Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Flames beat Habs 1-0

Tonight's game was a very interesting match. The stats would tell you that with the 1-0 win, and the shots 31-25 for the Flames, that Halak played an amazing game and just came up short. Or that Kipper was amazing in net to take the victory... but despite the score, I am reluctant to give it all to the goalies.

That's not to say they played poorly - Kipper made some awesome saves in the second, on Gomez' breakaway and with Cammalleri buzzing. Halak made a few great pad saves, and a couple through traffic. But the defence on both sides played great, and limited the chances and cleared the rebounds.

What I saw, especially in the second, was an aggressive Calgary team, and a passive set of dudes in vintage jerseys. The Flames were first on the puck; they were tough in their end, and annoying on the forecheck. They wanted the puck, and either got to it first, or where on the Habs so fast they were forced to turn it over.

Technically the Habs were not intimidated tonight; they threw lots of hits, got messy in the scrums, and won both the fights... but when it came to the hockey, they were weak. Very few guys driving to the net with the puck, instead opting to go wide. Losing races to the puck - deliberately - to throw a hit instead (after the puck was safely moved away.) And that's what matters: are you willing to sacrifice for the puck, take the hit to make the play, so to speak, or take the easy way out?

Habs needed get aggressive on the puck, and take the game to the Flames. And they didn't. They haven't lately - they seem to get caught watching too much. And they won't start winning until they start paying the price - and anticipating the play.

Final notes: Gomez and Gionta were off tonight; dunno if they got rattled or forgot their coffee before the game. Pleks and Cammalleri played well, Halak played well, and the new kids were solid. Kipper was awesome, but the Habs can do better.

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