poke-check on Stamkos in the third period that I thought was a very crucial and well-executed play. The NHL's most deadly scorer looked certain to put Tampa back in the game, but instead our keeper one-upped him with a very deft play. Tonight there were a lot of simple plays that led to our win, that was the best of them.
The Montreal Americans had a great game tonight, our all American line was on fire. Max scored two goals and looked the most likely to score another as the game went on. He seemed to enjoy working with Gomez and I noticed that they had good body language between them. I wonder if the team and his linemates see Gomez the same way that most media and fans do?
The Eller and the Plekanec lines were a bit quieter so we needed Scott to step it up. This is what I want to see down the stretch and tonight he checked in with quite the game. He did very well in the offensive zone and also did well to bag 2/3 (4) of our take-aways on the night. The assist should quiet some people, but hopefully his play will quiet quite a few more.
Brian had a good game tonight too and seemed game to go along with his linemates advances. Getting an assist on a Gill goal seems a little lucky to me (since when can he score), but at this point Brian can't be complaining. It was only his twelfth assist on the year which I think is far too little for a player like him. Luckily he shoots (on pace to have the highest shot total ever of any Hab - move aside Zednik) a lot (6 tonight) and that has resulted in a fair amount of goals to date.
He dropped the ball on the Lightning's second goal, but apart from that play he played a fantastic game. He scored his second of the year (2nd in a row) and was instrumental in our 3rd goal, the winner, as it was he who made the 2-on-1 a possibility. He and Hamrlik are doing a great job of guiding this defence right now and his play on this trip in particular has really instilled tons of confidence as we head into the last 16 games.
Tampa is a quick team so we needed to be quick at times to foil their attacks. That is why a player like Subban can be so valuable. I have found that he has been better defensively lately and tonight was a good example. I am not talking about better than he had been though, no, I am talking about better than he is offensively. It seems like he has been focusing more on the play in his own end and I for one love that team-first attitude.
Carey Price - Game Puck
When you can play against players like Stamkos and St. Louis and make things look easy you know that something must be going right. In Price's case it isn't just something though, it is everything. He is there on every shot, knows when to cover it or let it go and seems to always anticipate correctly these days. He has been fantastic this trip and is the main reason that we are 1 point off of 80 and just 5 off of the division.
That was a nice way to end that trip. At the beginning of the week I thought that 6 points was within reach if we stayed focused and I am happy to say that the team didn't disappoint. It has actually been pretty good hockey since that game in Edmonton. The game in Calgary was bad, but since the ice was horrible and there was no speed nor hitting it is hard to judge a team as they are all of a sudden playing a different game than they do every night. Tonight we did it the way we have all season really. We had great goaltending, solid team defence and production from all over the place (players from each line got points). .500 from here on in would give us 95 points and that (99% of the time) should be good enough for the playoffs. It isn't mission-accomplished just yet, but I do think that we have to start thinking beyond April 9th. There are players that need to be rested and lines that must be set (am happy leaving the forwards as they are with White or Darche in for Pyatt), especially the issue of our third D pairing. We can't head into the playoffs riding 4 D (2 of which are old). Over the next few weeks we have to figure out who of Sopel, Mara, Spacek (when he is back), Weber and Picard we can trust. I am glad that we have time to figure that out, but do hope that when the time comes there is a solid plan in place.