Loss: 3-4 (OT)
Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Conklin (W)
Habs goalscorers: Pouliot (2), Cammalleri
Opposition goalscorers: Perron, Kariya, Steen, McDonald
The Habs needed a spark after a bad 1st and horrible 2nd. Luckily there was one group of players (our good ones) who were trying to make things happen. So, with 10 to play and down by a pair it didn't surprise me when Gomez forced a turn-over in the Blues' end. He then very casually tapped the puck against the grain and turned his defender right around. That simple, yet smart, play created a 2 (pretty much 3) on 1. He then quickly got the puck across to the hottest Hab of all, Pouliot, who fired a sweet one-timer past a stunned St. Louis goalie.
Scott was integral in the comeback tonight as he not only created our 2nd goal, but was also very much in the mix on the tying one by creating traffic in front of Conklin. I am really happy that he seems to have as much chemistry with Pouliot as he does with Gomez. That type of chem. was unheard of for him in NY and is the very reason he has become one of more valuable players.
Benoit Pouliot - Game Puck
When we got rid of Latendresse I was happy to get something, anything in return. I was then happier that we would have an NHL-ready player to insert in the line-up thinking that it couldn't possibly be worse than what we had. Then, after seeing Gui explode, I was surprised to see us get an equal explosion (maybe not quite in quantity of points yet, but certainly as much in the unexpected department) and now can't imagine what we would do without that punch on the second line. He has come in and has become one of our best players and shooters and has given us a player that we were sorely missing earlier this year. His 2 goals tonight, +2 rating and 7 shots are all fine examples of what talent this young man possesses and is finally being able to show.
Pleks has a great assist early on in the game on Pouliot's first. That play, however, almost got wiped out as the Blues looked like certain winners for most of the game. It was, however, thanks to the play of Tom, amongst others, that allowed us to comeback. How about 17-7 on face-offs (many of them at key times and in key places) and 21 minutes of competent hockey.
Now, I can't hide the fact that our D wasn't great tonight, but one thing that was encouraging amongst all the confusion was the fact that Markov was the best of the bunch. He managed to get very involved offensively (he almost won it in OT) and played as well as anyone in his own end. It would have been nice if he would have been a bit stronger on McDonald in OT, but you can't blame a guy who just gave you your best chance at 2 points (he had just been robbed). His ice-time was back up tonight (27+) and that is a good sign as generally a good Markov means a good result.
Hearing Brunet call Spacek our #4 tonight was almost as hard to take as when he called Hammer our #3. Gorges is good, folks, but the Czech brothers (tight slacks?) have been very, very good for us all year. In my mind they spent most of the year at #1, #2 and now are fitting in very nicely to the #2 and #3 spots. Tonight it was Jaro's one-timer that found the back of the net to tie it up and for that reason alone I think we need to see him on the PP more and we need to see him get off more shots. He has a great shot, but he also is becoming our best at blocking them - tonight he led the game with 3.
To me Jaro had to start this game as I am getting a bit tired of the lose, you're out plan of attack. Clearly it isn't working and I think the time for games like that must come to an end. Halak has proven, all year (and last) that he is our best chance at winning. Maybe that is because the team scores more for him, maybe because he faces easier shots or maybe because he is better, but at the end of the day he simply wins a higher percentage of games (12.5% higher winning % over the past 2 seasons - that is huge - 1 win/8 games). I just know that the time for trying to prove Price is the future is getting very tiring to sit through as the time for winning is certainly now. Now, for the game itself. Price let in a softy early and looked shaky most of the night, but what did it for me was the wrist-shot in OT. We need those shots to be stopped and the bottom line is I believe we have a goalie that can do that. Losing in OT, on a weak goal, may be an accomplishment against a Western team during the season, but when it matters most we'll need the win instead.
Let's get one thing straight, right off the bat - we played poorly tonight. Our forwards, for the most part were lazy, out of gas and simply bad, our D was its usual disastrous self and Price didn't really inspire back there. It wasn't, however, any one player's fault, it wasn't even the coaches' fault, no, it was everybody's fault. Would Halak have made a difference tonight? Probably not, but why not give it our best shot more than 1/3 of the time? I am not saying that Price is bad, not even saying that Halak is that good, just simply that Halak wins more games and that is what we need. The bottom line, however, is that neither goalie can score when we need a goal, play defence instead of joining in on the run-around or maintain pressure in the offensive zone. We need a full team effort here, we need Gainey to ice a team with more than 10 NHLers on it and less than 8 defenceman, we need Martin to use his legendary 'young-player' skills and get some guys going and most of all we need our players to play like regular, talented, rich, exciting hockey players. St. Louis is not the type of team that in January should be able to come into our arena and have us on our heels. We have one injury of any significance and I still hear that as an excuse. I need to see some forward thinking from all personnel instead of the usual band-aid fixes if we are ever going to do anything with this season. We have the talent, the brains and the passion to be better than this and that is why I'll never lose faith, it would just be nice to see a few of the players, maybe even all of them, share in this belief...maybe even for 60 minutes in a row.