Habs Goalie: Halak (L)
Opposition Goalie: Ward (W)
Habs goalscorers: Gionta, Bergeron
Opposition goalscorers: Staal (3), Larose (2)
Not much to be too happy about tonight, but there was one play that I really liked. The play was our second goal which came 11 seconds after we went down by 2, it was the goal that restored my hope (note that there wasn't much belief tonight, just hope). The play started when Gionta stripped a Hurricane player of the puck in our end. He then hit Gomez who was about ready to leave the zone with some speed. In Scott went with the suddenly 20-minute man, MAB. A quick pass and a quicker shot was all it took to beat Ward, it was just too bad that we had so little of that going all night.
Listen, I didn't like the way that Brian played in the biggest of games either, but you tell me who else you would have? At the end of the day he picked up 2 points and had the D and Halak done their work we may have forgotten that he too played poorly. Putting him on a line with Cammalleri was yet another way that Martin has found to get nothing out of Mike as it seems Camms' problem may just be himself.
Dom didn't score tonight and didn't do too much offensively, but he did do what a 3rd line, enegry centre is meant to do and for that I am happy. He did, however, do a lot on Gionta's goal and, considering we only had a handful of chances tonight, was one of our more dangerous players thanks to that play alone. For some reason Sergei was benched tonight, maybe he played badly, but I thought Moore's other winger, Moen, was possibly our worst forward all night and wondered why he wasn't riding the pine express himself.
Like Moore, Max played with energy. I felt that for a 4th liner he played fine and, although a goal would have been nice, I didn't expect him to win this one for us tonight. Finding him real linemates may help as we head into the most important game in 12 months as playing him with a 'defenceman' is a waste of what that line could and should be.
DefencemenRoman Hamrlik - Game Puck
Roman was the one player that I actually felt played well tonight. That is good news if (no longer when) we get to the playoffs as we clearly need more than 1 or 2 guys back there who know what they are doing (at best we have 4, most nights we have 2). He contributed offensively, managed to stay even and played the most minutes of any Hab.
Josh played a sound game and chose to never get caught. He also chose to play defence which is something most of his teammates (his partner Hal Gill in particular) chose not to do. I feel that Gorges could be a good player for us if we make it in as he has been solid down the stretch and, other than last game, rarely plays poorly.
OK, Jaro's D was bad and we didn't exactly light the world on fire with goals, but you know what, what else is new? Maybe the standards for Halak are too high, but we needed a win tonight and he couldn't steal one for us. He wasn't brutal, but too many rebounds made it hard for his teammates to bail him out this time. Now the question becomes who to play on Saturday for the biggest game? I think that you have to go back to Halak as he is your man, but he has to be better as does the whole team or the arguments for 'playoff-starter' won't matter one bit.
So, in the biggest game and when we need things to happen for us Martin's plan seems to be to have MAB on all of the time and as a defender to boot. How is it that the best they have for us is putting on a player, who has no clue what to do in his own end, for 8+ minutes in the third? If that is your best option why have you waited till game 81 to go for it? This game was a game of changes as Martin thought he would get the most out of his non-benched players by benching others. The problem, however, is that while O'Byrne, Pouliot and Sergei were being benched they saw much worse hockey from the likes of Gill, Bergeron and Moen. How do you think that makes those players feel or how do you think the team would respond? Not well apparently as all of the line changes had no real positive impact on the game and simply sends us to our next game in a bit of a mess. Last week we won games on defence alone, but tonight we decided that we needed offence, offence and more offence. That didn't mean we would do anything dangerous, it just meant that the lines would be mixed in the hope of striking gold. Last week I spoke about our team being able to drag around 3 boat-anchors while finding ways to win games, tonight those 3 duds were a main reason we lost. Every pinch was mal-timed, every 2-on-1 coverage done wrong as this was the type of game that you must forget. We can easily get into the playoffs and do so on a high, but we have to go back to what works for us and I am pretty sure that isn't what Martin tried tonight.