There were some bumps along the way, but the
Habs managed to win 2 of 3 this week against the Bruins and have the 2-1 series
lead going into Tuesday’s Game 4. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs finished off
their season with a 2-2 record but are out of the Calder Cup Playoffs.
With the series underway, we’ll look at some quick notes, plus a Final Thought
on the one strength Boston is utilizing after Game 3. This, plus the
Weekly Grades, in the Recap.
8.5 – 10: Player has exceeded
expectations for the week, very strong contributions.
6.5 – 8: Player has met expectations
for the week, play has helped or at worse, not hurt the lineup.
5 – 6: Player has performed below
expectations for the week, play has at best not hurt the team, but likely has
had a negative affect.
Under 4.5: Player has had a week to
forget, questions should soon be arising about his future with the organization.
#31 – Carey Price: 9.0
It certainly wasn’t his fault the team lost on Saturday, only 5 goals allowed in
over 190 minutes so far. (Season Average:
#44 – Roman Hamrlik: 8.5
We’re finally seeing the physical dimension of his game that we knew existed
from years past but hadn’t seen for some reason.
(Season Average: 7.35)
#71 – Patrice Brisebois: 7.5
Offensively, quite possibly the team’s best defenceman, but defensively, not so
(Season Average: 6.65)
#79 – Andrei Markov: 7.0
Weak on the PP, and wasn’t even that noticeable during 5 on 5 play, not what you
want to see from your #1 defenceman. (Season Average:
#8 – Mike Komisarek: 7.0 Nice to
see him blocking shots and hitting like before, but did anyone else notice him
backing down when chasing down the puck? That hip is still bothering him
(Season Average: 7.48)
#32 – Mark Streit: 6.5
Has had a large role in the complete and utter joke that is the Canadiens
(Season Average: 7.13)
#26 – Josh Gorges: 6.5
His play has gotten worse after being taken off the top pairing, he needs to get
back to the safe and steady defenceman we saw from December on.
(Season Average: 7.04)
#6 – Tom Kostopoulos: 9.5
Arguably the team’s best overall player through 3 games (which is not a good
thing), let’s see if he can keep this up.
(Season Average: 6.85)
#40 – Maxim Lapierre: 8.5 Was
effective by just playing his game, hit and get out of there. If he can
stay away from the after the whistle stupidity, he’ll be fine. (Season Average:
#20 – Bryan Smolinski: 8.5
The only player to have a point in all 3 games of the series, the veteran is
starting to show why the team signed him.
(Season Average: 6.93)
#22 – Steve Begin: 8.0
If there was a weak link on his line, it was him, but that being said, he did
pretty well for a weak link.
(Season Average: 7.18)
#74 – Sergei Kostitsyn: 7.5
After struggling the last few weeks of the season, he bounced back quite nicely
and was one of the few consistent threats offensively. (Season Average:
#27 – Alexei Kovalev: 7.5
There were several moments where he looked just like last season (lazy and
disinterested), but that game winner was huge. (Season Average:
#46 – Andrei Kostitsyn: 7.0
There were some moments where he stood out, and others where you barely knew he
was on the ice. (Season Average:
#21 – Chris Higgins: 7.0
I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt since he’s had to switch positions, but
adapting time is done now. (Season Average:
#84 – Guillaume Latendresse: 7.0
Overall, a very quiet week, but he certainly didn’t hurt the cause any. (Season Average:
#14 – Tomas Plekanec: 6.5
When a player calls himself out in the media, nothing more really needs to be
said about his week.
(Season Average: 7.70)
#73 – Michael Ryder: 6.5
I can’t remember him being so timid and unconfident when shooting, even when
he’s slumping, the shots at least stay in the same area code as the net. (Season
#25 – Mathieu Dandenault: 6.5
Invisible in almost every facet, he may very well be on the bench when the puck
drops for Game 4 (and subsequently after that.) (Season Average:
The season is finally over for the Bulldogs, but they didn’t go down without a
fight, scoring 7 straight vs division rival Rochester and almost beating
division winner Toronto.
Games 77-80 of the season.
3 Stars: 1) Locke – HAM 2) Ferland – HAM 3) Englehardt –
3 Stars: 1) Tlusty – TOR 2) D’Agostini – HAM 3) Ondrus –
3 Stars: 1) Locke – HAM 2) D’Agostini – HAM 3) Smith – LEM
3 Stars: 1) Rycroft – SYR 2) Westcott – SYR 3) Konopka –
Corey Locke saved his best for last, as his week’s performance was the best of
any player this season.
Goals: Locke (30)
Assists: Locke (42)
Points: Locke (72)
+/-: Engelhardt (+11) (based on time spent with Hamilton)
PIMS: Stewart (137) (Active team leader: Cote (112))
Some of my random thoughts after watching the first 3 games of the series:
– Who said this team doesn’t need Koivu? The biggest weakness of this
team is at the pivot position, and without him, the depth is very weak.
– What’s with all this talk about playing Greg Stewart? I know he played 1
good game, but this was a player who barely had a regular spot on a non-playoff
AHL team. There are better options than him on the farm.
– Don’t look now, but Tim Thomas appears to be settling down, and a lot of
people feel that the lower scoring games will favour the Bruins.
– As much as the powerplay has been struggling, props to the penalty kill,
which is doing much better than their season average.
In evaluating who has the edge in all the different facets before this series
began, only 1 item went the Bruins way in my assessment: coaching. I gave
Boston the edge due to Julien’s experience (he has some, not much, but some) and
the fact that at times it looked like the Providence Bruins playing because of
their injuries. This past week, this held true, as we saw Boston
successfully implement a new strategy and stifle that of Montreal’s.
Meanwhile, what adjustments have the Habs made? None, and considering that
they were outplayed in Game 2, this is not the appropriate amount.
My key issue, like everyone else’s, is the powerplay. Around a month
ago in this column, I mentioned that Montreal’s was too predictable, and lo and
behold, Boston has figured it out (not that it was hard to.) The top unit
has essentially 3 plays, and they all run through one person – Kovalev. 1)
Kovalev gets the puck in the right faceoff circle and shoots, 2) Kovalev passes
to Streit from the right faceoff circle, and 3) Kovalev passes to Plekanec down
low from the right faceoff circle. And in the latter 2, the puck usually
finds its way back to Kovalev and the process repeats itself. Yes, there
are the odd times where this doesn’t happen, but these are the big 3, and
everyone knows it. I know it, you know it, the fans at the game know it,
the announcers know it, and big surprise here, the Bruins’ players and coaches
The key to success in anything is adaptation. Your opponent will adapt
to your strengths, and any good team will find a way to work around this, as of
yet, the Habs have shown little ability to do so, which reflects poorly on the
coaching staff. In football, when a defence goes into a zone, the offence,
if they’re smart, will stop throwing the ball directly into that zone.
Montreal…hasn’t quite figured that out yet, as that’s all they’re doing so
far. The adjustments that coach Carbonneau and his coaching staff make
before Tuesday’s Game 4 will go a long way in determining how far this team
goes, not only in the playoffs as a whole, but in this series in and of itself.
If the status quo remains, the series may be tied headed back to Montreal.