Saturday, April 18, 2009

Game #1-2

Habs Weak, Price Weaker

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Saturday April 18th, 2009
Opponent: Boston Bruins
Venue: TD Banknorth Garden, Boston, MA

Team StripesScore: 1 - 5 Loss

Habs starting goalie: Carey Price (L), Jaroslav Halak
Opposition starting goalie: Tim Thomas (W)

Habs goalscorers: Alexei Kovalev
Opposition goalscorers: Marc Savard (2), Chuck Kobasew, Shane Hnidy, Michael Ryder


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

It's always upsetting when this is your play of the game, but once again Price getting the hook takes it. If one thing is obvious it is that Carey will not win us the series let alone the cup. I am not sure if Halak can pull off the 0-2 comeback against the Bruins, but I am willing to find out; at this point it can't get any worse. I think that the third period went well for Jaro as he played calmly, let in no goals and didn't get into any trouble handling the puck; after two games Carey can't boast any of those. It will be interesting to see if tonight's play-of-the-game turns into the play-of-the-series.



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

Alexei Kovalev
Gainey decided to dress less than a handful of offensive players tonight, but even worse was that he spread them out onto the four lines. The only good thing about that tactic was that Kovalev saw almost 23 minutes of ice-time and he was dominant throughout. At times he looked alone and, thus, did a lot of one-man stuff, but with linemates like Laraque can you blame him? He spilt the Boston defence on a number of occasions, had our only goal and was the player who I felt played with the most heart.


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

Alex Tanguay
Tanguay spent most of the night on our 'fourth' line, but in reality it was almost line 1b; when Georges is on a scoring line it is hard to recognize them as a true first unit. Alex managed to score a goal late in the game which was unfortunately disallowed because a Bruin player obstructed his own goalie. It remains a mystery why players like Metropolit and Lapierre are seeing more ice than Tanguay. Alex has been, and once again was tonight, one of our best players. If we want to win we must start using our top players more effectively.

Saku Koivu
Koivu's highlight was the beautiful pass that he made to Kovalev on our only goal. Aside from that play I felt that the captain played alright - he wasn't at his best, but he was certainly a top-3 forward for us. Saku was our best centreman in the face-off circle as he won 59% of his draws; we were 35% as a team.

Alexei Kovalev
If there is one aspect of our play that doesn't need changing right now it is Kovalev's play. He was, once again, a force to be reckoned with tonight as Boston's defence had few ideas of how to stop him. As good as he has played the past 2 games though we still need more from his linemates - Kovy is capable of not only scoring, but of creating goals too. He can't, however, make Laraque into a goal-scorer, he needs Tanguay back.

Defencemen

Roman Hamrlik
Roman was on the ice for three of Boston's goals, but was still, surprisingly, our best defenceman tonight. He had his hands full as he dealt with a few too many Komisarek mistakes for my liking and should be rewarded for that. He didn't get too many opportunities to work in the Bruins' end, but when he did he did an OK job. Let's put it this way, he played a decent game and was a standout among a pretty weak cast - Gorges, Dandenault and Weber all struggled tonight.

Mathieu Schneider
Mat saw no time on the PP tonight as the refs decided to only meet their Boston quotas once they had ensured the Bruins were safe. I suppose that risking an injury to a top player once the game is over isn't a bad plan. He played well alongside Weber tonight who did an OK job, but was definitely showing some nerves. Schneids is capable of playing that role and I think this is a duo we should stick with. Until Bouillon or Markov are back this group of six is the group that we must go with, we have no other choice.

Goaltender

Jaroslav Halak
The Habs didn't play well tonight as Boston was all over us and I am not about to blame the loss on Price entirely, but at some point I need to see a little more in the clutch department. He was weak at controlling the puck behind his net, lost too many pucks behind or underneath him and, although he made some very spectacular saves, was unable to make an easy stop after we had scored to get back within one. The team, like this fan, has no confidence in front of him and that is why we have to go with Halak - Jaro has proven (this season and again tonight) that he is the better and mentally stronger of the two. I hope that Gainey goes with Halak for game #3, because I don't see how we can win with Price. Just because you made a decision 4 years ago Bob that Carey was the future, there is no reason not to believe that you were wrong, and there is no shame in admitting it.



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

Myabe all of this losing is making me delusional, but for the first time in a long time I agreed with Don Cherry tonight. He questioned why the Habs were trying to out-tough the Bruins and he is absolutely right. Our game isn't body-checking, fighting and toughness (which obviously leads to mass penalties), but is instead speed, passing and scoring (or at least it was). We are playing a game that Boston has excelled at since the beginning of time rather than a game that we have proven is the key to winning. We never won a cup a series or a game by being tougher than the other team, I guarantee that we won all of those by out-scoring our opposition. By playing certain players rather than others and trying to intimidate the brain-dead oafs of BeanTown we are straying from what got us here in the first place. We did well at the beginning of the year, and again towards the end, by scoring goals and keeping the play as far away from our goalies as possible. If everyone would take a minute to breathe and think about last year's playoffs (rather than buying into the hype that the mainstream media sells about us being too small and not tough enough) we would see that we lost because we didn't score enough, not because we weren't as tough as Philly. Besides, if the past two games are as tough as we can be, I am not impressed, it wouldn't win us a series even if that was the key.


Overall Comments

It was all going well until we took our first penalty of the game. The call was hooking on Sergei Kostitsyn who, until that point, was playing quite well. The PP led to a goal and sucked all of the wind from our sails. Boston would go up by two soon after that and then two more penalties would allow the Bruins to take complete control. Koivu and Kovalev generated a quick goal in the second period and it looked like we may have a game. That feeling of uncertainty, however, that comes with having a non top-20 goalie backstopping you was very unsettling. I believed that it was only a matter of time until another goal would be scored and so I knew we needed to keep at it. The goal, and two more, indeed came over the course of that period to give the Bruins a 4-goal lead. Two of those goals had to be stopped in what was the biggest game of the season as they were quite weak. The third period started on a positive note as I believe our only chance at winning this series stepped on the ice - Halak. Jaro stopped everything that came his way and, although he wasn't tested much, made a couple of good ones and didn't let any weak ones in. The game ended with its usual rough stuff and Lucic was once again at the centre of it. The dumb goon cross-checked Lapierre in face on what should be a suspendable offence. Given, however, the laughable nature of the NHL's discipline record I wouldn't be surprised if he gets off clean. I do, however, think that if we could get Markov back, have Halak in nets and have a game without Lucic to worry about we could pull off a win on Monday. Then if the Bell Centre crowd can work their magic and get us game #4 we will be right back in it with all of the momentum. We'll need some hot players to get this done and for that I am looking Jaro and Plekanec's way. I'll never count these Habs out as there is too much talent on the ice for us to simply lay down and die.

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