Game 4

The mix of nice weather outside and hockey on TV inside has been making it hard to find time for blogging. Game 4 is old news, but I have notes so it's going to be posted.

- Between games 3 and 4, Carolina must have read the book on shutting down Kovalev. They did a bang-up job of smothering him. The guy can stickhandle in a telephone booth, so the 'Canes wisely limited him to less space than a telephone booth. They've adjusted. Now Kovy and the Habs have to adjust their game to match.

- With the Habs coming out tentative and deflated, a couple of players stepped up and stood out: Francis Bouillon and Tomas Plekanec. It must have been contagious, because the team improved drastically after the 1st.

- Anyone out there know which make of stick Sheldon Souray uses? Just so I know which stick to never buy for fear that it snap in two while taping it. I have found pics of him using Louisvilles, but I'd like to be sure before initiating a boycott.

- With the blade of his stick blessed with the blood of a Hero, Justin Williams put on a show. Every game, it's been a different player showing up offensively for that team. That's what they do.

- Huet looked a little shaky. I was going to mention that he looks uncomfortable with the puck down low in his end and that a large portion of goals scored on him were on those types of plays, but Ron MacLean beat me to it. Seems that has been a theme early in the playoffs this year. MacLean's theory is that moving the goal line two feet back is the reason.

- Just because I have failed to mention it already: Cam Ward is playing well.

- After his high stick on Zednik in the 2nd, you could see Bret Hedican turn white. It was a very similar incident to the one on Koivu. Hedican circled and checked to see if Zed was OK - something you don't always see, even with accidental sticks.

- There has been much discussion of high sticks. It's easy to single out Williams, especially after his errant stick on Markov in the 2nd. In fact, it seems everyone now carries their sticks irresponsibly. Despite Red Green imploring everyone to keep their stick on the ice, players hold their sticks way out in front of themselves like a lance when skating and brandish it like a sword in the corners. Ron MacLean and Don Cherry even bantered about it - Cherry said Ron was foolish for playing pick-up without a full mask. I have no idea whether it's due to the facial protection in youth and development leagues or the lightweight sticks or some other reason. I'm loath to suggest another rule, but it might be worthwhile to introduce something to encourage players to keep the blades of their sticks knee-level or lower.

- Never mind all the heart and soul crap. Saku Koivu is a major player and does many important things on the ice, and does them well. The Habs just can't replace those minutes.

- Halfway through the 3rd, after one stillborn breakout after another, I got the feeling they wouldn't tie this one up. And they didn't - final score is 3-2 Carolina.


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