Habs take revenge on Panthers for Pens in SO

First off, let me say this: I hate afternoon games. Unless they’re tennis or football, I hate games that take place in the afternoon. Believe it or not, I actually like to do things in the afternoon that don’t involve sports and it just feels wrong to be sitting in front of the TV when it’s still light out. Yes, I could choose not to watch the game at all but like I’m really going to go for that option….

Second, yes, I”m still griping about that 6-1 defeat that the Pens had. And YES I would have preferred if the Habs had won a different way but I’m getting to that point in a second.

In a nutshell here’s how the game went: First half: Habs played well. Habs died. Second period: Habs lived. Third period: Habs died. OT: Habs half played well. SO: Markov lived. Panthers died.

Anyway, I actually liked how the Habs came out in the first half of the first period. They looked well, perky and awake. They had some quality shots on goal that were stopped by Anderson and just looked like it was only a matter of time before a goal went in. Well, time past and guess who scored not once but twice? Yeah, the Panthers.

I’m killing Crosby in my mind for not doing more damage to Brett McLean yesterday because he was the one who got the first goal. I mean c’mon, Sid. You get into your second NHL fight, take 19 minutes worth of penalties for that fight and you don’t even injure the guy?! Thanks for nothing!!! Before anyone starts dissing me, I’m not really being that serious…

But anyway… Hadn’t we seen this movie before? I’m sure Crosby would say so if he had seen that first period instead of trying to figure out just what the heck is happening to his team.

[mini rant]

I’m going to get this out right now. The team does NOT play well when Halak is in nets. I don’t know if it’s because they don’t have the same confidence in him as they do when Price is in nets or what, but things were definitely shaky throughout the first period for Halak. Again. I wish I could defend him because I honestly feel bad for him and I know he’s been very capable of stepping in for Price, but tonight – this afternoon, pardon – he wasn’t as good again. The way I see it – and I’m not saying I’m right – but if a team doesn’t have confidence in their goalie then they can’t perform well up front because at the back of their minds is always going to be the thought “if I let the other guys get the puck and they go to the net, will there be a goal”? It also works the other way around I think too. If the goalie doesn’t feel like his team can trust him to do his job then he won’t do his best either. It’s a circle that definitely sucks.

Someone at Habs Inside/Out wrote that for every flukey goal that Price lets in – and let’s be honest, he lets in at least one a game – he always comes up with at least five or six very big saves. He knows he can make those saves and his team knows he can make those saves. They have confidence in him. Halak on the other hand, lets in one flukey or a soft goal and everyone else wonders if he will let in another one or two and cost them the game (never mind that the offense often doesn’t work when Halak is in nets but that’s related). I can’t speak for what goes on in Halak’s mind but I have to wonder just how much confidence he has in himself at some points in the game. Maybe it’s just me but I could have sworn that there’s been moments in the last two games where Halak looks downright lost at times. What Halak needs is 60 minutes of solid play and a solid win. He can play better than this. We’ve seen it. We know it. Everyone else should know it too.

[end of mini rant]

But enough about the goaltending. Back to the game.

In first break Carbo must have said something about not wanting to turn out a performance like the Pens did against the Panthers because the Habs exploded. Not the Crosby type of explode. The goal scoring type of explode (which is a lot better than the Crosby type of explode). 19 shots on goal provided 4 unanswered goals by Boullion, Andrei Kostsitsyn, Kostopoulos and Lang. Boullion’s goal from the blue line was fantastic as it went right past Anderson’s left hand. I think it may have taken a bounce off of one of the defenseman or else Anderson completely misjudged the puck. But I particularly loved Kostitsyn’s goal 28 seconds later because it was a direct result of Anderson making a huge error. He came out – not behind the net, up front – of the net to clear the puck and promptly lost it to Lang, who passed it to Sergei who then passed it to his brother, who then scored on a half open net. Pure beauty. And the ickle Kostitsyn got an assist. Finally. Kostopoulous’ goal looked like it might not have counted because he was right in front of Anderson and I think he might have knocked him over before he put the puck past him but it was counted. Being the biased person that I am, I won’t complain that Kostopoulous should have been called for obstruction. And then Lang made things really nice by getting a breakaway and scoring on Anderson too.

