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Five Keys to the Game : Habs-Caps #2

Saturday, 17.04.2010 / 4:00 AM / News
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Five Keys to the Game : Habs-Caps #2
Take it for the team
While much of the focus in Game 1 was on Alex Ovechkin’s inability to register a single shot on goal, it wasn’t for a lack of trying. Paced by Hal Gill’s game-high nine blocked shots, the Habs threw themselves in harms way 27 times on the night while the Caps blocked 30 attempts of their own. To win this series, the Canadiens will have to continue to take as much pride in being black and blue as they do in being bleu-blanc-rouge.

Play like Presidents
The Hyannisport Presidents, that is.  As Bruce Boudreau proved in his role as an extra facing off against the Hanson brothers in the classic 1977 film Slap Shot, the way to win is to drive the net and screen the goalie. Boudreau, sporting the No. 7, creates two goals by getting in the face of Chiefs netminder Denis Lemieux in his big screen debut, and that’s exactly what the Habs will need to continue to do to Jose Theodore in Game 2.

Keep away
The Caps may have scored 318 goals in the regular season, but they can’t score if they don’t have the puck. In Game 1, the Canadiens had just six giveaways in 75 minutes of play, while their counterparts from the District of Columbia turned it over on 15 occasions. The Habs will have to keep up that solid puck protection to make it through Washington’s potent offense. 

Short and sweet
With two of the four regular season games between the two squads needing overtime or shootouts to decide a winner, it should have come as no surprise that the first game between the Habs and Caps went into the extra frame as well. All those extra minutes are sure to add up by game’s end, and the more rested team is less likely to make mental errors. Counting seven players with an average shift length over 50 seconds compared to just one skater averaging 50 seconds per shift on the Montreal bench in Game 1, the Canadiens proved that fresher legs do prevail when the clock is winding down.

Shooting range
To stay loose and relaxed, there’s nothing that keeps a goalie in a game like seeing as much vulcanized rubber as possible. If the Capitals want to win against Jaroslav Halak, they might want to consider firing less pucks at the Slovak netminder in Game 2. In the regular season, the 24-year-old posted six wins when facing more than 45 shots and he was just as effective on Thursday night, stopping 45 of 47 shots in the outing – including a combined 12 blasts off the sticks of Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom.

See also:
Playoff Central
A game of inches
How to slow-vechkin 
Pleky 1, Theo 0 
Habs draw first blood