First thing’s first. The Blues are survived the first round of the Champions League. Yes, you would have thought that would be a given, considering they were the finalists last year and were leading in the Premier League. Well, then things changed and Chelsea went on a losing streak that was no fun at all and suddenly they got knocked out of the top spot in the Premier League and they’re future in the Champions League was in danger. So it was almost do or die today for the Blues as they hosted something-that-involves-a-lot-of-letters-and-numbers Cluj. A win would gaurantee a safe passage into the next round while a tie would have been acceptable as long as Bordeaux lost to Roma. Considering how Bordeaux and Roma have been playing the Champions League, I think there was little doubt that Chelsea could have survived on a tie. But who wants to say that they went through into the next round due to the results of the other game in your group? Nobody. Especially not last year’s finalists.
I didn’t think that Chelsea exactly came out running. In fact I was concerned that Cluj would actually capitilize on all their chances to score. As it was, things turned out differently, starting when Chelsea pulled out the first goal in the 40th minute of the first half. Kalou took advantage of a penalty shot (is that what you call them in football? I’m so hopeless with sports terminology) that came sailing into a large crowd of players and kicked the ball into the back of the net. Absolutely beautiful. The happy feeling didn’t last too long into the second half however. Cluj’s Panin made a brilliant pass across the field which was headed into the back of the net by…. Kone…I think… I dunno the names of all the players. Anyway, after that goal it looked for a bit like Chelsea was going to die but then they picked things up again and Drogba netted another goal for the Blues. It looked for a while like the goal was actually kicked in by one of the Cluj defenders but a different camera angle seemed to show that Drogba did indeed hit it in. Yay! It was pretty much smooth sailing to the finish line. Chelsea could have gone to the next around anyway as Roma trounced Bordeaux just like we thought they would. Pooh.
My TV and newspaper decided to be exceptionally mean to me today because I didn’t even know that Liverpool was playing until the station that was showing the Chelsea vs. Cluj game said that someone from Liverpool had scored. I wasn’t too pleased with that. But the Reds (these poor English teams really need to come up with better nicknames for their teams!) ran over PSV after they woke up and decided that you can’t lose to a team named PSV. I always think of TVP when I see that team. TVP is “textured vegtable protein” in case you didn’t want to know. Anyway, Liverpool was already through and it was just a matter of seeing how many points they could end up with. They finished on top of their group. Yay!
Anywhoo…. The Flames are trying to run over the Habs right now and it’s almost working… be back later…
Later: So much for the Habs getting run over by the Flames. Habs 4 Flames 1. I’m liking how the Habs are playing lately. I don’t know what’s going on but I would have to say that the addition of Matt D’Agostini has to play in there somehow. I don’t know if it’s how he plays or if it’s just the mere fact that he’s there and trying that’s getting everyone going, but whatever is happening it’s working so far. I really hope this whole thing continues into the new year and through to the playoffs.
Anyway….I missed most of the first half of the first period which included Lang’s goal (which after seeing the replay, technically went off the skate of one of the defense dudes but whatever. A goal’s a goal) but when I tuned in, I got to see the Habs looking like they were getting run over by the Flames. There’s a reason why Calgary has been on a roll which included blanking the Rangers the other night, and I was seriously concerned about how the Habs would do. It seems to me that lately everytime they put Halak in nets it’s because they feel like they’re going to get an easy game and then they play horribly and Halak looks like an idiot. From what I saw the Flames were all over the Habs in the first period. Halak and Kiprusoff were just amazing in the first period. It didn’t look like anything was going to get past Kirprusoff. That was until Matt D’Agostini got a breakaway early in the second period. He put the puck around the goalie who had come out and was lying flat on the ice, and scored. Dude, I hope this guy keeps this up because he’s now got four goals in the last four games. Fantastic.
Sadly, much like the Chelsea vs Cluj game however, the happy feelings didn’t last too long. Two minutes later the Habs attempt to score but the Flames pick up the puck and race down the ice. Iginla makes a nice pass to… Boyd who puts the puck over Halak’s shoulder. I wasn’t too pleased with that one considering how none of the Habbies seem to notice that Iginla was waiting practically behind them to be given the puck. Boo. I had then had to suffer through a pile of almost shots until Lang came to the rescue. Thanks to a pass from.. Kovalev, I think…doesn’t matter too much, anyway, thanks to the pass that came as Lang was conviently standing in front of the net, he puts it over Kirprusoff and it was then 3-1. The scoring finished with a goal by Markov from the blueline in the middle of the third period. And that was practically that, despite the fact that the Flames made a really good effort to score more towards the end of the third period. Actually for most of the third period it was mostly the Habs looking good. Which was nice. The end of the game got messy when it looked like Markov tripped a Flames dude. A fight immediately ensued between a pile of people for no real reason because it wasn’t like Phaneuf was hurt or anything – and people were sent off the ice. Calgary also got a penalty for “abuse of officials” which seems to me like it involved Keenan who complaining an awful lot. It didn’t matter because the Flames couldn’t score and Halak didn’t look like an idiot at all. Yay!
The good: Habs beat the Flames who have been on.. well, fire, lately. They did a good job of keeping them from getting too many really good chances at scoring. And of course D’Agostini has been great lately. And Komisarek is still standing behind the bench as the Habs official cheerleader. You go dude!
The interesting: Minus D’Agostini’s goal, the Habs goal’s involved Lang, Kovalev, Markov and Tanguay. Kovalev looked good out there tonight and I think it’ shouldn’t be too long before he gets another goal. With Tampa Bay sitting in the bottom of the League, this should be a good opportunity for the Habs to get a pile of goals. In theory.
The bad: Higgins and Dandenault went off the ice with injuries. This is the second time in as many games that Dandenault has gone off with injuries. The last one wasn’t serious and I’m really hoping that neither of them are serious this time around.
The really bad: Apparently Dandenault has suffered a broken arm. Great. He’ll be sidelined for at least a few months now. I suppose Carbo will be considering calling up another defensemen-dude……No news on Higgins yet.
The sad part: Tanguay didn’t score against his old team. He had a good chance in the first period but got stoned by Kiprusoff. At least he did well and his old team didn’t try too hard to kill him (although Calgary did take a penalty after someone rammed Tanguay into the boards from behind).
About that powerplay…. It was actually good tonight. Well, compared to most nights anyway. They came up with a lot of good chances which were stopped by a really good Kiprusoff. Same goes for the Flames on their powerplay chances: good chances but they ultimately didn’t do anything. Oh well. Tonight’s really not the night to be whining about the powerplay.