Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Game #17

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Monday November 12th, 2007
Opponent: Toronto Maple Leafs
Venue: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON


Team Stripes


Final Score: 4-3 (OT) - Win

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Andrew Raycroft (L)

Habs goalscorers: Andrei Markov, Andrei Kostitsyn, Alexei Kovalev, Mike Komisarek
Opposition goalscorers: Kyle Wellwood (2), Boyd Devereaux



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 Game for Price against the Leafs
1st Win against the Leafs this season (3 GP)
1st Win in Ontario this year (4 GP)
1st Road Game in Red Sweaters



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

4 great goals, a bunch of bone-crushing hits, and a few spectacular saves. This game had a lot of great plays and should be fun to watch over and over on the highlight shows. That of course in itself is a sign we won - I can't stand seeing the goals against us again and again after a loss.

The play of the game was our third of the night, Kovalev's 9th. Just when everyone thought that the Leafs had found a way to best us yet again, along came our 2nd (1st) line. With just over 6 minutes to go in the third every Habs fan out there who had vowed that we needed an OT-free win was hoping to just get one more, to at least get into OT. Plekanec rounded the net and picked up the puck behind Price from Streit. With incredible speed (a la Modano) he flew up the left wing. He beat 3 Toronto players to the outside and then rounded the net. The whole building was thinking wraparound when at the last minute the puck came into the slot from the short side, there Kovalev didn't waste anytime unloading a one-timer upstairs.



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

Alexei Kovalev

To me, tonight was Kovalev's best game of the season. The thing that really made him a force tonight was his 5 on 5 play. Usually Alex waits till the PP to give his best, but tonight with only 3 power-plays (4:20) that just wouldn't have been enough. Realizing that after the first we may not get another chance on the PP (which we didn't) Kovalev and his line took the game in their hands. A fabulous 1 goal, 2 assist performance tonight earns Kovalev puck of the game. 3 points is always something special, against the Leafs, in Toronto, when you are at two separate times losing the game, it is fantastic!



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

Tomas Plekanec
- Great 2-way play tonight, used both of his wingers very effectively. 2 assists to give him a very impressive 15 points in 17 games, good for 2nd on the Habs. His assist on Kovalev's goal was absolutely majestic. He has been making the highlight reels all month proving he is an offensive weapon

Alexei Kovalev
- Another great game for Alex as his remarkable season carries on. His 3 points tonight give him 16 on the season, the best on the team. A great game in both ends. He is our best player at gaining the offensive zone and, as we saw tonight, breaking-out of our own

Saku Koivu
- He, nor his line, had their best defensive game of the season, but they weren't on for any goals against so that can be slightly overlooked. Saku did come up fairly big in the face-off circle tonight, especially on the PK - when it counted. Offensively Saku was on fire this game and how he was held off the scoresheet heaven only knows. He got robbed by Raycroft in the third on what looked like the go-ahead goal

Defencemen

Mike Komisarek
- Defensively what more can I say? He was in the face of the Leafs all night, and unlike some of our defencemen, Mike takes on all opponents, even the big and strong ones. Had a few huge hits, on Tucker especially, and a lot of great, defensive plays. Offensively - Wow! Putting 3 forwards on the ice in OT was a big mistake for Toronto and Komi exploited it so well. His OT-in alone-breakaway goal was fantastic, making me wonder if we'll see him in the next shootout. Or using Felipe Alou's theory - odds are very good that Mike Komisarek (career .200 hitter) won't score back-to-back, so no we shouldn't see him

Andrei Markov
- 8 PIM tonight for Andrei was a definite sour point. He did, however, score a goal, finish +2 and give an English interview. The penalties aren't a habitual thing for him so I am in no way worried, but some were quite pointless. I was, however, glad to see him get involved physically, he was obviously very much into this game. If you want proof of this check the winning goal - the one dancing and trying to climb Komi is none other than Markov himself

Goaltender

Carey Price
- This was a big test and I have to say he did quite well. This wasn't Saturday night against Toronto, and it is only November, but still he did well. Carey's positioning tonight was impeccable as he made all the routine saves and a lot of very solid saves. The good thing is when you are solid, like he was tonight, you can afford to let in some soft ones. That is exactly what happened against the Leafs. One goal was deflected (with a high-stick) and another took a bad bonce off Streit, but those will always happen. If you can stop everything you should stop then you won't get burned too much by bad luck. For Price his size will increase his luck over his career



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

Always a big game player, and tonight, as we all know, was a big game. This one was really a must-win. Alex has proved himself to be a big-game player his whole career. Whether with New York, Pittsburgh, Russia or now with us he always seems to rise to the occasion. Our 1st line has been having a bit of a rough time lately, but unlike last year, when we didn't have a complete 2nd line, our 2nd line is stepping up and it is Kovalev leading the charge. 3 points in a game is always the sign of a good player, 3 points in a tight must-win game against a bitter rival, as opposed to a 6-1 win against a basement team, is the sign of a great player.

Kovalev's Assessment - Excellent



Overall Comments

It was a good game tonight. The type of game that had me on the edge of my seat. After a good first period, in which we saw all 3 of our power-plays, the Habs quieted down. It wasn't until the Leafs took the lead late in the 2nd that we started to play again. The Habs have a tendency to outplay their opponents badly for portions of the game and then get outplayed badly themselves. I am sure that most teams are like this, we just have to make sure we outplay our opponents for the majority of the game. For the times of the game when we do get outplayed it is up to Carey, Cristo, Markov and Co. to take care of business.

