It were the mental errors that killed the Canadiens on this night. Simple, avoidable mental errors. The first was Halak, handcuffed because of a deflected shot, but the simple fact was that he was on his knees before the puck was struck and had 40 feet to recoup. The second was a horrible pinch by Komisarek which led to a two-on-one and a goal. The final, rusted nail in the coffin, was Souray getting his pocket picked deep in the Habs zone. There were others, of course, but those were the worst – because those cost the game.
It was a shame, too, because the Habs frittered away a very solid performance from their rookie netminder. There was, of course, the fact that they couldn’t sustain an attack in the offensive zone in the first half of the game to save their lives. Petrified of being burned as they were last night, the forecheck was non-existant and the overall attack was pathetic, indeed. Rather than playing for their lives, they instead played scared until it was too late – a theme fans have witnessed all too often. Game plan or function of two games in two nights? Doesn’t matter, chalk another one into the loss column.
Halak: A- Except for his one error he was excellent. Not only did he make huge saves time after time, but he looked a goalie in control of himself and his surroundings.
Dandenault: B+ The RDS crew would have us believe that he played one of his best games of the season, and they were right! (As long as you ignore the first period.) As usual, in the first, Dandy was run over roughshod and it was only in the second he started playing the kind of hockey he should: good defense, jumping in the attack, making things happen.
Komisarek: C+ There was a thunder bolt of a hit at one point and some pretty good movement of the puck later on, but overall, he was relatively invisible. Good, I suppose, in that an invisible defender isn’t making mistakes, but bad in that his role is to be visibly hammering the opposition. Of course, the fact he was benched much of the third should be fairly telling in itself.
Markov: C+ I don’t know if he’s just lost confidence with the puck or what, but he’s not himself out there. He’s fighting the puck, isn’t making his trademark passes, and doesn’t make much in the way of offense anymore unless it’s placed on a tee for him.
Gorges: N/A Boy oh boy can you see the difference in the San Jose and Montreal game plans. Gorges wants to maintain possession of the puck, wants to support the attack, and wants to keep involved. The Habs, on the whole, like to dump it in and pray they can get it back. I like this kid, but I worry that all his instincts are going to be lost in the stifling Montreal system.
Souray: B- I’ll give him credit, other than his absolutely stunning giveaway late, he played a decent game. His goal was a slap shot that should have been blocked, but such was his power that the defender had the stick slapped out of his hand as well as not stopping the puck.
Streit: B+ Our “marginal” defender now has upwards of 30 points and is one of our better defenders – as well as one of our better attackers. A testament to his play, of course – but also a huge condemnation on much of the rest of the team.
Begin: C+ He was trying to get involved, but this isn’t the same player we all came to love. There’s a whole pile missing out there.
Bonk: B+ At least here we have a puck possession player, and one who plays with intelligence. I think he carried the puck with Chara and company on his back for about forty seconds at one point.
Higgins: B+ Obviously coming off the flu, his shifts were ultra short early on. That said, he was still playing with drive and heart. A bright spot in the future of this club.
Johnson: B Another player you can always rely on to play at least a halfway decent game. He’ll never serve you up a turkey, anyhow, that’s for sure. Strong, hard work all night. Shame it doesn’t rub off on some others.
Koivu: B+ Good, and not great. He was effective with the puck and made a few solid plays that caused havok. At least his line was somewhat effective in the attacking zone at times.
Kostitsyn: B+ Here’s a kid who’s finally finding his feet. He has improved in every game we’ve seen from him this season, and tonight he was winning battles, going to the net, and making intelligent plays both on and off the puck.
Kovalev: D Speaking of serving up a turkey. He was sloppy and played without any heart at all. If he got the puck stripped off him, he cruised back without a second effort.
Lapierre: A- Another solid game where he ran a few players, ticked others off, and made a couple of very decent chances for himself and his teammates.
Latendresse: C+ At the very least he finished a check tonight, though there were only one or two. He seems to be fighting the puck and isn’t winning his board battles as much anymore.
Plekanec: B+ Industrious night stealing pucks, making darting attacks through the defense, and generally creating mischief a good number of times.
Ryder: B Much better effort tonight, though it was a shame he couldn’t snap off a few more shots. He got unlucky once or twice with deflections, however. Very pleasant to see him finish his checks again, including not shying away from Chara.
Samsonov: B- You get the impression he likes playing the Bruins. He was darting along the wings, controlled the puck well, and even got back defensively. Still, he’s not getting shots away when he’s in great position.
PP: D+ Despite the fact they got a couple of good chances, the powerplay was stagnant tonight. When you aren’t moving, you cut down on the number of options available to the puck carrier, and when the opposition is aggressive and you have to move the puck, this inevitably means you’re going to run into huge trouble.
PK: B+ Stop the presses, the Habs didn’t allow a short handed goal! And the reason for this, aside from a fairly poor Boston powerplay, was the ability of the players to get into shooting lanes. I haven’t seen this many blocked shots by the Habs in quite some time.
Carbonneau: C Stellar job of getting the guys back into defensive mode following a very tough outing last night. Of course, it completely and utterly neutrered any kind of attack whatsoever for the first half of the game. That’s just not acceptable when you’re fighting for your playoff lives. This is a team playing without heart and spirit. If that’s because they’re tired from playing last night, then there’s a conditioning problem and that goes to the coach. If it’s because they’re just not up for the game, well that goes to the coach as well. Sure, you can’t blame everything on the coach, but there comes a point where you have to wonder about this extended series of complete inconsistency since before Christmas and wonder how it could possibly continue.
Good news Canadiens fans: You don’t have to sit through a couple of hours of tedium and frustration until Thursday! More seriously, wouldn’t it be nice if the team came out on fire with a will to win and a drive to push as hard as they can from the first to last whistle? Maybe some solution can be found this week.
They’d better find one. Time is definitely running out.
A Concerned Fan