Before anything about the game can be mentioned, a tip of the hat has to be given to the fans of the Boston Bruins who showed more class on this night that fans in
As to the game itself, the Habs were dominated for the first six minutes or so, then after a goal against the run of play, basically took over the game for long stretches. They played a solid team defence, made good on chances against a rickety looking Raycroft, and actually scored on the power play. It wasn’t a complete domination, as certainly
I was pleased to hear that Thornton made a call to the rink manager before the game to discuss the quality of the ice, however obviously not a lot was done as, in the first five minutes alone, two pucks hopped over Koivu’s stick alone, not to mention the numerous other bizarre actions it took on both teams all night. Summer may be approaching, but when you’re in the playoffs, it should be required that the ice isn’t more akin to an outdoor rink or, worse yet, the
Theo: Who was that masked man! The only goal that got past him he still hasn’t seen. Pucks were hitting him in the chest all night – which means his positioning was finally good. He was a little nervous to start this one and bobbled a couple, and he was also a little deep in his net, not challenging like usual, but after that start, he was very solid. A-
Bouillon: Does anyone out there still believe this guy can’t play at this level on a consistent basis? Yes, occasionally he gets run around by the big boys now and again, and you’d never want to have him as one of your top guys, but the little things he does are great. He gets his body in good position and he is effective enough with his stick so plays can’t develop. B+
Brisebois: Early in this one he wasn’t playing the simple game, instead trying those famous Breeze-By plays that make you want to shave that horrid moustache with a dull blade. Fortunately he tightened up and played the rest of the game like he should have. B
Komisarek: Not only did he dish out some massive hits, not only was his game up to playoff intensity and speed, but Julien had enough confidence in him that he basically played a regular shift. He just didn’t have special teams time. My only question is why it took so long to get him in there. Yes, he made a couple of small errors, but quite honestly, his game showed some spit and polish that surprised me – he’s been working hard (as usual). The goal was his fault because he was puck watching, but he didn’t let it get to him and came back and played strong for the rest of the game. B
Souray: On the other hand…and let me just shake my head in wonderment here. For every great play Souray did tonight, there were at least two plays where he should have thwacked himself in the forehead. Some of his choices were terrible, he was beaten on the boards way too much for a big guy and at times he fiddled with the puck so long he basically handed it to the Bruins. Now he’s trying to do way too much. Since coming back from injury I think he’s decided he didn’t need recovery time and that he could just get back to his pre-injury game. Hardly. C-
Rivet: I’m not sure if it’s a sign of the apocalypse, but he was once again stellar. He didn’t make mistakes because he almost always chose the simple play. He was extremely tough, made the Bruins pay, and has been the biggest surprise these playoffs. A-
Markov: He has got to be the most subtle and underrated defender in hockey. His body position, stick work, and proactive defence are simply sublime. I like the way he’s willing to get his nose dirty as well, and he gets into it so much he gets banged around quite frequently. A-
Langdon: The thing that impressed me most about him was the fact he walked away when Boston was trying to stir the pot. Great control. N/A
Perreault: His first goal was excellent and he even threw the body once or twice early in this one, but was basically invisible after that – even though he’d taken up position on Ribeiro’s wing. C+
Ward: He’s been doing some great work, beating multiples of Bruins along the boards, and turning in a yeoman’s effort as usual. I just hope the injury was not as serious as the concussion that I thought it might have been. B
Juneau: While I thought it was a mirage, I rewound the tape and watched it a few more times. Yes, that was him. Alone. In front of Raycroft. Okay, he hit the guy in the crest with the shot, but at least he made it deep in the zone. Another solid defensive effort. B
Dowd: Here’s another guy who knows where to put his stick. I can just hear Pierre McGuire getting all excited while showing on the telestrator how effectively he cuts out plays with his stick alone. Add to that solid positioning and great hustle… B+
Bulis: Looking back on the end of this season, I can see where he’s struggling a little as compared to last year. I believe the reason is that he was taken off the checking line and put on a forward line and therefore picked up a couple of poor defensive habits, but he’s got to work out of that. He’s getting better, I think, but it’s slower than one might like. Decent game tonight, though not nearly his best. B-
Dagenais: Fairly solid statement that he was taken off Ribsy’s wing. Also fairly poignant when he had the puck at the side of an open net and missed. I’m not saying others don’t do that, but let’s be completely honest here, that’s all he’s here to do. C-
Ribeiro: “You reap what you sow.” Zed takes a shot to the head and no call. Even Ribs himself has to get high sticked twice before there’s a call. His name is in the books now, and he’ll never live that down – and he can ask Kovalev all about that. On another day, those kinds of missed calls might have cost the Habs; his actions were a disservice not just to himself and to the organization, but to his immediate teammates. His play was basically invisible tonight. Sullivan had the presence of mind to match Thornton up against him and if there’s a bigger mismatch in hockey, I’ve yet to see it. Maybe he likes the cool name I used to give to Sunny. He’s *got* to do more. C
Ryder: He had his customary three or four chances, but you can see he’s starting to feel snake bit when he gets to the slot with the puck and instead of shooting, he makes an ill-advised pass. Still, he works extremely hard otherwise at both ends of the rink and nailed a couple of Bruins with great hits. Shame Koivu can’t have three wingers, because Ryder is suffering for linemates at this point. C+
Zednik: Shades of ’02 in his game tonight. He carried Bruins on his back and still made things happen. He finally scored that elusive first goal, and it was on a hustle play and a nice scorers touch at the end. Hopefully this restores some lost confidence and he can explode in the final game(s) of the series. A much more consistent effort as well. B
Kovalev: A little more discreet tonight, though his shot was certainly an effective one on that goal. He’s another who’s exceedingly strong on the boards, and he wins board battles fairly often. Shame we probably won’t see a full year of him on this line, because I see it gelling now. No over-handling the puck tonight. B-
Koivu: When he has two serious linemates like he has now that give him some space, he can be deadly. For the last while his line has been dominant over whoever they’ve played and tonight was no exception. His vision was excellent and he goes hard to the net and tonight was rewarded. I heard mention that he took Kovalev aside to have a chat with him and make sure Kovy’s confidence level stayed up. Lousy captain indeed. A-
Julien: Finally Komi gets to play, though it’s a result of injury. I like that he’s stuck with his guns, though, because he sees that it’s working. Stay the course for game six and we have our shot.
PP: Dismal. Okay, we scored two on 5v3 situations, but let’s be honest here, when we only had one man to the good, we didn’t even gain the line. C-
PK: Can’t complain at perfection, though Boston a couple of times had control a little longer than I would have liked. A-
Team: Again, stuck to the game plan and worked through problem areas as a team. It’s working against Boston, and there could be an argument made that Montreal might be on to round two with slightly better goaltending and a little luck. It was certainly the opinion of more than a couple of different sports announcers. A-
Here are the two keys from the win: momentum and frustration. We’ve taken the first and given Boston a liberal dose of the second and when Thornton plays with frustration, he takes silly penalties. It’s probably his only weakness and the only thing holding him back from being the dominant player in hockey by a country mile, but we have to capitalize on it. With a quick start and another solid effort from everyone, there’s every reason to at least believe that we can head back to Boston.
On the other hand, overconfidence could be a small problem in Montreal right now. There’s been so much talk about the team dominating lately and that they could have won the last four games instead of two that they might go into the next one thinking they should win it. That would be the kiss of death.
Hard work at both ends. The lunch box crew and nothing else.
A Concerned Fan.