Saturday, December 09, 2006

12-9-06: Sabres 3, Canadiens 2

Le Hockey du Samedi Soir: another heart-attack game. I suppose it would have been a bit ambitious to expect the Habs to pummel the Sabres into a gooey pink mess, wouldn’t it? Realistically, I should probably just be proud that the Canadiens proved that they can play at the same level as the conference leaders for the full duration. But the Sabres have been looking like a much more beatable team these days, so I had high hopes.

  1. In some ways, this played out like a kind of archetypal Good Game between Worthy Adversaries. Almost everything was painfully even from end to end, both teams played fast and aggressive, both goaltenders were implacable, same number of shots on goal, same number of goals, another shootout. The Habs dominated the first period, but lost their momentum in the beginning of the second with two nearly back-to-back penalties to Komisarek. After that, it was close for the remainder. The Sabres had better 5 on 5 (which isn’t a surprise), but both their power play and their penalty killing were weak.
  2. It was a pretty physical game, but mostly in a cleanish way- just a lot of everybody getting up in everybody else’s face, like neither team wanted to give the opposition any space to maneuver. There were a couple of strange incidents with Rivet and Briere, though- if you know any Montreal fans, expect to hear quite a bit of Briere’s-a-diver complaining in the next couple of days. Personally, I reserve judgment, mostly because watching so much RDS has given me a soft spot for talkative Quebecois players, and also because I have a natural sympathy for people who constantly have their value questioned because they’re small. Whether or not Briere was diving (and according to the refs, he was on at least one occasion), and whatever the reasons Rivet has for disliking him, he still shouldn’t have let himself be provoked into taking silly penalties.
  3. If anybody really stood out in this game, it was definitely Miller- I mean, he took the shootout for the Sabres, but he made the game tough for the Canadiens from the first moment to the last. The guy has beautiful rebound control, and given how much better the Habs have been exploiting rebounds these days, that kept them from getting a lot of opportunities.
  4. Souray had one of his great-moment games, with a goal that nearly perfectly replicated the one he got in overtime during the last Sabres game. Maybe they should start watching for that one in future. However, he also nearly hobbled Koivu with a shot to the leg, and then had to leave the game himself with a mysterious wrist injury. Koivu is apparently fine and played the rest of the game, no idea if Souray is. Ryder and Kovalev have (fingers crossed) shaken the worst of their problems and are beginning to pick up points and other useful things, but Samsonov continues to play better each game and still not get anything for it. Streit (one of our too-many-defensemen) has been playing as a forward on the 4th line and has 2 assists in 2 games, so probably he’ll stay there. Cristobal Huet: like a Murakami story, only on skates.

So, losing is always a disappointment, but you know what’s nice? Boston, Toronto, and Ottawa all lost in regulation today, so the Canadiens hold solid at 2nd in the division. Not that I’m comforting myself with the misfortunes of others, but, well… okay, I am. Also, Higgins was skating with the team today, which is good to see, because there’d been so little news we were starting to fear that he’d contracted gangrene. Looks like he’ll be back next week, possibly in time for the Coming of The Venerable Sidney. Speaking of which, given the promotion of the upcoming Pens-Caps (pen caps!) game as a battle royale between Ovechkin and Crosby, I think we should just skip the game, put the two kids in a giant glass jar, shake it around a bit and see if they’ll fight. Isn’t that what everyone wants to see anyway?

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