Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Leclaire (W)
Habs goalscorers: Cammalleri
Opposition goalscorers: Neil, Alfredsson, Kovalev
With 8 minutes to go in the game Carey Price made his best save of the year and did what I have claimed he has needed to do all season: keep us in the game. The Habs, again, broke down in their own end and that meant that Kovalev had all the time in the world behind the net to find a perfect pass target. He found a streaking Alfredsson in the slot who quickly released a bullet of a shot. That is when Carey flashed his glove (the quickest I have ever seen him use it) to deny the Sens a 3 goal lead.
Mike Cammalleri - Game Puck
Mike finally scored his first as a Hab as he was once again one of our best players. His goal was the standout play for me on the night as it showed what type of shot this player has. From quite a distance from the net he was able to generate so much power and release the puck so quickly that Leclaire had no chance. In all he had 5 shots and looked poised, a couple of times, to score his second.
A spin-o-rama and a net crash that was instrumental in our goal sealed the deal for the fiesty winger in this one. He is so talented and plays with the most effort on the team. But, for some reason his presence out there isn't enough for us to get wins. I think a lot of our players could learn a lot from Gionta (in both areas), but as long as he plays with players better than him his presence on the team may not be as valuable as we had hoped.
Being on the ice with our 2 best forwards the whole night made this one a no-brainer. Their line continues to contribute while the other 3 struggle with consistency. Scott was good on a 5-on-3 which, unfortunately, was thwarted by some solid defensive play and goaltending.
Spacek played well in the area that our current situation calls for (defensively), but is still struglling to impose his offensive prowess onto other teams. In Markov's absence it is crucial that Jaro has been playing as well as he has in our own end because if he were purely offensive we'd be in trouble (particularly because our 'defensive' D-men - Mara, Gill and Belle - aren't playing that well at all). I am hoping that Bergeron's impending arrival will help balance this defensive group as I feel 24 minutes for Spacek may be one of the biggest reasons he isn't (and thus as a team we really aren't) producing on the PP.
Best again was the Hammer. Calm in his own end, strong with the body and, to boot, he moved the puck very well through the neutral zone. He played 27 minutes and I felt had a handle on the game during this time. I was a little concerned with his giveaway count in this one (3), but liked how he recovered in those situations and realized that he was never at the root of any of our breakdowns.
I did not like Carey's start in this one (2 goals on 4 shots), but I must say that the team, these days, is letting him down more than the inverse. Yes he put us in a hole, but a team that outshoots another 28-21 has to find a way to win. Carey didn't steal this game for us, nor was he close, but he did play solid enough that an average to above average group of forwards would find a way to win. I felt that he made some strong saves later on in the game and that his play with the puck was conservative and well-calculated. I think it is time, however, for Halak to get a start as Price can't get too used to losing - we need a momentum change somehow.
The Habs are playing with a lot of effort and I have even heard that most people think that we have outplayed our opponents in almost every game this year. So, I came to the conclusion that a) people associate out-working someone with out-playing them and b) we simply, without Markov, don't have enough talent on this team right now. A great example of that, and I hope Gainey was listening, was when Kovy scored and the Bell Centre cheered him with a standing ovation and basically booed the Habs right after. What Gainey did by letting Kovalev go was he let our best talent since Lafleur go for nothing. He then brought in guys who are known more for their effort than their talent. What Kovalev also reminds us is that effort can be brought out of every player, but talent cannot. You can't, at this level, teach talent, but every player in the NHL, with the right guidance, can be made to play at a 100% effort level. Therefore when we are wondering why we aren't winning we can add up the talent of the following players: Lapierre, Latendresse, Pacioretty, D'Agostini, Stewart, Laraque, Moen, Metropolit, Chipchura, Gill, Mara, Belle and O'Byrne and then we begin to realize that effort can only do so much. Little to no talent is OK for a few players on your team, the Habs' problem however, right now, is that this group is more than half the team large.