There’s good news and there’s bad news with this one. The bad news is obvious – we lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs and they deserved the win, being the better team tonight. The good news, however, is that we didn’t seem to be mentally prepared for the game and there were a lot of silly mistakes that really killed us. Why is this good? Well, while we lost, we can say that, had the team been fully prepared, we probably would have won.
We were also a little lucky tonight. The score could have been much, much worse. The Leafs have a very strong power play unit, and had the refs called the game the way it should be called, they would have had the chance to score many more times. Komisarek and Souray in particular were extremely lucky not to have been paraded to the penalty box a few times each.
Theodore: We start to see the results from the work that Melanson is doing with him. His upper body was far more upright tonight and he covered more net; better yet, he was square to the puck much more. Unfortunately, this is a process and there were things still wrong with his game. His rebound control was poor, leading to two goals, and he was on his knees long before some shots were even taken. You can see that this is a guy whose confidence is low right now. However, as mentioned, this is the beginning of the process, and a good start. B-
Komisarek: He made some massive hits, which was really nice to see. Unfortunately, he probably should have gone to the box for at least one, if not two of them. Confidence is a problem here as well, as he continued his hot and cold play. On the one hand, he is using his stick to advantage more and more. On the other, he’s making some passes which are ill-advised. Still, improvement is there. B+
Rivet: A largely mistake-free game. I didn’t notice him much, and I like it that way. B
Dandenault: He’s getting better with his stick and his defensive game is getting better as a result. I’m disappointed, however, that he’s not getting any shots. For an offensive defenceman, he’s been rather inoffensive. B-
Bouillon: He’s not standing out anymore, but that’s not because he’s playing worse, rather the team around him is playing better. A solid, if not spectacular game. B
Souray: If reading his name makes you groan, then perhaps you understand how I feel. He was awful tonight. He struggled horribly everytime he had the puck, and now that his confidence is nose-diving, he’s second guessing everything he does – which leads, of course, to more mistakes. And when he gets frustrated, he does silly things, which should have had him in the box. Think simplicity, Sheldon. We’re begging you. C-
Markov: There was one shift, later in the game, when he held the puck in at the Leaf blueline over and over and over again. All by himself he kept the pressure on the Leafs and gave their defence fits. Once again, this was a game that showed how he’s head and shoulders above everyone else on the Montreal defence. A-
Begin: Well, the sad thing is that he made a mistake on the first Lindros goal. The good thing is that the rest of the game was a typical one for him. They had him miked tonight and played back a few things that he said. “What a shot” was heard after Plekanec’s goal, and “Yer always flying” was told to Higgins. He’s a real leader on the ice – not just with his play, but in his words to teammates. B+
Higgins: He’s always flying. It’s so true. He’s constantly battling and making things happen out there. What a delight to watch. B+
Plekanec: Aside from his goal, which was a wicked shot and a tour de force from the beginning of that shift to the end, he was brilliant all night. Here’s the most interesting fact, though: when Dags suffered his inevitable benching, Plex went to the second line – as the centre. If Ribeiro wasn’t worried before, he better be worried now. A
Sundstrom: A typical solid game from Sundstrom. He was good in his own end and that’s what matters. He did make one uncharacteristic giveaway, though, but didn’t get burned for it. B-
Bonk: How unfortunate that, in completing his coverage, the puck took a bounce off his skate to land on the stick of Lindros who then scored the winner. Bonk played a far better game at both ends than we’ve seen yet this season. B+
Bulis: Toronto was smart and cut out the skating lanes very well. Bulis’ speed was countered very nicely and he didn’t seem to be able to find a way to get around it. Still, he continued his hard work and made things happen. B-
Dagenais: Aside from one shift in the first where he played fairly well and got a couple of shots, he was nigh on useless. The bench where he was parked for the second half of the game, however, was well used. Pray that Zednik is healthy for Boston, and then bu-bye Dags. Perhaps for good. D-
Ryder: He showed glimpses of what he can do, but he’s also getting greedy out there. Where he used to pass the puck off, now he’s trying to beat the second defender after going by the first. He’s also still not getting into any kind of shooting position… not that there’s much opportunity since that line gets buried in their own end a lot. C+
Ribeiro: You know, he can play with the puck really well, and he passes very well, but when he has wingers that can’t get him the puck to work with, he might as well just sit and relax. Heck, even when he does get the puck, half the time he’s pushed off like a gnat. He was very lazy at times tonight. On one particular play he had the puck stripped and made one half-hearted attempt to get it back before giving up. C+
Perezhogin: Prez the Bug was the only Hab who used his speed tonight. It got us the first goal of the game and caused Toronto fits a few times. I’m beginning to notice that he’s got fairly good hand-eye coordination as well, as he wins more puck battles than I feel he has a right to win. B+
Kovalev: His first period was magical. If you weren’t staring in awe at some of the things you did then perhaps your pacemaker needs tweaking. That was easily his best period of the year, and perhaps his best as a Hab – and that’s saying something. The rest of the game was good as well, but I’ve not seen him hustle like he did in the first since he played with Pittsburgh. A-
Koivu: A solid, but not special game. He was bullied a bit more as the Leafs worked the limits of the obstruction game. (Why is it that Toronto is the team that seems to benefit most from bad refereeing? Conspiracy theory, or Pat Quinn whining too much?) B+
Julien: Here’s hoping he comes to the correct conclusion that Dags should have played his last game in a Habs uniform. I’m not sure I can see giving the guy another chance. For whatever reason, the team tonight seemed unfocussed as the passing and reception of passes weren’t as crisp as usual. Without more intimate knowledge, the outsider, like me, has to put that to mental preparation for the team.
PP: Too static despite scoring one. We’re not gaining the blueline with control, and when we do hammer it into the zone, we’re not placed well enough to win it back – nor are we winning the battles.
SH: Our defenders backed in much quicker than usual tonight, thus conceeding the blueline to the Leafs. Against a team that excels on the power play, that can’t be good.
I hope the reffing coordinators take a long look at that game and give a long talking to the refs in question. There were far too many things that were let go that should have been called and it felt much too much at times like a game from last season. If the league goes back to clutch and grab, I think I’m going to retire.
Boston comes to town on Tuesday looking for revenge. Hopefully the boys can be fully prepared for the game or we could be looking at our third loss in as many games on home ice. It should be another physical affair so I suspect there will be little change in the lineup that was strong against the Leafs tonight. We have a couple of nights rest before then, as well, so we should come out strong.
Time to win one at home.
A Concerned Fan