Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Game #17

PP Shows Life, But a Loss is a Loss

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Tuesday November 18th, 2008
Opponent: Carolina Hurricanes
Venue: RBC Center, Raleigh, NC

Team Stripes

Final Score: 1-2 - Loss

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Cam Ward (L)

Habs goalscorers: Robert Lang
Opposition goalscorers: Sergei Samsonov, Ray Whitney



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

Our PP needed to get going and I think what I saw tonight was encouraging. There were chances throughout the night, the best of course being the goal. It was a nice patient goal and the good thing is we kept the puck down low. There was no high-risk point-corner passes, no shots that were aimed at a top-corner (often those end up in Price's possession), it was just a very simple, street hockey type, of play. Koivu off the half boards found Kovy in the corner as he kept skating to behind the net. Kovalev waited and waited till he saw something he liked. A streaking Robert Lang was enough for Alex as he flipped him a soft pass right into the slot. Lang got off a shot (quick, not accurate) shot that beat Ward far-side, pad-height.



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

Carey Price
The kid played a pretty solid game tonight, no he didn't get the win, but 2 goals against on 48 shots, on the road nonetheless, should be enough for this version of the Habs. He had a good start to the game, which I think in his case is essential. Once he makes a few good saves he seems to really get into the game and it is then that he starts radiating confidence.



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

Robert Lang
Overall Lang played pretty well. He scored our only goal on a shot which will hopefully bring our PP back to life. He managed 3 shots and I thought, at times, looked quite dangerous. I am not sure that he is right playing with the Kostitsyns, but 2 goals in 2 games is no joke.

Sergei Kostitsyn
Sergei does so much good over the course of a game, but I believe there are still some major issues. Tonight he was very effective at moving the puck, whether in the neutral zone or in Carolina's, but he seems to be taking each play one step too far. He often tries to find his brother (easy Sergei, your name isn't Henrik) or tries a pretty play when a simple shot or easier pass would have sufficed. I still applaud him for his creativity and spirit - I hope he keeps those up.

Andrei Kostitsyn
Andrei very nearly tied the game with a very good shot that hit Ward's right post dead-on. Like his brother he may be trying just a bit too much, but overall the fight was there tonight. He isn't afraid to get involved in either end, I just think that he isn't ready to be the leader of a line. He is the finish man and should be complemented by players whose sole purpose is to get him the puck.

Defencemen

Roman Hamrlik
This was a so-so game from our defence; I can't really say that after letting up 48 shots they were on. There were, however, a couple of players that played better than the rest as they at least kept the shots coming from the outside and let Price at least get a good view. Hammer saw no time on the PP tonight which is odd. As a former PP QB I have no doubt that he can help and am also positive, Carbo, he wasn't the reason we weren't clicking.

Andrei Markov
The other defenceman who looked OK tonight was Markov. I can't say that he was too great offensively, but to be honest, no defenceman is really going to be on in that department for 82 games. First and foremost he must be defensive and I am happy to say that tonight he was a rock in the back. Even though Gorges may be better than Komi I think Markov needs Mike. There is a certain element missing right now and I think that is brought out when #8 is around. My guess is that Andrei simply isn't able to trust Josh as he does Komisarek.

Goaltender

Carey Price
Positioning, rebound-control and movement were all there to be seen tonight. Price was into this one and I feel the result is very deceiving. With a few less shots, a bit better PK and a break or two I think that this game is ours. No, we didn't outplay the 'Canes, but Price outplayed Ward. In his mind he must be thinking the team let him down, funny, that is the way my mind sees it too.



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

Why are we constantly waiting until the second period to get going? Do we realize that the first period counts? Hockey is all about momentum and confidence. At this level every team has the talent to win on most nights, every team have crowds and coaches that can make a difference, so like I have always said it all comes down to the mental game. There is no better way to get the upper-hand on your opponent than by setting the tone early in the game (ie. before they do). There is a reason that teams who score first win the vast majority of games and it isn't because that 1-0 lead generally holds up. The Habs must get into the game right from the first puck-drop. Think about the 2nd and 3rd periods when they arrive, think about the PP when you get one, all you should be doing is thinking about setting the tone - I feel that a good first period will go a long way. We won't win every game, but at least we'll have the occasional game where we aren't playing catch-up. The past few 1st periods have been disasters, it is no wonder then that we are having trouble getting into games and getting wins. Right now we are playing on our heels as we are letting the other team do all of the talking.


Overall Comments

Every game (should) has some positives and some negatives. I think that so far we have had 2 games without any positives and another 2 without any negatives. Tonight was one of those games where we did have a few good things happen and those must be the things that we focus on. Our goaltending for one was good, let's keep that going. Our PP got a goal, that is a positive of course, but there is still work to do - thus a positive to build on. Trying to be cute, shooting right at defencemen and letting up 48 shots - all negatives, all need work. We can't, however, let everything get us down as we must realize that each game has negatives. There have been losses, there have been bad games, but none of that matters the next time we step on the ice. Let's add all of our negatives to that long list of things to work on and think about and let's bask in the glory of our positives. When a team starts worrying about their past efforts (or lack thereof) and focuses to heavily on them things can get messy. Unfortunately that is what I think is presently happening to us.

So, let's leave this game behind, after all it was a pretty uneventful road-game in which we scored 1 goal, so it should be easy to forget. Let's move on and forget this as with 65 more games to come we can't waste anymore time worrying about what we did, but only about what we can do.

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