Location: New York
Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Lundqvist (W)
Habs goalscorers: Pacioretty, Kostitsyn, Gionta
Opposition goalscorers: Christensen, Girardi, Del Zotto, Richards, Callahan (EN)
Erik Cole - Game Puck
Bear with me. The Habs found themselves behind by 3 goals about a quarter of the way through the game. They knew by that point, the refs would not be handing their favours to them (penalty for stopping in front of goalie?). This wasn't going to be a normal game where the normal gameplan would unfold as the past four. To me, Cole recognised this first and ended up being one of only a few who looked beyond lucky bounces to get back. He didn't score a goal or get an assist, but he got the two best chances made from nothing that didn't go in.
Besides ideas, a team behind needs opportunism and instinct to claw back such a big lead. Pacioretty played that role again in this one. Gionta's shot was a brilliant read of a goalie, but it took a player in high form to ensure he'd be in the sweet spot to pounce. He did it a few more times in the game too. 7 shots in all.
A last gasp goal and an amazing shot pass are enough to get Gionta recognised here. His play in the crease was also pivotal, as his penalty drawn led to the 5-on-3 and probably the play of the game. I'd have liked more creativity from the captain, but it's hard to ask for everything from the guy who essentially prepared all the goals.
It wasn't that bad a defensive game for the Habs. But there were a lot of little goofs that ended up costing the team. In general, Josh Gorges looked least likely to give up something too dangerous and made his forays into the offensive zone with the finest calculation.
Because he was on Gaborik duty, he gets more leeway than others. I should say that generally this year, I think Gill has been worse than last year. I think placing him with Diaz is a big misread of what Gill's role on the team can be. However, in this game, he did well. He wasn't on for any goals against, including 8.5 minutes short-handed. It was a sort of Gill style night on D, lots of battles conceded to control the front of the net area.
We'll call this giving the benefit of the doubt. 4 goals against is not good. First though considering the circumstances it was more like 3 goals, that 5-on-3 would never happen again with semi-competent refs (oh wait, this is still the NHL, I guess it will happen then, probably next game). Then, considering the defence that led to the goals, we could point to a couple of things out of the goalie's control. It was still a plain game from Carey, but I feel that's because the rest of the time he was plainly good in his usual way.
Remember, remember the 5th of November as they say. I thought this game could be one for the archives and one to review when things get real.
Don't count on the refs. Sometimes the refs are going to miss calls, sometimes they are going to err on the side of the opposition. Once it happens, there's no reason to dwell on it. More importantly, recognise that you'll have to do something other than fall over and await the PP to get back into the game. Also recognise when the refs are touchy and back off on the snowing the goalie.
It takes effort to get scoring chances. I'm not really talking about "scoring chances" like the ones defined as any shot weak or strong from a defined area of the ice. But scoring chances, the ones that look like they could go in, even to the opposing goalie. As I mentioned Cole got a few because he poured on effort at the right time, Pacioretty got a goal because Gionta remembered to shoot low. It takes more effort from behind. As it should.
The third period is long, but not that long. A third goal did come from some pressure, but far too late. Until that point, the third largely looked like a long wait for a happy bounce. If you're behind by two to start the third, most times you'll lose. With this in mind, the pressure should look to last as long as the twenty minutes.
I'm sure there are more lessons. But to this group of slow learners, I think 3 learning objectives are quite sufficient. Remember how you didn't win and why, remember what worked and how it looked for a time like the come back was on, remember to try not to play the whole first period a man down. Then forget points left on the table and move onto the next task.