Saturday, January 12, 2008

Game #44

Rangers Too Much For Habs on the Slush in New York

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Saturday January 12th, 2008
Opponent: New York Rangers
Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY


Team Stripes


Final Score: 1-4 - Loss

Habs starting goalie: Cristobal Huet (L), Jaroslav Halak
Opposition starting goalie: Henrik Lunqvist (W)

Habs goalscorers: Sergei Kostitsyn
Opposition goalscorers: Chris Drury, Martin Straka, Petr Prucha, Nigel Dawes



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 Kostitsyn to Kostitsyn Goal
1st Road Appearance for Halak since last April in the same building



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

The play of the game could simply be called the play tonight because it was the only good moment for the Habs all game. It was during a third period power-play, the score was 0-4 and we managed to score a goal

Markov, working the point on the PP and gave a pass to the half-boards on the right (Kovy's office). Andrei Kostitsyn was playing this position and was out there with Pleks and his bro as Carbo was experimenting. Andrei waited and the then fired a perfect pass right to his brother at the far post. The puck was just out of Lunqvist's reach and all Sergei had to do was tap it in.



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

Tomas Plekanec

Pleks played better in the 2nd and 3rd when Sergei Kostitsyn replaced Kovalev on his line. Plekanec didn't really play well at all, but of all the Habs I'll say that he played the least bad. He was on the ice for our goal and none of New York's, he played almost 19 minutes, took 2 shots and was an impressive 7/10 in the face-off circle.



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

Sergei Kostitsyn
- He scored a goal and that is about it. He didn't do too much to hurt the Habs tonight and considering he netted his 3rd career goal he gets in the dome

Andrei Kostitsyn
- Great assist on his brother's goal. Showed some good speed and shooting tonight, but I felt he was used in a lot of the wrong circumstances. Proved he can play well when out of Kovalev's shadow

Tomas Plekanec
- Don't look for this trio of domers to be a line for the Habs in their next game. Plekanec played a decent game and showed, like Kostitsyn, he doesn't need Kovalev to play well. If Koivu won't be given the gift of a Finnish winger (Selanne) he may just get a Russian one. Koivu has a hard time getting a slow and unskilled Latendresse to score so maybe the best solution is the first one they ever tried 4 years ago; Koivu-Kovalev. Plekanec will be able to carry a line himself now and I am sure he will stick with Andrei Kostitsyn for some time

Defencemen

Mike Komisarek
- He was the only defenceman tonight that didn't look like he was playing defence for the first time. The other 5 were absolutely atrocious, but Mike had a decent game. He hit when he had to and got rough when no one else would. Unfortunately 1 stay-at-home defenceman couldn't win us the game

Andrei Markov
- Defensively he was bad, but as he happened to be the guy to pass it to the guy who passed it to the guy who scored I'll put him in here. On an ordinary night he would not deserve this honour, but thanks to 4 very lazy other guys he sneaks in

Goaltender

Jaroslav Halak
- Came into the game and stopped all 13 shots he faced. It is probably about time he got a shot to start a game. His last start (last year in NY) may have cost us the playoffs, but then again so did a 2 month stretch where we actually let Aebischer play. Looked alright in his 20 minutes and will hopefully be ready to start one this week



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

Like his last stint with the Rangers, Kovalev didn't play great at MSG tonight. He looked sub-par on the PP failing to put one in when he had to. He was on the ice for 7 1/2 minutes worth of PP time and couldn't make anything happen. His PK time was well spent though as he continues to be the Habs best penalty-killing forward. This won't be a game that the Habs or Kovalev will look back fondly on.

Kovalev's Assessment - Average


Overall Comments

The Habs played their worst game in at least a month, but I will give the Rangers credit as they played a decent game. New York's penalty-killing was better than anything we have seen of late as they did not allow Kovalev a half-second with the puck. The ice was an absolute joke and it is every time we play at MSG (the boxing, basketball, music, circus, hockey, indoor football, soccer, wrestling centre of New York). Sure other teams play in multi-purpose buildings, but few host 2 other events on the same day as an NHL game. I have never seen more Habs fall, miss passes, skate slow or mishandle the puck in my life. Everyone knows that MSG is the league's worst ice and that they all just have to live with it. The problem is that the Rangers get 39 more games/year to get used to the melted-lake conditions.

The Habs had two 5 on 3s tonight and failed to score on either. I couldn't help but wonder what was going on during the second of the two when I saw Smolinski and Brisebois out there for well over a minute with some of the usuals. First of all Smolinski just isn't a good hockey player or at least not the way he is being used with Habs. Montreal is unable to offer him the wingers he got to play with in places like Ottawa and Pittsburgh and instead asks him to play on the 4th line. Naturally this will mean a huge drop in points from what we hoped, but I am not surprised one bit. He has been reduced to a 'defensive' forward, but unlike his current coach or GM Smolinski doesn't possess very many good defensive qualities. It is sad that the Canadiens just assume bad forwards will make good defensive forwards. Anyway, he was the wrong guy to have on a must-score 5 on 3 and, big surprise, we of course didn't score. Having Brisebois out on the point instead of Streit or Hamrlik when we need a goal is utter stupidity. I guarantee he won't be scoring another 40 mph 'slapper' anytime soon and seeing as he can't shoot much harder I would say he is maxed out offensively for the season (keeping in mind that he was maxed out defensively in 1984). These 2 players turned a 1:41 5 on 3 into a very painful 3 on 3.

This loss is just that, a loss, a single loss. We are bound to lose games and we were actually due for a road loss anyway. The good news is we certainly didn't waste any energy tonight, so we should be ready to go on Tuesday. Of course I am assuming that the Habs have a certain amount of energy to use all season - the sad thing is I think most players believe this too. With 2 games left on this 4 game trip I still think we have a chance to make it a good one. The Islanders and Thrashers are both teams that we can beat and we have had moderate success against both of them over the past few years. Our goal at this point on the trip should be 2-3 more points - very doable as long as we don't play anything like we did tonight.

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