Habs Goalie: Halak (L)
Opposition Goalie: Miller (W)
Habs goalscorers: Gomez, Gorges
Opposition goalscorers: MacArthur, Pominville, Roy, Kennedy, Sekera, Grier
We actually managed to get 2 by Miller on 23 shots which makes me wish we would have been able to shoot more. When you think of it that is bordering on an off-night for the American star. The play of the game, therefore, has to be one of those two; I would like to even hear a realistic argument to the contrary. The nicer of the two, I thought, was Gomez's. Who knows what Martin was doing at this stage, but for some reason Scott was on the ice with Sergei and MaxPac (all 3 were on different lines (2, 3, 4) to start the game). It was Max who got the puck up to Sergei and created the break. Kostitsyn, coming up the right-wing, did what he does best; he passed the puck. It was a nice backhand saucer-pass which Gomez had a little trouble controlling. The end result, however, was a pretty easy goal into a wide open net.
Mike showed tonight that he is quite capable, but he really needs help. I can't even imagine what he would be like if he were skating with an Ovechkin, Datsyuk or Crosby. That said he had trouble getting the rights feeds. When he did, though, he was quite dangerous, he just couldn't find the back of the net.
Scott replaced Pleks on the top line by the end of the first. He didn't really bring too much more to the table than Tomas, but he did score. Hard to believe that is only his third of the season as, all in all, he has been playing quite well. Another nice stat tonight was the 11-6 at face-offs.
Max seems to be a bit in limbo right now. Last year he had a clear role and, for the most part, had the same linemates. This year, thanks in big part to the strong play of Metropolit, he is either a top-9 forward, as a winger, or a 4th centre. Neither position will allow him to reach his full potential, but he is making the most of it. I am not sure where he fits in long-term, but tonight he showed that he still has his value. In all there was an assist and he really proved his worth as he went 12-2 on his draws.
Josh Gorges - Game Puck
There was no obvious choice for game-puck tonight, but, let me tell you, there were quite a few obvious 'no-ways'. Josh, however, fell into the category of players who played quite well. I actually liked him for the game-puck mostly for his goal. Here is a defensive defenceman who is joining the rush in a 1-4 game. He played with spirit and he seemed to care and believe that we could come back. As this current team struggles to find it's identity players like Josh (who have been here more than 4 months) must step up and lead the way.
If a team needs leaders and if a team is built from the back then I think in Hammer, Josh and Markov we have the 3 players that may know, more than anyone else, what it means to be a Hab. That is what we have to build upon, that has to be our identity. I am hoping that they learned a thing or two from players like Koivu, Kovalev, Bouillon, Souray and Komisarek whom, despite their faults, knew what it meant to be a Hab. Maybe that is what is missing these days, maybe now we are just becoming any-team-NHL. Hammer, tonight, showed that he is capable of the leadership role and he is able to lead by example. What needs to happen, however, is that the other players around him must start following.
Ouch. So, Halak against the Sabres (and Miller) in Buffalo isn't such a good idea after all...what a surprise. Much like Halak couldn't have won against Toronto on Tuesday, however, I also very much doubt that Carey would have been able to do much tonight. 6 goals against is bad though and this Habs team will likely never win any of those games. Our D was bad, our forwards lacked punch, our system looked flawed, but at the root of it all Halak had a brutal game. Good news for those who don't want him traded, bad news for those of us who just want wins.
It was a hard game to watch and I can only hope that tomorrow, with all the hype of the Centennial surrounding the game, we can put out a better effort. 100 years of Habs hockey ended tonight and I can't think of too many times, in those 100 years, when things have been quite this bad. We are sitting in a tie for 12th in the conference (23rd in the league), our best player has been gone for the whole season, we have a team whom, even though they have been together since September, are still having problems with chemistry, we have a coach that can't stick with lines or get his system to work and we have players lining up to leave the team (a bit of an exaggeration). I know there have been worse times, but think of it people, we just lost 2 games by a combined score of 9-2, we didn't really show up in either game and we don't really have a plan of how to make it stop. Markov may make a bigger difference than I think, but to climb 4 spots and learn a system all in time to not get swept in the first round seems like a lot.
Let's not, however, let a bad week cloud what has been a remarkable 100 years. We have held the cup for 1/4 of our existence, we have had some of the best players to ever play the game play for us and we have a passion for the game like no others in the world. Tomorrow will be a time to forget the Pacioretty's, Moen's and Bergeron's of this team and to remember the Richards, Harverys, Beliveaus, Drydens and Roys. Tomorrow it is OK to live in the past, it is OK to clutch to former glory and one can only hope that this city, this team and these players can become champions again. I don't know what it will take to get back to the top, but if you want a good look at what the top looks like tune in at 6pm and see hockey, passion and class at its best.