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Monday, January 3, 2011

I've Seen This One Before

It's funny how certain games repeat themselves, like a story or film you've seen before.

Yesterday afternoon's tilt at the Bell Centre against the Atlanta Thrashers was one of those games. Once the game started, I had that funny feeling no matter what the Habs threw at the Thrashers, they were going to come up short.
When I get that feeling, I keep watching, hoping I'm wrong and that I got the read wrong, like in poker or something. But unfortunately last night my read was right.
The Canadiens deserved a better fate, for sure, but can at least be happy with one point for their 4-3 OT loss.

I've seen this game before. The Canadiens were solid at both ends of the ice, pelting the Thrashers' goalie with lots of good shots, but for some reason, they kept on playing catch-up because Carey Price wasn't at his best.

Now everyone knows I've always been a big supporter of Carey and do believe he's poised to be the NHL's elite goaltender. But we still have to deal with these kind of games from him from time to time. I've been calling for the team to win a few games for him and essentially that's what they tried to deliver last night.

Hard to fault Price on the first goal, but it was an opportunity for him to make a "big save" and he failed. Price didn't seem comfortable in his net and the Thrashers took advantage of this.

The second goal was a joke and was one of his trademarked "softies." Their third goal exemplified this fact even more, as they simply just put a sharp angle shot towards the net. Price kicked it out to Andrew Ladd in front who put the rebound into the open net with 15 seconds left in the 2nd period. Another late period goal!!!

Then again, the Habs' defensive zone coverage wasn't all that sharp on the play. Lack of ability to bear down in the last few minutes of periods is becoming epidemic with late period goals now.

The Habs showed a lot of fight in this one, and for all intent and purpose they would have won this one walking away if it weren't for another standup performance by Pavelec, who seems to always play well in Montreal.
Ondrej Pevelec makes a glove save against the Montreal Canadiens, January 2, 2011. Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images.
Goals by Plekanec, Subban and Gionta did the body good, Gio's coming with a bit less than 5 minutes to salvage a point for the team.

But once it was 3-2 I upped the stakes with myself, predicting the Canadiens would lose in OT. Because like I said earlier, I've seen this game before. Only thing, ultimately I was happy to see the team get to OT since they were down late in the 3rd before Gio's tying goal.

I know it's only superstition, but the RDS commentators, namely Pierre Houde and Benoit Brunet. should stop JINXING THE HABS!! There have been many examples over the last couple of seasons, but last night's was pretty bad. In OT with the Habs pressing, Pierre Houde quipped how Dustin Byfuglien had been shutout so far.
Why'd you say that Pierre!? I think you're a great commentator, all class and professionalism, but maybe you should start educating yourself a bit about the superstitions of professional sports??

I totally knew what was coming now. This was like the last nail in the coffin for my gut feeling. So I upped the bet again with myself. Now not only would the Thrashers win, but Byfuglien would score the game winner.

And what happened less than a minute later? Subban was called on a marginal hooking penalty; after a few exciting moments, just like it looked as if the Habs would kill it off 4 on 3, Byfuglien wound up from the point and drove a shot right through Price for the game winner.

Canadiens lose. Man I hate winning those bets with myself. I wanted my gut feeling to lose!!!! But I'm compelled to call 'em like I see 'em, and this is why I've learned to trust my gut. After all, the ending to this game was written a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. ;)


Yesterday's game was also the first for David Desharnais and though he didn't get on the scoresheet, he had a solid game on a line with Pouliot and Darche, who collectively had a lot of energy and a few good scoring opportunities.

The Wiz, James Wisniewski, again proved why Pierre Gauthier pulled the trigger on this guy. He makes good first passes from his zone and his transition game is solid. He didn't score, but picked up two big assists and even showed his best Andrei Markov impersonation when he found a streaking Tomas Plekanec up the middle to send him in alone to score the team's first goal.

The Canadiens need to build on this game as they did a lot of things right. Price needs to ramp it back up to where he was in the first 30 games of the season, and maybe the team can get on a much-needed roll. It won't get any easier, as they host Crosby's Penguins on Thursday night.

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