This was an very poorly played game for the Canadiens. They failed to do virtually everything good that put them on top of the Eastern Conference. There were poor plays from every player, and sadly it was led by the guy who is supposed to be the best, and not the worst. Theo was painfully bad. And when I say painfully, I mean just that. My throat hasn’t hurt that much from yelling at our goalie in a long time.
We certainly got a taste of our own medicine, anyhow, as the Rags zipped past us and attacked our defence with speed. In fact, if you want to see how we should have played, I hope you enjoyed the game from the Rangers – that’s usually us against other teams. This was, for the Canadiens, a true team loss because we just did nothing that would have given us a chance to win.
Theopendoor: What was he thinking on Jagr’s goal? Theodore, who’d been on his knees before the shot came, and quite possibly before the pass came, gave the puck a loving high-five and then watched it trickle into the net. He followed that up by taking an easy shot and directing the rebound directly on the stick of Rosie. Perhaps he had his years confused. D
Danis: Coming in cold is never an easy thing, but he did a good job. Neither goal was his fault, and I felt he played very solid. Rumour has it he was supposed to start on Monday, but I have a feeling he won’t, and that Theo will be given the chance to redeem himself. B
Komisarek: Interestingly that, on a night when most struggled, Komi actually seemed to play a fairly good game. He wasn’t spectacular, but he was solid, holding his position well, and generally covering up for his partner who … we’ll get to that. B
Bouillon: Scrambly at times, though I liked the way he worked against Jagr. He may be smaller and he may have had no real chance of dispossessing the guy, but at least he shoved him around a little and made Jagr DO something. B-
Dandenault: He actually played a solid game and even jumped into the rush a few times, which was really good to see. He’s really reduced his mistakes in his own zone and is using his stick to advantage these days. B
Souray: Who does he think he is? Scott Stevens? Everytime someone came to the Montreal blueline, there was Souray, throwing himself at the guy in the vain hope that his opponent would somehow be blind and not see him coming. Over and over he put his team in trouble while going for the big hit. I think, after watching his success rate in hits, I’m going to just call him Whiff. C-
Markov: Boy oh boy did Moore make him look silly in the opening moments. This was not the best game at all for Markov, though I have a feeling it was the first plays that killed his confidence a little. He did, after that, play okay, but was really nowhere near where he needs to be for us. A decidedly average game for him. B
Higgins: Fourth line action, but he did well enough in his little time. I wish they’d had more time on the ice though, Higgs in particular made things happen. B
Plekanec: Another great game – despite getting limited time and playing on that fourth line. He was a buzzing bee around the Ranger defensemen and always seemed to find the puck. B+
Perezhogin: He played most of the night with Koivu, but ended up here at the end. It wasn’t necessarily that he was playing poorly, because he wasn’t, but he showed rough edges tonight and wasn’t nearly refined enough in his play. He was solid on the puck, but his decisions in the offensive zone weren’t the greatest. B-
Begin: Solid, if not spectacular game here. He threw his hits and made his plays, but his linemates were holding him back. B
Bulis: I felt he struggled at times, and in his own zone looked a little disorganized. His play with the puck was fine enough, but there was a lack of synchronization between him and his linemates that wasn’t usually there. B-
Bonk: Okay on the defensive end and about as useful as a jar of strawberry preserve in the offensive zone. This was just not his night overall, and I felt he really struggled against the Ranger speed. C+
Dagenais: Wait for it… Dags was… good. Nay, he was quite good on this night. Now, I know what you’re thinking: signs of the Apocalypse, but seriously, he played well. He made more solid hits tonight than he’s ever done in a Habs uniform – including one that really rang someone’s bell. He was also going hard to the net, and he really played well in traffic. One might say he played like a guy who’d been told: Last Chance. Let’s tell him that every night. (It almost hurts me to give this mark.) A-
Ryder: Ah, the Ryder of old. Yeah, defensively he’s not the greatest, but he’s really doing all those little things in the offensive zone that we got used to seeing last season. B+
Ribeiro: He started this game where he left off last game – he was the best Montreal forward. However, as the night moved along, he seemed to have a few more off-shifts than I would have liked. He wasn’t poor, by any stretch, but he wasn’t good. B-
Zednik: Second game back, but he looked much stronger. His goal was great to see, but even more than that, he controlled the play with his strength a few times. Now, he also held onto the puck way too long sometimes, and I’m sure that frustrated particularly Kovalev, but it’s early days. B
Kovalev: Maddening. I don’t like that he got second star, because in my eyes he did not deserve it at all. Yeah, he was absolutely spectacular at times, but at other times he was putrid. Witness his work along the boards in his own end, he might as well just stand back and call the opponents names because that has as much chance of winning the puck. In my notes for the game, I go from a very negative comment to “brilliance” too many times. B
Koivu: I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that he’s beating himself up for that giveaway more than anyone else involved in the game of hockey will ever do. It’s a shame, too, because other than that, he was easily the Habs best player, creating something on almost every shift. However, the fact that this happened right at the end of the game and is something everyone will remember means they’ll just forget the rest. B+
Julien: He did well with his timeout, because he regrouped the boys and the buckled down and played, if not great hockey, then not bad hockey. His replacement of Theo was done well – not in the middle of a period but at the end. However I think he needs to do work dealing with the Ranger speed.
PP and PK: Forget about them right now, let’s just talk about the job the refs did. No penalties in the third? Give me a rather large break, Kit Kat boys, you blew it badly. Last game was really well reffed, then we get to this one, and you can understand the utter frustration the players will have not knowing what goes and what is going to get called.
The Fan’s Game Puck: I’d toss it to Theo, but I’m afraid he’d wave at it and put us down by one already going into Monday’s game. The puck will go to Koivu who, despite that one absolutely nasty giveaway late in the third, was consistently playing at his highest level from the begininng to the end of the game. Honourable mention goes to *cough cough* Dagenais.
There are ways to lose, and this is one of the worst. I can deal with it when a team plays really hard and is doing everything right but is still losing the game against a better team. However when you see these little mental mistakes all night – like not being able to pass a puck – it’s downright frustrating. On the other hand, I would like to know how well they would have played if not for the early goal for one, and also if not for the star goalie looking like gramma, waving at pucks.
Time to regroup for the return leg of this home-and-home on Monday. We know what they can do, now it’s up to the boys to get prepared and come out in New York and play the game they can. If not, this losing streak is going to grow some more.
A Concerned Fan