Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Game #47

Price Takes His Young-Stars Effort to Florida

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Tuesday January 27th, 2009
Opponent: Tampa Bay Lightning
Venue: St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, FL

Team Stripes

Final Score: 3-5 - Loss

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Mike Smith (W)

Habs goalscorers: Maxim Lapierre, Alexei Kovalev, Guillaume Latendresse
Opposition goalscorers: Ryan Malone, Vincent Lecavalier, Vaclav Prospal, Steve Downie, Martin St. Louis



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

It was a play we saw at the All-Star game this week-end, a play that involved great passes, 3 Habs and one not so solid All-Star (who chose this to be his moment of the game). The Habs were shorthanded when Higgins, Komisarek and Lang went in on a 3-on-1. This was all thanks to a great clearance by none other than Markov - the real All-Star on the ice. Higgins, skating up the left wing, dropped it into the middle to Komi who then returned the puck to Chris. Higgs then sent the puck cross-slot to Lang who had a sharp angle to work with. Rob did his best, but he was almost past the goal-line and in the end his shot was stopped by Smith anyway. It looked good on TV, but would have looked even better had it gone in.



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

Andrei Markov
I thought that our two best players were Markov and Kovy, thus their All-Star appearances must have helped. Not so fast - Komi and Price were two of our worst tonight which throws that theory away pretty fast. So, I think Andrei was strong tonight, but I think the reason is, simply put, he is Andrei. He stood out in this game as there weren't too many of our players playing at an NHL-level.



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

Guillaume Latendresse
He scored a goal, but more importantly, he never gave up. He only played for 10 minutes, but I felt he used his time to make an impact on the game. His line created chances and were exciting to watch. His goal was a pretty bad goal in that it was shot off a defender's skate, but a goal is a goal. The key is he is getting to the right spot and getting a fair number of quality chances on net.

Alexei Kovalev
Kovy looked good tonight, in fact he played better than he did on Sunday. Tonight the defence and goalie were trying, so it was a little harder, but luckily Alex stepped up. He led the team with 7 shots, played almost 20 minutes and scored a goal to give us our only lead of the night.

Maxim Lapierre
Mr. Energy played well tonight as it looked like he couldn't wait to get back on the ice after nearly a week off. He scored a goal and was the main reason Guillaume's found the back on the net. He took 5 shots, played as much as Saku (16 minutes) and was 56% in the face-off circle.

Defencemen

Ryan O'Byrne
Ryan obviously benefited from 6 weeks in Hamilton as the player I saw tonight was the one that Gainey signed last summer. He played with confidence, didn't try anything too risky, but at the same time he had control. He knew when to hit and when not too, there were no hooks or holds due to poor positioning and best of all he moved the puck. I hope this was just a preview of what's to come. From what I read he did well in Steeltown, so let's see it on the Habs now Ryan.

Andrei Markov
Andrei extended his point-streak to nine games tonight as he collected his 38th point. This weekend was a chance to see some of the best Habs defencemen from the past few years (Souray, Streit and Robidas), but it was Andrei that really stood out amongst not just that group, but amongst all 12 All-Stars. He can move the puck like none other present and is far and away the best defender of the group. I am glad Bob picked him from that group as I believe he will be our best players for many years to come.

Goaltender

Jaroslav Halak
What is worse than seeing Carey's 'I couldn't care a less' attitude at the Young-Stars game? It most certainly must be seeing it in a regular season game. All night I was very disappointed by the way he played. At times he acted too cool to try and then there was the showing off with his long passes, which more often than not became give-aways. It wasn't the 5 goals, again, and the fact he didn't give us a chance to win, again, but it was the way he acted when he left his net. There was never any urgency or desperation, no, all I could sense was cockiness. I just hope that all the fans who voted for him will remember how he got such a big head.



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

I love the work that Lapierre is doing. Let's face it, we haven't had a 4th line player like this in years. He can score, he can hit, he can agitate and he can bring energy. Tonight, however, there was one thing that he didn't do very well, in fact he did it very badly. It was during the PK that Max held the puck in the zone for a long time as the seconds ticked on by. Finally 3 Lightning players were able to get the puck from him and off went St. Louis around his own net and up the ice. Lapierre gave a half-assed effort of catching him before going off on a line-change. That poorly timed change gave Martin the space he needed to get the puck to Vinny and the rest (at least the game) was history. Penalty-Killing is about staying behind the puck and most importantly behind the opposition. Lapierre chased the wrong way, but worst of all he gave up. He had put in such a great effort to kill time that it was a shame to see such a lack of it 5 seconds later. Bad penalty-killing leads to confusion and more often than not that will lead to a goal.


Overall Comments

The Habs started very well in this game, 20 of their 34 shots came in the first period. Some missed opportunities and a few bad plays by our defence and Price, however, turned the momentum fast. The 2nd and 3rd periods belonged to Tampa as it seemed like the chances and goals just kept coming. Our team did not look comfortable at all in front of a goalie who has a lot of work to do to prove to me he is a legitimate All-Star. It was like we were happy with our first period effort and our 1-goal lead. Happy enough, it seemed, to stop attacking and, in some instances, stop trying. That makes 3 losses in a row now, all in regulation. I think we need to start winning in bunches soon as the East will be very tight come March, and I for one do not want to be battling for that 8th spot.

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