Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Game #50

Habs Win Big; Become Last Team In NHL To Record 10th Home Win

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Tuesday January 26th, 2008
Opponent: Washington Capitals
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC


Team Stripes


Final Score: 4-0 - Win

Habs starting goalie: Cristobal Huet (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Brent Johnson (L)

Habs goalscorers: Mark Streit, Sergei Kostitsyn, Saku Koivu, Alexei Kovalev
Opposition goalscorers: None



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 8-Win Month of the Season (8-2-1, 1 game left)



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

The play of the game was our second goal, a play that was all about Plekanec. We were killing a 5-on-3 when Tomas stepped into our slot and picked off a Capital pass, anticipating the play perfectly. He then was essentially sent in on his own. At the same time Sergei Kostitsyn was just exiting the box and joined Tom for a shorthanded 2-on-0. Plekanec held the puck, froze Johnson and then passed it to Sergei. Like a true goal-scorer Kostitsyn shelved it over the sprawled keeper.



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

Cristobal Huet

Huet was spectacular tonight. He turned aside all 35 shots directed towards him to earn his 18th win and second shutout of the season. He made a lot of great saves tonight in a game that could have been much closer. He saw most of his shots as the defence really did their work for this result too.



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
- He came away with one goal, but he brought so much more than that to the game tonight. As predicted by Topham he was keen to show Ovechkin a thing or two about excitement and about flare. He did just that as he was the most exciting player I saw all night, likely all season - Ovechkin was invisible

Saku Koivu
- The captain returned from the all-star break without missing a step. He, along with the Habs, finished last week strong and tonight it looked as though they had never left the ice (despite the change of city). He generated a lot of chances for himself and his linemates and was extremely effective in his own end

Tomas Plekanec
- Pleks added another 2 points to his total tonight and at 44 points is fast approaching Kovalev for the team lead. It is like we have a good-attitude Ribeiro on our hands, who, of course, is also better at hockey. At his current rate he may break 80 points which would represent a massive achievement for him and the team who has stuck with him since day 1. Offensively he had it all tonight; speed, creativity and hunger

Defencemen

Francis Bouillon
- Bou doesn't get nearly enough credit for the work that he is doing this year for the Habs, and for Gorges. Francis is no longer called on to be a top-3 defender for us, like he was the past few years, and that suits him way better. He is able to play his own solid game without the worries of shutting down the other team's top players. A #5 defenceman is exactly what Franc can be and exactly what he is right now. Tonight he played very well in his own end as he neutralized any play that game his way

Mark Streit
- Streit potted a goal and an assist tonight giving him 33 points on the year - one more than Higgins. He played a good game defensively, but his play on the PP was also great. Kovy and Markov get a lot of credit for our success with the man-advantage this year, but I would argue that another HUGE part is Streit

Goaltender

Cristobal Huet
- Ever since being declared #1 (Price's demotion) Huet has been on fire. The team in front of him is playing extremely well, as they did tonight, but without Cristo some of these wins would be losses. He stood up and faced a lot of shots tonight which meant he wasn't constantly conceding the top of the net, like he would if he were butterflying. His puck-handling outside the crease was also great tonight: it was minimal



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

Alex just put on a better show than anyone at the All-Star weekend - no question. Time and time again he has outplayed the league's best this season - tonight the victim was Ovechkin. He has the ability to slow the game right down, yet keep the play flying. That may sound like a contradiction, but it isn't really. He slows the play down as his movements seem effortless, almost at walking pace, while at the same time he is way too fast for any of the opposing defenders to catch him. We saw a few more new moves tonight as he continues to pick from the bottomless bag of tricks.

Kovalev's Assessment - Excellent



Overall Comments

The Habs wasted no time taking a hold of this game as they were flying within the first minute of the first period. Washington have been doing well as of late, but I think the Habs exposed them tonight for what they really are - a team of 3 talented players and 17 others buying into a system. We have had a lot of success against such teams this year; namely Boston and the Islanders. Winning games against fellow Eastern Conference teams is key, even better when they are in the hunt themselves and it is fantastic when these games end in regulation.

Tonight our best players were exactly that - our best. Washington's best players did not answer the call and that is the reason we won. When I now think of the Habs best players I can't help but list around 10 players - that's half the team! To me, that is the huge difference from years gone by. We are no loner relying on 3 or 4 guys, we now have half the team to call on when the going gets tough. It seems that not making the All-Star Game may have inspired Huet and Kovy to play at the top of their form which is great. I hope that the Habs will always get snubbed in that department from now on. I would much rather a win for the team than to see 2 of our players waste a weekend doing lame drills and playing shinny.

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