The Canadiens Game in Review
Date: Friday November 16th, 2007
Opponent: Buffalo Sabres
Venue: HSBC Arena, Buffalo, NY
Final Score: 1-4 - Loss
Habs starting goalie: Cristobal Huet (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Ryan Miller (W)
Habs goalscorers: Michael Ryder
Opposition goalscorers: Clarke MacArthur (2), Dan Paille, Drew Stafford
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 Loss by more than 1 competitive goal this season
1st Goal for Ryder on the 3rd line (1 GP)
1st Time we have ever been trailing by 3+ goals in a game all season
Play of the game
The play you're straining to see on the press catwalk monitor...
If you are ever going to take a night off from watching or looking for the highlights tonight may be the night. Defensively we were pretty bad, no good plays. Huet was okay, but definitely nothing spectacular there.
The play of the game, by default, goes to Ryder for his 3rd of the season. I think most people in HabsLand realize that we need Ryder going, we need him to get 25+ goals for us, to be a strong team. Tonight he obviously got Carbo's message as his demotion payed off with a goal in the second. The goal itself was alright, it brought hope to the Habs in the 2nd, but nothing more was to come of it.
Trophies are for the end of the year, play well in the game, you get a lovely puck...
Again, this may be more of a default selection rather than anything else. The fact of the matter is, however, that Ryder didn't play all that bad. To me, goal or not, he was our best forward tonight, one of the only ones who showed any signs of life, albeit it wasn't necessarily a prolonged effort. Carbo must have realized, as it was blatantly obvious, that Tom Kostopoulos at his very best is nowhere near as good as Ryder at his very worst as Ryder was back up on the big line by the midway point of period #2. The worst part is though, that even though he scored and looked the least bad of all our forwards, that he has played way better this year. He has had a lot of great games, but because his fantastic chances and shots weren't ending up in the back of the net, the media (mainly french) were calling for his head. I can see the headline in La Presse now 'Habs Sweep Away The Red Wings With an 8-0 victory to Win The Cup - Ryder 0 Points, MUST BE TRADED'. They will never be happy enough.
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)...
- A good game in the offensive zone, looked like the best player on his line for the first time in a long time. Hopefully this game wasn't a complete waste, let's hope this was the game we got Ryder back
- Didn't have a great game, but wasn't the reason we played poorly either. Looked good in Buffalo's zone as his progress continues. He will require a season worth of patience, but so far, so good
- Begin is not the player he once was mostly because he is not the skater he once was. Gave us a little look at the Begin of old tonight with a few good hits and forechecks, but still a far cry from the reckless player we all grew to love
- Our best defensive defenceman tonight, a very rare feat with Markov on the team. Got involved offensively, but mostly from the point, no breakaways this game. One of only 2 D to not finish with a minus rating - how Breezer pulled that one off I'll never know, he was horrible
- One of only 3 of our D-men who could keep up with the speed that Buffalo showed us tonight (Markov, Komi). He never looked out of place as his solid season continues. Look for him to make noise in the coming games, he is on the verge of some really great stuff this year - in both ends
- Sorry Cristo, but tonight you were a main reason why we lost. In a game where we only scored one goal Huet didn't bring it tonight. To me Huet was the obvious choice as starter this game so I can't blame Carbo, but he just couldn't get us a result. Price, like Ryder as the player of the game, gets in The Dome by default, because he couldn't have done any worse than a regulation loss anyway. It will be interesting to see Carbo's choice tomorrow against Boston - tonight's default domer or our #1?
Eyes on Kovalev
Did he flit and float? Someone ought to keep track...
Kovalev, like the Habs, had his worst game of the season tonight. There aren't, however, many players that I can say didn't have one of their worst games of the season, it was a real team effort. He was deprived of any serious power-play time, thus offensively he instantly became less of a threat. Didn't see him checking back as much as usual. The Habs' transition game, which Alex usually leads, was lacking. He won a few battles along the boards and in the corners, more than the usual player on a good night, but not up to his usual high standards.
Kovalev's Assessment - Average
This was a hard game to watch. After 17 games of on-my-seat excitement I can't really complain though, I mean, even the Sens have lost big this year, to a team just as low in the standings. We did outshoot Buffalo by a fair margin (37-28), but don't let that deceive you. Buffalo's shots were quality shots, from the right areas, ours were often weaker, longer-distance attempts. We came out pretty flat in the first period and they came out flying. It almost seemed that after 1 period both teams decided to play it out with neither team doing too much more about scoring. The NHL people probably look at this game as a success - home team win, 5 goals, few penalties. Well I think I stand united with all of you (Buffalo fans included) when I say this was not an exciting game. 1-0, now that's excitement.
This Buffalo team is clearly not the team they were last year, but I also believe that they are better than the team they have been so far this season. In our last game against them a 2-0 win (essentially 1-0) they played fantastic, giving the Habs their best competition all year. I think it was only a matter of time until they broke out against a 'better' team and I think this unfortunately could be a key turning point in their season - much like we saw happen for the Rangers a few games ago. In Buffalo's past 13 games before this one they had only held lead for 8 minutes and 12 seconds. In almost 800 minutes of hockey they were winning for about 1% of the time. Tonight they lead us for 48 minutes and one second and that is something that upsets me. I think they are a decent team, but with the numbers they have been putting up I am very disappointed in our team that we were the ones to let them have their turn-around. It was on the road, they caught us off guard, so the best thing to do is forget about it and worry about Boston.
The past few games I have noticed something very alarming. We aren't taking many penalties. For most teams this is probably a really good thing, and until a few seasons ago that too was the case for the Habs. The problem these days though is that we don't seem to be getting any power-plays. The refs always like to keep things even, so by us playing clean the other team doesn't get anything called against them, regardless of how clean or dirty they are playing. This is all fine and dandy when you have a team that can outscore their opponents on 5 on 5, but that is not us. We have a very good goaltending and defensive squad, but we can't keep asking them to win us games 2-1, 1-0 etc. At some point we need more goals. Those goals have to come on the PP, it is how we know how to score. So I suggest that we start taking more penalties to allow us more odd-man chances of our own. To date our PP has scored more than our PK has (24-14) allowed so I don't think this theory is crazy. If the refs reffed the game like it should be reffed, with the potential for one team to get 10 more PPs/game than their opponent then I would hate this idea. They don't do this, however, and we all know it, so I say bring on some hooks and holds.