Habs Goalie: Price (W)
Opposition Goalie: Ward (L)
Habs goalscorers: Cammalleri, Weber, Subban, Moen
Opposition goalscorers: None
The game was out of reach for the 'Canes in the third, but with our history, who knows, a goal could have changed things. So, that is why I am choosing a save that Price made. Well, that and the fact that it was our nicest play of the night, bar none. The save came off the stick of Staal after a great pass from Skinner. Price quickly slid left to right to stone the once-dominant (and once non-league worse in +/-) captain.
Pleks is playing hurt, at least I hope that he is. If he isn't then he must be one weak guy because it seems that once or twice a game he is really shaken up by what seems like the lightest of taps. When he has the puck, however, he is all business and it was he who drove the offence early on with 2 assists to give us the 2-goal cushion that proved to be enough.
Mike scored a Cammalleri-type goal early on in this game and seemed to feed off of that throughout the rest of the contest. There wasn't much of note in our own zone, but in the offensive zone, where we need him, he was strong and was part of our best line, a line that simply wore Carolina out. He is another guy who may be hurt, but like Tom, he is proving that even hurt he is much better than the alternative.
I needed a third guy here and had a hard time choosing as my usual selection by process of elimination didn't really get rid of anyone. So, I thought of who I noticed, who stood out on one of the other lines and Moen came to mind. He scored a goal, but I felt did so much more. He played well in the offensive and defensive zones as he played a smart, hard and focused game. I also really enjoyed his hit on Allen in the third, a hit that may not have meant much, but seemed to settle down a player who was running a bit wild on that shift.
Josh Gorges - Game Puck
I don't want to take anything away from Price and you can read about him below, but for me Gorges was the player who really stepped up tonight. This is just a guess (a very educated guess), but I am wiling to say that this was his first NHL game ever in which he was the oldest D-man. That may not sound like much, but let's not forget that he is just 27. He played 10 minutes in the first and set the tone for the whole game in that first frame. He led a very young and extremely inexperienced defensive squad by leading by example. He was an absolute rock in his own end and especially on the PK. The coaches have a lot to be grateful for (as do we fans) as Josh is playing the best hockey of his life right at the time when we desperately need him to.
PK and Weber had great games, but Emelin was the player that I thought was just a bit better than the rest tonight. Maybe it was because he hadn't been put into this role yet and I didn't expect too much, but there was something that really excited me about his play. So far this season, when he has played, he has had limited assignements and usually limited ice-time. Tonight, however, the coaches had no choice and Alexei ran with it. I noticed him on almost all of his shifts as he always seemed involved. Whether it was good, strong break-out passing, winning the puck back, laying hits or blocking shots he was visible. In fact he led the game with 7 blocked-shots and 7 hits. That total of 14 was 7 better than Josh's 7 hits+blocked-shots which says an awful lot about Emelin's game. This is the kind of performance that we had all hoped for; let's hope that it is the kind of preformance that we keep getting.
Carey was great tonight and I never felt that the 'Canes could score a goal let alone win the game. This was his first shutout of the year and quite possibly the easiest game he has played all season. The Habs scored 4 goals for the first time this month and this Carolina team looked to be about the worst competition that we have faced in our first 18 games. A goalie still has to make the saves that he is asked to make and that increased in the third as our 'defensive' system meant more shots for them, more time in our zone. Price has been hot lately and I wouldn't be surprised if this shutout is the first of a few to come in the coming weeks and months.
The Habs needed an easy win, a win that didn't go down to the wire, in which we could play our own way and not have to scramble in the third (and possibly OT) to get the two points. Tonight's opponent offered us the game we dreamed of. A pretty pathetic looking Hurricane team came to play tonight, a team that still is happy to say that they won the cup in 2006, but that hasn't done anything (save one good draft pick) to improve on that unlikely (thanks Justin Williams) win. I don't want to take anything way from Montreal, though. We played a good game and got contribution from all 19 players. This is a team that has 7 points in its last 4 games, a team that is stubbornly playing its type of hockey and is getting the results to back it up. A team, that I can now say with certainty, is back on the right track.
I didn't like the penalties tonight as it seemed like a bit of a return to that start of the season for us. Here we are in a non-rough game and we are taking penalty after penalty, usually of the weak variety. What I did like, however, was the work of our D, our penalty-killers and the PP. Tomorrow we face another weak team on the Island which is good timing considering our defensive-corps situation. A win in that game would put us just one point out of first in our division (just imagine we held on to beat Buffalo in regulation) and would put us into the playoff picture at long last. There is no reason for us to not believe that we can keep winning after watching tonight's game, let's just hope that the players can remember to do tomorrow what they did so well today.