Saturday, October 20, 2007

Game #7

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Saturday October 20th, 2007
Opponent: Buffalo Sabres
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC


Team Stripes


Final Score: 4-2 - Win

Habs starting goalie: Cristobal Huet (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Ryan Miller (L)

Habs goalscorers: Bryan Smolinski, Kyle Chipchura, Roman Hamrlik, Christopher Higgins
Opposition goalscorers: Paul Gaustad, Derek Roy



2007/08 first
There's a first time for everything, so they say. What they didn't tell you is that every game, something happens for the first time, you just have to look harder in March...

1st Goal in the NHL for Chipchura
1st Point in the NHL for Grabovski
1st Goal as a Hab for Hamrlik
1st Goal as a Hab for Smolinski
1st Home win for the Habs



Play of the game
The play you're straining to see on the press catwalk monitor...

4 goals to choose from, what a luxury. This game also featured Huet at his best, making save after save to keep us in it right until the end.

The play of the game goes to young Chipchura tonight. The Habs had just let Buffalo score two within 9 seconds and it looked like they may had lost their chance of winning the game. In comes the fourth line to provide a little energy, maybe some forechecking and we get a goal out of all of it. Chipchura fought hard for the puck in the corner, to Miller's left, and after a lengthy battle came out with it. Not only did he strip a very experienced Buffalo defender, but he also did what we haven't done in the past few seasons, he shot the puck, just in case. Well it worked, a high wrist shot, top corner, Miller looked stunned. It was a great 1st goal in the league for Kyle and it came at a great time in the game, putting the Habs right back in the match.



Game puck
Trophies are for the end of the year, play well in the game, you get a lovely puck...

Roman Hamrlik

The search is over, we have a #2 defenceman. Hamrlik again showed both aspects of his game, his big imposing style on defence and his underrated offensive ability. 3 assists in a game where the Habs needed a lot of offence to beat an offensive team was a very nice surprise from him. His final assist, although on an empty-netter, was an example of how, with the Habs under pressure, in the final moments of a game, he can really take charge of the situation. He stole the puck, fed it to Higgs, 4-2. His first 2 assists of the night came on very similar plays and what I consider to be one of the best plays in all of hockey, the intentional off target point shot. Whether those shots were intended to miss the target or not they got Miller going to one side and the puck came to the other, beautiful.



Dome hockey team
We're going into the last minute with these 6 (and they're attached to the ice, so they're not coming off)...

Forwards

Kyle Chipchura
- The goal was a bonus tonight for him. It is for his defensive play that he gets in here tonight, great work along the boards and in the corners in both ends

Steve Begin
- Steve didn't do much offensively tonight, but that is okay, that's not what we need him for. Tonight he was forechecking, he was hitting and he was just generally throwing the Sabres off their game plan

Christopher Higgins
- More or less invisible through the first 2 periods. In the third, however, he was back to his old self, winning most of his battles and putting 2 home

Defencemen

Mark Streit
- Streit had a decent game offensively, manning the point, but it is for his defensive play in this game that he gets into the dome. Streit was ever-visible in our end tonight. He had a handful of great defensive plays, especially in the first two periods

Roman Hamrlik
- Didn't necessarily dominate tonight, but made very few mistakes with the puck and seemed to find himself in the right spot on a number of occasions

Goaltender

Cristobal Huet
- A lot of great saves, and although he let in 2, he did what he had to do to get us the win. Not his best puckhandling game, but luckily he did nothing that cost us too much



Eyes on Kovalev
Did he flit and float? Someone ought to keep track...

This may have been Kovalev's quietest game of the young season, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. He didn't score or get any points, nor did his linemates, but again he created space for his teamates just by drawing 2 and sometimes 3 defenders. Tonight Kovy gave us another great demonstration of his defensive capabilities he even threw a mean bodycheck at one point in the 3rd. He also had 2 or 3 great 4 on 4 shifts paired with Saku. It is always good to see that considering with the Habs OT is always a possibility.

Kovalev's Assessment - Good



Overall Comments

It was a great game tonight, a lot of end to end action all night and at times both teams looked like sure bets to get the 2 points. It wasn't a game dominated by one team or the other, more like a game played between two evenly matched teams and it was exciting. I think we will be able to play with these Sabres all year which is good news for us as I take that as a sign of our constant improvement.

Tonight I didn't see much of Saku, who was quite sick all day. Despite being sick Saku played anyway, probably one reason was to be there to accept his NHL award, the King Clancy Trophy, but more importantly as to not let down the hundreds of cancer patients and survivors, a lot of them young innocent children, in attendance for the Habs' annual 'Hockey Fights Cancer' game. We didn't see much of Kovalev, Ryder or Markov either, yet we still got the win. To me that shows the makings of a true team. It wasn't that our stars played badly, it was more that our depth players stepped up. We showed that we do indeed have depth and that we can win using this depth. The most exciting part about this season to me is the depth we have at the defence position. With Hamrlik, Markov and Komi all capable of 24-28 minutes the team is in good hands at the back and much more stable than in previous years.

After a tough week this game felt like a must-win and the team did just that, turning a tough week into a decent week. Hopefully we have learned some lessons this week and we can move on as a team in the right direction.

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