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Game 18: Habs/Flyers

  • There is a tendency, when writing a game preview or game blog to over-state the importance of a single game. If I look back at the game blogs that I’ve written in the past year it is difficult to find one in which the words “huge”, “important”, or “critical” aren’t used.   This can be at least partially attributed to league-wide parity: given that on any night you’re just as likely to see a “weaker” opponent beat a “strong” one than at almost any point in the history of the NHL. Mainly however, this grave sense of importance can be attributed to our own desire to see our team move un-inhibited to the top of the standings.

    The Flyers have been remarkably good to start the season. Anyone who watched last night’s contest against the Ottawa Senators watched a very confident team systematically dismantle a club that had recently regained it’s confidence. They were that good. They are getting solid contributions from every part of their lineup – not to mention outstanding goaltending from the previously unknown Sergei Bobrovsky, the Russian goaltender who speaks no English except apparently: “Get that S#%@ outta here!”. Bobrovsky went 9-22-3 with  Novokuznetsk of the KHL last season. Where the hockey sticks is Novokuznetsk you might wonder? Pick a part of Russia half way between Moscow and Siberia and its sorta there-ish. The 22 yeear old, 9 game winner from last season is currently leading the world’s best hockey league in wins – with 2 more than he got in all of his 35 starts in the KHL last season. To say he came from no-where is the understatement of the year.

    Do not underestimate the Flyers. They are riding high. They are scoring all kinds of goals – 19 more than us through 18 games. They are getting fantastic goaltending – from their 22 year old goalsky with a .934 save percentage. They are being responsible – allowing only 2 more goals than your Canadiens though having played 1 more game. They’re like Washington – with goaltending and defense. That is a scary thought.

    So how important is tonight’s game? At the beginning of this post I almost wrote that this game was the biggest of the year so far for the Canadiens. Optically it is immense. Realistically though? Its game 18 of 82+. What tonight is might just be a fantastic test against a very good opponent. A measuring stick maybe. The Bell Centre will be rocking with 22,000 strong looking for a measure of revenge for last year’s playoffs.

    One thing it should be is fun to watch.

  1. #1 Mats Naslund says:
    November 17, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    A fantastic win last night for the Habs. Its hard not to get caught up in the cr@p that happened in the 3rd period by a frustrated Flyers squad. Equally difficult not to lose patience with their fans who must have watched a different game last night if they think PK Subban was the villain. I won’t get involved with that though. One team scored 3 goals, played a fantastic defensive game and got timely saves from their goalie. The other didn’t. People are re-writing history if they think Price ‘stole’ this game. He was huge – don’t get me wrong. But you don’t beat a team 3-0 by a fluke.

    That was a team win if I ever saw it. When we led 1-0 shots were 9-5 Canadiens. The pressure we put on them caused them to take 2 early penalties. We cashed in. The lofty shot total for Philadelphia is a function of having to push to tie the score. They couldn’t because Price stopped everything, and on the few rebounds that did come, Montreal defenders quickly cleared the puck. The most telling stat is shots in the 3rd period. When Philly really needed to push, they were outshot 9-8. Montreal won that game – not because of a godlike goaltending performance (again – Carey was fantastic) but because the better team seized control when they needed to.

    Not a bad night at the office for the Tomas Plekanec, Michael Cammalleri, Brian Gionta trio. 6 points in total. They outplayed anyone wearing an orange jersey. It was also a huge step up game from Roman Hamrlik and Jaro Spacek – who have quietly re-gained their post-season steadiness from last season. Any reservations I had about them are gone.

    I could go on – but I will not. Fantastic game from our team. The type of performance that we’re coming to expect. Go Habs Go!!

  2. I agree that Spacek and Hamrlik played great but we cannot continue to play these guys 23-25 minutes a game, we tried it last year and they faulter,not becuase they are bad defenceman but because we wore them out. That means that Picard and Subban have to play more minutes than 13-15 minutes a game, they have to get three to four more minutes a game ouf of these two young defenceman and that time has to come off Hamrlik and Spacek’s totals. If we accomplish that these six defenceman should be able to carry the load based on our defensive system that we are using.

    I also agree that the habs simply out played the Flyers in this game, it certainly helped that Price had a great game as well, but then again he is part of the team, and controlled his rebounds and those that did get free were cleared by the defence.

    As for our goal scoring that is what the top line is supposed to do score important goals. We better be prepared for a nasty team when we play them again next week. One thing we did show them though is that we are not going to be pushed around. We stood up to them when we had to. Even Lapierre fought when he had to, although he still needs some work on his technique.

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