It could be argued that for such a talented goaltender, labelling Mathieu Garon as a ‘backup’ is a very faulty statement. However, for the time being that is what he is, a backup, to teammate and number one Jose Theodore. As he heads into his scheduled start against the lowly Pittsburgh Penguins, a team that hasn’t been able to pronounce success in a very long time, he’s looking to continue his solid play.
Ten games is a long time to go without winning a hockey game, just ask the Pens. And while their lineup is sprinkled with talented newcomers, namely Konstantin Koltsov, Brooks Orpik, Ryan Malone, Milan Kraft and a pair of former London Knights, Tom Kostopoulos and Rico Fata, Pittsburgh lacks both the goaltending, the gamebreaker ( we all know where that man is), and the talented veterans needed to help guide a crew of promising players.
Pittsburgh’s leading scorer, defenceman Dick Tarnstrom with 30 points, is also a -25 on the year. If there is one man wearing the Penguin you should fixate your eyes during this game, it is certainly Alex Morozov. Shifty and slick, yet sometimes uninspired it seems; the 26-year-old winger, with just 22 points through this point in time, can really burn your defencemen should they make any sort of error.
And this is where Mathieu Garon comes in. While his last start came to pass no less than a week ago, the man we all love to see give Theodore a rest needs to show no signs of letting down the brick wall he’s been building ever since his excellent 27-save performance in last Thursday’s brilliant win over the Wild. Garon, who kept us all sane enough to sleep comfortably by snapping that terrible little losing skid, will be tested sharply, regardless of his opposition, or the size of the numbers glowing on the scoreboard. If there’s one thing we know about this classy, soft spoken netminder, he won’t let his teammates down, even though the game may not entirely rest upon his shoulders.
When one considers that the Habs scored six goals against a woeful Hawks team despite playing some relatively poor hockey, how will our beloved boys fare against Pittsburgh’s soup du jour, either Jean-Sebastian Aubin or Sebastian Caron? On one hand, Aubin is a somewhat talented puckstopper, who has a knack for letting in bad goals (perhaps some of which can be attributed to his swiss cheese defence), and is not overly big at 5’11.
Caron, at 23, is three years younger than Aubin and will be, for the most part, the Pens go-to-guy between the pipes for the remainder of the campagin. Playing 27 games, there have been practically as many people scoring on him as there have been on that cheesy pop-star, you know, Madonn — err, let’s just say that his 3.79 goals against average coupled with his hardly sparkling .885 save percentage are numbers that has caused Pens fans to no longer wear paper bags over their heads, if only because they are often filled with a little something else.
Enough talk of the opposition and cheesy goaltenders, the real area of focus should be up front. Richard Zednik was benched in the third period of Sunday’s game, apparently because he was a little bit lacking on the Zednification scale , in normal terms he wasnt playing the game Claude Julien wanted him to play. A truly Zednifying performance is in the cards for the streaky sniper in order to not see him further plummet down the ranks in the mind of Coach Claude. Zednik’s centreman, Mike Ribeiro, enjoyed a rather productive game versus the Hawks in the 6-4 victory, collecting a nice goal and being named Pierre Mcguire’s ‘Monster’ after the first period. On the other hand, the final third of the Habs’ second line, Pierre Dagenais, looked rather awful and appears to be walking a fine line between Hamilton and Montreal. While talk of him heading to the minors is premature, it is hard to appreciate his 10 goals and laserbeam shot when he’s not doing a whole heck of a lot else.
Yanic Perreault found himself a healthy scratch for Sunday’s affair, and while Chad Kilger was by no means brilliant, he offered more than Perreault. Aside from his unreal abilities on the faceoff and accurate shot (which is not put to use a whole heck of a lot when one has little desire to work), Perreault’s days a Canadien are numbered and you can be sure he knows it. Once coined ‘ No Panic’ Yanic, #94 is hopefully enjoying his final days wearing the glorious CH. He must be commended for what little complaining has sprouted from mouth during his cuts in playing time, and for passing on valuable faceoff tips to the clubs younger players, after all, a scorer playing on the fourth line must get rather frustrated.
Meanwhile, The Chad seemed, at times, to be energized playing on a line with Steve Begin and Darren Langdon, and played seemingly to a point where he looked to be somewhat of a valuable contributor. However, he was far too inconsistent on the afternoon, which leads many to believe who exactly will find themselves pondering from the pressbox tomorrow night. Andreas Dackell did not travel to the club to Pittsburgh, citing his knee injury, so the dilligent, hard-working winger is not a name to be tossed about as a potential returnee off of the Habs’ injury front.
Joining Dackell on the sidelines will be that little tank we like to refer to as Francis Bouillon, for personal reasons. Whatever the reasons be, we the fans wish Bouillon a safe and quick return. Due to Bouillon being MIA, Karl Dykhuis was of course recalled from Hamilton. Bouillon, who plays the left side, will likely be replaced by a fellow southpaw in Dykhuis, although Julien could always decide to flip Mike Komisarek onto his opposite side. If not, expect big Komisarek to see this game from the pressbox.
It appears fans will finally get their wish, as Mike Komisarek is to slide in on the Habs backline tonight. Having not played in so long, tackling the lowly Penguins is the perfect situation for our promising young blueliner. Mike will play alongside Craig Rivet, which means we will see Patrice Brisebois paired with Andrei Markov. Karl Dykhuis, recalled from Hamilton to take Francis Bouillon’s spot, will not see to the ice. Joining Dykhuis on the sidelines in Chad Kilger. It’s a tad unfortunate in my opinion, as Kilger can bring more to the club than his replacement for tonight, Yanic Perreault.