Thursday, December 04, 2008

Game #25

Tonight, From Ceremony to Scoresheet, It All Went Oh So Well

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Thursday December 4th, 2008
Opponent: New York Rangers
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC

Team Stripes
Final Score: 6-2 - Win

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Henrik Lundqvist (L)

Habs goalscorers: Andrei Kostitsyn, Steve Begin, Alex Tanguay, Maxim Lapierre, Robert Lang, Matt D'Agostini
Opposition goalscorers: Markus Naslund, Nigel Dawes



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

What a change from the past few weeks tonight was. I have about 10 plays I could choose from in what was probably Montreal's most complete game of the season. I think the one play that stands out for me is Robert Lang's goal. I loved the way that Kovalev got the puck, settled things down (despite having 3 Rangers fast approaching) and found Markov at the left-point with a great pass. The all-star defenceman had a clear lane to the net, created thanks to Alex's skill, but instead of shooting he chose a pass. That pass was to Lang who tapped in his 8th of the year.



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

Andrei Markov
This was a very good game for Andrei. First off I really liked the work he did on the PP. We applied a lot of pressure on our PP's and I think it was thanks in huge part to Andrei's ability to hold the puck in and to move it around. He was very effective in our own end too as he constantly broke things up and launched attacks of our own.



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

Matt D'Agostini
Not bad from the kid at all. After 3 games this season he is now at point per game pace. He played very well with Andrei and Saku as he did not look intimidated in the least. He wasn't afraid to get in behind defenders and fight some battles - the good news being that he won of lot of those battles. He made a great pass to Andrei on the first goal of the game and topped it off with a tantalizing shot of his own late in the third.

Andrei Kostitsyn
It continues. Kostitsyn's goal was truly unbelievable. Granted D'Agostini made a great pass, but it took a true goal-scorer to get that backhand up over Lundqvist. He was fore-checking very well tonight as he once again used his speed and size to take the game right to New York.

Maxim Lapierre
The 4th line is indeed doing some good work as of late and I think that is mostly because of the work of Max. He skates and plays so hard which really gets those around him fired up. He scored a goal and added an assist tonight which may only give him 6 points on the season, but let's remember we don't need him to get lots of points; they are simply a bonus. For a change he was our best centre in the face-off circle, he won 5 of 8 draws.

Defencemen

Andrei Markov
Not even -4 - man Scott Gomez could throw Markov off of his game tonight with two cheap cross-checks to the mouth. It seems like nothing phases this true giant of the game. His 2 assists give him 16 on the year and puts him on pace for 52. He was +3 and as usual played more than any other Hab.

Roman Hamrlik
Hammer was another player to finish the game at +3 which does not surprise me. Whenever the Habs are scrambling in their own zone I for some reason never see Roman on the ice. He is the calm influence we need in our own end and he seems to always come through. It is always nice when he gets involved offensively; something he did quite often tonight. He made a superb pass on Tanguay's goal which demonstrated those 2 players' strong hockey sense.

Goaltender

Carey Price
Carey let in 2 of the 20 shots fired at him tonight which is above his average, but I think we'd all agree that neither goa was his fault. Naslund made an incredible tip, with a possible high-stick, and Zherdev simply undressed the Habs with a fantastic pass to Dawes. Neither play left Price with much of a chance. I really liked the brown pads he wore tonight as I think it pays a nice tribute to the goalies of yesteryear. I do, however, wonder if they were filled with 10 gallons of water by the end of the game.



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

The Habs really went all out tonight with their uniforms and I think it is a good sign of things to come. To me, it shows pure class with the effort Montreal has put into their celebrations and I think that honouring jerseys (and teams) of old is the perfect tribute and is also fun for the players and fans. What you all undoubtedly saw were the jerseys which were like the current ones with a few small differences. The 1915-1916 version of the Habs sweater which we wore tonight had a blue collar, a much wider blue stripe around the chest, lace-ups and a crest on the left sleeve rather than the number. Of course names, letters, the NHL logo or even a brand's logo weren't on the original shirts, but it was a nice compromise overall. What you may not have noticed were the other little touches the Habs put on tonight that made this one fan quite happy. To go along with the brown Vaughn's (pads and gloves) worn by Price and Halak there were new, darker helmets, new blue and white gloves and new, darker pants with no stripe.

The whole package was there tonight as the Habs spared no expense or didn't forget one detail. I think it makes the fans a little more excited and part of me thinks that it had the same effect on the players as well.


Overall Comments

From start to finish we played a great game tonight. This Ranger team, led by possibly the best goalie in the league, is quite a good team and beating them by 4 goals is a huge accomplishment. We set the tone early on as we skated hard, passed the puck and created chance after chance in front of a bewildered Ranger crew. We never really gave New York a chance to get into this one as we didn't relent all game long. I don't think any player played badly tonight, but more importantly more than half the team played extremely well. I thought that each line had at least 2 players going which allowed us to keep the non-stop pressure coming. Defensively we were fine too and I think that is thanks to our offence and puck possession. We only conceded 20 shots, mostly because the puck was in the Rangers' end most of the night.

That is 3 wins in a row now on our current home stretch and we are ever closer to meeting our pre-Christmas goal. We have 6 points in the bank now and have 9 more to get in 8 games. I can't stress how important this stretch of games is as gifts from the league like this one don't come along every Christmas.

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