Well, I believe that was perfect evidence of how the Habs have zero chance at the playoffs if Theo isn’t on his game. Three horrible goals to put the guys against the wall by the early moments of the third against one of the best teams in hockey – not good. Perhaps it’s time to give Theo a little extended break – against the Thrashers – since he seems to be struggling a little with his game recently.
There is a giant gap between the forwards and the defence, there’s a significant positioning problem all over the ice, and there’s a large execution problem happening right now, and none of these things are the real crux of the Canadiens recent play. Effort. Or, more precisely, a lack thereof. You can’t play 15 minutes of a game and expect to win, particularly against teams like Ottawa. I don’t know what’s happened in the last weeks, but the effort from these guys has been slowly going in the tank.
We’re beaten to the puck regularly, which means we’re playing to get the puck before we even get to play with it. The two on one battles are rarely won anymore and when you lose those, you don’t usually have much chance. Worst of all, there seems to be little character shown from most of the players, or if there is character, it’s not sustained through the game, but is only demonstrated in spurts.
It’s just not winning hockey, and I’m sorry, but this team right now does not deserve to be in the playoffs.
Theo: Two shots from the blueline and a redirected *pass* which he saw the whole way made it into the net tonight. I know we can’t expect perfection from him, but if he’s going to miss one shot every couple of games, I think we’d all be happy. Missing three in a game means this team will have zero chance at the playoffs. D+
Bouillon: Arguably the best defender on the ice tonight, and when your seventh defender looks that good, you have a problem. Particularly with the puck he was tremendous. He weaved through almost the whole team at one point and it might have come to something had his teammates not been watching but had been joining him instead. His defence was typical Bouillon – tough as nails…some problems, but he never gives up. B+
Brisebois: He had some lapses tonight, but still played a better game than most of the rest. Usually he makes the intelligent play, these days, and that’s refreshing in his case. B
Rivet: Had himself a solid game, honestly. He wasn’t beaten badly anywhere and supported his partner well. Better yet, he seems to have edited out the aimless chasing he was doing earlier in the season. B+
Komisarek: Rookie mistakes, as one would expect, but played a pretty good game all things considered. Against a team like Ottawa, I would have expected him to potentially be eaten alive – hardly so. He handled himself well, made some good defensive plays, and even better offensive ones. Hardly a great game, but a positive point considering the opposition. C+
Quintal: When he plays against the highly skilled and faster teams, he resorts more and more to cheating to keep up. Cost us tonight. While he tried to remain positionally sound, his lack of mobility hurt him. I’m ready to put Bouillon ahead of him in the depth chart, I think. D+
Markov: Extremely inconsistent game. One minute he was making a brilliant defensive play, the next he was looking up before making a pass and whiffing it to the Sens. Nice that Julien recognized it early and adjusted his playing time accordingly. C+
Langdon: Team spirit. He went to town for the hit on Dax, which was nice to see. Good fight too, I think, his best in the Habs uniform. I think I might give him the win. B+
Dackell: Obvious first game back after injury as he was played sparingly and Julien is certainly going to work him in rather than dumping him into the middle of the fire. I’d like to see him playing more soon as I think his defensive game, particularly in contests like this, would be very useful. C-
Begin: What’s to say? He was probably the only Hab on the ice who gave a consistent effort all game and he was rewarded with two goals for his work. Anyone know how to clone heart? A
Kilger: I hesitate to say this, but he might end up being a key for the Habs down the stretch. He’s got to find his game and play like he did for much of this one. There were a few shifts off, but I found his game more consistent, his hitting more effective, and his positional play much better than I’ve seen from him in quite a while. B
Ward: If it ever comes to him getting a regular position on the first two lines, kiss the playoffs goodbye. While I still love the effort and the defensive play, his offensive game is only marginally better than that of Dagenais – except he doesn’t have the shot. B
Juneau: Honestly, he was mostly invisible tonight. He did good defensive work, but wasn’t on nearly as much as usual. Perhaps the aching back is starting to grant those Habs fans who dislike Juneau their greatest wish – his slow exodus from the lineup. C+
Zednik: He had a talking to before the game or after the last one, that much is obvious because his first shifts were zingers. Of course, after than he went back to sleep… C
Sundstrom: Nice to see him get an opportunity on the second line, and while he missed two open nets, I have to be pleased he got in those positions. And if anyone here things Dags would have been where he was, I think you’re dreaming in technicolour hues. Sunny was at the crease, where Dags stays in the slot – stapled to the slot in fact. B
Ribeiro: Another one who probably had a good talking-to before the game, and the fire in his first few shifts was wonderful. He played with an edge – in fact, I’d go as far as to say he played his best hockey of the year. Sadly, it became inconsistent as the game wore on, and by the end, he was erased more often than not. B-
Ryder: Gets a rosy -3 on the night, but it wasn’t deserved. When two of those goals are whistlers from the blueline, no one but the goalie is to blame. Actually, I thought he played his best game since the All-Star Travesty and I think he’s back on the right track – the results will come. B
Bulis: He was hustling all night and was making things happen. He may not have the finish, but he certainly had a pile of chances, and that tells me that at least he’s working to get to the right spots. B
Koivu: There’s a level of frustration in Sax’s game that has been slowly creeping in. If someone makes a bonehead play, he tends to cut his shifts a little short so he can regroup his troops. There were a couple of times tonight that he made poor decisions, particularly on the fourth goal where he and Ryder took long looks at the puck, but didn’t go hard to it. I want to see his fire back. B-
Julien: For recognizing Markov’s situation, I give a golf clap. For dropping Perreault I give a loud round of applause. For putting Dags in the skyboxes, I give a standing O. For failing yet again to get the team working, I give a quiet ‘uh oh’.
Don’t look now, but the Sabres are a rattling, and they have a game in hand. Our so-called assured playoff spot looks to have almost evaporated much like the work ethic.
Atlanta comes to town on Tuesday, and while they’ve been struggling, they have all the firepower necessary to make the Habs look horrible if the boys don’t show up again. We’re going to have to use speed to beat their defence and make sure we shoot, shoot, shoot. Then we need to pray Heatley hasn’t quite found his game.
A Concerned Fan