Saturday, November 08, 2008

Game #12

Habs End Brutal Weekend With Worst Loss of the Season

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Saturday November 8th, 2008
Opponent: Toronto Maple Leafs
Venue: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON

Team Stripes

Final Score: 3-6 - Loss

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

Habs goalscorers: Robert Lang, Tomas Plekanec, Saku Koivu
Opposition goalscorers: Niklas Hagman (2), Mikhail Grabovski, Nik Antropov, Pavel Kubina, Alexei Ponikarovsky



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

Let's take a look now. Goaltending - nope. Defensive play - nope. Effort - nope. Goal - I guess so, so which of the 3? I will go with the captain's, the third goal, a goal that tied the game and had me believing we were going to pull this one off. The goal itself was very nice. Koivu grabbed the puck from the half-boards, came into the slot and fired a perfect top-corner shot up and over Toskala's glove.



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

Saku Koivu
Koivu has played far better games than this one so far this year, but of all our players, he was the best. He was the only one of our top-3 centres to finish anyway near respectable in the face-off circle (5/10) and scored his 5th goal of the year. There were times in the game where he looked very good in the offensive zone, but for whatever reason his line was not clicking.



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
I thought that Sergei played quite a good all around game tonight. He made a fantastic pass to Plekanec on the Habs' second goal, a pass which left the Czech with a wide-open net to shoot at. I was intrigued, however, at the end of the game to see him unnecessarily hit ex-teammate and fellow Belarusian, Mikhail Grabovski. I like seeing spirit in young players, but never like seeing stupid or dangerous acts, let's hope that Sergei knows the difference.

Saku Koivu
Offensively he was pretty good tonight and even played quite a good transition game too. His play on the PK was definitely sub-par by his standards though as he was totally out of position on Kubina's goal. I felt, however, that he led tonight by the best way possible - by setting a good example.

Tomas Plekanec
He scored a goal tonight which was good to see as we need him to get us at least 20 this year, but more realistically, probably 25-30. He was the best player on a line that couldn't find their groove. It has been hard for those 3 boys to all get it right on the same night, but I think that things are improving. It was Tomas that had the slowest start of the 3 players and he is now looking like he is ready to take-off.

Defencemen

Josh Gorges
To pick the dome tonight I made a list of defencemen who definitely could not be in here, that left me with 2. Gorges didn't have a very good game as I didn't notice him nearly at all. That is, however, a good thing as I don't remember yelling his name and almost throwing the remote at the TV when he had the puck, unlike le-gang-de-quatre.

Andrei Markov
Poor old Markov had to play with Brisebois tonight. To me that is like putting Kovalev with Laraque, or maybe someone not even in the NHL. Markov was burned by his partners all night, but frankly didn't have a very good game himself, still however , he was our only real hope back there. He did as usual play very well on the PP even if his partners at the point didn't.

Goaltender

Jaroslav Halak
Did Price want Halak to feel better about last night? What was that? What is going on right now? We have already determined that our defence isn't very reliable at all, but not our goalies too. Yes he faced 41 shots, but come one, he let in 6 goals...to the LEAFS! I think that Carbo has to sort out our goaltending fast as it has not been very strong at all over the past 3-6 games. I think I would have given Price the hook after 4 tonight if I were Carbo, or is that just the policy when Halak is in goal?



Eye-Openers
In this new section we are going to try and shed some light on certain plays or events that would otherwise go unnoticed

2 things intrigued me about the Leafs tonight, things that I haven't seen from them in years. Class and Talent.

It was Hall of a Fame night in Toronto, hockey's mecca, and before the game the Leafs had quite a touching ceremony that incorporated both hockey's hall of famers and Canadian war veterans who were in attendance to mark Remembrance Day. The announcer still sounds like he should be at a Thrashers-Lighting game, but all in all it was a good show. From what I remember the Leafs ceremonies have always been quick, shallow and unmeaningful, but tonight was a pleasant change. My favorite part was actually a reading of 'In Flanders Field' followed by a moment of silence and then some pipes. It was a good reminder of how the Leafs, although our most bitter rivals, disliked by us as much as we like the Habs, are still our Canadian brothers. At times like this you think of our Grandparents and their parents and how there is so much more to the world than hockey and of how lucky we are that for us, now, today, we can enjoy the game as we do.

On the talent front it was interesting to see the team that the Leafs put out. This is a team of relative no-names, but still there is more talent than meets the eye. Of all the players, however, the one that impressed me the most was one that was impressing me all of last year - Mikhail Grabovski. Apparently we had no room for this explosive talent on our team, a team that I remind you is carrying Latendresse, Kostopoulos, Laraque, Dandenault and Begin, and Toronto basically knew it and ripped us off. I understand that you can't keep all players forever and that sometimes some good ones get away, but come on, how obvious was this? Grabo excelled for us and Hamilton last year and I believe was worth holding on to. It may be too early to tell if he will spend his career as a Hab-killer, as so many ex-Habs have done in the past, but he hurt us tonight and for me that is enough to make me pay a little more attention.


Overall Comments

That was our worst effort of the year by far. In our loss to Anaheim we at least looked strong for a good portion of the game and still managed some good goals. In our 2 OT losses we at least kept things close and showed moments of encouragement, but that was not the case tonight. We went into the ACC expecting a win, but instead we were bossed around by a far worse team. I know that standings and rosters can be thrown out the window when Montreal and Toronto meet because the games are usually close and it is usually pretty good hockey, but I think tonight we should have done better. It begs the question are we great, good or OK? With only 3 wins in our last 6 games I think that all 3 are still possibilities, especially if our defence and goalies keep letting us down. The good news, however, is we had a good start and no one can take those points away from us - just ask Ottawa about last year, a good October and November meant playoffs for them.

I think we will find out what the Habs are really made of this week, we have 3 games against pretty big rivals (Sens, Bruins, Flyers) and I think we need to get 4+ points out of these games. I will set that as our goal for the week and we'll see if the team can answer it. Maybe by this time next week we'll have a better answer for our looming question - great, good or OK.

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