There’s little doubt in my mind that the focus in the next two games before the third contest in
Once again the Habs game was riddled with mental errors; permeated with simple execution errors; loaded with stupid mistakes. With the exception of precious few players, the Habs beat themselves once again, rather than having the other team do the work. In fact, had they played the entire game much like they played the second, who knows what the result might have been.
At the very least, for one of the few times these playoffs, they can honestly say that their goaltending was not a source of concern.
Theo: Save after save after save. Breakaways and redirections and in close encounters, oh my! A+
Bouillon: Will the real Cube please stand up? He seems to be slowly playing his way out of the lineup and I have this feeling that when Quintal comes back, it might be he, and not Komi, who takes the seat. Mental errors galore in this one – not to mention being run ragged. D+
Brisebois: Better than last game, but that’s not saying much. He’s getting beaten constantly in his own zone. C
Rivet: The simple plays are gone and so’s his game. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but when we’ve become used to seeing him play almost flawlessly, then games like this are painful. He made a couple of terrible mental errors and occasionally screwed up in execution as well. C+
Markov: Completely hot and cold night. On the one hand he makes some completely brilliant plays and you wonder if there’s anyone in the league who can do the same things. On the other hand, his head didn’t seem in the game for the entire time and he probably made more errors in this one than in the last ten combined. C
Komisarek: Upped his minutes and upped his errors. But you know what? You have to expect that from a rookie, and the simple fact is that, while he made some errors, they were far less drastic in general than anyone else on the defence! Right now he’s out performing guys making piles more than he is. B-
Souray: I think Lecavalier’s goal at the end of the second says it all. Souray skates from his zone to the Tampa blue line then loses the puck. No pressure. Just lost the puck. And while it’s easy to say the ice is an excuse, there are 37 other players who were using that same surface. Tampa also makes him look slow – really slow. I’m not sure if it’s his positioning or just bad timing or maybe poor decisions, but he’s being beaten inside and out. C-
Langdon: He took a brutal penalty. Other than that, he was barely on the ice. N/A
Sundstrom: He looked *much* better tonight. Now, he wasn’t perfect, but at least he looked like he knew how to play the game. C+
Begin: A little more hitting tonight, but still, he doesn’t seem to have the same jump that he had in the Boston series, which is disappointing. B-
Juneau: That he’s lost a pace or three doesn’t bother me because he’s smart enough to know how to equalize that in the course of the play. But when he starts losing his battles, then I start to worry. There were only a couple, but it happens so rarely that they stood out to me. C
Dowd: Mr. Reliability. You know what he’s going to do, and you know he’s going to do it well. He was hitting, playing hard, and was strong at both ends. Love this guy. B+
Bulis: Tough to get into a rhythm as he played on three lines on this night, but he was still pretty good. At least he has the speed to counter Tampa with and he uses it well. It’s obvious that, while he likes playing on the first two lines, he doesn’t have the offensive skill to keep up at this point. It’s also obvious that he’s a good checker. Still, I didn’t see as much from him as I would have liked. B-
Dagenais: Best game in ages. Everyone tell Julien to keep it up. A+
Perreault: Another who was bounced around all night but he was decent wherever he went. I like that he’s putting in the extra effort and is using the body now and again. He may not have the pure talent that Ribs does in terms of dishing out the puck, but he makes up for it, in my mind, with his experience and the fact that he’s a proven goal scorer. B-
Ribeiro: Came back from his benching and looked better. For two periods, and particularly the second, he was actually almost dangerous for a time, and he has to be or else the opposition only has one line to worry about. Oh, and for anyone thinking that next year will look great with him in the lineup, remember the way he’s playing now and how utterly useless he’s been in the playoffs. The rest of the NHL knows how to beat him now. B-
Ryder: I will pay cash to the person who can get the monkey off his back. If there’s anyone else in the playoffs right now who’s had more quality chances by has had goalies made supreme saves that consistently, I’d like to see him. You have to think that his work is going to pay off soon and he’s going to start scoring in loads. Fingers crossed. B
Zednik: Bounced from line one to line two in an attempt to help get Ribs out of his funk, but was mostly ineffective on this night, being held to the perimeter and not creating much danger at all. He’s got to do better. C+
Kovalev: Played like a superstar at times tonight. He was really good with the puck – totally on his game – and was making little plays and passes that were excellent. He added a physical element to his game and when he does that, look out! He completely clobbered some Tampa defender at one point. Now, if he can just find the range, and make those finishing moves, he’s in business. B+
Koivu: The captain takes it up yet another notch (how many does he have in reserve?) and few decide to follow. His goal was pure heart and grit and the rest of his game was much the same. He and Kovy were the only two that seemed to put out a consistent effort on each shift, and they two alone will be the offensive sparks that get Montreal back into the series. A-
Julien: We should retire his suit for benching Dagenais. He made the requisite adjustments, that much was clear, particularly looking at the second period. Now his job will be motivation and convincing the guys that they can play error free. His is not the job of execution, his is the job of teaching. I can see that he adjusted well to Tampa, now the boys have to do the job.
PP: WE SCORED. For that alone, I give an A.
PK: They scored. But it was a 5v3 and we looked okay for the rest of the night. B
Team: For stretches, it was better. From time to time we were not only good, we were great. But we didn’t execute the system consistently, nor did we execute the simple plays – like passing and receiving a pass – consistently. There were good signs, but they were limited to the second period for the most part. C
Well, back to Montreal in a similar situation to series one, except this time we can honestly say we didn’t deserve to win that game, despite the stellar goaltending on either side. Chances are the ice will be infinitely better, so we need to take advantage and execute properly. Notice the theme in this posting? Mental errors and execution? I think if Montreal masters those, we can compete with Tampa. If not, golf is the order of the day.
A Concerned Fan.