The Montreal Canadiens coming off one-day rest after a 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils were facing the Florida Panthers who were coming off a 6-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins just 24 hours earlier.
I am going to write this as a kind of interactive piece. I was attending a wedding and couldn't watch the matinée game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Florida Panthers.
Only having watched the highlights and taking a look at the statistics, I will try to establish positives and negatives the Habs can take out of this game. For those of you who watched the game, you can counter my points. There has to be some things that totally don't make sense if only regarded with statistics, so you can correct me!
1. The third line of the Canadiens (Guillaume Latendresse-Maxim Lapierre-Tom Kostopoulos) might have been by far the best line on the ice. They each averaged 18 minutes of icetime including two minutes of powerplay time and around three minutes of penalty killing each. Maxim Lapierre has a 59 percent win percentage on the face-offs.
More importantly, Tom the Bomb and Latendesse had six shots each on goal, the most by any Hab and Lapierre had three shots. Often called the energy line, these three guys could have very well sparked the game by seeing these numbers.
2. The Kostitsyn brothers had an excellent game. Andrei Kostitsyn scored twice on only two shots in the victory. Specially looks like he responded well to demotion from the first line. He played alongside his brother on a trio centered by Robert Lang.
Sergei Kostitsyn had two assists, did not take any penalties and notably was a plus-four on the night. Along with that, he also blocked two shots. Considering the fact that there was a lack of production on his part for the past five games, it is a positive point.
3. Robert Lang refound his scoring touch as he netted his twelfth goal of the season. He also helped set up Andrei Kostitsyn's first goal of the night earning third star honours.
4. Steve Bégin only played 10:54 but managed to deliver seven hits, attempt one shot on goal and block another one. His hard work and determination must have shown again in this game. The team also had a hit advantage of 31-7 which further demonstrates the physical upside the team can bring on.
5. The Canadiens managed a total of 45 shots on goal which is one of the highest totals this season. Considering the total number of important offensive players who are injured including captain Saku Koivu, Christopher Higgins and Alex Tanguay, the Habs seem to be pulling out well.
6. Another great accomplishment was to see that all of the Habs' goals were scored at even strength. Last year, that used to be a problem with our team. We all know that in the playoffs, one cannot solely depend on powerplay opportunities. So, the even-strength production is definitely good to notice.
1. If I look at the statistics, Jaroslav Halak let in five goals on 25 shots. Even I didn't completely see the situations they were scored in, this was an important start for our back-up goaltender to redeem himself after allowing three ''soft'' goals to the New Jersey Devils.
Coach Carbonneau trusted him and gave him the start. Looks like he didn't help out much because he allowed five goals and wasn't able to conserve the lead which was created by his teammates on two different occasion (the Habs lead 4-2 and then 5-3 at one point). What did you think of his performance?
2. The Canadiens watched their two goal lead slip away twice and then finally had to sum it up in a shootout. However, they were the more rested team and should've been able to keep the Panthers away. A lack of effort and underestimation of the opposition could have impacted the play of the Habs.
3. Another striking statistic was the number of giveaways. There were a total of 20 giveaways by our Habs compared to a mere seven by Florida. A significant four giveaways by Jaro as well.
4. Perhaps, there can be a lag in defense as well. I am saying this because it is not characteristic of the Habs to give up five goals. Even though the goaltender is at fault on a some occasions, the defensemen also have to take their share of the blame. An area which could be worked on and upgraded is the defensive end.
5. Last but not the least, the major roadblock at the moment for the Habs is their sliding powerplay. They went 0-for-5 on the night. I don't know how bad it looked but also according a shorthanded goal surely doesn't help. We have known it to be a problem but sometimes you need it to work more than others and nothing seems to be moving.
6. On another slightly negative note, Matt D'Agostini seems to be invisible again. Demoted to the fourth line, he had a mere nine minutes of play time and also has two penalty minutes. Is he going to refine his scoring touch? Did he play like he cared?
A mixed game in terms of a statistical analysis. An overall look at the game shows the position of the Montreal Canadiens at the halfway mark. There are many flaws which could be corrected but also many things that we are doing well.
It allows one to see where we are lacking and where we are improving. Despite injuries, the Canadiens are keeping a winning record (22-10-6) and that is the most important thing. A win is a win!
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