Monday, April 06, 2009

Game #79

Montreal Loses Tight One to Ottawa

The Canadiens Game in Review

Date: Monday April 6th, 2009
Opponent: Ottawa Senators
Venue: Bell Centre, Montreal, QC

Team Stripes

Final Score: 2-3 - Loss

Habs starting goalie: Jaroslav Halak (L)
Opposition starting goalie: Alex Auld (W)

Habs goalscorers: Alexei Kovalev, Roman Hamrlik
Opposition goalscorers: Chris Campoli, Dany Heatley (2)



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

Halak made some great saves, but Kovalev's goal was too nice to ignore. 2 minutes after the Sens broke the ice Koivu's line was looking to score. It was Saku who fed Kovy the puck on the right side that got this quick play started. Alex then placed an incredible shot up and over Auld; another goal that demonstrated his incredible accuracy.



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

Alexei Kovalev
Kovy had a very strong game against a team he seems to like playing against. He could have easily scored more than once, but was stoned by the post. He worked very well on the PP, and towards the end of the game with the extra man, but he couldn't work miracles. The point-men are really the two main elements of any good PP and so we are now left with two huge holes.



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

Alexei Kovalev
Kovy netted his 25th in this one which is quite something considering where he sat a few weeks ago and remembering the 19 games without a goal earlier in the year. He played a very solid game and even without the goal was a dominant player. His 5 shots on goal led all players on either team as Auld had to be very sharp on a few occasions to beat him.

Saku Koivu
The captain played another great game tonight which was highlighted by some very strong board work. I really liked how he was winning battles and pucks in the offensive zone as it meant his two talented wingers could wait for pucks rather than dig themselves. He was strong in both ends, was +1 and won the majority of his draws.

Christopher Higgins
Higgins did ever so well to get in alone for another short-handed breakaway. He drew a penalty-shot, but unfortunately missed, but at least the effort was there to be given that chance. That leads me to two questions - when was the last time (or is this the first) that the Habs have had penalty-shots in 3 straight games and shouldn't the penalty-shot have been taken into an empty net as that is what he was robbed of shooting into? Aside from that play Chris played a very strong game which involved good physical work and a few decent chances.

Defencemen

Patrice Brisebois
Tonight there weren't too many of our defencemen that didn't look ridiculous at one point or another, Brisebois, surprisingly, was one of them. He didn't take a stupid penalty, he didn't cough the puck up for a goal and he didn't look ridiculous on any goals. To boot he had a couple of good shots on net and one that ended up being an assist on Hamrlik's goal. Maybe it was because he was playing with our only other competent defender, but for a change, Patrice didn't disappoint.

Roman Hamrlik
The new leader of our defence really played like it tonight. He was the only one who actually elevated his game in the way that was needed. The other four defencemen looked bad at times and I believe were a big reason why we lost. Roman chipped in with a goal tonight and became the 5th different defenceman to score in our past 3 games. Gorges and Komi both played more than Hammer tonight, but he was also up at 25 minutes. I think that he could handle some more ice and more responsibility as he has years of experience to lean on.

Goaltender

Jarolsav Halak
Halak didn't play his strongest game tonight, but he did make a few fantastic saves. Heatley managed to score twice, both times on shots that could have been stopped, but at least Dany is a true scorer. I think that considering the defence we put on the ice tonight 3 goals against is quite modest. The shots were down, but Ottawa did have some quality chances. Carey will play tomorrow night and it will be interesting to see which Price will show up. Will the dominant kid clinch us a playoff spot or will the Price from February make us sweat a little more?



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

Laraque proved, once again, tonight why he is so useless. After not intimidating anyone on Saturday before or after our two best defencemen were injured I can't say I was expecting much tonight from the most undeserving millionaire in the world. Tonight he let Ruutu run around like the little rat he is and did nothing about it. He then spoke to Neil, rather than fight him, and that had little effect. I can't believe we are sitting a 20-30 goal man so this guy can play. We say he is there to intimidate people, but after 79 games I don't think his grimace has scared anyone. He was said to be our protector, but all I see is an increase in injuries this season (many from hits and such) with little to no retribution. He is also proclaimed to be the best fighter in the league! Ha, have you seen this guy fight? It is a joke. He is either too scared of hurting someone he is better than or he just isn't better than anyone at all. All that I see are glorified wrestling matches which end with 2, maybe 3 punches thrown. It could be argued that Plekanec and the Kostitsyns are also doing nothing right now for us, but when a game is on the line and we need a goal I have a feeling that those players (50+ goals combined) would stand a better chance than old 0-goal.


Overall Comments

The Habs started this game very tentatively which is the way I felt sitting at home too. Losing two top players like that at once will make anyone associated with the team very nervous. They didn't play like a team that desperately needed points to make the playoffs, instead we put that type of play aside for our pre-March style. A game of back and forth nothingness ended when Ottawa scored and all of a sudden we woke up. The Habs then scored 2 goals and then, realizing they didn't have the best defence in the world, made the worst choice by playing defensively. Playing defensively means letting the other team have the puck and seeing if the other team can score. That style of play is not recommended when the key players are Alfredsson, Heatley and Spezza for them and O'Byrne, Janik and Komisarek for us. Once we started trying to score again it was too little too late as the Sens already had the lead. Our time spent playing with no goalie was absolute chaos as our defencemen were unable to make quality passes, keep pucks in the offensive zone or breakout properly of our own. The loss of Markov and Schneider was evident tonight and that was at home against a non-playoff team with nothing to play for. It will take a serious team effort to not only get into the playoffs, but to then succeed in them.

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