After a tough loss in Ottawa we were all hoping for a big win tonight. Getting a win in Toronto is usually hard enough without the added pressure of must-win scenario. The last must-win game we played in Toronto was last April and we all know how that ended. Tonight showed that this team isn't the team we were last year. We play a more complete game than last year's team did. This team seems to be built around speed and defence, something we were on the verge of last year, but never quite proved. Conceding a point to the Leafs tonight stings a bit, but we have to just think about ourselves. I am hoping that at the end of the year we will be suitably positioned ahead of the Leafs that this one point won't come back to haunt us, as it did last year. If we keep winning it doesn't matter how may games the other teams lose in OT.

The Canadiens got their 10th win in only their 17th game as their impressive start continues. They have yet to be trailing after the first period this year and have yet to lose a game by more than one (real) goal. (There have been two 2 goal losses in which the opponent scored into an empty net) What the Habs have to try to do, unlike the past 2 seasons, is keep this play alive well after Christmas. Like most of our recent games we have started and finished the past few years very well, it now becomes a matter of getting it to work in the middle.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I usually agree with your posts as they are quite well written and introspective but i have to say i think you are a little off in terms of the quality of the game. I was at the game last night and the Habs played poorly. We stole two points and i was rarely on the edge of my seat. In fact i was sitting with a Leaf fan and even he said the game was about as lame as they come given the way we've played in the past. So while i'm ecstatic about the two points i think we were lucky to come out of that game unscathed. The more consistent and prolonged effort came from the leafs, had it not been for Carey Price and some timely goals we'd not have ended up with the two points! That's my take on it!

Topham said...

To anonymous,

I'm sure Tobalev will answer you too, but I'll weigh in here if I may.

Last game was heralded as the best in the league this season by many Habs and Sens fans. I personally did not feel that way.

This game. As lame as they come? If I felt a shred of anything for the Leafs, I might be able to consider that. However, "as lame as they come" for me were both the last two Leafs games we played. I'm sure your friend may differ on that...

I don't feel that I am an objective judge of these things, but neither would I consider a Leafs fan's assessment in this game. I don't think his opinion should come into the argument at all.

I don't take issue with your assessment of the play too much, but I would suggest that although the quality of the play was not tops of the 17 games so far this year, the quality of the result was. We got down against a team that has beaten us twice (in our own building) and went on to tie and then win the game within a few minutes of play.

A heartening result for us, a disheartening for the rival Leafs.

Perfect result, no?

Anonymous said...

I totally disagree. Leafs fan or not the judgement i made was based on how i felt watching the game. No flow no intensity nobody stood out other than Carey Price. A few players made some good plays but that's about it. The pressure was in favour of the Leafs and that was marginally so for the better part of the game. I don't think i was brought out of my seat once other than when Markov Scored. If you want to talk about a great game then as i said the Sens Habs tilt was about as good as they get. Like i said, i'll take the 2 points but we'll agree to disagree on the game performance. There was nothing great about that game. The first line didn't really distinguish themselves and other than Komisarek the Defense did not really assert themselves as they have in recent games.

Not a great performance at all especially given that this was agains the leafs. They have no reason to come out so flat. The leafs are not a great team and they should be beating them regularly and convincingly. They definitely didn't convince me yesterday. It was the Sens game on Saturday that convinced me they can play ANYONE!

Topham said...

I agree to disagree. Sort of. I do see where you are coming from. But there is something I will always like better about coming out flat and recovering than coming out blazing and rolling over when the end is in sight.

I thik I like the resourcefulness and the determination of digging a hole and getting out of it vs. climbing a cliff and falling off.

It just makes for good drama I guess.

Tobalev said...

Maybe the game wasn't the prettiest ever played, but we aren't trying to be the prettiest team, we aren't trying to be the most exciting team, we are trying to be the best team. Any win in Toronto is big for us, but given our recent performance against them and our loss to Ottawa on saturday, this game was huge. The fact that we came back twice to tie it and eventually win it says more about this current squad than the result itself.

You can't tell me you didn't get out of your seat on Komi's breakaway in OT; for me that is exciting. An OT win is eciting, beating the Leafs is exciting.

I would gladly sit through 82 boring games and then 16+ more if it meant the cup. If I wanted big goals, big hits and big scorelines maybe I'd be a Thrashers fan.

Thanks for your views you two, I hope you keep them coming. That is what this blog is all about.

Anonymous said...

I see where you guys are coming from but we came back against the Leafs and we lost to the Sens we aren't comparing apples with apples.

As for Komisarek, yes i was out of my seat for each and every Habs goal and near misses. What i was saying is that the jumps were few and far between especially in the first period.

Sure a come from behind shows charcter. So does showing a top team that you could hold them at bay for an entire game and that the only way you can win is if you bust your hump and happen to be abundantly talented. The Habs have success when they work hard, they didn't work very hard last night and they won. In my opinion that makes them somewhat lucky.

So again i understand your points but the competition was not the same. As for the end result being the cup i agree but we wont win the cup if we play like we did with Toronto. If we play like we did against the Sens more regularly between now and the end of the season, nobody will be able to touch us because we'll keep getting better.

Anyway thanks for listening!