In yet another display of half-efforts, the Canadiens managed to worm their way out of victory against the Oilers, dropping by a score of 5-3. While putting forth an excellent first period, Montreal found its true calling in the second and managed only a handful of shots to the end of the game while allowing four unanswered goals to toss away victory.
Julien, for whatever reason, is allowing his players to get away with murder. Zednik is out there doing precisely nothing, and yet he’s still allowed to hit the ice game after game instead of sitting in his rightful place in the pressbox. Our supposed 1st line while Koivu and Kovalev are out is utterly garbage at five-on-five, and teams are starting to realize that all you have to do to neutralize Ribeiro is skate at him hard and cause him to make a mistake.
Theodore: Hearts went aflutter when he dropped to the ice after taking a shot. He was in obvious pain and only barely managed to save the puck and hold on. Good news was that it was only a burner, and nothing serious. As to his play? Very solid, except the winning goal which was unobstructed. He was on his knees early and should have made that critical save to keep the boys in the game. B
Bouillon: Another up and down game. Early he had his pocket picked and was pushed around too much. He started throwing his weight after that and looked better, but his decision making has taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks. B-
Dandenault: Defensively he was alright, but I feel he missed out on a few critical points. He’s also taking way too many penalties. C+
Komisarek: Look out! Good news for Habs fans everywhere, now that he can concentrate on the game and not on his poor mother, he’s really picked it up. His decisions are faster, more correct, and he’s getting mighty strong on the body. I particularly liked when he took on two Oilers after someone shot after the whistle on Theo. A-
Souray: He’s picked up his game immeasurably recently and was extremely good again tonight. All aspects of his game have improved, not just one or two. This is the Souray that we need on the ice. B+
Rivet: A couple of uncharacteristic mistakes tonight – particularly in clearances – that cost a lot of hassle. He had a poor game on the stat sheet as well, though it wasn’t entirely his fault – hello forwards. C+
Markov: Not one of his best games, but again, like Rivet he was put in a lot of trouble by the forwards. He’s smart with the puck and makes passes that others just wouldn’t see. He does have to be careful not to overdo it, though. B
Murray: Scored his first goal with the Habs on a great hustle play. He worked his butt off every shift and is a real pleasure to see on the ice. (NM)
Perezhogin: The few times he hit the ice he was flying out there, but I guess that wasn’t enough. (NM)
Higgins: Superb game again, which is why he was promoted. Not. Once again, one of the best players on the ice sticks to his fourth line duties. Okay, he spotted on the 3rd now and again and had PK time galore, but when does this guy get his dues over the useless punters dragging their heels? A
Kostitsyn: Strong shift or two (4), but since he didn’t score on any of them, he didn’t deserve to play. In Julien’s team, you score as a rookie, or you sit. (NM)
Sundstrom: Some very good PK shifts and some good defensive work otherwise. I wish he’d put more into the offensive zone, though. I find he doesn’t really push hard at five-on-five down low. B
Begin: A typical game where he ran amuck and put people into the walls. B+
Bulis: Better game than I’ve seen from him in a while. He was moving well and even made a few things happen on his regular shift. B
Zednik: Utterly useless. In front alone, no shot on net. Puck comes around to him on the boards in the defensive zone, no effort, we lose it and the puck ends up in our net. Gets the puck? Either he loses it while trying to deke someone out, or he loses it attempting to pass. Why he isn’t in the press box, I’ll never know. We’re down a goal at the end and who is put out there over Higgins? F
Plekanec: Tough to compete when you have the winger listed above, however Plex is still flying around the ice. He made a couple of nasty giveaways (benched next game under Julien’s system?) but was still a strong presence most of the night. Still, it wasn’t the same concerted effort we’re used to from him. C+
Dagenais: Note – behind the goal line is not an acceptable angle for taking a shot. C (He did seem to be trying to hit things out there.)
Ryder: Better game as he competed more and made things happen for himself (couldn’t really rely on his linemates). He fought along the boards a little better and he worked at making himself shooting lanes. B-
Ribeiro: One pass – to Ryder on a five-on-three for a goal – all night. Other than that he lost the puck countless times on the power play, was muscled off the puck endlessly, and couldn’t keep up with his linemates to help any attack. He did get angry, however, (I have to wonder if during the first intermission he was absolutely chewed out) because he came out and hit a little more in the second and third. Still and all, nigh on useless. C+
Julien: I realize he’s dealing with a greatly reduced team, but his best lines were easily the third and fourth and yet he kept going back to Ribeiro and his Merry Band of Floaters all night. Perhaps he should realize that the rookies are there to play, and not to collect splinters.
PP: Not particularly effective, though we did score. We desperately need some talent out there.
PK: The Edmo PP was moving extremely well, and the first goal was not so much us failing to challenge as it was them making all the right moves. The second goal against us was mostly because everyone had been on a very long time and were tired.
Fan’s Game Puck: Higgins. He deserves more than he’s been offered so far by the coach. His reward early in the season was to play with Ribeiro and Dagenais and that, as far as I’m concerned, is about the most useless reward ever. No wonder he didn’t manage to produce. He was a force out there tonight and, thank goodness, he’s the kind of player who will grow with this team.
Saturday night in Minnesota to meet Mikko Koivu and the rest of the Wild. RDS states (take that for what it’s worth) that Koivu and Kovalev will be back for the game. For those that like to hear this kind of thing, they showed a great clip of Kovalev working out. He had a pile of pucks and a few water bottles on the ice and he was stickhandling deftly all around, not touching any of the pucks. It was truly amazing to watch.
Oh please let the two of them be back…
A Concerned Fan