Can we start a prayer group for Sheldon Souray? Because if he’s out for any great length of time, we could be in a world of hurt, and that playoff position that so many feel we’ve all but locked up may start to slowly slip from our fingers. Of all the things to happen on the first game back after the break, that was about the worst – well, short of Theo going down.
On the other hand, despite the loss I think there will be many pleased faces in the Montreal crowd vis-à-vis Komisarek who played easily his best game of the year, and looked confident and solid at the back on almost every shift. If Souray is out for any period of time, then it’s pretty good timing that Komi looks to be finally finding his game.
As to the outcome of the game itself, I think it can be laid pretty exclusively in the hands of Robbie Luongo. Without him in the goal, Montreal probably wins that one by a bunch – despite Theo completely blowing that first goal. It’s a shame, because we were easily the better team tonight, but think about how you feel right now and understand that that’s exactly the way Boston fans felt when we beat them in the playoffs two years ago.
Theo: No comment on that first goal. None needed. The rest of the game was fine, certainly the second goal was a lot of bad luck. Shame the proposed rule change of not going behind the net didn’t come into effect tonight – that would have ended up a tie. B
Bouillon: Can anyone else tell that he and Komi were paired quite significantly before? They played much of last year together in Hamilton and you can see they work well together. Cube had a typical game for himself, except he was probably one of two defenders who didn’t really jump in the play. B
Komisarek: If tonight’s any indication, Komi is just about there. He was much quicker with his decisions, wasn’t caught running around nearly as much, laid the body out quite a few times, and was slick and crisp with his passing. Yes, he made a few mistakes, including coughing op the puck once in the middle of his zone (then again, so did Souray), but tonight was a really strong performance for the kid. He takes a minus on the game only because the puck came off the boards funny. B
Quintal: Quiet game for the big guy, but that’s just fine. He didn’t make any horrid errors, nor did he jump in and make anything happen up front. That’s the way he needs to play all the time. B
Souray: Tonight he looked much better than he’s looked in quite some time. He was much better on the puck, and positionally sound. Fingers crossed that was just a boo-boo to the knee, and not something much worse. B+
Brisebois: Wow. He’s really rounding his game out nicely. He’s taken some really excellent steps this year and Hab fans should be really proud of the way he’s progressed. From the cross-ice doozy to the opponent to a defender who’s responsible and knows when to pinch and, better yet, when not to pinch. B+
Markov: Ahhh, now this is the Markov we were used to seeing last year. Forget the goal – which was nice – this was the proactive, intelligent player that cut things out and made things happen all the time. Finally we’re seeing him come out of his season-long slump, and it’s really good. B+
Langdon: I didn’t notice him that much tonight, and yet he played a lot more than some games. Well, at least he doesn’t make many defensive errors. N/A
Perreault: Haven’t we traded for that right-handed centre yet? Notice he wasn’t even used in critical situations for his faceoff ability tonight. D
Begin: I wish, oh I wish, that he played more than he does. This is one guy who deserves far more ice time than ten minutes. He’s just buzzing out there constantly. Can someone remind the coaching staff that he wasn’t in the least out of place on the third line before? Heck, put him there in on the wing in place of Ward – who can go to the second line in place of Dags – who can make pyramids with the water bottles for all I care. A-
Sundstrom: A little inconsistent at times tonight, I felt. For the most part he was a solid defensive player who made things happen offensively at times, but there was the occasional shift where he seemed to be partaking of some pecan pie elsewhere in the cosmos. On the other hand, he’s added a physical dimension to his game that I’m enjoying. B-
Ward: No doubt he’s playing some solid hockey on the third line. And while I said I’d never want him on the top two lines, I’ll take him over Dags any day of the week the way the latter is playing these days. Wardo is all hustle and if only he could skate and not fall on his butt when he tried to make a play, I’m sure he could score some goals at this level. B+
Juneau: Good solid game from our defensive centre. He also played the body a lot more than I’m used to seeing, and it’s a welcome sight. The break seemed to do him some good, as well, since he seemed to have extra jump. B
Dagenais: Unless we’re deep in the opposing zone and he’s parking himself in front to shoot on a Ribs pass, he’s completely useless; it’s like we’re playing a man short. He barely gives an effort in his own zone and is closer to a pilon than a hockey player in the neutral zone. Please, experiment over, send him down. F
Zednik: He’s suffering on this line. First, he and Ribs just can’t do it alone particularly in their own end, and secondly Zed seems to be resisting passing to Dags at all, not that I can blame him, anywhere else on the ice. Unfortunately, it reflects badly on Zed and it lowers his overall game. C+
Ribeiro: RDS said he was the best attacker on the Habs – by far – and gave him third star. No homerism there. Good heavens he was nigh on invisible most of the night, and when he did get the puck in the opponents zone at even strength, they’ve done their study and easily countered almost every move he made. Now, on the other hand, and this I have to emphasize, he worked harder than I’ve seen in a long, long time, it’s just a shame that with tight coverage and only one other guy on his line, he was contained rather easily. B
Ryder: Tougher game for him, and one has to wonder if he picked up a bad habit or two from the All-Star weekend (have I mentioned how much I hate that event?). While he still worked his way in and made some plays, it seemed he was a step behind most of the night, particularly on the cycle. Some work to be done for next game. C+
Bulis: Now he was on tonight. He had some great shots, was robbed significantly by Luongo, and worked really hard at both ends. I thought this was his best game in weeks. Nice to see him use the break to work on his game and get back to what works for him. A-
Koivu: He had a solid game and created his usual pile of chances while working his butt off every shift. Shame Ryder wasn’t on because Sax didn’t have his usual choices to pass to tonight. I think it’s a testament to how he played as to the number of minutes he was rewarded with: 22+ – extremely rare for a forward in Montreal in the last ten years. A-
Julien: A little late, but he finally took Dags off that line. I don’t care if he pulls Joe Schmo from the crowd, it’s still a better replacement. He played strength against strength with Koivu matched against the Panthers best line, and that was significantly in Montreal’s favour. He also saw that Komi was having a good game and stuck with him much more than usual.
Puck support: where was it? If there was one major issue with tonight’s game, it’s that the attacks, while numerous, weren’t as potent as they could have been because there were significant gaps between players at times. Ribs and Sax could have sued for support on some shifts when they got the puck only to see everyone skating everywhere but to them. When you’ve got two top-quality talents like those two, you’ve got to give them opportunities, not leave them one versus two to make a play.
Tampa next, and it’s going to be another very tough game – especially if Souray is out. Hopefully Rivet will be back if that’s the case so we can have a full contingent of defenders. If not, look for Dykhuis to be recalled again and not Hainsey (I think the latter is being dangled by Gainey at the moment). Tampa’s got a really good all-around team so it’s going to take a strong effort to pull out a victory.
A Concerned Fan