The unfortunate thing about tonight is not that we lost the game, it’s the way we lost it. This wasn’t a matter of being beaten by a better club, this was all about losing by committee. Only a handful of Montreal players apparently managed to make the trip to Pittsburgh, despite it seeming like there were 20 in uniform. We’ll have to assume Julien and Gainey have put out APB’s on the rest.
It’s in this type of games, in my opinion, that we really get to separate the real competitors – those who will go into the playoffs and help you win games – from the chaff. Montreal does have some solid players, but the rebuilding process is far from finished.
Theodore: He made some spectacular saves again and he was stellar in the penalty shootout. While Crosby did make him look silly, there’s no doubt that kid has skills oozing from every pore. One thing that I’d love to do with Theo is TAPE HIM TO HIS NET. Every time he wanders to play the puck, he inevitably creates problems for himself. A-
Komisarek: Solid game from the kid. He’s looking far more sure of himself out there. B
Streit: Scrambly at times, but he was decent enough, at least five-on-five. I was a little disappointed with his power play work, though. If that’s what we brought him for, then I think he can do better. B-
Bouillon: His positioning is always good – so good this time that he scored the first goal against the Habs because the pass hit him. B
Souray: Took a shot to the leg and had to leave the game. His first period was better than he’s had in a while, though I wish he hadn’t tried any shifts in the second. He almost cost us a goal being a hero. B-
Rivet: Another solid game from the vet. It’ll be a long while before we hear the boo-birds get on his case with the way he’s performing lately. B
Markov: He started the game under fire from Crosby, and quite honestly didn’t look quite ready for it. He was rocked on his heels on the play. After that, however, he took over and was dominant both at the back, and up front. Montreal hasn’t seen defenders rushing like he did tonight since Vladdy Malakhov (when he cared enough to try) and before that Larry Robinson. His game is utterly incredible at times. A
Perezhogin: He didn’t get a lot of ice time, and his penalty shot was disappointing to say the least. Still, when he was on his regular shift, things actually did happen – he was one of the few forwards to put in a solid effort. B-
Plekanec: A middling effort for the rookie. This was not a highlight game, but nor was it abysmal. He didn’t seem to get stuck in like he usually does. C
Dandenault: It was fortunate, in some ways, that Souray got injured, because we got to see more of Dandy in a defensive role, where he belongs. He was good back there, and not so great up front. B-
Begin: He laid in a hit tonight that sent his target into next week. Unfortunately, he got called for five minutes for intent to injure, though it looked in replays, at least, like it was a legitimate shoulder-to-face hit (the opponent was falling at the time). Much better game than his recent sick-fests, though. B
Bonk: He was getting in good position but was completely unable to beat T-Bo. He had about five chances to score and was stoned every single time. A decent effort defensively, and we’ll give him a kudo for getting into place to take these shots, but unless we finish, we’re toast. C+
Sundstrom: Another solid game at the back, but offensively he struggled – so much so that the puck drifted off his stick a few times. B-
Higgins: He’s making a solid case for himself on the second line. His effort is huge and he’s got some real skills, even against super players. He’s certainly not going to get out-worked out there. B+
Ryder: Thank goodness for this guy. Now that he’s back to his old self, he’s looking great out there. He’s hitting, winning battles in the offensive zone, getting plenty of shots off, and tonight he even stopped a breakaway attempt. A-
Ribeiro: Ah, Captain Dangle loves to play with the puck, and when he gets the time and space, he looks wonderful – that one or two shifts a night when that happens. Shame, however, that there’s another pile of shifts where he utterly fails to show up. His fans will protest and say he collected two points, but those who understand the game will see that he was just in the right place at the right time and only collected incidental points – he did nothing particularly meritous on those plays – nothing that Sundstrom couldn’t have done in the same place. D
Zednik: I believe Crosby referred to him as being “asleep”. ‘Nuff said. D
Kovalev: Was that Dagenais wearing his shirt? No, of course not because Kovy still made a couple of wonderful plays with the puck. However, if you had to ask the question, it’s because he played a dismal game and was nothing like the player he should be. D+
Koivu: Apparently injured and yet still able to control the play more than a few times. If only his linemates had bothered to show up for this one. Still, you can tell he’s struggling out there as he doesn’t have the jump he usually has. B
Julien: We started badly and we finished the third and overtime fairly strong, so there has to be something positive here. On the other hand, it’s said that the ‘too many men’ penalties are the coach’s fault. Furthermore, can someone tell me why we look to be the worst team in hockey at line changes?
PP: We managed to be 33% on the power play, though in so few attempts it’s hard to get a grip on how well we performed.
SH: Lemieux’s goal came just at the end of a power play, so our numbers look better than they are. Still, against a potent attack, we acquitted ourselves well, though better coverage on Lemieux would have helped.
Fan’s Game Puck: Markov, Markov, Markov. He’s becoming a force out there. Honourable mention goes to Ryder who’s playing his best hockey of the year.
Toronto comes to Montreal on Saturday night, so you know papers and media sites around Canada will be plastered with news about Sundin, O’Neill and all the other Leafs. No mention of Montreal being a bag up points up on the relatively weak Buds, though. Ah, Canadian news. Jon Stewart would probably call CBC the Fox News of the Hockey world.
A Concerned Fan