Other than the Senators, I’m not sure there’s another team in the league that’s capable of going into a game expecting to lose, and not get exactly what they were expecting. The usual suspects all put in everything they had, but there were a large number of players who, I suppose, decided that this was a game that was not going to be won no matter how hard they tried, so they just didn’t.
One thing should be absolutely evident to a critical eye watching the Canadiens, despite the flattering record they sport thus far: there are still far too many glaring holes on the team for anything approaching a Cup run. Yes, when healthy, we’re going to compete every single night. However our depth is still relatively light – particularly at defence – and we just don’t have the offensive horses to really get it done over the course of an 82-game season.
Theodore: Well, the team did pull back into a tight defensive shell for much of the night, and he was therefore protected half decently. The third goal, the one by Havlat on the power play, should have been stopped, but I think we can give him that one on a night when few others came to compete. B
Cote: Despite the fact that he was brutally victimized on the second goal after failing to clear the puck and then chasing himself out of position, he acquitted himself very well. He played simply, chipped the puck out when the pass wasn’t there, but was passably good when it was, and he was physical at good times. His development has been very solid, and while I’d never want to see him as anything more than a #6 guy, I’m happy to have him there for that, or as a depth player. B+
Streit: For all everyone’s complaints (including mine), he was mostly reliable on this night, making few defensive errors. Let’s be honest, acclimatizing to the NHL isn’t easy; it’s still a work in progress here. Still hesitant with the puck. B-
Dandenault: I expected him to log a lot of minutes, and he did so in strong fashion. You don’t notice him much, and that’s a good thing. B
Rivet: Under the circumstances he played a very good game. He was strong on the puck and on his man. And ladies and gentlemen, he’s worth every penny he’s being paid – even if he did slap that final shot into Fisher’s legs. B+
Bouillon: The new NHL suits the little big man. No longer is his size such an issue, and he plays well against even Chara when the latter is posted in front of the Habs net. No, he’s not perfect, not even close. However, for what we can reasonably expect from him (good positioning, solid hits, strong passing game) we’re getting more than our money’s worth. B
Dagenais: I’m sure he has an account at Canada Post because he regularly mails it in. This is passenger number one on the bus that needs to be ridden out of town. F
Begin: If only Ribeiro had the heart this fellow has. He never does anything at half measure, and tonight was no exception. B+
Ribeiro: Utterly, utterly outclassed in every single aspect tonight. He had one shift where he created something, and that was mostly because of his linemates. On one play, he got the puck at his own blueline and skated with it to the opposing end. His teammates so out-paced him that they had to stand waiting for him to arrive. This new NHL has passed him by – unless he somehow finds either another gear or a heart. Ribeiro is a power play specialist. And that is it. D-
Sundstrom: Strong first half of the game, and very weak second half. It’s as if, after the Sens got a solid lead, he stopped working. I’m not impressed at all. C-
Bulis: Bulis’ season in a nutshell: gets sent in on a breakaway and… doesn’t even shoot the puck. He’s struggling badly lately, and tonight, despite his hard work, he looked lost again. C+
Bonk: The tailspin continues. A decent first period defensively, and after that he might as well have stayed on the bench. I have no worried on laying a hefty amount of money on my comment: Bonk has not put in a second effort in weeks, and not worry about losing a penny. D-
Ryder: I’m extremely disappointed in his play. The only way he scores goals is by working his butt off, and when he turns up for three or four shifts a night, it’s an embarassment. C-
Higgins: Struggled tonight. He never seemed to get open to receive the puck, to start with. He also never really made anything happen. This is the first real time I’ve felt he wasn’t up to par. C
Plekanec: He’s Saku Koivu with a little less skill. You’ll never see him take a shift off, and he creates things more often than you might think he could. Easily better in the second line position than Ribs – if only because he’s defensively aware (and solid) – he needs to have two wingers on their game and then he’ll start really producing. B+
Perezhogin: His speed was countered and you could see that he was frustrated. He’s still not used to the NHL and doesn’t really know how to make plays for himself. He’s also not the most consistent guy that I’ve seen. Now, it’s still early days, but I’d like to see him re-double his efforts in the coming games. C+
Zednik: Zero anticipation at times and he hardly ever puts in that second effort… unless he’s within about 10 feet of the net. I think I can say this with finality – Zednik is NOT a first-line player. He just doesn’t have the explosiveness, nor is he consistent enough. C
Koivu: Every. Single. Shift. A-
Julien: No line shifting on a night when you’d expect it so either he’s really giving the rookies every chance possible, or even he’d given up on this one early on. Let’s hope it’s the former and not the latter.
PP: Without a defenseman to really run the point, it was weak, at best. On the few times we maintained any kind of control, there was a lack of creativity at the blueline that hampered efforts.
PK: First attempt, Spez is allowed to walk in. Bad. Second attempt, Sax is nailed in a clearance attempt by Rivet and Havlat is allowed to walk in. There was a lack of aggression on the PK all night.
Fan’s Game Puck: No question whatsoever. He’s the only guy who brought his ‘A’-game all night: Koivu.
After the debacle in Toronto you might have expected this team to come out firing, but with everything that’s happened I guess they decided, for the most part, to mail this one in and save all their energies for the next game. It’s against Buffalo in a couple of days and thank goodness it’s in Montreal. I don’t think I could stay awake for another game in the Snooze Lounge (sorry Buffalo fans, you’re a great bunch, but that rink has the atmosphere of a morgue).
Stepping from the game a moment, our thoughts have to go with Komisarek who is dealing with the extreme illness of his mother. There are times when the realities of life FAR outweigh a simple game. The thoughts and prayers of your fans are with you, Mike.
A Concerned Fan