Tuesday, March 20, 2007

3-20-07: Canadiens 1, Bruins 0

Well…uh… that was an adequate game. Yes, that’s it. Both sides played very adequately. Acceptably. Perhaps I might even go so far as to say… um… competently? After all, just because a match is in the very tail end of the season between two teams who desperately need every point to make the playoffs doesn’t mean everyone needs to get all worked up or anything. I mean, it’s only a game, nothing to get excited about.

1. Personally, I blame the Bruins. Sure, people say the Habs play a defensive system, but tonight the Bruins were channeling the evil spirit of the Devils and playing so conservatively that you might as well not even call it hockey. I think I’ll call it ice charades- kinda looks like they’re playing hockey if you squint and use your imagination, but not really.

2. Of course, the Habs came out looking rather like damp Kleenex on skates, so it’s not like they're entirely blameless for this particular bore-o-rama. I know it doesn’t matter because they won, but if I might address them directly for a moment: Guys, I cannot emphasize this enough, you have to bring your power play every single night. Okay, not scoring on the PP is sometimes acceptable, insofar as it might be due to bad bounces or an excellent performance by the opposition goalie, but not getting shots on the PP is inexcusable in the Habs current situation. The power play is the only thing that stands between the Canadiens and total, complete collapse. They cannot afford to have crap power plays, ever, because their even-strength scoring ain’t been around all season and don’t show any signs of coming back. And make no mistake, tonight’s power plays were almost completely crap- a bad sign. PK was good, at least.

3. Bright and dark spots: Latendresse, Lapierre, and Kovalev- who I like to think of as Carbonneau’s After-School Special Line (can’t we all just get along?)- are quite effective. They got the only goal of the evening (GUI!), but more amazing, Kovalev was actually working. Didn’t get anything, but hey, sometimes it’s the thought that counts. Better to see him doing something than nothing. Halak was, obviously, perfect, and many congratulations to him on his first NHL shutout. Higgins made himself copious nice opportunities, but isn’t finishing. Kostitsyn, given how shiny he looked against the Leafs, seemed nervous and made a couple scary-bad decisions- hopefully he’ll rebalance his chi in time for Thursday. Oh, and a very warm welcome back to Bonk- we’ve missed your perma-stubble.

So, not a very exciting game, but it was the win that it absolutely had to be, and maybe it’s a good thing that it was so uneventful- they didn’t exactly tire themselves out, did they? And, with the OT loss to the Isles and the win to the Leafs, the Habs go from 11th to…wait for it… 10th!!! We’re #10!!! We’re #10!!! Whoo-hoo!!! Thank God for the small (very, very small) victories.

5 comments:

kazmojo said...

Lapierre and Latendresse are 4th line regulars. Does that mean Kovy is skating on the 4th line?

I haven't been able to figure out which line is which lately, what with Carbo's tinkerings and injuries/illnesses. Aw, hell, they're playing better so who cares...

E said...

according to rds last night, the lines were:

begin-koivu-ryder
higgins-plekanec-kostitsyn
johnson-bonk-streit
latendresse-lapierre-kovalev

personally, i think the whole ranking of lines is stupid in the first place- i.e. the idea that the top two are sort of higher status than the others, and therefore that kovalev 'shouldn't be playing on a 4th line because it's beneath him'. i did think begin looked a little out of place with ryder and koivu, but kovalev plays well with the kids, and higgins and plekanec seem to be bringing out some kind of goodness in each other (although if they don't score by sunday maybe that one could be tinkered with), so i don't really see a problem with this arrangement. it's unfortunate that gorges and perezhogin are spending so much time sitting out, especially gorges since i'd like to see him get more time to integrate with the team, but i'm not really sure what can be done about it- most of the skaters now are playing like they deserve to be out there.

poor sammy, it's like he doesn't even exist anymore. just send the guy down and get it over with...

Julian said...

Yeah, I think the idea of ranking players as "first liners, second liners," etc and then labelling them as such is something alot of people get from video games.

A much better way to determine how a coach views his players is to see how much icetime they've been getting in each situation. Saying a guy has been "bumped from the first to the third line" doesn't mean much if he's getting increased time on the ice.

kazmojo said...

Yeah, I think you're right. I guess ranked lines are almost traditional, but certainly hasn't worked for the Habs of late.

Early in the year, they had the traditional configuration: two scoring lines, one checking line, one pest/energy/changeup line. Lately, Carbo has mixed up his players (Begin with Koivu and Ryder, Kovy with Lapierre and Latendresse) with more success.

And Julian's right: minutes were fairly evenly divided last night, with only Johnson dipping below 12 mins. No more Downey-like 5 min nights.

Katie O'D said...

It's ok to blame the Bruins completely. Outside of Thomas (again) we weren't really doing anything. At least the Devils do nothing with the intention of winning. We just suck.
Kovalev did seem to be working. That's always a good sign for you guys, even if he's not getting production immediately. Some players are SO good when they work hard, and completely disappear when they don't. Marc Savard and Tyler Arnason come to mind. Both of them, when they actually play hockey for a few games, start looking like stars. If Kovalev keeps skating he'll start scoring too.