Habs Goalie: Price (W)
Opposition Goalie: Anderson (L)
Habs goalscorers: Cole, Kostitsyn
Opposition goalscorers: Smith
Lars Eller - Game Puck
Eller did it all tonight, and was channeling the brilliance of the less-visible Plekanec tonight. He played very well in both ends tonight, doing a lot of the right things in the right places at the right times, and doing them often. He and Kostitsyn seem to be developing quite the 2-way pairing, and we wonder if Moen will ever be able to keep up...
Cammalleri worked hard tonight and was a big reason his line looked like the most dangerous one. He had good net presence, great vision and led the team with 5 shots. In short, giving us exactly what we need from him.
Not that Desharnais had a bad game, but Cole was more in the thick of things more often and to greater effect. Cole's a very well-rounded player, with good hands, speed and a big enough frame to be able to mix it up with most of them. I think his net-charging and crease-battling techniques are setting a good example for a lot of our young forwards.
Gill was a force tonight. Despite being deked so easily by Spezza on that one play, Gill had a very solid physical and defensive presence, making the Sens pay hard for time in front of the net and getting in the way of a lot of plays.
It's becoming quite apparent to me that this is indeed a man who's been playing on his wrong side for the last couple of years. I saw him making a lot of smart plays with the puck in his own end through the first two periods and have noticed that he seems a lot more comfortable and better with the puck so far this season. I like it.
Price certainly had his moments tonight. The pair of saves he made on the Sens' power play in the second period were spectacular, and he kept the score even for the first half of the game while the forwards took their time finding their respective touches. Really noticed him playing the puck quickly and efficiently on many a Sens dump-in, including a spectacular clear during the first penalty kill. Weathered the storm that was the third period with aplomb. Gold star.
My father and I were on the phone with each other during the first period, and remarking at how this season's Habs look like an almost completely different team as compared to last year's squad. How this team is always looking to play the puck forward, how they follow their shots to the net, and how they consistently have men battling in front and screening the goalie. Even how they don't collapse into their own zone with a 1- or 2-goal lead.
Obviously, that was before the third period. We came out flat in our own zone and were scored on short-handed, and things didn't improve much from there. Outshot 15-4, we looked like the Habs of yesteryear at times; turtling into a defensive shell that sometimes does the the trick and often—like tonight—really doesn't. The penalty we took late in the third was an almost inevitable consequence of allowing too much offensive pressure, but we managed to step up for the last minute and a half of 6-on-4 play with a degree of skill that seemed missing most of the period. It was almost as if we were better on the penalty kill than at even-strength, which wasn't encouraging.
That aside, I liked what I saw for the first two periods: aggressive offense, hard work, and good transition hockey. So I found myself wondering this when my father mentioned it—just where will Gomez fit in the lines, now? We have 3 good centres who I like pretty well right now, and 5 wingers... Given the way Kostitsyn and Eller are playing together I'd like to see what happens if we move Gomez to the wing rather than Eller. Let us know what you think.