Saturday, December 15, 2007

Game #32

Koivu Shines in 1st Habs Home Win of December

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Saturday December 15th, 2007
Opponent: Toronto Maple Leafs
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC


Team Stripes


Final Score: 4-1 - Win

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Vesa Toskala (L)

Habs goalscorers: Saku Koivu (2), Andrei Kostitsyn, Alexei Kovalev
Opposition goalscorers: 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 NHL Point for Sergei Kostitsyn
1st Point of the season for Bouillon



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

We had 4 nice goals tonight - I say nice because they were Habs goals. 3 of our goals went in off the other team, but they still count just the same. You have to be lucky to win and tonight we were lucky. The fact that we got those 3 favourable bounces also tells me that we were pressing Toronto all night and generating quality chances. Whether those goals went straight in off our sticks is irrelevant, the point is that the intent was ever-present tonight.

Tonight the play of the game is going to Price, but surprisingly it isn't for a save. In the second period the Habs were applying serious pressure over and over and on one particular shift held the puck in the offensive zone for well over a minute. Because NHL players lack the endurance to play hockey for more than 50 seconds at once the Leafs were all desperate to get off. When they finally got a hold of the puck they shot it down the ice, but not hard enough for it to be called icing. There Price charged the puck and fired a tape-to-tape pass to Lapierre who was at the offensive blueline. All the Leafs had headed off for a change, at the time of the pass there were actually 10 Leafs on the ice, and Lapierre went in with 2 other Habs on a 3 on 0. We didn't end up scoring on the play, but I was very impressed with Price's involvement on the play - it showed that he was focused and paying attention. I have a strange feeling that Ken Dryden may have never done that kind of stuff, then again how could he, the puck never came into our end.



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

Saku Koivu

With Saku's parents in attendance the captain had his best game since October and quite possibly since the opening night of the season. Saku has always been and will always be a big game player and obviously tonight with the unit in attendance from Finland he stepped it up. His 2 goals aren't even half the reason that he gets the puck tonight - he was a warrior in both ends and wasn't only our best player on the night, he probably gave the Habs best single-player performance of the month.



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

Alexei Kovalev
- His lucky goal was a good reward for a night of hard work and multiple chances. His goal and assist give him 8 points in 5 games against the Leafs this year - there is obviously something about him exposing slow defences

Michael Ryder
- This poor guy is doing everything but scoring it seems. He played an excellent game in both ends tonight and seems a little more relaxed on the 3rd line. It is possible that having him and Higgins on the same line is quite redundant, remember that most of Ryder's success in the past has been when Higgins was injured or while Mike was on the PP

Saku Koivu
- He finished with 2 goals and was +3 bringing him up over the even-mark on the season.He fought hard all night around Toskala's net creating chance after chance. The addition of young Sergei on the top line has added a much needed spark to Saku's line and it couldn't have come at a better time

Defencemen

Francis Bouillon
- Frank became the last player on the current roster to get a point this season - he was beaten by Sergei by one goal. We all know, most of all the Habs, that we don't need offence from Bou. Anything that he gets is a bonus and tonight it was just that. He played an excellent defensive game - he was hitting, skating fast and moving the puck very well

Andrei Markov
- Another great night for Andrei as his +/- continues to climb. He is now a +6 in his past 5 games and only -4 for the season; a number that should be in the black by Christmas. I wonder why all of a sudden we our seeing + play from our best defenceman? Well about 5 games ago he was reunited with an NHL defenceman after having played shorthanded for a string of games. Offensively there is not much to talk about for him in this game, but nor is there any of that talk for Sundin, thanks Marky

Goaltender

Carey Price
- This must be the goalie I have heard about. In the past two games I have seen what I have read about for 2 years, but have been waiting to see in Montreal until now. Price put in a very solid performance just missing out on his first goose-egg. Huet was in the line-up tonight as the back-up so it will now be interesting to see what happens with this situation again. Carbo made the right choice tonight by not playing Cristo - I think we all remember the last time he was rushed back from injury to face the Leafs



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

14 goals and counting for good 'ole 27 and another assist takes him to the equal mark in helpers. At 28 points he leads our team and is only 4 goals off his total of 18 from last year (9 back of his best season with the Habs - 23). There are still 50 games left to be played and hopefully Alex will continue to be the same dominant player he has been all year for us. He does not get intimidated at all by so-called tough teams, he actually seems to excel in games against them. Kostitsyn (Andrei) has 6 points in his last 5 games and can thank Mr. Kovalev for his breakout season. The second line has two really good young players complimented by one excellent veteran playing at the top of his game.

Kovalev's Assessment - Excellent



Overall Comments

This was a great game to watch. Saturday night, just before Christmas with snow coming down at home to Toronto - you can't ask for anything more. The pace was set by the Habs tonight and the Leafs had trouble keeping up. A team's goal has to be to out-play their opponent for the majority of the game to win, well tonight I would say we outplayed them for upwards of 50 minutes. Our speed has been a big factor in our past 2 wins, it generates the extra few chances per game that we obviously need. With slow players like Smolinski, Begin, Latendresse and Brisebois out of the line-up it comes as no surprise to me that we our now a more visibly faster team.

OT losses to me are losses, but on the bright side they are a point as well. We can, thanks to our disappointing loss to Tampa, now say that we are on a 3 game points streak which seems to impress people in the media who need to mention any streak at all, even if only one game long. I can't really blame them of course as I have just done the same in here. With 5 points out of a possible 6 I would say that this week was a success, especially considering our recent woes. The win now puts at a perfect 6-0-0 without Patrice in the line-up; a stat that I will continue to make use of until we start losing without him or he (as if) wins us some games. With 8 better defencemen currently in the line-up I see absolutely no point to keeping him around. This is his 15th season with Les Glorieux and he has yet to wear a letter on his shirt; to me that says he is not a leader and not a team guy - his on/off ice actions and interviews confirm this notion. Most teams only carry 7 defencemen so I think that is definitely time that we at least trim down to 8.

No comments: