Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Here Are YOUR Northeast CHAMPIONS!

Carey Price collected his 3rd shutout; this one very meaningful as it clinched a Northeast crown for the Canadiens.

The Canadiens were able to come out of Ottawa with 3-0 win led by a 32-save effort from rookie netminder Carey Price.

The Habs may now celebrate the feat of earning the Northeast Division crown, a feat they hadn't accomplished since the 1991-92 season - that's a 16 year span folks...for the MOST STORIED franchise in NHL history.

In fact, the last time the Habs won the Division title, the Division was called the Adams Division, and the Habs needed just 93 points in 80 games.

It's about time, boys!

Montreal came into the contest having won 5 of their last 7, while Ottawa had LOST 5 of their last 7.

And the streaks continue...

Alex Kovalev opened the scoring on the PP midway through the first, backhanding home a Michael Ryder centering pass from along the goal-line past Martin Gerber and top shelf for his 35th of the season.

5:28 into the second, Mathieu Dandenault picked up a Guillaume Latendresse rebound and created a lane for himself to either dish the puck or go for the shot. Luckily, Dandenault chose the latter, and released a perfect wrister to beat Gerber high and top corner once again.

Midway through the third, the Habs would send this game out of reach on an Andrei Kostitsyn marker on the PP, his 26th of the campaign, as his wrist shot beat Gerber under the arm and over the pad.

Ottawa's loss now puts them in serious danger of actually missing the post-season, something that hasn't occured in 12 years. The Sens sit with 92 points through 80 games, good enough for 6th out East, but only one point ahead of both 7th Boston and 8th Philadelphia, both of whom have only played 79 of 82 games. 9th place Washington won tonight hosting Carolina, which moves them up to 90 points in 80 games, 2 away from the catching the Senators.

The Habs win vaults them to 100 points with 2 games remaining, and guarantees them a finish in the Conference no less than 2nd. The Pittsburgh Penguins also have 100 points through 80 games, but remain first as they have 45 wins, one more than Montreal's 44.

The Canadiens have not reached 100 points since doing so in 1992-93, when they finished 3rd in their Division with 103 before going on to shock many people and win the Stanley Cup, their 24th overall and 23rd as an official member of the National Hockey League. It is the 16th time in their history that they've broken the 100 point barrier.

Alex Kovalev became the first 35-goal scorer for Montreal since 1995-96, when both Pierre Turgeon and Vincent Damphousse tallied 38.

Montreal have played all their road games this season, and have two home games remaining: Thursday vs. Buffalo, and Saturday vs. Toronto. Montreal finishes with a 25-12-4 road record.

2 comments:

jerrytuts said...

I couldn't be happier, they are playing amazing.
Price seems to be shaping into the top prospect everyone said he would and Kovalev went from 81 to 83 points giving him an average of over a point per game this year.
If i have to say one negative thing about the team it would be that they still dont have the secondary scoring after kovalev. In the playoffs where a team can shut down one player easily, secondary scoring becomes very important.
Yes, you can say Dandenault scored, but i do not consider him secondary scoring, and Andrei goals came from a remarkable pass from kovalev himself. When i say secondary scoring im talking about Chris "i finish once ever 15 attempts" Higgins, mix that in with some extra scoring from Ryder and Le Gros Jambon Lantendrsse and we might have something.
Once again i manage to find something wrong even after they clinch there division and reach 100 points. But i like to look at the big picture. LORD STANLEY HIMSELF!

- what do you think Sasa?

sasabainga said...

Jerry,

it's actually great that you continue to find flaws in a Divisional Championship team.

The onus on Montreal now as a Div. winner and top 2 Eastern seed will be to see them make nothing less than the Conference finals, correct?

Since those are the expectations, we CANNOT allow ourselves to simply BELIEVE in what we're seeing...we haveeeee to nit-pick through the team and find the flaws, like you have done in finsing the secondary scoring flaw (which has the potential to be a lethal problem), and the Habs have to find ways to fix them if they do indeed intend to reach the new expectations set for them as probable Conference finalists.

I seriously would stretch the Higgins joke to "I finish once every 20 attempts", and Ryder and Lats need to really use their sizes effectively in the postseason, crashing the net, taking shots, and most importantly for the playoffs, laying the body on defensemen. IF they can learn to do this, chances will open up for their linemates, and secondary scoring should come a little more consistently. Higgins needs to start capitalizing on those glorious opportunities now, before it becomes too late.

Kovalev will be wise to expect double-coverage in the playoffs, and if the Habs don't develop a plan B, the risk of having a frustrated Kovalev become a non-factor will more likely than not lead to an early round upset...