Thursday, April 05, 2012

Game #81

Staal Gets His Breakaway, Habs Made To Take A Point

Details



Date: 05/04/2012
Opponent: Hurricanes
Location: Carolina

Loss: 1-2 (SO)

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

Habs goalscorers: Geoffrion
Opposition goalscorers: LaRose, (Staal, SO)



Play of the game

The "best" play of the game tonight was a save. (If I was a cynic, I would say) one of Cam Ward's wonderful saves to stop the Canadiens from winning despite themselves. But from the perspective of the Habs fan, what a wonderful little stop that was from Chris Campoli with a lightning right leg -- something from the outdoor rink, that. Perhaps a nicer memory to leave of his career in Montreal for everyone.



Dome hockey team

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

Forwards

Tomas Plekanec
We've said this before. Pleks was the best forward on the ice for the Habs. He had his feet, he had his wits, the only thing he left in Montreal were his finishing hands. Another breakaway for Plekanec this season, this one ended in another great Ward save. How many scoring chances has he had on breakaways? How many has he had not on breakaways? The story of a down cycle year with useless wingers.

Erik Cole
The next in a pretty poor bunch. Cole wasn't quite his usual insistent self, but he still garnered chances. Of all Canadiens he came closest to sealing the win with a great showdown with Cam Ward.

Blake Geoffrion
I'm not sure what management thinks of this player. Hopefully it's more than what Cunneyworth thinks. From what I've seen, he's alright. he's certainly no less talented than the rest of the bottom 8 forwards. Hos goal tonight proves two things -- he has skill hiding in there somewhere, and he has a goalscorer instinct. I don't foresee him suddenly going all Pacioretty on us, but why not groom him to replace Darche?

Defencemen

Chris Campoli
His best play of the year to my knowledge. On top of that, a very solid showing in this game. I think we were all a bit surprised to constantly look up to see #17 as plays were broekn down, and just as surprised to see him pinching in up front. More of this earlier in the season might have changed the ball game for a few former coaches and players. Still, as I said, it's nice for Chris to leave us on a higher note.

Andrei Markov
Not his all-time best or anything, but more glimpses of the Markov we once knew. The progress tonight was in his defensive commitment: we saw a few body checks and battles on the boards. If nothing else, this painful last month with Markov will give him the confidence to start the year right next October.

Goaltender

Peter Budaj - Game Puck
I can hear it. "Now you make a save?" Budaj has been placed in a tough situation. At once playing for an NHL career and holding the Canadiens chances to the lottery in his control. His saves throughout will serve him well as he searches for a new contract, and he has looked better as time wore on. I hesitate to say the Habs should resign him though, as most of these high points have come in games of little meaning. I think we all hope those will be left behind soon. In any case, he deserves the recognition tonight as he was the second best player on the ice and did his solid best.


Comments

This game ended exactly the way it should have: on a Staal penalty shot. How the refs did not call Tomas Plekanec for a vicious slash/trip on a breakaway, one will never guess. That penalty shot in regulation could have spared the Habs a point and possibly put them in better stead for an Oilers surge to 28th. But they'll get a better pick for their shootout futility (this is some comfort) -- this being their 11th loss of this type.

On the bright side, the Islanders won, the Hurricanes won (obviously), the Lightning and Toronto went to OT (Toronto coming back to win (fools)) and Edmonton and Anaheim have to split 2-3 points between them.

This all means the Canadiens 76 points put them safely in at least 28th position. Only the Oilers can change that now, thanks to Anaheim's tie break winner over us.

With one meaningless game to go, the spring cannot come quick enough. The only thing holding back the optimism of new GM, new coach, new young star is the prospect of having to watch two terrible teams with young players who can't score duke it out before tee time. I jest, of course. I still enjoy the games. But the optimism about off-ice stuff is legitimate, it's where a Habs fan can find refuge and hope at the moment.

For once, it's the draft that can't come soon enough.

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