Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Game #14

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Monday November 5th, 2007
Opponent: Buffalo Sabres
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC


Team Stripes


Final Score: 2-0 - Win

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

Habs goalscorers: Tomas Plekanec, Bryan Smolinski
Opposition goalscorers: None



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 Shutout of the season for the Habs
1st Shutout of the season for Huet
1st Molson Cup segment win for Price (October)



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

Tonight wasn't a game filled with many pretty plays. Our first goal was quite nice, it showed our speed and passing well, but it was a fairly standard 2 on 1. The other goal sealed the victory, but was into an empty net. Huet's goaltending was fantastic, but there was no one save in particular that stood out of the 29.

The play of the game goes to the MIP of the team so far this year, Mike Komisarek. With less than 10 minutes left in the game the Sabres were pressing hard. A quick odd-man rush could have been costly, but it was Mike who saved the day. As a pass was fed across the slot, destined for a likely goal-scorer, Komisarek hit the deck and stopped the pass with his face. It seemed like he got cut pretty bad, but it's amazing what 5 minutes and 10 stitches can do as he was back on the bench for his next shift.



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

Cristobal Huet

What a game for Cristo. This was Huet's best game, in my opinion, since the 05-06 season. Even if he had let in a late goal tonight I would have said the same. The fact of the matter is that he was never going to let one in. I was never nervous or worried one would slip by. I had, and it seemed the team and Huet himself also had, supreme confidence in our star keeper. He looked so solid and at times spectacular that I was never for one second worried about this game or about Buffalo scoring. This was a game where one goal would be enough and it essentially was. There are some nights where all the bounces go your way and nothing will get by you, where the puck looks like a beach ball, that was tonight.



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

Saku Koivu
- Saku looked menacing all night. His line really stood out and it was Koivu that led the charge. Some games you see his name on the scoresheet, yet other games, like tonight, he plays way better and has nothing to show for it - apart from the win of course

Alexei Kovalev
- Looks like someone paid attention to my plea to complete Plekanec and Kovalev's line, because tonight Kostitsyn made that line a triple threat. Their speed as a line tonight was incredible and the most amazing thing was seeing how well Alex can pass to speedy linemates. I am sure he passes well to slow linemates too, it's just that the play then generally ends up going nowhere

Tom Kostoploulos
- Best game as a Hab by far. He didn't see much action, didn't get his name on the scoresheet, but boy did I notice him out there. Every shift #6 was clearly visible whether it was making a great defensive play, a big hit in the offensive zone or generating a scoring chance. Tonight Tom was one part of a very good looking 4th line

Defencemen

Mike Komisarek
- Puts his body on the line for this team night in and night out. With each game I am more and more comfortable with him back there. At the end of games in previous seasons I would look for Markov on the ice with maybe Rivet (ouch) Boullion or Streit. Well, now I have to look no further than Andrei's usual partner for the best 1-2 shutdown punch we have to offer, what a pleasant surprise. It is amazing what a whole lot of patience can do for a player, especially when he gets to play with the best. Too bad we don't employ the same mentality with our forwards

Andrei Markov
- Didn't really notice him tonight. 2 points, +2. Not bad for a low-key game. His anticipation and reading of the play is so far above anyone else out there it is scary. It is a good thing we have him locked up for years, because he really is a top 5 NHL defenceman

Goaltender

Cristobal Huet
- Amazing, amazing, amazing. I wouldn't say he stole this game, as the rest of the team played quite well, but he sure wasn't going to lose it tonight. I have no doubt that we would have won 1-0 had it gone down to the wire after regulation. His movements tonight were so quick. He was square to every shot, moved laterally so well, never gave up rebounds and I saw him quite often out of the blue paint challenging the Sabre shooters. Made a couple of mistakes behind the net handling the puck as that continues to be the worst part of his game. All I can say to that is I am glad that's his worse aspect, I would hate to have a goalie whose weakness was stopping pucks



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

No points, but an excellent game. Mark my words HE PLAYED VERY WELL. It may be easy to look back at these past two games and pick them out as games he didn't play well if you look at the scoresheets in 2 weeks (like the media seems to do). I want you all to remember though that he played a very good game. He was dominant with the puck, was one of our best offensive forwards and played very well in our own end. Having Andrei back on his line should heat things up over the next few games. Look for a big game for this line against a sub-par Boston defence. Their speed, stickhandling and passing should make Boston's D look like they have more than one Aaron Ward out there at once.

Kovalev's Assessment - Very Good



Overall Comments

We did tonight what we have to strive to do all season - not lose 2 games in regulation (or at all) in a row. When you think about tonight it was really a must win. We had just come off 2 home losses out of our past 3 and are about to embark on a 4 game road trip. To top it off this Sabre team is likely going to be fighting all year for a playoff spot, so getting a 2 point advance on them was crucial. I think the coaches, players and especially Huet realized that this game was quite important.

The game was played at an extremely fast pace. The Habs have the tendency to match the play of the teams they are playing. If we play a slow, weaker team we tend to play down to their level and generally keep those games unnecessarily close. Tonight we did the exact same thing. The Sabres came out flying right away and what did we do? We matched them for speed, for creativity and beat them in goaltending. Not many teams would be able to keep up with this fast team, at least not teams that sometimes play as bad (or worse) than Atlanta, but we obviously have this ability and it is exciting. We saw the speed of Dandenault, Kostitsyn, Plekanec, Chipchura etc. It was great to see.

Another great performance tonight as we solidified our position in the standings. The Habs have been quite amazing this year in that we have yet to be blown out. After 14 games we have 8 wins and what is essentially 6-1 goal losses (1-2 goal loss, but the extra goal was into an empty net). As long as we stay in the games as we have the wins will come, even on nights when you didn't think we deserved the win. A good team always seems to find ways to win. Right now we are finding ways to win.

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