Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Leighton (W)
Habs goalscorers: Metropolit, Moore
Opposition goalscorers: Carter (2), Carle
This was indeed a strange game. Our new players added some zest to the lineup as some of the incumbents struggled to adjust. After watching and re-watching the goals, I can't really say that either was worthy of play of the game (save perhaps the instigating Subban rush). For me the play of the game was a composite. The Habs had just turned the puck over and a race developed between a slightly flat-footed O'Byrne and a speedier Flyer. The Flyer with a burst easily sped past Ryan and was closing on a half-breakaway. However, given the close scoreline, Ryan never gave up the race and in maintaining proximity was able to risk a dive and sweep to prevent a shot. In the end, he timed it to perfection and the puck was sent to the corner. The player, however was sent right into the net. Price, with a win in grasp and a an obstacle in the way leapt over the Flyers player (who not surprisingly decided getting up during his fall would be a better way to obstruct). The net result was a defence back in the game and a goalie on his feet -- the play being diffused by a good gamble and perserverance to the cause.
Benoit Brunet is an annoying character. I can't count the times he singled out Gomez as the problem man on the Habs. With each comment I hollered at the screen, "Well who else Ben?" In my opinion, Gomez was by head and shoulders the best Canadiens forward on the night. He gained the zone, passed with that second sense he has and charged into danger areas. Yes he had some giveaways, but show me someone who contributed at the other end and didn't. In fact, had Pouliot been there, Gomez might have come away with 2 or 3 assists. And you know what else? Even if that hadn't happened all night, the simple fact he jumped and then pummeled Kimmo Timonen (with a punching display BGL hasn't seen in his own highlights for near 6 years) was enough for a dome on this night.
Moore was plenty maligned before the contest by fans who are bigger dreamers than they are analysts. I think a game in the bank showed us two things. First, he is a pro player both in the way he came completely prepared to play and in the way he instantly eclipsed the Bulldogs forwards. Second, we've been missing someone who can protect the puck with determination that Moore does, as Max Lapierre and several others are still searching for their way.
Moen rarely gets the chance to make a dome. That's largely because the way he plays, with consistency, is good, but perhaps not enough to surpass people who bring something more special to the table. This game was one of those games where the consistent effort of one player surpassed the many because the many all took a dip at once. Still, Moen deserves the praise when he finds himself here. Against the Flyers he made room for himself, outwitted their D and even got an assist on an ugly goal. He led the team in shots, led forwards in blocked shots and kept the game close by being a steady penalty killer again. You know what you're getting with Travis, and that's good.
Is it just me? Or has Roman Hamrlik grown into quite a player these past 3 years? I would never mean to suggest he's eliminated mistakes from his game -- he makes enough -- but on a team of panicky D playing hot potato, he's the beacon of calm. This game, Roman played that same style. Though he was on the ice for two goals (one real one), he diffused many more scoring situations by simply waiting, by carrying the puck instead of dumping backhand to the blueline, etc. And, once again, he chipped in up front with many rushes and a critical assist during a rare Habs barrage.
PK Subban - Game Puck
Could I be more impressed? A rookie, playing in his first NHL game, on defence, against the Flyers, in Philadelphia... We'd have been happy if he made himself scarce, played the puck safely and played to get through. But PK (I can say that this one time, he played on a PK, albeit reluctantly) took charge after mere minutes. It took him minutes to discover Gill would be content to simply pass the puck to the Flyer in the neutral zone and get off on a change, and he didn't like it. Instead, he played hockey the way he'd always done and didn't seem to think that was a very strange thing to do. One highlight of his game was a spinorama that sent RDS into a tizzy, but it was an intelligent play as the Flyer had no stick. Another was a rush that ended in goal #1. At game end, the rookie D had 3 shots, 6 attempts on goal and quite nearly a fight with a goalie. Am I raving too much? He deserves the plaudits as player of the game.
Carey had a very unusual game, even by his standards. You see, in his usual way he got thrown by misfortune (a shocking ref's call with no review) and lost the plot for a period. During that time, he was brazenly handling the puck, even at times playing it away from his D -- it looked the classic sulk. But in what may be the first bout of veteran composure from the 3-season player yet, he completely banished that Carey. Whereas Carey (Katie) Price would conspire to lose the game, Carey (Carey) Price was determined to win, and gave his team the chance to pull out points right to the final whistle. After he regained himself, the saves were both straighforward and spectacular, the stuff of a true top goalie. He rescued a dome from the clutches of a bench, and for that I applaud him.
What can one really say about this game? The Flyers came out hard, and then harder. Each shift they tested the limit of the refs and their fellow black, white and orange felt the brotherhood. The stand-out example of the interference allowed to pass was that goal -- which I thought Carey had every right to throw a fit about. However, the rule-bending happened all game long. While Canadiens were called while Critiano Ronaldo (oh, sorry, Mike Richards) did what an Olympian vying for a synchronized diving medal does best, the Flyers were subsequently allowed to block non-puck carriers. The refs had a shocker if your standard is a rulebook.
Now, I could go on for days like a first-year Caps fan (is there any other sort?) about the refs, but really I'm done. I'm more annoyed with the Canadiens. When you see your opponent getting away with blue murder, this isn't a signal to put tail between the legs and accept the fate being handed down, it is a signpost to go and play to the same standard. The Habs had many opportunities to obstruct, hold Flyers on the boards, and, yes (horror of horrors) dive. When the Canadiens take to the ice against the Flyers again, I hope they get a better and quicker read on the refs and find the South American in them, before the Flyers parlay another fashion coincidence into more prolonged 9-on-5 situations.