The Canadiens Game in Review
Date: Thursday December 13th, 2007
Opponent: Philadelphia Flyers
Venue: Wachovia Center, Philadelphia, PA
Final Score: 4-1 - Win
Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Antero Niittymaki(L)
Habs goalscorers: Christopher Higgins, Andrei Kostitsyn, Mark Streit (2)
Opposition goalscorers: Mike Knuble
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 NHL Game for Sergei Kostitsyn
1st Multiple Goal Game for Streit this season
1st Point of the season for Lapierre
Play of the game
The play you're straining to see on the press catwalk monitor...
Higgins' goal and Streit's second were both scored on the power-play and were both more or less the same. If I had to choose the nicer of the two I would go with Streit's only because on Higgins' Markov's pass didn't seem to be intentional towards him.
With the game locked at 2-0 and every Habs fan out there doubting that we could hold a lead, we did the unthinkable - added a third goal. Plekanec's line was working well on the power-play and this play was a perfect example of the chemistry between them. Tomas was working in the slot when he fed the puck down low to Kovalev in the corner on the goal line. Without stopping the puck at all Alex made a one-time pass right into the slot at the same that Streit was arriving from the point. Mark took the pass well and deflected the puck between Niittymaki's legs to stretch our lead to 3 goals.
Trophies are for the end of the year, play well in the game, you get a lovely puck...
The good thing about having Streit playing forward, as opposed to Dandenault, is that not only is Streit a good hockey player, but he is also a pretty good forward. It seems whenever given the chance up front he makes the most of it, which I must admit isn't the best approach if he hopes to get back on to the blue-line! His 2 goals looked like goal-scorers goals and couldn't have come at a better time.
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)...
- I still think of him as a defenceman, but seeing as he spent most of the game up front I can justify him getting into the dome as a forward. He brought a lot of speed to his line tonight and gave the Habs a varied attack. We had 3 lines going well tonight thanks in large part to Mark
- He scored a good goal, his 13th, and came ever so close to adding a second in the 3rd period; ringing it off the far-side post. His line looked sharper tonight, probably due to the fact that Sergei Kostitsyn is not our 8th defenceman
- Played his best game in the past few weeks. He looked very good on Higgins' goal as he worked the half-boards very effectively to open up a hole for Markov. Won 14 of 19 faceoffs, had a very good assist, played over 19 minutes and had an all around great game
- His offence was good tonight, both at even-strength and on the power-play. It was, however, his defence that made him a standout tonight - he was a physical force and gave the slow Flyer forwards absolutely no options to get around him
- Mike played a great game. A younger Komisarek would have got sucked in to the Flyer's usual game of stupidity, but a cooler head prevailed and the Habs were (and are) better for it. Until the start of this year I thought we just had a young D in the mold of Souray or Rivet, but as each game goes by I see he is now, to every Habs fan's delight, growing in the mold of Markov
-A good solid game from Carey, his best in a long time. He looked calm, but also handled the puck with care; which are both very much to my liking. Made a lot of key saves and didn't let in any weak ones. With goaltending like this, from either Price, Halak or Huet, the Habs will have a chance to win each and every game - much like at the beginning of the year
Eyes on Kovalev
Did he flit and float? Someone ought to keep track...
Alex only logged 16 minutes tonight which makes me think he may still be affected by the wrist injury he picked up on Tuesday. His pass to Streit was fantastic and came at a very crucial time for the team. He didn't see much PK time this game, but was still effective in his own end. On the PP he, along with Kostitsyn (Andrei) and Plekanec, set the tone early on in the 1st and the team never looked back. At his best Alex will draw 1-2 penalties a game which he did tonight - to me that becomes just as valuable as getting points.
Kovalev's Assessment - Very Good
This was a game where it was obvious there was a serious difference in speed between the two teams. The Habs are indeed a fast team and tonight they showed it. Sometimes we get into the habit of playing down to our opponents level, but tonight that wasn't the case. The Flyers are a slow (especially on defence) team and don't have the depth that some people seem to think they have. The Habs started this game on the right foot and kept the momentum going in their favour for the entire 60 minutes. This game, like all of late, was a must-win of sorts and thankfully we took the 2 points - now back to the unfriendly confines of the Bell Centre.
The refs tonight proved me very right yet again after going over 35 minutes almost proving me wrong. Through the first 35 minutes the Habs had not taken (or been issued) a penalty and had climbed to a 4-0 lead. The Habs during this time had enjoyed 4 separate PP chances of their own. Realizing that this doesn't follow the league's script the refs went to work to assure that the scoresheet would show their employers that they know how to follow policy. The Habs were quickly awarded a make-believe 2 minutes and it seemed to continue from there. The home team, Philly in this case, who was down, got exactly what the doctor ordered - 12 minutes of PP time (some of which was cancelled out for various reasons), a 5 on 3 chance and immunity for the balance of the game. The end result was 12 minutes for each side showing that no matter how dirty one team may play or how clean the other team may play, it will always even out in the end. Every team, like in baseball, will get the same amount of chances. I am just happy that on this night our PK and Price were up to the challenge.
A very interesting stat that I worked on after the game is one that came as absolutely no surprise to me. As you know Brisebois sat out tonight because he was 'injured'. Ha. Apart from maybe having sore wrists from firing too many tape-to-tape passes to the opposition I doubt he is hurt at all. I was excited that he wasn't playing as I believe that his absence makes us a much better team, much better. So I looked at the stats because maybe I was way off, maybe he does help us win. Well some stats may not tell the whole picture, but these are hard to ignore. The Habs, through 31 games this year are 15-11-5 - 10-11-5 when Breezer plays, 5-0-0 when he doesn't. During the season we have scored 89 goals and let in the same amount. With Breezer in we are -10 (67-77) and when he doesn't play we are +10 (22-12 - in only 5 games). I hope that someone takes notice of these numbers as I don't think #43/71 has been taking enough, or any, of the blame. It is time to stop blaming our forwards for not scoring, to me the problem is obvious - one 'defenceman' ruining the progress of a very talented, young team.