The Habs gave the Boston Bruins a nasty welcome yesterday afternoon, but it seemed that no many how many shots they fired on goal that Andrew Raycroft was right there to flash his ugly yellow glove. The Bruins stole yesterday’s hockey game from the Canadiens, something they’ll look to gladly forget about in part two of their weekend series against original six foes. Toss aside that Superbowl chili, because it’s the Chicago Blackhawks who are preparing to be roasted instead.
Make no mistakes about it, our Habs are not a great team, but when they play for 60 minues and show up in such a way that they did yesterday, they’re going to give any team a run for their money, especially a team that has only won a single road contest in their last twenty attempts. A few words for Hawks star centre Alexei Zhamnov : first, you are most likely about to be traded for very little; secondly, you will be playing today without teammates Eric Daze and Jocelyn Thibault; and lastly, this is indeed a road game.
And before you decide to leave right now and make preparations for some football game, make sure that you are aware that this is indeed, yet another afternoon affair in Montreal. Same time, same place, and with all signs pointing to a different result. There are too many Montreal Canadien players who played excellently yesterday, only to be held off of the score sheet again, namely Sheldon Souray, Mike Ribeiro, Saku Koivu, Michael Ryder, and Andrei Markov.
Souray is pointless in nine games (yes, nine!), but the fact of the matter is, that’s a streak that could have been snapped easily yesterday, if not for that incredible goaltender they call ‘Razor’. Joining big Sheldon in the freezer is Niklas Sundstrom. The taleneted Swedish winger has 11 points in 45, yet is pointless in nine games.
Andrei Markov, by all means, has not had a good season to this date. However, the Habs’ most talented blueliner has been excellent in his past two outings, something that should by all means continue when one considers the skills packed tightly into his 6’0, 208 pound frame. With Markov, Souray, and Patrice Brisebois playing the way that they can, and with honest efforts from Francis Bouillon, Craig Rivet, and Stephane Quintal, the Habs’ defence is not all that bad when everyone gets motoring. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
As mentioned previously, the Hawks have some serious talent in Eric Daze and Jocelyn Thibault currently nursing injuries, something that bodes well for the Habs, seeing as it’s likely that Thibault, who we all know is a former Hab, would most likely gladly step up in an effort of stealing a game from his former team. Daze, a giant of a player at 6’6, 235 pounds, is not particularily physical for a man who owns such a huge frame, but he can play nasty at times, and his laser beam shot is something Jose Theodore won’t be missing this afternoon.
Speaking of players that can really drive the puck on goal, Pierre Dagenais had four shots on the net yesterday, if he keeps that up against the Hawks likely netminder Craig Anderson, he’ll be laughing his way all the way to the stats sheet. If the 22-year-old Anderson does not get the call, veteran backup Steve Passmore will fill the role. Passmore is certainly not earning a greal deal of respect for his abilities of late; going 1-3-0 with a 3.69 goals against average and a .875 save percentage, although Anderson has been by no means brilliant either, going 1-11-1 on the year, while posting an 0-3 record with a goals against so inflated that you could mistake it for the ERA of a Dunedin Blue Jay.
A special shout out to Hawks coach Brian Sutter, who after this afternoon will have coached his 1000th NHL game. A special feat, perhaps one that will have his players work just a little bit harder.
“Naturally we can be happy with our effort today; we provoked a lot of chances. It’s just that we need to come up big when it matters,” said Jose Theodore yesterday. While he’s usually the man giving us all the big stops at all the right times, he’s bang on here with this statement too .Touché José, go get ’em Habs.