Of course after that I had to wonder if the Habs were going to go back to sleep on me in the third and they sort of did. Radek Dvorak scored a short handed goal when the Habs messed up on a line change but Andrei Kostsitsyn put things right again soon after by getting a drop dead gorgeous goal on Anderson. See the replay. But then things went downhill again and the Panthers took two more goals including one that Halak really couldn’t have saved. He was half way in the net with Gorges sprawled out in front of him. He couldn’t have moved at all and Dvorak put the puck past him.

The fans definitely were not happy with that and I really wasn’t happy either. The team had that game in regulation time and they lost it. The TEAM lost it. Not Halak. The TEAM. Everyone was to blame. Dvorak should not have had that goal. Halak should have stopped that one on Cullimore and the whole team should have cleared the puck for that third one instead of letting Halak get peppered with shots.

I’m too tired to list all the chances the Habs had of taking the game in regulation time and in OT but in the end the game had to be settled by shootouts.

And what a mess that was. Tavares and Eberle made everyone today look downright awful.

Stillamn missed Halak completely as he lost control of the puck. Kovalev hit the post. Horton shot it right at Halak. Andrei Kostitsyn lost control of the puck as well, though at least his shot made it to the goalie. Frolik hit either hit Halak on the arm or he hit the post – I couldn’t see properly – and Halak had no idea where the puck was (hint: if no one is booing, it’s not in). And finally it was Markov who rescued the Habs with a backhand past Anderson…

I think everyone knew that they should have taken that game in regulation time. And I agree completely. I honestly can’t wait till Price gets back because the situation right now is not very nice at all. I like Halak but this whole confidence lacking thing needs to change right now. I’m hoping that the Habs learned that they need to play 60 minutes of hockey to win. Not thirty minutes. Not Twenty minutes. SIXTY!

At the end of the day though, a win is still a win. Be happy about it and stop the griping.

The good:

  1. they won
  2. Halak got his first shootout win this season. ’bout time.
  3. The second period was wonderful
  4. Again the Kostopoulos/Lapierre/Latendresse line worked really hard out there. I’m liking this line a lot right now.
  5. obviously the Kostitsyn brothers are capable of playing well together. I’ve heard that that’s not always the case and sometimes they get too competitive with each other but today they were good together with Lang (*gasp* I liked Lang today!).
  6. I think the Hammies are proving that they can be here. Would I like to see Koivu and co back? Yeah. But right now the energy that these guys are providing is positive and that’s good.

The bad:

  1. POWERPLAY. They do WORSE on the powerplay than when it’s 5 on 5. I’m almost afraid when the other team takes a penalty.
  2. sloppy playing in the first and third period
  3. Halak being shaky again
  4. everyone’s shootout attempts but Markov’s. We love you Markov!
  5. the defense was just downright awful in the first period. I don’t know what the deal is because it’s not like they’ve lost any players right now. They’re all healthy.

The intriguing:

  1. The post saved both goalies a lot of grief today. Kovalev has gone back to his post hitting ways again (I could write a book on how frustrating this is right now) and Halak was spared an embarrassing OT defeat when some guy who’s name again eludes me hit the post and the puck went zooming along the line behind him and out the other side.

The question of the hour:

  1. WHY ISN’T YANNICK WEBER PLAYING?! YOU CALLED UP HIM UP AND HE’S STILL SITTING IN THE FREAKING PRESS BOX. HE COULD BE DOING SOMETHING A LOT MORE USEFUL IN HAMILTON (or here but you haven’t given him a chance). BUT NO! HE’S WASTING EVERYONE’S TIME BY SITTING THERE DOING NOTHING. DO SOMETHING WITH HIM OR SEND HIM BACK.

IN OTHER NEWS!

Whoever said that Crosby’s fight was borderline embarrassing….you ain’t seen nothing. Which is why I present to you what’s got to be the most hilarious and embarrassing “fight” from “the other Alex” of the Washington Capitals. At least you can’t accuse Crosby of looking totally weird in front of a full crowd and on national television. He just went insane.

Nice gesture, I guess, but maaan…….. that as just… hilarious…. which is not quite the effect I think he was going for….

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