There are those who watch the Canadiens who felt that Montreal just wasn’t getting the bounces lately, and that’s the major reason they weren’t winning games. I submit that you make your own bounces through effort, and tonight was the first time in a good long while that they’ve put forth enough effort to win a game. Despite two late goals from the Yotes, the Habs took this one handily, and were easily the best team om this night.
Even better news for the Habs, Kovalev and Koivu are both expected back in the next two games, thus giving the team a real first line. Since they went down with injury, it’s been a significant struggle and no one has stepped up to really take control and lead the team in their absense.
Theodore: A very good game. Consider that he either buried his rebounds or put them out of reach of his opponents. This was one of the best games I’ve seen him play in quite a while. A-
Dandenault: Solid game where he did all the little things right. He was even the only defender who got himself involved in the attack at all. B
Bouillon: I felt he struggled at times tonight, and made a few questionable plays. He was also pushed around far more than usual. B-
Komisarek: Solid game, and while the first goal against was off his stick, he was still doing the thing defenders are taught. Nine times out of ten that puck is in the mesh. He was strong with the body and looks to me like he’s starting to gain confidence out there. B
Souray: The first time, really, since last season that we’ve seen him play like he did. He was calm, cool and collected and didn’t panic with the puck. He made the simple play and was hard on his man. When he did make a mistake, he didn’t just watch, he made up for it. A-
Rivet: Another typical game where he did everything you expect him to do. B
Markov: If there’s one guy who can really transition us from defense to attack in the blink of an eye, it’s him. Witness his perfect pass to Ribeiro which led to Ryder’s goal to bring the score to 4-0. A-
Kostitsyn: He was about to play his one token shift in the first, except on his first shot in the NHL he potted a wonderful goal, showcasing a great shot. Suddenly in Julien’s good books, he got a semi-regular shift as a fourth-liner. Now, we may ask why he was never really given a shot like this in the past, and I’m sure the good coach will tell you that he had planned all along to give Kosty all that time tonight, but it’s curious that he suddenly got playing time after scoring, when in the past few appearances, he’d been given one shift. (No mark – I have little to base it on)
Higgins: He was combative and probably one of the best forwards out there. That’s why he was stuck on the fourth line and the PK. B+
Murray: I’m biting back my laughter at the trade. Sure, the Rags got Hossa and his early season exploits, but we got a hard worker who won’t miss a shift out there. And Hossa? Recently benched. (NM)
Sundstrom: He did all the little things than make him a defensive whiz. Very solid game, and when you factor in his attacking exploits, well it’s a bonus indeed. A
Bulis: His first period and a half were a struggle, and I felt he wasn’t giving what he usually puts out, however the last half of the game were infinitely better. And a goal scorer’s goal to boot! b-
Begin: Pest extraordinaire tonight. He was hitting and rushing around like a crazy man. He drew penalties and was a bright spot as usual. B+
Perezhogin: Mostly quiet night where I didn’t really notice his play much at all. There were issues on his line which didn’t help, of course, but I think he has to make himself much more noticed. C
Zednik: Waste of skates, in my opinion. He has one move – race around the outside of defenders and try to beat them along the boards. It never works anymore. On a two-on-one he managed to not get a shot off, and he was generally useless offensively. On the other hand, his defensive coverage was better than usual. C-
Plekanec: He was a spark plug and a dynamo out there. Hard work at both ends and he scored a wonderful goal deking Cujo out of his skivvies. B+
Dagenais: He looks like he’s working hard, but nothing really comes of it. He’s largely ineffective even at his best on most nights. Some good positioning and decent shots, but nothing more. B-
Ryder: A true goal-scorers goal, but he too is looking less than great out there. I feel he’s struggling in his game as of late, but that could be in large part to his two linemates. C+
Ribeiro: The legions of his supporters will despise me for saying this, but he was nigh on useless once again. He made a couple of plays, and even one solid defensive play that I remember, but when Koivu comes back it seems to me that Plekanec gives the team much more. The longer this season goes the less impressed I am with him. At one point I recall him skating as fast as he could with the puck and an opponent easily caught him and disposessed him. C+
Julien: Good thing for him the two offensive players are almost back, because he’s certainly relied too much on a trio that can’t cut it. Ribeiro’s line should have been broken up and the kids given much more time to work out, however that’s done and gone. And what is he doing arguing the goal with less than two minutes left? The game is still won and he’s giving Gretzky what amounts to a second timeout.
PP: We didn’t control the puck as much as we could have, however we did score a goal – and that’s 4(?) consecutive games with a goal? That part cannot be argued.
PK: Agression and movement and, as we do whenever we play like that, we stuffed them. Simple recipe.
As the team finally comes close to health they wing off to Edmonton to take on the Oil in what should (finally) be a really entertaining affair. With a Montreal team that likes to play with speed against an Edmonton club that is known for playing exciting hockey, I think we can probably pass on the pillows for this one. And about time, too.
Nice to see the NHL crack down on the penalties again, because it was looking more and more like the hook was coming back. The game is so much better when the stars are allowed to play. Now, with ours hopefully hitting the lineup on Thurday (fingers crossed everyone) we might really get to see the Habs fly.
A Concerned Fan