Not a whole lot to say about this one except that we skated with the Devils very well. We trapped as well as they did, attacked as well as they did, and our special teams were as good as theirs were. That tells me we’re going to do just fine in the playoffs as long as we stick to our game. I think the first ten minutes of the game was the worst I’ve ever seen the contemporary Devils play, however after that they were just fine, and played the feisty, in-your-face type of game that makes them so successful.
Garon: I was uncomfortable with him tonight. His lateral movements had him sliding too far on occasion and when he does that, he’s just not on his game. One thing that I have noticed that will only come with more game time is that he doesn’t follow the puck nearly as well as Theodore. More than a couple of times he completely lost sight of the puck and sat in the butterfly in his net wondering where it was. He’s also very ineffective when playing the puck, even going so far as to play it away from the open teammate. However, he does have some of the best reflexes in the game and certainly some of the best legs. It was a good, not great performance. B-
Bouillon: He played a fine game and didn’t get caught out. It was a pretty typical game for him, solid defence and the occasional rush. B
Dykhuis: As a depth defenseman, he’s great. When we need someone to fill in for injury he’s one of the best in hockey, probably. Yes, he’s a panic guy, and yes, he is prone to making mistakes, but tonight he did his job and did it well. I’ve no complaints. B
Rivet: A very solid game where he made one glaring error, and that was the pinch in overtime. Other than that, I feel that defensively this was one of, if not his best game of the season. Furthermore, he pushed himself into the attack occasionally. A
Markov: Oh the subtle things you can do with a stick that so few notice. Mostly discreet on this night, he still made some fine plays that were of this subtle variety. Yes, the goal was partially his responsibility, however let’s be honest here, he did have his man fairly well tied up, since the poor guy had to go head over heels to score the goal. I give kudos to the goal-scorer on that one as much as I take away from Markov. B+
Souray: For a first game back, it was really encouraging. His timing was off, naturally, and a couple of times he whiffed completely on passes, but he’s a big strong presence who, when his confidence fully returns, will make a huge difference.
Komisarek: Let’s start by saying that yes, he made a couple of errors and yes he made a couple of rookie panic plays. Now, let’s move on to the fact that his confidence has sailed, his game is light years ahead of where it was a mere three games ago, his puck moving ability is finally solid, and he’s one mean SOB. If Quintal didn’t watch that game thinking to himself, “Oh no,” then there’s something wrong with him. After seeing Komi tonight, I don’t take him out of the lineup anymore, short of an abysmal game, and only use Quintal as a depth guy. A
Ward: A couple of fine hits and a more energetic game than in recent days. Although he was weak on the boards a couple of times – not like him. B-
Sundstrom: He, on the other hand, was much stronger on the boards than usual, and played a solid game at both ends otherwise. B+
Begin: Typically running around the rink nailing people to the walls. It was a solid game for him, though not his best. B+
Ryder: Dipped to the third line and yet still managed to create out there. In fact, I was pretty darned impressed with what he accomplished on that line. He made some fine plays, was hustling at least as hard as usual, and was strong with the body. B+
Bulis: Timing is still off, as evidenced by his big swing and a miss in the first period, but as is typical for him, he used his speed to create chances. When he’s back in form, he’s going to be great. B+
Dowd: A discreet night offensively with only a couple of chances, but another stellar job defensively against the Devils’ best. B+
Dagenais: I wasn’t impressed. He made one nice play to outreach a defender for a tip on goal, but other than that was nigh on useless offensively and was typically sour defensively. I feel we’ve got better tools in the shed. D
Kovalev: Another step forward tonight as he kept his feet moving more and was skating with the puck well. Made a few wonderful plays where he controlled the game himself for good stretches of time, but occasionally went a little too far with it, in his own zone, instead of playing the team game. B
Ribeiro: He had a poor first and was mostly invisible for the rest of the game. Except of course for when he was high-sticked….with what looked like Dags’ stick. C+
Perreault: Again this guy was hitting! Who’s in that 94 shirt? Now, tonight we saw his real weakness in the Montreal zone when the Habs failed to clear. He was unable to win battles along the boards then. It’s something he has to work on significantly, or he’ll not last that much longer on that line. B
Zednik: Fantastic first, but again, he has trouble defensively clearing the puck. A couple of times he was close but instead chose to skate with it rather than chip it past the defender. B
Koivu: The first was incredible, then Madden stepped up his game and showed why he’s one of the best checkers in hockey – the Koivu line had trouble the rest of the night. Still, at least he managed a few chances as the game wore on. B
Julien: I liked some of his changes, but not others. I think Komi’s play will go a long way to defining the defence as the playoffs come closer, but I’m concerned with the Dagenais situation.
Team: Well, we can trap with the best of ‘em. Goodie for us. Well, it is good for us, but boring as spit for us as well. 5-3 in shots in the third. Whee. Get out the antacid. A-
Part two of this series comes tomorrow night in Montreal and you can bet that Brodeur is salivating over this one. To get his 400th in Jersey would have been find and dandy, but to get it at home? That’s worth all the gold in China. To counter this, the Habs have Theo back between the pipes, and that’ll make for a stellar game to watch in terms of goaltending.
Now, if only they could leave the trap in Jersey.