The Canadiens Game in Review
Date: Monday April 28th, 2008
Opponent: Philadelphia Flyers
Venue: Wachovia Center, Philadelphia, PA
Final Score: 2-3 - Loss
Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (L), Jaroslav Halak
Opposition starting goalie: Martin Biron (W)
Habs goalscorers: Tomas Plekanec, Saku Koivu
Opposition goalscorers: Scottie Upshall, Mike Richards, R.J. Umberger
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 the Habs are trailing a Series in 2008
1st Career Playoff Game for Halak
1st Game of the Series for Latendresse
Play of the game
The play you're straining to see on the press catwalk monitor...
With about 15 minutes to go in the game Halak made what turned out to be a very key stop. It was the only time that the Flyers, in my opinion, had a legitimate scoring chance all night. The puck was fed from Halak's left to his right, just outside of the crease. Patrick Thoresen was the player who seemed to have a certain goal, but Jaro got across with a great right-pad save. It kept the game at 0-3 which at the time may have seemed like a moot point, but as it turned out gave the Habs a serious shot of getting back into this one.
Trophies are for the end of the year, play well in the game, you get a lovely puck...
This wasn't the best effort so far from the captain, but he was still our best player out there tonight. As usual he won some key face-offs, none more important than his wins on our 5 minute PP. He scored a good goal and led the team in shots. The problem tonight was that we relied on him to shoot and score, whereas on most nights (when his wingers pick up the slack) all we really want are his world-class passes.
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)...
- Saku has now got at least 1 point in his each of his 5 playoff games to date and sits only 2 back of Kovy for the team lead. His 1.40 points/game is good for fourth in the league behind Malkin, Crosby and Jagr; just further proof that the playoffs are a time for big players and that is precisely what Saku is. He adapted well tonight to a variety of wingers, but was at his best with Kovy by his side
- I didn't think that Gui was going to have a big impact on this game, but was thankful nonetheless that Dandenault was being benched. I felt that Gui played how you would expect all players to play in the playoffs; hard and with energy. He clearly lacks skill and speed, but certainly doesn't lack heart. He led the team in hits and shots with 5 in each category. He was actually a good addition to Smolinski's line as he played a similar came to that of Begin
- Defenceman or forward? That is the question. I'll put him in here as a forward tonight simply because the pickings were rather slim. When times are good Carbo chooses to use Mark less than 10 minutes/game, but when we need a goal who does he turn to? That's right: Streit. It seems that when the situation is dire Streit is used as a defenceman and used a lot (over 20 minutes tonight). So, why does Carbo not think the first 2 periods are important? Why does he admit that his best possible line-up includes Streit at the back yet continues to come back with Brisebois and O'Byrne? The best part about Mark is that he does whatever is asked of him and as he showed again tonight does a great job wherever he plays
- Markov is the number one reason I didn't think Briere was playing tonight and that I forgot Prospal was traded to the Flyers. He is also a huge reason why we have only let up 70 shots in 3 games. Andrei did well tonight in his own end as I counted exactly 0 mistakes. He also played a good offensive game and chipped in with a PP assist
- This was Roman's best game of the series so far. He got very involved with the attack, but unlike some of his teammates never got stuck in Philly's end. He did end the game at -2, but you can thank a certain Mr. Price for that stat as Hammer played a great game in his own end. A team isn't held to 14 shots by accident, it was thanks to great work by all our D
- Halak finally got his chance, but is that it, will we go back to Price? I certainly hope not. Carey has played very poorly all series long and had he been even slightly less horrible we could be up 3-0 in the series. I wonder if anyone in the Habs management has ever stopped to think just who is our best goalie. Have they even considered Halak? I am not suggesting that he is the outright best G on our team, but I really think he might be. Carey played horribly with the puck (again), let the puck out of his glove, only to be stolen (again) and let in 2+ weak goals (again). Jaro only had 2 shots against him, but on one of those he was able to do what Price could not do tonight - make a good save. I would go with Jaro for Game #4, because we can't go back to MTL down by 2. Right now our goaltending couldn't be any worse, so why not take a chance to see if it can get any better
Eyes on Kovalev
Did he flit and float? Someone ought to keep track...
I had to think a long time about this one as I was thinking all the way from good, right to bad. As a regular winger Kovy didn't do too badly tonight; he made some good passes, played well on the PP, he even played well on the PK. As Kovalev, however, I think I can speak for all of us when I say we need something a little more. Alex is 'the' weapon we have that Philly doesn't, he is our game-breaker. At his best he is unstoppable, near his best he is still a major threat, heck even when he fades in and out of games he can have his unbelievable moments. He has been a factor in this series, and he can't be blamed for our goaltending, but I think it is time for him to play at a level where it really doesn't matter how our goalie plays.
Kovalev's Assessment - Average
Count them - 1, 2, 3 games in which we have badly outplayed the Flyers, yet it is us that are down in the series. Hard work is great, but I don't even think that that is it, we are simply just a better team than them. I have to hand it to them though as they are making the most of their chances, or at least Price is for them. We seemed content to play a neutral game tonight until we had to score. Why, oh why don't we start games the same way we end them? We must start the first period with a serious sense of urgency, because quite frankly 0-0 is not as comfortable as it seems. 2 gaffes and all of sudden you are in that big hole again. The key has to be to get the first goal and to not stop. Philly has proven that they won't get many quality chances on us, so it is up to us to be relentless with them. The way I see it Wednesday is our Game #7 - it is a must win. If you can't beat a team that you are better than and that you constantly outplay, then how are you ever going to beat teams that are better than you? We need a complete team effort - from the goalies making all the saves they have to, right to the forwards who must score when the opportunity presents itself. Believe it or not you don't get to the Conference Final by hitting a lot of posts.
Carbo made 3 changes tonight, 2 of which came during the game and I think all 3 worked out well. The first change was taking Dandenault out, which was a great move. It didn't really mater who came in for him, it was just important to take him out. I would have frankly brought in Ryder rather than Latendresse as we already have too many players playing that have no hands. The second change was to move Streit back to D. This to me has been obvious since Septmeber 2005. Mark is a great, world-class, defenceman and that is probably the reason he does so well on the wing. If Markov was moved up front he too would get a ton of points, but that would be no reason to keep him from playing D. Streit's situation seems to be viewed by the team the same as Dandenault's, but I think the team forgot that Mark can actually play hockey, he can even play in his own end. The third change was pulling Price, and it was the right one. I personally would have pulled him right after he released to puck from his glove right to a Flyer. Not only have we seen this bonehead play already in the playoffs, but he proved again tonight that after such a mistake he is unable to mentally recover, thus becoming prone to pathetic goals. The give-up attitude has surfaced too often from Carey for my liking, it's time to go with Jaro.