Game of the Night

2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Game 4: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Montreal Canadiens @ Bell Centre
2-3 Final

Going into tonight, questions circulated around the offensive production of Montreal.  Tonight, they tried to prove their critics wrong and win the game - even if it's just by a goal or 4 goals.

Like most nights, Montreal was hugely outshot!  Just in the first 20, it was 15-6 for Pittsburgh, and in the second, it was 11-3 Pittsburgh.  I know history proves me wrong with Montreal winning a lot more after being out-shot than having the most shots themselves, but you can't live on the skate's edge like that!  It's too much of a high-risk factor.

In the third, they kicked that habit to the curb.  The final 20 minutes saw the Habs get the first 7 shots on goal, and the first 2 goals since the end of the first.  The jump in their step was bigger and the zip that Bob Gainey brought them in for was back.

When it mattered, Jaroslav Halak came up huge.  Having held his team in within one of the Pens, Halak was tested more when the Habs were the ones up by one.  When the better of the two (Pittsburgh) were on their PP or putting the pressure to the limit on the Habs, Halak came up HUGE to stop the shot that could've tied it all up at 3.  Halak provided the momentum and the momentum changes.  One amazing save/stop set the Habs loose and free to create some offence to balance the defence from their goalie.

Tonight was a good night to be a Montreal fan/supporter.  The performance in the final 20 minutes from there was brilliant and proved to be the reason as to why they won tonight (that and Halak being Halak).  My biggest peeve of tonight, though, was the Habs playing basically a 20 minute game.  60 minutes!  The clock says it all.  3 periods, 20 minutes each - that's how long a game is and that's how long you have to play!  The Habs are playing dangerously close to the edge with the way they play.  Being out-shot and not playing a full game consistently; stuff like that can shoot you in the foot.

But we cannot ignore the Penguins.  The Penguins were pretty damn great tonight as well.  It's not like they didn't get their chances; oh no, they had bang-on chances!  But somehow, the puck would not find the back of the net.  The Penguins were the Penguins, albeit a little more than frustrated.  Watchers of this series have seen what Pittsburgh could do after a frustrating game; maybe this will work in their favour.  When you are down, you can only answer in a way that will sting - fire power.

Pittsburgh cannot change a lot tonight for the next game.  They need to stick their game plan, add some more physicallity to their edge, and get that hunger back in their eyes.  A game like tonight cannot (and probably will not for long) get to them.  You can't expect to win every series in a sweep and adversity is around every corner.

Before I commence this post, I come back to my rant.  And again, it's about the referees and my growing hate for them.

The hate is about to turn into loathing.  I like McCreary, but he's retiring.  There are a couple others I like, but they, too, are retiring.  So a little memo to those who aren't, MAKE THE DAMN OBVIOUS CALLS!  Multiple times tonight did the Pens get away with so many!  There were tripping calls, hooking calls, a couple of HUGE boarding calls that all went uncalled for.  Not only were the fans at the Bell Centre frustrated (but forgot about it because of the momentum), but so were the ones (like me) watching at home!  And it wasn't all just in the favour of the Pens; some calls went uncalled against the Habs!  I can easily admit that we should've been sent to the sin bin for a few minutes, but never did and surely the Pens got angrier as more calls like that were called (or weren't called).  Calls like that don't go uncalled!

Hopefully, game 5 doesn't have as horrible officiating as tonight and the two teams provide some fire power and hot goaltending at the same time!  I'd like to see a very balanced game one of these games.

3 stars:
1) Jaroslav Halak
2) Josh Gorges
3) Maxime Talbot

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