Location: New York
Habs Goalie: Halak (W)
Opposition Goalie: Lundqvist (L)
Habs goalscorers: Metropolit, S. Kostitsyn, Plekanec
Opposition goalscorers: Avery
This wasn't a flashy game from either team, but it seemed that the Habs held the upper-hand throughout. It also seemed that whenever they needed something to go their way it did. A good example, and my play-of-the-game, is Plekanec's goal in the dying seconds. We were down two men at that point in the game (Lundqvist was pulled) so that meant shooting on the open cage was a possibility. It also meant that New York would have a very good chance to secure at least one point and possibly rob us of one ourselves. So, I was happy, in this case, to see Martin put out some of his best PK elements (Pleks, Moen, Gorges, Gill) to save the points for us. The play started with a chip up the boards by Gill, Pleks then pressured Del Zotto at the line which led to a break for him. Tomas then waited until he had a clear shot, then, just by their blue-line, he put it into the heart of the net to win the 4-point game by that very margin.
Sergei wasn't as good as he was last week, but he still played a strong game. I thought that he was the best player on his line throughout the game as he, once again, brought life to our third unit. A highlight for him was his 6th goal of the season which ended up being a lucky goal after quite a bit of hard work. He also did the job on the PK and was a big reason why the Rangers went 0/5 on their PP.
Tomas Plekanec - Game Puck
Pleks capped off a nice game with an empty-netter that may just prove to be one of the biggest goals of the year. Aside from the goal he played a strong game, especially in his own end and in the neutral zone. He was used more than any other forward on the PK (3:41) and was a very impressive 12-4 on face-offs.
Brian had a pretty quiet game, but not quite as quiet as his linemates who never really got too involved tonight. Quiet by Brian's standards, however, doesn't necessarily mean bad, it just means not as great. Despite not collecting a point he still managed to lead the team in both shots and takeaways with 8 and 3 respectively.
Not needed, not used. Martin stuck to the game-plan tonight by only using Markov when needed, yet again - this time it was for less than 20 minutes. The management of Andrei's time down the stretch may just be the thing that I am most excited about as we head towards the Spring. A fresh Markov, at his best, is what we missed last year and is what has made us a very good team, for long periods, over the past 3 or 4 years. He still managed to be our best defender tonight and picked up an assist and 4 shots in the process.
Roman played 3 minutes more than any other Hab tonight and deserved every minute. He was very strong with and without the puck and played well with Spacek - they, again, made our best pairing. Hammer will have to be good for us over the next few weeks if we are to make anything of this season, for now that looks like a very good possibility.
Jaro let in one tonight, a deflection, but all, in all had a pretty quiet game. He still had to be on, however, as a bad outing would have likely ended in a loss. He faced 20 shots and 5 Power-Plays, but really seemed like he had little to do. He will benefit from a few days off before hopefully taking us to the 80-point plateau on Saturday.
I always like when Montreal can head into a building that has very little emotion and find a way to win. I wish that we could win every game 6-0 and play with tons of energy, but at the end of the day as long as you are better than the opposition in doesn't really matter. So, when I saw that New York had very little going for them tonight I was happy that the Habs still managed to find their own game, even if it wasn't their best. No one player on the team was bad tonight, but no one, apart from a few standouts, was at their best either. After 6 wins it wouldn't surprise me if Toronto, somehow, found a way to rise up and beat us and, so, I see Saturday's game as a big test. We have to prove that we can win all sorts of games and beating the Leafs, in Toronto is something that doesn't always come easy - I think that it is about time that we make that a priority. We can probably take the team and the fans out of the game early if we start strong again, but I can assure you that even after 4 days off that will not be a gimme 2 points.