Friday, February 13, 2009

Game #56

Halak The Reason Habs Didn't Get Blown Out

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Friday February 13th, 2009
Opponent: Colorado Avalanche
Venue: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO

Team Stripes

Final Score: 4 - 2 Win

Habs starting goalie: Jaroslav Halak (W)
Opposition starting goalie: Peter Budaj (L)

Habs goalscorers: Francis Bouillon, Patrice Brisebois, Andrei Kostitsyn, Tom Kostopoulos
Opposition goalscorers: Jordan Leopold, Tyler Arnason


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

Our nicest goal, and perhaps timeliest, was Andrei Kostitsyn's; the game-winner. Andrei hadn't been having a very good game and in fact was one of our worst players over the skid. So, it was nice to see him score as I was beginning to wonder if he remembered how. Dandenault hit a wide open Kostitsyn just outside of Colorado's zone with a very nice pass. In alone Andrei picked up the speed and made it look easy as he pushed the puck past Budaj. So excited to see a breakaway at this stage of the game I changed the channel on my remote as I flailed my arms. Needless to say when I came back it was jubilation and the replays were very sweet indeed.


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

Jaroslav Halak
What a performance! Jaro wasn't just the guy who happened to be in net when we broke our skid, he is the reason we broke it. He faced 48 shots and only let in two. It was the type of performance you need to win tough games and it was purely magical to watch. Halak defended his net so well and brought tons of confidence to his teammates and the fans alike. He was so solid in his placements and movements that many of his 46 saves looked easy - something I have not seen from a Habs goalie this calendar year.


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

Saku Koivu
Another very solid performance from the captain. Tonight, however, he can also point to the scoresheet as evidence for those fans that find it hard to remember how a game went 2 days later. He assisted on 2 goals and was quite active in the offensive zone with his new linemates - Kostopoulos and Kovalev. 15-11 in the face-off circle is right back where we need him to be.

Tom Kostopoulos
Tom fit in well tonight along side Saku and Kovy. He was actually the one who had the most scoring chances of the lot. He fought all night long and was rewarded with his 6th of the season - an empty-netter, backwards, from his own end. He also led the team in shots with 4.

Maxim Lapierre
I hadn't seen the Max we have all grown to love much over the past few weeks. I was beginning to wonder when the gritty forward would come back and give us another memorable performance - tonight was that game. He was a pest all over the ice and even managed to get quite a few scoring chances, in all he co-led with 4 shots. He was also a very impressive 11-5 in the face-off department.

Defencemen

Francis Bouillon
2 goals, 2 games, not bad. Tonight I saw Bou do what he used to do, at least at his best times, and that is pinch. He wasn't afraid to join the rush and he was another one who was rewarded for his efforts with a goal. In reality he is our third best hope when it comes to rushing defencemen so we really need to see this on a more regular basis. Defensively he was solid tonight, he led the team with 3 hits including a very good one on that horrible Darcy Tucker.

Andrei Markov
Marky played a very sound game tonight and actually made Komisarek look like his former self. There was nothing fancy in his play, but I felt he never put his team in trouble. Any situations that did arise while he was on were quickly cleaned up by Halak which is something Markov hasn't been allowing the goalies to do lately. Tonight I saw trust from our top defenceman towards our goalie and it allowed for a better game. Markov didn't have to leave his position as often to take matters into his own hands.

Goaltender

Jaroslav Halak
Now that is the type of performance I am talking about. Halak was the only reason we weren't blown out in this one and I think because of it has earned much more work. That was the first goaltending steal I have seen since the Fall, a long time to wait for a win of that sort. In my eyes he has won the #1 spot for now. Price can no longer be considered our outright starter as I don't think we can afford too many more experiments. I would stay with Jaro for now and see what he can do. This trip still has time to become a good trip and there is still time in the season for it to be a truly great one.



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

Smiles are all around tonight. Carbo had one, the players had them and, like me, I am sure that most fans have them. It is funny though because I didn't think we played that much better than we have been playing as of late. We scored 4, but one was an empty-netter, so in essence we scored one more than usual. Our goaltending was beyond solid, but still we yielded 2 goals. Defensively I didn't see any improvement on last game at all. So, the only difference here, the difference between smiles and frowns, is Halak. We all go to bed tonight thinking we played a great game (never could the opposition play badly or well, it is either us bad or us good...right?), because after all we won. Well, I wouldn't be so fast to jump to that conclusion. I actually thought we played a very poor game aside from that one key element. Granted a goalie is part of your team and by him playing well it certainly implies it is a good game for the team, but the other 18 guys should really have a look in the mirror. We let up 48 shots and for the last 40 minutes of the game (aside from Andrei's breakaway) looked totally disorganized - we were outshot 36-9 during that time. I hope then that we can be grateful for the 2 points, but at the same time realize that we have accomplished nothing in terms of getting better (apart from knowing which goalie to play) and there is still a ton of work to do.


Overall Comments

For the second time in team history the Habs were playing a game on Friday the 13th. It is hard to believe that in 100 years that had only happened once before, but I guess it is for the best. Anyway, I felt that tonight was a fitting night to break our bad luck, I mean could we really be any unluckier? I think we are a pretty superstitious group of fans in Montreal, but I bet there was no one amongst us who wasn't willing to take their chances on the 13th of all days. Right from the start I liked what I was seeing from Halak. There were saves on slap-shots, saves on breakaways and saves on just about everything else. It gave the team a certain amount of confidence and early on it showed. For the first time in 5 weeks we scored the first 2 goals of the game and things couldn't be better. Then the second period started and we got nervous. The players started to get the feeling that they couldn't do it, they didn't know how. How Guy? How do we play 40 minutes more and hold onto this lead? Colordao obviously knew what was up as they got all over us for the remainder of the game. Halak, thankfully, was the only player who did know what to do as he did what he had done in the first period and that was make the key stops. He allowed us to get 2 points, but also allowed us to relive the feeling of victory, to see what it is like to take a lead and keep it. Tonight's game will hopefully be the start of something good, but if not I hope that it is at least an end of something bad. We have a good team and we have 28 games to play, time enough to get back to the top, to where we belong.

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