Second win in a row, and it’s certainly a great way to start the season, even if the wins weren’t done in the most convincing fashion. Once again the Ribeiro’s line struggled at both ends of the rink, and they were particularly painful at five-on-five. Tonight Koivu’s line seemed to struggle a little more as well, which might be due to getting a different winger, however I get the feeling they’re just having a tough start to the season.
On the other hand, isn’t it about time that we finally have some youth that we can insert in the lineup. And isn’t it wonderful that the youth we put in the lineup aren’t horrible skaters or one dimensional players – no, every single one we’ve seen thus far has been a very pleasant surprise. Higgins has been fantastic, as has Plekanec. Tonight we get to see our first game with Perezhogin, and he was flying! The future sure does look good at this point.
Theodore: Last night he let in one goal, yet I felt he didn’t have the greatest of games because that goal was, quite frankly, putrid. Tonight, however, he lets in three, yet he could do nothing on any of them – rather, his team let him out to dry. Just goes to show you how stats can lie. My one big concern is keeping him IN the net, rather than wandering. A-
Rivet: Another quiet night where he did his job. I didn’t particularly notice him therefore I’m quite happy. Nothing spectacular, just an efficient night. B+
Dandenault: Ouchkibibble. I’m going to put down a lot of the problems he had tonight to playing most of it with Souray, because lemme tell you, the two were horrid. There seemed to be a complete lack of communication and instead of looking like someone who played for a Cup winning team, Dandy looked more like he’s just come from the Panthers. C-
Komisarek: Anotehr solid game, and this time he even did a little better on his outlet passes. I’m really impressed with his game down low. I was concerned that a lack of footspeed would either have him sitting in the penalty box too often, or it would have attackers blowing by him at will. Neither is happening because positionally he’s doing really well. B
Souray: In a complete reversal from two years ago, Souray looked more like someone who should be in Hamilton rather than someone whose name was being whispered in sentences with the word Norris. Mistake after mistake followed him on the ice, and instead of keeping things simple, he’s trying to be something he’s not by doing way too much. Stop chasing the big hits and just play your game, Sheldon! D
Bouillon: Another super game from the little big man. The key to his game is his mobility. He’s rarely going to get beaten unless someone tries to drive through him – and his stick work is too good to let that happen. B+
Markov: Glimpses of brilliance all night. He made Jagr look ordinary, was exemplary on the boards, and if you want a textbook way of playing positional hockey, just watch and admire. If that wasn’t enough, he has an incredible ability to pick that puck out and collect it. He keeps this improvement up and those Norris whispers should go here. Except I’d prefer shouts. He’s doing that well. A (Because I know he can do even more, which is scary!)
Begin: What can I say? Another feisty game. Helps that the two he plays with are as feisty as he is in their own way. Gee, wonder why Julien paired the kids with him!! B+
Plekanec: Even better than his first game this year, he was mucking it up and playing excellent two-way hockey. Jarvis must be a genious! Sweet touch pass to Higgins for the goal. B+
Higgins: I honestly can’t see him staying on the fourth line for very long… except that he plays SO well with his linemates that it’s almost as good as the second line. In fact, at this point, I wouldn’t mind seeing this line on the power plays rather than one of the other two. A-
Bulis: A quiet night for him because his speed was somewhat neutralized by a very fast Ranger team. B
Sundstrom: This is a very one-dimensional player – defensive. He was on a break and I think he hit Weekes directly in the crest. Might even have ruffled the shirt with the power behind the shot, but that’s debatable. Still, I’ll take that defensive experience. B
Bonk: I think it’s going to take him a little longer to get himself comfortable here in Montreal. He looked out of sorts at times in the offensive zone and had me thinking of Linden when he was here. At least he’s very strong defensively. B-
Dagenais: First thing he does is take another stupid penalty tonight. Now, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more selfish player, and I don’t just mean offensively. When in his own zone, it’s like he’s playing for himself. He doesn’t get involved and help out his teammates in scrums, he either pulls the puck out for himself, or he gives up. His pass to Ryder was a dandy, but let’s not fool ourselves. Had he handled Ribeiro’s pass cleanly that was going to be a shot. D+
Ryder: Scored two goals tonight, so it’s hard to argue with. However I really don’t like how he’s become a somewhat lazy player. Last year he hustled his butt off and that’s what got him where he is today. Now he goes long stretches where he doesn’t seem to give any second effort. I’ll give him a B, but only because he scored two.
Ribeiro: That he got a point on the power play was good, but man oh man are we in trouble if this new speedy NHL has left him behind. He’s a shadow of what he was last season – basically invisible five-on-five. When he gets the puck he either does too much or his linemates fail him. And defensively he’s nothing but a cancer right now. Lots of work to do here; hopefully his attitude has changed enough for him to realize it. C-
Perezhogin: He skated hard all night and he had all the markings of a true goalscorer. He was greedy and he drove to the net as much as possible. I’m a little surprised he sat on the bench in the first game, since what I saw tonight tells me he’s an NHLer easily. Oh, and that goal? Gorgeous. B+
Kovalev: Quite frankly, he was lazy at times. If there was a scrum on the boards near where he was, he’d put a stick in, but that was about it. I really hope we didn’t resign the regular season Kovie and that he’s just warming up to the year… Now, having said all that, he missed about three solid scoring opportunities. C+
Koivu: He played a solid, if not spectacular game. It was an improvement over the last one, for sure, though with Kovalev not quite with it, Koivu was made to look more ordinary. He still hustles every shift, but I feel he’s not taking on opponents enough, instead looking for a simple pass. B
Julien: When Zednik gets healthy I hope Julien takes a good long look at what Perez and Zed bring to the lineup as opposed to Dags and one of the two. I know Dags works well with Ribby, there’s no real denying that, however that second line right now is really brutal.
PP: Static. Even on the five-on-three’s we had five guys standing basically on the spot waiting for the puck carrier to do something. Never going to succeed that way, guaranteed.
PK: Excellent again. There’s lots of movement here, and while I think people would call it a passive box, I’d rather call it a quasi-attacking dynamic diamond. If the opponents slip up even a second, the Habs are all over him, and the ‘box’ moves in relation to the puck, which makes it seem more like a diamond.
I’d like to bring everyone’s attention once again to Markov. If he continues playing anything like he did tonight, make sure you get out there and put his name on the All-Star ballot. Perhaps it’s a little early to talk about such things, but every single season we’ve seen continual improvement in his game, and I think this season he’s going to really prove that he’s becoming an elite defender, thus proving that you don’t have to give bone crunching hits to be awesome on the blueline, you just have to play the position really, really well.
Off to Toronto for another grudge match against the Leafs. From all accounts, Sundin won’t be in the lineup, but that’s no reason to be overconfident, and I’m sure Julien will make sure the boys realize that. In Lindros and Allison they still have a potentially explosive centre tandem that could dominate a game. Montreal has to get that puck deep and challenge the Leaf defence in order to pull this one out, I believe. Hey, Hockey Night in Canada is back!
A Concerned Fan