2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Game 5: Montreal Canadiens vs. Pittsburgh Penguins @ Mellon Arena
All tied up at two, one of these two teams look to take the lead in this series. Big names need to make their names seen, and the Habs need to play withing their composure.
Sidney Crosby for the past so many games has been held goal-less and near to non-productive. That is partially reason to the defensive and fore-checking efforts of the Canadiens. But there are other names than Crosby. Malkin is an example.
Evgeni Malkin is just as much influential as Sidney Crosby. All tonight, Malkin used his large body and huge size to his advantage to protect the puck, bring the defence's attention towards him, power his way into the zone, and set up plays that lead to scoring tallies on the board.
And if you don't like the Russian, there's the French-Canadian Marc-Andre Fleury. This entire series, a lot of the attention has been on special teams and the goalies. Tonight, Fleury was the name being lit up in lights in net. But Fleury didn't have to steal the game like Halak did for a couple of nights. Fleury came up big with timely saves and kept control of the puck and its odd movements and bounces. When things looked scrambly, Fleury found a way to dig the puck free and keep his shutout alive! He remained square the puck, he played with confidence, and he dug his skates into the ice to remain solid.
(Random note, there should be a ban on knitting during a hockey game - a playoff game nonetheless! Why do I bring this up? When there was a moment of pause in the game, the camera focused on Dan Bylsma and there was a lady knitting right behind the bench. COME ON! You can stop your knitting for 3 hours!)
Tonight, Montreal payed a price that shouldn't have been payed so dearly. Hal Gill went to the dressing room after Penguins' Chris Kunitz's skate landed a little atop of Gill's quad and never came back. The rest of the defence started piling on the minutes, and the fatigue caught up with them. Tired legs never work out well, but that's the price you pay in the games of today.
In the final 120 seconds of this game, Montreal looked a lot more threatening than they did all night. With Halak at the bench and Pascal Dupuis in the box, the Habs had 6 men to the Pens' 4. With 30 seconds remaining on the ticker, Michael Cammalleri ended the shutout and cut the Pens' lead in half. But that last minute push was not enough (but came dangerously close) to tie it up and the Habs now rest behind Pittsburgh 2-3 in the series.
The defensive appeal in this series is quite a stunner. Pens got scoring from their defence, and the defensive responsibilities of the entire team was good/great. The Habs had good individual defensive efforts, but not an incredible amount. That resulted in the lost and only the Habs could be blamed.
1) Marc-Andre Fleury
2) Sergei Gonchar
3) Kris Letang