Saturday, October 25, 2008

What can you really make of that

The Canadiens had a tough time explaining this one.

You can't say they didn't attack the Anaheim net in their 6-4 loss Saturday night. Jean-Sebastien Giguère was tested 51 times and only gave up four goals, and he was at his most spectacular in the third when he turned aside 21 of 22 shots.

Tomas Plekanec alone had 13 shots, seven in the third, but came close to crashing his stick over the net when Giguère stoned him twice in a row from point blank about 12 minutes into the final frame. Oh yeah, and he finished with a minus-2 on the night.

Christopher Higgins made a pretty successful season debut, showing some explosiveness to allay fears that his groin injury would flare up, and he made a fantastic play on Saku Koivu's fourth goal of the year when he passed one against the grain while going behind the net to set the captain up.

But, in the bad with the good category comes Higgins' very poor decision at the Anaheim blueline that led to a 2-on-1 for Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf on Anaheim's second goal.

Higgins, to his credit, mentioned the brain fart while talking in more general terms about the Canadiens' risky plays that went bad on the night. But on the physical side of things, he said everything went better than planned.

"I felt good, surprisingly good with the legs," he said. "I thought I would be worse for wear conditioning wise but I felt pretty strong throughout the whole game. I just felt a little rusty with the decision-making and the hands, but I think that will come back quickly."

Guy Carbonneau couldn't be too angry at his team considering what they did, and he couldn't be too angry at his goalies considering the tough positions their teammates put them in. Jaroslav Halak allowing goals on he first and third shots he faced doesn't help, nor does it help when he only stops eight out of 12.

But the only one he really blew out of the four he allowed was the first one to Kent Huskins, and even that was very poor defensive converage by the Canadiens, even if it was a stoppable shot.

Nine times out of 10 this year the Canadiens will win if they score four goals, but losing this game could prove beneficial because Carbonneau and his staff can now focus on eliminating some of the bad habits that were beginning to develop.

The Canadiens were not as good as their 5-0-1 record entering Saturday night suggested, and now the coaching staff has exhibit A on video as proof for their players. And when you can take a game where you had 51 shots on goal and use that as an example of what is wrong with your team, it means you have a pretty good team.

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