What do they say when you do your wedding vows? In sickness and in health? I wonder if the players make that same vow when they put on the Habs sweater, because Begin in particular looked like he left literally everything out there on the ice. If there was ever any question why he’s one of the most popular Canadiens, tonight was a perfect reason.
Let’s be honest, this game was a bit of a snoozer. If you feel asleep during the first two periods, you are completely forgiven as neither team could amount much of anything. They both looked lethargic and a few steps slower than Saturday night, and even with two-man advantages, neither club could generate much in the early going of this one.
Theodore: Very nice way to come back after a really dismal performance. In fact, I felt he looked as good as he has all year tonight: square to the puck and in control of his area. On the other hand, is there a worse goaltender in hockey at leaving his crease? I have to wonder if he’s the first goalie who got a penalty for playing the puck in the restricted zone. A-
Komisarek: We learned a little more why he’s been struggling a little early this season: his mother is apparently deathly ill. If he has concentration issues, I think I can understand. Now, having said that, he played a very calm and cool game and I thought it was easily his best of the year. He used his body very well, and he was active with his stick. B+
Dandenault: A safe and quiet night. He didn’t do anything particularly dandy, but he played positionally very well. B
Bouillon: I love the fact that, even though he looks about half the size of Jagr, he still initiates contact and keeps the star in check. With Cube, it’s all about being in the right position, and he was all night. B+
Souray: Still some struggles as the big man continues to get dragged into the obstruction game thus taking needless penalties. He really should never play on the power play, as he always tries to blast it and inevitably it’s a waste of time; he hits the goalie in the crest, or a defender, or misses the net. He did have a more active stick tonight, though. B-
Rivet: Because he gets along so well with Markov, he’s getting power play time, and quite honestly, I don’t mind it. He’s smart with the puck, moves it well enough, and has a good enough shot that things can happen. Defensively, he was golden tonight. B+
Markov: Slow start for the Russian, as his first period had a few more mistakes than I’m used to seeing, however he improved his game drastically in the second, and by the third was his usual self. If we could bottle his ability to stick check and feed that to everyone, we might never have a goal scored against us. B+
Higgins: Only a few presences, but when he was on he did a very good job. Towards the end of the game when the Habs were in the lead, Julien put him on Ribeiro’s line instead of Dags for defensive purposes. That should tell observers how good he is in his own end. B
Plekanec: He seems to have lost a little confidence out there. He was tentative at times, and while he still goes at full tilt, there are more mistakes in his game than we saw in any of his first few. My guess is that the pass he made which resulted in a goal a few games back is still haunting him. Time to move on. B-
Perezhogin: For someone who was sick, he still worked really hard. No mark for his limited time, but kudos for the effort. N/A
Bulis: He was excellent while playing against Jagr. Because he has great speed, he had the ability to get in close and harry and if Jagr moved away, Bulis was able to catch up. But cutting down the space Jagr had to use, Bulis effectively neutralized much of what he could do. A-
Sundstrom: Welcome back to the lineup! A very well played defensive game. His defensive positioning is wonderful and he creates turnovers all the time. The goal was well deserved. A-
Begin: I heard that he was going to get spot duty because he was so sick. Man, if he plays that well when he’s sick, I’m all for exposing him to the flu every night. As usual, Begin was everywhere, and because he works so hard and has a good head for the game, he’s used in every situation – including the power play tonight. A
Dagenais: Once again he played a respectable game. He finished checks and made some good plays. It was nice to see him skating hard and not giving up on things. He wasn’t nearly as good as last game, but I was not disappointed. B+
Ryder: Relatively quiet night for Ryder, though that line had significantly less ice time because Ribeiro was struggling with injury. He worked the boards well and while he was a bit of a liability in his end at times, I felt his overall game was passable. B
Ribeiro: You could see him struggling here and there, however I felt he did a good job. There were shifts where he was invisible again, and his line couldn’t maintain a real offensive presence, however when one line is off, the other picks up the slack on this team – at least so far in this young season. B
Zednik: He did fine work on the boards in the offensive zone and his defensive coverage and positioning was better tonight. However when a supposed goalscorer gets a pass in front where he’s all alone and he can’t even make contact with the puck… I will cut a little slack since it’s only his second game back, however that has to go in the net from now on. B
Kovalev: Disapointing for the bulk of the game. I found that he looked tired and, at times, uninspired. When he’s not on his game the puck doesn’t seem as settled on his stick. In the third, when he was more on the ball, he was in full control. It’s a measure of a real talent like him, though, that even when he doesn’t have the best game, he still produces. B-
Koivu: A somewhat slow start to the contest, however he came back strong and played a fine game. He was somewhat shaky in his own zone tonight and made a couple of questionable plays down low, however he makes up for his own mistakes quickly. In the offensive zone he was his typical self and made things happen all over the place. B+
Julien: He did a fine job getting the guys to buy in to a stronger team defence tonight. Whereas the other night we allowed the Rags to skate rings, tonight we closed those lanes, and closed down Jagr, very effectively. Kudos to Rick Green who took a puck in the face and sucked it up to continue coaching. Those ex-defenders know how to roll with the punches.
PP: Static. There were five guys picking spots and staying absolutely still for long periods of time. Perhaps they think their skills will net them goals, but standing like that is just a waste of two minutes.
PK: The unfortunate thing is that we give the PK way too many opportunities to practice. Another excellent job despite the one goal. Killing off that many five-on-threes would have been nothing short of a miracle.
Fan’s Game Puck: Has to go to Begin for stepping up on a night when he ordinarily might not have played. And it’s the little things too, like getting a skate in there to tip the puck to his teammate to win a faceoff.
Don’t hold your breath as it’s back to Montreal to play agaainst the Panthers tomorrow night. A little Neo Citran and a good night’s sleep should see the boys come out strong tomorrow. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare this week with so many games in short order.
A Concerned Fan