Friday, February 20, 2009

Another solid effort

credit Habs inside/out

You can’t ask for much more. Against the red hot Wings, the Canadiens played a very solid game. From start to finish I saw a team that understood what it took to win games. Finally! Even when Detroit opened the machine in third period, the Montreal players didn’t panic. They nearly scored but the goal was called back since the puck never entered the net. I would love to see the Habs take control of the third period when they lead by three goals but against a team as good as Detroit, it was a very solid effort. But let’s start back from scratch.

After a first period that ended up scoreless, Lapierre scored with a shot from the corner while Kovalev was fighting it out with Lidstrom who ended up deflecting the puck in his own net. For the past two or three games Kovy started to go back to the net even if it means getting hit behind the back of the head (think Mark Streit in overtime last game who took Kovy’s helmet off). Kovalev was also a big part of the second goal with a nice three way passing game between him Markov and Plekanec who scored on a sharp one timer. Conklin couldn’t do much about that one. And then Higgins made it 3-0 after him, Koivu and Kostopoulos buzzed in front of the net for quite some time.

My favourite part about the first two period was Andrei Kostitsyn hitting Hossa hard at the blue line. Hossa spent two players trying to get retribution from a legal hit, got a penalty for his efforts and it’s on that penalty that Plek scored the game winner. Andrei does a lot of little things that don’t appear on the score sheet and that was one of them. He also tried his laser screened shot entering the zone but Conklin got a pad on it.

O’Byrne played more game that I would have gave him (I would have aimed for about 14 minutes) and played a solid game overall but for the 8th game in a row he did a mistake that directly cost a goal. In this case he played the puck instead of the man and you can’t do that against a player as talented as Franzen. He’ll make you pay. He did. O'Byrne has some potential but he'll have to do less mistakes than that. This is becoming an habit and it has to stop.

Josh Georges impresses me more every game. He was solid and won most of his battles in the corners against guys bigger and more talented. He is by far the player who helped the most negate the Komisarek injury. Markov was back to his usual self and that’s a good thing. Hopefully he’ll offer another solid outing when asked to check his buddy Ovechkin on Friday. Strangely enough Hamerlik seemed a bit off his game today. Nothing specific I could talk about, just some weird positioning.

The Captain is really showing he is underrated. At one point in third period the Habs were short handed and he asked Higgins to go around Detroit’s winger to get the puck he’d force back. The play worked and nearly created a scoring opportunity. Higgins was also very good today and Kostopoulos worked better than I expected on that line when asked to replace Tanguay, injured. From what I heard it was a neck injury but we’ll have the official “upper body injury” version tomorrow.

Carey Price was very good again, as predicted. When he position himself to stop the deflection of a shot, he just amaze me. An athlete like him want to prove he can beat Detroit. He did it in preseason. He did it in season. You know what he want to prove now.

Overall a great game. Not perfect but considering the way the team was playing a week ago, I’ll stay on my usual positive side and see that as I said after the last game: I’m happy to report the Habs are back on the right track.

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