Habs Goalie: Halak (W)
Opposition Goalie: Biron (L)
Habs goalscorers: Gomez, Bergeron, Pacioretty, Cammalleri, Lapierre
Opposition goalscorers: Bailey
For once I have some choice, so forgive me if this isn't as obvious a choice as we are all used to. With enough pretty goals and not too many big saves or defensive plays I'll at least limit myself to a goal. To me, then, it has to be Cammalleri's goal. This goal, scored on the Power-Play, was a good reminder of what it is like to have a guy that can absolutely rocket it from the right side. The goal itself started when Bergeron made a nice play to keep the puck in and made a pretty nice move to get it to Pleks. Tomas then himself made a nice deke to create a hole to shoot from in the slot. Instead of shooting, however, he made a great pass to Mike who shot the puck with no hesitation at all. The goal marked both Mike and the PP's second of the year - a sign of what's to come?
Mike's line, once again, had a good game, but I felt that, of the three, he stood out the most tonight. That in large part was due to his goal, but there were also some other very good scoring chances (he shot 11 pucks towards the net) to speak of. I must, however, come back to that goal as it gave a true glimpse into the man that Cammalleri is. With us up 3-1 he still had that killer instinct, a goal-scorer's instinct that some players, in that situation, don't have. If you don't believe me consider how hard he shot that puck, how accurate it was, how fast he released it, how much he wanted the puck to come to him and, best of all, the look of ownership on his face after he scored.
Glen Metropolit - Game Puck
Is it really possible that Metropolit was that badly missed during his 6 game absence? When he went down I immediately thought that replacing him was no big deal, but after tonight I may have to rethink that notion. Glen, in a way, dominated the game tonight. He was very effective on the PP and PK, got involved at both ends of the ice like a grinder should and picked up 2 assists. I for one am now very happy that he is healthy again and hopefully he'll keep this type of play up.
2 more assists tonight give Pleks a whopping 6 on the year. That means he is 1/3 of the way to his total of 19 from last year and, thus, has 72 games to get 13 more. What impressed me tonight, however, wasn't simply the fact that he collected points, but the way in which he did it. Both assists were earned and both will go a long way in convincing us all that he is a tough, hard-nosed, legitimate top-2 centre. Whether he was playing on the PP, at even-strength or on the PK tonight Tomas looked very good and, generally, controlled the play very well.
Spacek's best play all night came on the PP when, on 2 seperate occasions, he kept the puck in the Islanders zone. Separated by a few seconds Jaro did what Markov excels at and that is stopping the puck at the blue-line and, thus, keeping the play alive. The second time he did it he put the puck high towards the end-wall glass, but an Islander player (Martinek) stopped the puck and took it down only to loose it in his feet. Luckily for us Gomez was there and quickly found the loose puck and spun around and scored. It was, therefore, a simple play like that that really got the ball rolling tonight. He was also good in his own end, but, to be honest, wasn't really called on to do too much of anything special.
Tonight marked (no pun intended) a much better game from the Habe newcomer. He was much more involved in the play (luckily we had 6 PPs) and looked more sure of himself in our half of the rink. He scored a goal on a rocket from the point and added an assist on Cammalleri's goal. I know he won't keep up the PPG pace that he has now set for himself, but wouldn't it be nice if he put up half of that? If he can play responsibly in our own end, get 30-40 points and keep our PP dangerous then I think that, after all, he'll be quite a good signing.
Jarolav played a great game tonight, but can't really blame anyone, but himself, for not coming out of that with a shutout. I am not too sure what happened behind the net, it could have been a watery patch of ice, laziness or just a simple mistake. I hope that this will be an isolated incident, however, as I was always very happy with his puck-handling abilities behind the net. Apart from that one miscue (which thankfully didn't cost the team) he played a very good game. He was always positioned well and, though he never faced too much of a test, managed to stop the other 21 shots. I personally would give him the start on Saturday as I can think of no reason why you wouldn't ride a goalie who is playing at the top of his game and winning you games. Yes the team played well in front of him these past two games and they didn't in front of Price, but then again why change what you don't need to? Carey will get his chance again, but I think Halak, after 3 years of dedicated, complaint-free, play deserves to be considered as more that just a once-in-a-while back-up.
I am glad that we won this game and am glad we played well for a second straight game, but I hope that us fans, and the team, will just take a deep breath and not get too excited. A shootout win vs. the Thrashers and then a win over one of the league's worst teams 24 hours after their first win of the year isn't exactly the things championships are made of. That said, however, a win is a win and I have seen the Habs lose too many of these types of games over the past few years to not be a little excited.
The big positive from tonight's game really has to be the goals. 5 goals, 5 good goals, is not something to be taken lightly. There was creativity, diversity and a whole lot of effort. If you can bring all 3 of those to the rink on a nightly basis you'll do just fine. Another huge plus was the fact that we put 43 shots on net and attempted another 39. A team that shoots the puck over 80 times is a) going to seriously cut into the other team's time on attack and, thus, their ability to generate a consistent, menacing offence and b) going to score at least a couple of goals.
This win gives us 8 points in 9 games and we now have the chance to play .500 hockey for the first ten games. If our shot differential can be maintained and if our goalies and defence can do their work when shots against are hard to prevent then I think we have the type of offence (thanks to their desire to shoot often and from anywhere) that can win us a few games. The Rangers will be a good test on Saturday, but I think that with a little luck and a whole lot of hard work we'll be up to the task.