Saturday, February 23, 2008

Game #63

Gainey and Leclaire Steal the Show

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Saturday February 23rd, 2008
Opponent: Columbus Blue Jackets
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC


Team Stripes


Final Score: 0-3 - Loss

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Pascal Leclaire (W)

Habs goalscorers: None
Opposition goalscorers: Rick Nash, Andrew Murray, Manny Malhotra



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 Time that Bob Gainey has skated in a Habs jersey since 1989



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

The play of the game actually happened before the game tonight. It was when Bob Gainey's #23 was raised to the rafters to the roar of the Montreal faithful. It was an honour that was well deserved for the former captain. This will surely rank up there as a career highlight for the Hall of Famer who has bled Bleu, Blanc et Rouge for over 35 years. Unfortunately there was no play made by any current Habs that could top this one tonight, and I mean no play.



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

Francis Bouillon

He was one of a select group of Habs that played with any sort of spirit tonight. Francis can't offer too much in the skill department, but he made up for that with his effort. He was as mobile as ever and played strong in his own end.



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
- This kid never gave up all night, he just kept going and going. He is still a little rough around the edges, but should be fine if he continues to give efforts like this one

Saku Koivu
- Saku played with a lot of heart and grit tonight. He got very involved in the corners and along the boards and was often our best player on the ice at any given time

Mark Streit
- Could this be Mark's last game as a Hab? I sure hope not. Whether or not he plays D doesn't matter at the end of the day; I would rather have him as a forward then not at all. He was fast tonight and played well on D when he had to

Defencemen

Francis Bouillon
- Franc is putting together quite a good stretch; he has probably been our top defenceman over the past month. The play of Markov and Komi has left me scratching my head a little bit and that is why I am forever grateful that Bou has stepped it up

Roman Hamrlik
- I liked the way Roman played tonight. He does exactly what Gainey did his whole career - leads by example. Right now O'Byrne is benefiting so much from the vast experience of the former #1 draft pick and he will hopefully one day progress as much as Phaneuf did under Roman's tutelage. Hammer pinched up into the play tonight, but he always did so at the appropriate time, never getting caught

Goaltender

Carey Price
- Carey had 2 weak goals against him, but he did what I asked and that was to let up 3 goals or less. I still think that Price has a better mental game when he is being challenged. Every time that we declare him our #1 it hurts his game - and incidentally Huet's too. I would expect Huet to get the start against Atlanta in a game that I think will now be declared a must win



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

Alex wasn't given much space to work with tonight, but he did the best he could given the circumstances. His linemates really dropped the ball tonight and cost him an assist or two. He ended the game at -3, but that stat is deceptive as none of the goals were his fault. He didn't make any mistakes himself tonight, but at the same time didn't steal the show.

Kovalev's Assessment - Average


Overall Comments

I thought that for the most part we played better than Columbus tonight. We didn't play that well, but we played better than them. What we lacked was finish and luck - both of which may have been used up mid-week. After watching the Blue Jackets play a few times this year I have come to the conclusion that they aren't that great of a team. Leclaire may have 9 shutouts, but again I don't believe he is that great. He seemed to get lucky tonight so I am assuming that he likely has luck on his side this year (If you disagree that he isn't great see his career stats). Much like teams such as the Islanders and the Panthers, Columbus will win games like this and then go on epic losing streaks.. At the end of the day we got unlucky against a middle of the pack team and although it stings, it is bound to happen once in a while. I must say, however, that I am sick of french players, goalies in particular, shining in Montreal - often having their best games of the season. Aren't these guys meant to be Habs fans? Are they upset we didn't draft them? What exactly are they trying to prove? The one thing I do know is that we don't want to face a french goalie in the early stages of the playoffs - that means avoiding the Devils and Brodeur.

The week ahead will be a big one for the Habs. First off, before any games, is the trade deadline. It will be interesting to see what Bob has in store for us on Tuesday, but I am sure that whatever moves he makes won't be shortsighted. I am confidant that he will value the team's long term success more than trying to make himself like the 'winner' of the day. At 3pm on Tuesday we will know the players that we are going to war with for the next 19+ games. There are 3 games next week and I think we have put ourselves in a position where we have to win 2 (or at least get 4 points). Flirting with first place is one thing that I can deal with, whereas flirting with eighth is not.

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