Saturday, January 5, 2008

What a Game

Look, the Habs should have won.

They were the better team and although Carbo and Chris Higgins didn't put it on him, Carey Price lost them this game. He might have been rusty, but you need to make some of those saves. His defence, as Blogmaster Mike Boone of pointed out, is using a system that allows opposing forwards to enter the zone at full speed and take quality shots. He is beaten high on about 75% of the goals he allows.

Clearly Rollie Melanson's system of getting his goalies to go down early has its flaws. Price should have had at least two of the Washington goals and possibly three.

The Canadiens need to stop taking stupid penalties in the offensive zone. Saku Koivu seems to take on per game. Maxim Lapierre took one. It's a lot harder to kill stupid penalties than the ones that save goals.

That said, the Habs are looking real good. REAL good.

Here are my positives:

-Michael Ryder is a physical presence and has regained the confidence that made him effective. His defensive shortcomings, which were so evident in the last few years, are less obvious. He's hitting, making smart passes and working hard every shift. He is on a line that is responsible for shutting down the opposition's best, and they have done a good job so far. They're not going to score as much but they are providing a solid two-way game.

-Anderi Kostitsyn scored what was, in my opinion, the Habs goal of the year, undressing the Caps Mike Green before roofing it on Olaf Kolzig. That was unbelievable, as were several of the habs goals. Andrei is starting to emerge as a star player in this league. Was the promotion of his little brother the kick in the ass he needed?

-Alex Kovalev is unbelievable. Anyone who questions his heart is way out of line. This guy wants to win and is on his way to his best season since he quarterbacked a power play in Pittsburgh that featured Mario Lemieux (The Greatest of all Time) and Jaromir Jagr. He already has as many goals as he did last year. The pass to Tomas Plekanec on the Habs first goal was vintage Kovy. He is out there every single game competing, throwing hits and giving his team quality shifts. Without a doubt, the MVP of this hockey team.

-At the halfway point of the season, the Canadiens look like one of the better teams in a very competitive Eastern Conference.

-Guy Carbonneau is a top-tier NHL coach. It took a while for him to really come into his own, but he has.

-This team doesn't give up. There's a lot of heart and they're doing what the slogan above the door to the Bell Centre ice tells them to do.


I am filled with a rare hope after watching a loss. The Canadiens are good.

And Canada's Juniors won gold.

As Ice Cube put it, today was a good day.

Oh, and Alex Ovechkin wouldn't admit it, but after hearing the roar the fans at the Bell Centre gave him following his selection as the game's first star, he definitely realized that he wants to be immortalized as a member of the Club de Hockey Canadien.

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