Sunday, 11 December 2011


PJ stock opened up the CBC broadcast calling the Canadiens acquisition of Tomas Kaberle a "deperation move" and a "band-aid solution." Analyst Glenn Healy and Host Ron Mclean countered that with 2 years remaining on Kaberle's contract it wasn't a band-aid solution.

Jaroslav Spacek played 17:09, had 2 assists and was a +1 in his Hurricanes debut so after less than 24 hours the jury on the trade wasn't out in Montreal, rabid angry fans were.

Afternoon games are a funny thing for hockey players. Their routine gets all mucked up, and they are on the ice playing a game at their normal practice time. The games are usually sluggish mistake filled affairs - and the crowd skews younger and less animated. This afternoon was no different.

The first 15 minutes of the game were pretty sleepy. There were lots of giveaways on both sides, not too many scoring chances, and a lot of neutral zone ping pong. The crowd looked sparser than the announced 14,210 - and seemed pretty quiet. Whatever noise did come from them seemed decidedly pro-Montreal.

After 13:33, the shots were 11-4 favouring New Jersey, but there were no scoring chances of significance. A few seconds later, the Canadiens new Power Play would get their first chance to go to work.

The Power Play would be an abbreviated one as PK Subban would go of for tripping 1:20 into it. However there was a marked improvement over recent games on the PP. Kaberle played the right point, with Subban moving over to left. Subban was the shooter, Kaberle the QB. The Canadiens gained the zone with relative ease, made some crisp passes, it actually looked like a power play. The gaining of the zone is where Kaberle should be of immense help.

After 40 seconds of 4 on 4 play, the Canadiens would successfully kill of the penalty to Subban before again heading to the Power play with 1:30 to go in the opening frame. This power play looked even kore dangerous than the first. The penalty would come to a close with the score knotted at zeroes, and the shots 13-9 favouring NJD.

With only six seconds to go on their second PP attempt, the Habs would catch another break :24 seconds into the second when New Jersey's Adam Henrique would be called for delay of game (for flipping a puck over the glass). This time, the Habs PP would not fail. 1:13 into the period new acquisition Tomas Kaberle would slow the play down at the offensive blue line backing off the New Jersey defenders. He'd wind a pass to Erik Cole who'd hand it to Pacioretty who scored his 11th of the season with a rocket past Martin Brodeur.

A minute later Ilya Kovalchuk would be called for boarding resulting in the Canadiens 4th PP of the game. They would manage only 1 shot on the Power Play, but again the zone entry and the puck movement were much improved.

Raphael Diaz would be called for hooking at 7:15, the Devils didn't muster much and the Canadiens PK did their usual excellent job of killing the penalty. The rest of the period was pretty uneventful with the Canadiens playing perfect Jacques Martin road hockey and putting the Devils to sleep. At period's end, the shots were 22-15 favouring New Jersey.

Early in the 3rd, Petr Sykora seemed to be the only lively devil with a scoring chance on Price - that the Habs net minder made look like an easy stop. On the ensuing play, the Habs Cole would get a chance on which Mattias Tedenby would slash him, giving the habs a fifth chance with the man advantage.

This power play, unfortunately would look pretty disorganized the full length. The penalty would expire but Mathieu Darche (on a rare shift with Erik Cole and David Desharnais) would do some excellent work in the front of the net. Kaberle sent a shot a Brodeur, Darche (screening the Goalie) would sent it over Brodeur's pads where a waiting Erik Cole would give the puck a love tap for his 10th of the season.

Once they were staked to a 2-0 lead, the Candiens went back into their road trap and tried to kill the clock. It was working well, with the Devils content to be sleeping their way to a loss, until a broken pane of glass caused them to awake. The long delay to put in new glass was the change in momentum Devils Coach Pete Deboer was looking for.

With 6:26 to go in the final frame, Carey Price would make his only mistake of the hockey game by mishandling a puck and turning it over to the Devils. New Jersey would get a good cycle going off tremendous work from Petr Sykora and Nick Palmierei would score his 4th of the season.cutting the lead in half.

Max Pacioretty would get a chance in front of Brodeur with 3:40 to go in the game, but Brodeur would show he is still equal to the task of stopping big shooters by stoning Pacioretty in front, keeping it a 21 hockey game.

With 1:55 to go in the game, Raphael Diaz would be called for roughing giving the Devils a glorious opportunity to send the game to Overtime. Brodeur would be pulled shortly after giving the Devils a 6-4 advantage during which Josh Gorges would be called for covering the puck in the crease awarding Zach Parise a penalty shot. Price was again equal to the task.

The Devils would scramble around the net for the remaining 47 seconds, but the Canadiens would hang on for the 2-1 victory.

In my article on the Tomas Kaberle trade, one of the things I talked about for the trade to be a success would be the usage of Kaberle. I talked about Kaberle being brought in not as a penalty killer, not as number 1 defensive option, but as a power play specialist. One game does not a season make, but that is exactly how Kaberle was used in the game. He had the fewest even strength minutes (11:10)  of any Canadiens defender, didn't play a single shift on the Penalty Kill, and led all Habs in Power Play ice time with 6:23. The first impressions are good, but we'll see how it works after a few more games. I wrote that if Kaberle can put up 25-35 points over the rest of the season the trade will look good, with 2 yesterday, Kaberle's well on his way.

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