Saturday, November 12, 2011

Game #16

Habs Back To .500 With Another OT Win


Date: 12/11/2011
Opponent: Predators
Location: Nashville

Win: 2-1 (OT)

Habs Goalie: Budaj (W)
Opposition Goalie: Rinne (L)

Habs goalscorers: Desharnais, Pacioretty
Opposition goalscorers: Weber

Play of the game

Our first goal was a beaut and was surely my pick for play-of-the-game, I swear. But, the Habs, once again, exceeded my expectations and pulled some magic off in OT. It was Subban, really, who made our goal possible with incredible poise, patience and control at the blue-line. With that came time and space for others as 3 defenders rushed to him. So, MaxPac was wide open when he took the pass and he even had about 2 seconds, while standing completely still mind you (Flyers trap-breaking still), to get off the perfect shot up and over the arm of one of the league's best.

Dome hockey team

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


David Desharnais
David has been playing well, well enough to be on a top-2 line, but with the return of Gomez tonight it looked like he was out to prove that one more time. He scored our first on a very nice play and then was in on the winner too. He makes things happen in the offensive zone and with the solid D and goaltending we are getting lately that is really what this team needs.

Max Pacioretty
Max's best play was certainly his OT-winner (thanks PK), but he was pretty decent throughout. He hasn't been the red-hot player that he was in October of late, but has still been one of our best forwards on most nights. It would appear that he is settling into a partnership with Cole quite nicely which excites me as it is possible that we'll have 2 other equally good lines out there when we are healthy. Max took a lot of hits and contact tonight which is the thing that amazes me the most about his play this year. It would (somewhat remarkably) appear that he isn't afraid one bit to be out there and in a way is even playing faster, stronger and more courageous than he was before Chara assaulted him.

Erik Cole
I liked Cole again tonight and continue to like the new dimension that he is bringing to the Canadiens. He may not have scored or had many chances of his own, but one can never under-estimate the value that his fast, physical play has as it wears the opposition out and, more importantly, creates openings for his teammates.


PK Subban
We can't seem to go a game without an injury or a scare; tonight it was Subban's turn. When he wasn't out there to begin the third I was worried, not just worried for the next few games, but worried about how we would bag the win (or at least one point) tonight. Luckily his absence was short-lived and he was back taking regular shifts early in the third. He was a big reason that we held Nashville from going ahead and the biggest reason why we ended up winning.

Josh Gorges
Josh isn't the same player that he was a month a go; he is better. In fact, Josh isn't even the player he was a year ago; he is better. The biggest change for me is how he is getting involved offensively and how he is actually doing a good job of it. There was another assist tonight giving him 8 points, tops among our D-men. He has stepped up in Markov, Wisniewski and Hamrlik's absence which is good to see. I hope that it continues when Marky is back, however, as it doesn't seem to be affecting Josh's defensive play one bit.


Peter Budaj - Game Puck
He never had to be spectacular tonight, but made all but one of the stops that you would hope he would make. He has only played twice, but has delivered in both games (we lost the other one, but he did play well and only allowed 2 goals). I think that any person can see the value in Price getting 20 nights off this year rather than 10 and Budaj is telling his coach that that is quite alright.
His rebounds at times were juicy tonight, and it may be lucky that they didn't cost us, but that also shows how well the D (and forwards coming back) have been playing. His numbers now speak for themselves, so let's hope we see more of him as the schedule ramps up.


Montreal played another good road game tonight by staying out of penalty trouble (have to do something about the SH goals though; how about D at the point?), for the most part, created chances in the offensive zone and imposed their game-plan on a pretty decent Nashville squad. The Preds certainly took over parts of the game with strong play, but with a combination of luck and hard work we weathered the storm. For our part we didn't generate too many chances (not enough really, considering the quality of their D and goaltending), but on the road if you can grab a point, I don't care how you do it. Winning in OT was a bonus that I wasn't expecting as I was already calling it a win with the 1 point. This team has talent, though, and surprising depth, so it wasn't too shocking, really.

Things seem to be settling back to normal around the East. We're back into that 6-12 range (2 points out of the playoffs) where I think we'll be all year, the Islanders are last and the Leafs only have 10 points in 10 games after 11 in 7 to start. The flip-side to that is that Boston is moving up and so are Tampa. It will be a battle, as it is every year, but that is good news. 3 weeks ago we wondered if it would be a battle at all. We have shown, however, that we are still an NHL-level team who can win on any given night. Our depth is showing and is paying off as is the play in our own end. Once the PP gets going (79 is surely the key) we'll hopefully be back to our old selves, back to that team that doesn't have to sweat until game #82.

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