You never want to see the refs decide a game, and in this one they tried hard not to be the deciding factor, but in the end, an errant slash gave the Bruins the chance to win and take the series back home to see if they can seal the deal. This is in no way intended to look for excuses for the loss, but facts are facts, and the reffing, as usual, has been atrocious during the playoffs, and one can only hope there aren’t many other games decided in such a fashion.
The good news is that
Theo: Sure, he made plenty of good saves, but the simple fact of the matter is that he let in two goals, the first two, that he should have saved. This game should have been won far before the third period even started, but our goaltending has been severely outplayed by that of the Bruins. Chants for Garon should start soon as Theo has been anything but a star. All I see in the
Bouillon: It wasn’t his best game, but he was solid enough. There were a couple of instances where he was run around by the Bruins, but it didn’t cost us this time. He lacked that offensive flair on this night, however. B-
Brisebois: Sometimes I wonder if he thinks before he makes a play. Sliding on a simple zone entry is painful to see and when he goes to make a hit and ends up hitting the ground as his man skates away is terrible to watch. Despite a few bonehead plays, however, he turned in a decent game, if not his best. B-
Quintal: That looked painful. He took a hook and slid into the boards with his arm behind him while trying to score a goal. Somehow he played another shift or two, but as the third started, he was nowhere to be seen. Up until that point he’d played probably his most consistent game of the series – in limited time. If he is injured, however, at least this will give Komi a small chance. N/A
Souray: I was shaking my head when he made to Breeze By plays where he literally gave the puck to the Bruins in the Habs zone. He was feisty, yes, and he did recover from those plays to offer up a decent game, but right now I think he’s trying to do a little too much and needs to get back to the basics. C+
Rivet: For a guy that everyone hated half way through the season he’s sure turned it around. He was steady and solid all night. He didn’t do anything flashy of spectacular, but did his job quietly and efficiently. When I don’t write a defensive defenseman’s name down on my notes, I know he’s played well – and he did. B+
Markov: Despite not being able to tie up Knuble on the tying goal, he was spectacular tonight. He did all the little things that people just don’t take the time to see. He was proactive and stopped plays before they started. He used his body wonderfully, taking people out of the play without a big hit and retaining control of the puck. He won his one-on-one battles and was superb at picking pucks out of scrums. In short, he was all that and a bag of all-dressed chips. A
Langdon: I wonder if he has a DVD player on the bench? N/A
Perreault: For those who think he should be in the lineup because he can win faceoffs, let the numbers and the facts show that he wasn’t used in those situations much at all, and the Habs just don’t need him. After about 90 minutes of hockey, he played seven, though on his first shift he hit Thornton. N/A
Juneau: He didn’t play all that much, but when he did he was effective. And while he may not be the offensive guru, he did almost make a Boston defender look silly with a slick between-the-legs play. B-
Ward: On the second Ribeiro goal he was stellar. No, he was spectacular. It was him, and him alone attacking and winning the play against two Bruins before Ribs stole it off his stick and put the puck in the net. Wardo was hitting everything tonight and was solid at both ends. B
Dowd: He lost his man on the Nylander goal, but honestly, I think that was the only mistake he made the entire game, and it was a goal that Theo should have had. I’m not sure any acquisition that Gainey made can be called underrated, but I think he might be. The little things he puts into the game are sublime. B
Bulis: He failed to clear on Boston’s second goal, but I can think of at least two time when his defence saved a goal all on its own. He wasn’t using his speed as well as the last game, but he was effective in both ends, made things happen offensively and was strong on defence. Okay, he can’t finish, but at least he gets the opportunities which keeps the puck away from the Bruins. B
Dagenais: At times he was really good, but unfortunately those were few and far between. For much of the match he was ‘that third guy’ on the line with Ribs and Ryder. He’s starting to play more physically now, which is nice to see, but it isn’t consistent and there are far too many shifts where he’s a passenger. C+
Ribeiro: Two nice goals and that’s always good to see. He was in the right place at the right time for goal one, and the same for goal two. On his regular shift, though, it was hit and miss – with miss happening all too frequently. Now, that’s not to say he was bad, because he was anything but. He looks to finally have awakened enough to make things happen more than once or twice a game, but despite the two goals, he didn’t create nearly as much as he did in the regular season. B-
Ryder: After last game you would be excused if you expected him to break out and score five. Tonight was a tough night however as the Bruins paid some special attention to him. He wasn’t allowed to make the same plays that he did last game, and it’ll be interesting to see how he adapts to the new coverage. B-
Zednik: Two years ago, this player was on the top of the world. Now, he won’t cut to the net if his life depends on it, probably because he thinks his life depends on it. He had about a hundred chances tonight and failed to bury any of them – though in large part that was Raycroft’s doing. Still, though, you can just sense the hesitation when the going gets extra tough. If he can just take that last step and get to where he was, he’d be dominant. B
Kovalev: And suddenly, Gainey is completely vindicated. Kovalev was a superstar tonight, carrying the play for long stretches, and in the middle of the offensive action more often than not. He also played a complete game and managed to bail out his teammates a couple of times for some great defensive plays. If he handles the puck too long at times, it’s because that’s what a superstar does to make things happen. If he stays on too long occasionally, it’s the same thing. Yes, he should cut the shifts shorter, but man is he strong and intelligent with that puck. If the Habs could only manage to beat Boston, this guy is getting better and better and would be completely devastating in later rounds. A-
Koivu: Simply put, Sax is infinitely better than Thornton, the supposed superstar. For almost the entire game, every shift gave up a fantastic chance. He was completely dominant at times and showed a vision that was remarkable. One of the keys to his game, and the reason he plays much bigger than he is, is the fact that he uses his body extremely well. There is no one on the team – except maybe Markov – who is even close. When he gets that puck, he uses momentum and his body as a shield and can do what few in the game can and make something out of nothing. There were two dominant players on the ice tonight, and Raycroft was the other. A
Julien: I’m not sure what he could have done differently, since he can’t really put Garon in the nets without getting eaten alive. Perhaps next game he can give the kid, as well as Komi, a shot. Certainly, we didn’t lose because of anything Julien did – he gave the team everything they needed to win.
PP/PK: The power play, while it had some chances, failed to produce yet again. The PK was perfect, though Boston did retain possession for stretches. Room to improve on both sides. D+/B+
Team: There were brief stretches when the forwards and defence didn’t communicate well and left each other out to dry, but in general the team played extremely well, stuck to the system, and was let down because of holes in the back end. B+
Pivotal game four goes to the Bruins and now we get to see just what the Habs are made of. Even if they lose the next game, they have to push those Bruins hard and make Boston earn the win. There’s no folding like a cheap tent allowed at this stage, even if the series is all but out of hand. It’s these games, when everything’s up against it, that the best of the best come out and strut their stuff.
And with any luck, McGeough won’t be the ref.
A Concerned Fan