written by Tristan Tapscott.
It’s hard to call this loss heartbreaking. 11 straight penalties against the
Canadiens had the fate of the team sealed early. The score being as close as it
was is a testament to the strong play of the over-worked penalty killers. Is it
any wonder that the Habs strongest period was the one in which they weren’t
Alexei Kovalev (B+) – