Call him Mr. Shootout
Now 11-for-22 in career shootout attempts, Koivu is the thinking man’s shooter. While the rest of those in attendance were biting their nails fixated on Alex Tanguay’s penalty shot attempt in the first period, Koivu was busy putting the finishing touches on his scouting report on Cam Ward.
“I saw that he took the blocker side away from Alex, so I kept that in mind,” admitted Koivu. “I know what move I’m going to make before I reach the puck at center ice. Sometimes if the goalie takes something away, I’ll adjust, but I didn’t have to tonight.”
Koivu’s decision to slip a back hand between Ward’s pads was also in part thanks to Tomas Plekanec’s attempt, which preceded the Montreal captain’s crack at Ward.
“I noticed that he stayed really deep in his crease for Pleky’s shot and that told me what I needed to do,” said Koivu, who is now 1-for-2 in shootouts on the season.
As one would expect, ending up on the winning end of a shootout is a far cry from the agonizing alternative.
“The shootout is an exciting way to decide a game, but maybe not the best way,” explained Koivu, who did his part in improving the Canadiens’ shootout record to 2-1 this season. “It’s easy to see why we’re doing well in shootouts so far this year. There aren’t many teams who can feel really good about sending 5 or 6 guys out for a shootout the way we can.”
And sometimes, three saves from Carey Price and a shot from Koivu is all it takes to put another two points in the bank.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com