For the first time this year, our season is facing extinction. And, yet, I don’t think we should feel the slightest bit worried. We’ve been the better hockey team thus far, and as long as that trend continues and the big guys play their big games, a continuation of the series should be in the cards. Tonight, Game Five awaits the Habs in Boston.
A lot was made of Alex Kovalev. Kovalev, as you know, took a slash as he was cutting through the middle of the ice, spiralled out of control, and eventually saw the puck spin onto the stick of the league’s newest OT hero in Glen Murray.
What should be found truly amazing is that the man who quite possibly has kept us from enduring a season ending four game exit to the Bruins is being critized by fans, media, and teammates alike. Sheldon Souray had some harsh, but perhaps true, words for Kovalev after his OT gaffe. But, wait a tick, who’s mistake was it? I mean, here we have a forward in Kovalev drifting slowly towards Souray, yet the blueliner was not only further up the ice than Kovalev, but did not even have the prescence of mind to move and dodge his teammate. Not to point the finger at anyone here, but that postgame piece of critism coming from Souray seems sort of out of place, considering he was at fault, too.
Regardless, we lost the game, as unfortunate as it may have been, and now we have to move on.
Up front, Saku Koivu has been excellent for us all series. Who cares whether or not Joe Thornton’s rib is bothering him, he has been thoroughly dominated by our very own captain. On his wings, Zednik and Kovalev have made a big difference, and I expect that they will come through yet again. After all, for all his hard work and numerous oppurtunities, it seems as if Richard Zednik has not scored since he was seventeen. Streaky as he may be, one of those pucks has got to go in, and soon.
Mike Ribeiro played a great game for us on Tuesday, and his two goals were timely and well deserved. Now, though, he must come through yet again for us in Game Five. He is a guy who can match Michael Nylander step for step, and as long as our first line is outplaying their first line, we need just for Ribs to stay on par with their second unit.
In the grit department, Jason Ward and Craig Rivet have each had a great series so far. Ward has been all hustle, and while the offence isn’t there everything else is and he’s a charm to have on the Habs. It’s guys like these that make you proud to be a fan. Rivet got some flack for his icing of the puck late in Game Four, but I have a hard time knocking a guy who’s been playing with his heart on his sleeve all series.
Stephane Quintal will not play for us tonight, his injury suffered in Game Four spelled out a definite no for Thursday, but on the plus side we will finally get to see Mike Komisarek. Unfortunately, Komi’s debut had to come at the expense of a classy veteran, but big Q is no longer one of our better defenders. In fact, Komisarek could inject quite a bit to our blueline.
And, lastly, we have Jose Theodore. A great goalie indeed, but it seems as if his expiry date was two weeks ago. Of course he will play, and he deserves to unless he plays himself out of the game, but his weak goals have been costly to the team. He’s as big a name as we currently have, and when he makes those calming, acrobatic saves he can fill a stadium with cheers. However, when an Andy Hilbert wrist shot slides by you, or you put on a shrinking cloke and allow Michael Nylander to beat you in tight from the side of the goal — you need to give your head a shake.
Jose is a great goalie and I think he will come through for us. He has to, after all. This is a big test for him, perhaps more so than for anyone else out on the ice. If he can’t play his best now, he may as well tuck all of the talent away and concentrate on something else.
We have to believe in Kovalev. We have to believe in Theo. But, most of all, we’ve got to believe in our Habs. They can win this series and they know that. They’re not going down with out a fight, and by the time it’s all said and done, their could very well be a stuffed Bruin or two hanging in Bob Gainey’s office.