Opponent: Maple Leafs
Loss: 4-5 (OT)
Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Reimer, Gustavsson (W)
Habs goalscorers: Moen (2), Kostitsyn, Cammalleri
Opposition goalscorers: Steckel, Kessel, Phaneuf, Grabovski (2)
I have to hand it to Travis Moen, because of all of the Habs he may be the one that is playing the most above his usual. He covered up another poor play by the team (an opening minutes penalty) with a spectacular effort to get open and score the first goal. On the PK, he an Eller were off. Lars was gone, but could Travis make it a 2-on-1? Yes, he did incredible work to get in front of his man and then did even better once he got the puck. He fought off the D very well and beat Reimer with a perfectly placed backhand shot.
Travis Moen - Game Puck
I didn't think that I would be saying this (and had actually hoped that I wouldn't have to), but Moen was our best player tonight. No offence to Travis, but there are a few players that should be ashamed of themselves because it isn't like Moen is playing like Crosby and that is why he is standing out, no, he is just playing good, solid hockey. Tonight it was 2 goals and a +3 - maybe not my first choice for top-6 winger minutes, but he is certainly earning that time now.
He played a good game tonight and demonstrated that he is also capable of being a top-2 centre on this team. It may be unclear where he really stands when all are healthy, but if he keeps playing with the energy and passion that he did tonight then I think he'll keep getting his minutes. He had a 2-point night tonight, was very dangerous in the offensive zone and, like his linemate, was +3.
Kostitsyn should feel pretty good about the start that he has had. JM keeps moving people around to try and get others going (and appears to be demoting Kostitsyn each time he does that), but Andrei answers by continuing to be a main part of our best line, night in, night out. He picked up a very nice goal tonight and added an assist on Moen's second (the Gorges shot).
Yannick was on for no goals against, was +1 and played 22+ minutes. I didn't notice him much in our end which tonight, was a good thing. He is being used in all situations and is certainly making a case for himself to remain as a defenceman. He has probably been a top-3 D-man for us this year so it will be interesting to see what happens when Spacek, and later Markov, get back.
PK has to be better, he needs to. If he doesn't give us more than he has then this Habs team is a lot worse off than we all thought they would be. Right now he is playing one game as a top-2, one game as a solid depth player and another as a rookie. We, whether it was right to do so or not, have put a lot on this kid and I think our season will depend a lot on his progression. Tonight he was a top-2 for us, but that is mainly due to the mistakes of others and his decent puck control on the PP. There are still 75 games left, lets hope he gets it going, and I mean really going, before it is too late.
The one player that we need to be better than PK this year is Price. We were good last year, but it is no stretch to say that if we had this goaltending we would not have made the playoffs at all. He has to find ways to win despite the players in front of him because, for the most part it is the same group that he has won behind before. The team is certainly playing worse, no question, but we can't keep losing games in which we score 4+ goals. Expectations are high on this kid because at this point, he is really all we have going for us.
Just like the team I play on; too many penalties. It is an embarrassment that we got 2 too-many men on the ice penalties today...what is that? I can't stand that we continue to be one of the most penalized teams in the league despite the fact that we have no real dirty or rough players. I don't know how many times I have said this, but penalties must be JM's main concern. I reckon that if this keeps up he may be in his last 2 weeks in the NHL, so he had better find a way to win games and I strongly believe that taking less penalties is the best way to start. So, in my opinion, he must do whatever it takes to get his players to be scared, scared as hell of taking any sort of penalty. Perhaps always siding with your player and always disaggreeing with the ref after a call isn't the way to get your players to change their ways? Just a thought.
Now, penalties aside, we continue to play poorly in our own end and we play an awful lof of hockey in that 1/3 of the rink. We can't get it out with any sort of consistency and our inability to maintain prolonged attacks means that we simply get overwhelmed in our end. I hate this cliche, but I honestly think that we just have to keep things simple, we have to play the most basic and safest type of defensive hockey. It seems that we are able to score despite all of our problems throughout the line-up, so we must focus on defence, full team defence. That means a lot of work for Price and the D-men, but also a big focus on our defensive zone play from our forwards. Until we win I would actually exclusively work on this aspect of the game during practice.
We're probably a few losses away from major moves, so lets hope (unless we want major moves?), we turn it around fast. If we keep this play up for another month the season could be ruined, if we turn it around in the next few days it will simply look like a blip on our overall record.