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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Post Game Quick Hits: Habs 3 - Caps 4 (SO)

Wow, what a game and what a comeback and what an unfortunate tying goal by Caps with 11 seconds to go and what a heartbreaking loss in the shootout. Ummm, ya. The Habs basically came out flat in the first period and Washington used their speed to back up the Montreal defence. It resulted in a 2 - 0 Caps lead, and it would have been even worse had Price not played another solid game. This match, in many ways, came down to Price vs. Ovechkin and the two of them did not disappoint!

Ok, on with my observations from the game...

1 - Carey Price has found a new gear. This can no longer be called a streak. Price has simply taken his game to another level. He looks calm, cool and collected in the net but also displays the intensity needed to succeed as an elite goalie in this league. When Markov went down in the first game of the season, everyone said that in order for Montreal to have ANY chance, Price was going to have to carry them. Well, in his last 7 games, Price has let in 3 or less goals, per game. He is centainly doing his part! Interesting fact: Steve Yzerman was in attendance at the game, scouting for team Canada for the olympics. Given his rebirth, does Price get consideration as the thrid goalie for Team Canada?

2 - Roman Hamrlik continues to be one of the unsung heros of this team. Playing more than 20 minutes a night, every night, Hamrlik is better compared to a metronome than a hockey player. Constant, constant, constant. He is a stabilizing force on the blue line and is Montreal's best defenceman game in and game out.

3 - In the two games Montreal has played against the Caps, Spacek has done a phenomenal job of shutting down and shadowing Ovechkin. Yes, Ovy scored tonight, but the number of times that Spacek shut him down or took the puck away or block one of his shots, could have been the difference between losing in shootout or in regulation.

4 - Sergei Kostitsyn looks like a new player. He puts his head down and works, shift after shift. He makes great defensive players, dusplays excellent vision on the ice, and is, generally speaking, a key contributor on the team and will continue to be until at least the injured players come back. That brings up another quandry, and that is what do you do with Sergei when Andrei K, Gionta and Gomez are back?

5 - Ovechkin is simply a stupifying player. Unbelievably fast, incredible strength, wicked shot...this guy can do it all, and that was evidenced as he undressed Marc-Andre Bergeron and almost scored. This guys is a treat to watch every time he steps on the ice and hockey is a better game with him in it. Now if we could only get him to sign in Montreal!

6 - Montreal has to stop taking stupid penalties. From the MaxPac penalty less than 3 mins into the game to Mara's penalty with less that 20 seconds left in a 3-2 game, Montreal takes too many bad, untimely penalties and they have to stop. If not for Mara's penalty, Montreal would likely have won this game in regulation. Sadly, however, the Caps won the o-zone faceoff and scored the tying goal with 11.2 seconds left in the game, to force overtime. No goals in overtime led to the shootout where Backstrom was the only player to score for either team, and the Caps sealed the deal.

The bottom line is that Montreal, a team decimated by injuries, was down 2-0 in the first and Price held them in the game long enough to get their offence going. While the second point in the standings would have been great, there were a lot of positives to take out of this game, not the least of which is that Montreal continues to win and/or get points with one third of their regular players out of the lineup. I don't know how, but Jacques Martin is performing miracles with this lineup. Let's hope the miracles keep rolling in December!

K.

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