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17 March 2007

Three teams fail to gain ground in East playoff run...

Montreal Gazette sport section front page headline (March 17th, 2006)
Here's how your Eastern Conference playoff teams shored up last night -which was very cold and snowy one up here in Montreal...-

Got home late last night so I missed out on the important mix of games on yesterday, namely my Canadiens who were in Steeltown taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Turns out I didn't miss much as all three teams lost.

The Canadiens got shoddy goaltending from David Aebischer (yes, once again) in a 6-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Montreal CJAD 800's Murray Wilson said that: "This kind of goaltending will not get the Canadiens into the playoffs."
He was right indeed as by watching the highlights of the game, I cringed at each and every goal Aebischer allowed, it's like he's fighting the puck out there and that shows on the scoresheet with is 5 goals allowed on 30 shots.
And boy it was late, I thought I was watching Jose Theodore let in those goals...
The Habs got 3 powerplay goals from Chris Higgins and Sheldon Souray in the second and the lone Habs' third period goal from Andrei Markov in a losing cause.
Sidney Crosby and Erik Christensen each had a pair of goals while Gary Roberts and Michel Ouellet scored the other two.

Canadiens' head coach Guy Carbonneau has not yet announced who the starting goaltender will be. It's very likely the young Michael Leighton, plucked off waivers by Bob Gainey at the trade deadline will get the call. Either that, or look for Jaroslav Halak to get the nod.
How it affects the teams: Montreal remains in 11th with 76 points, 2 points out of the 8th spot; the Penguins close in on the Devils with 90 points and are firmly in 4th place and 4 points out of the division lead.
I also missed out on the Rangers-Thrashers game and I only laughed as the Leafs lost to the Capitals.

Damn! The Rangers were the only ones who got a point in a 2-1 overtime loss to the rejuvnated Atlanta Thrashers.
It wasn't a particularly exciting game besides the Colton Orr and Eric Boulton fight...Johan Hedberg did spare Kari Lehtonen as he started in goal...
The Rangers got their lone goal from Sean Avery in the last minute of play of the first period. Marian put one up in the second period to tie the game at one the rest of the way.

In overtime, the Thrashers made way for a powerplay and converted as defenceman Alexei Zhitnik put the Rangers away with his 8th goal of the season and the Thrashers in the "W" column once again. It seems this team will finally earn its first playoff berth (finally is right!).

Oh and a minor note: Yahoo Sports! claims Alexei Zhitnik to be a right-winger on the caption of the picture I used above.

How it affects the teams: The Thrashers are in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference with a 4-point cushion over the second place Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division.

The Rangers get a point and advance to the 9th spot in the Eastern Conference tied with the Leafs, 1 point back of the 8th place Hurricanes and only one point ahead of the 11th place Montreal Canadiens.

Ahhh yes! The Capitals finished off the Leafs 5-1 to end a nine-game slide.
Alexander Semin had 1 goal and 2 assists, Alexandre Giroux scored his first NHL goal and goalie Olie Kolzig showed he's the no. 1 man (as he was injured for a bit of time) and finished with 34 saves. Giroux actually arrived at the Verizon Centre just 90 minutes before the game as he was called up earlier yesterday. Giroux's goal was due to a "swing-and-a miss" by Leafs 'tender Andrew Raycroft behind the Toronto goal in the first period.

The flimsy Nik Antropov scored Toronto's only goal as they fail to gain any ground in the Eastern Conference standings. Andrew Raycroft is also a few wins shy of setting a franchise record for most wins by a goaltender in a season for Toronto, Raycroft has been used exclusevily during the second swing of the season and backup J.S. Aubin has played sparingly.

How it affects the teams: The Leafs failed to capitalize on the Canadiens and Rangers both losing and they remain tied with the Rangers in the 8th spot with 77 points, 1 point out of the 8th place Hurricanes. With a win, the Leafs could have taken sole posession of the final playoff spot but they did not. The Capitals are just happy to end a nine-game slide and it couldn't have come at a better time for Habs and Rangers fans.

Bleu, Blanc et Rouge

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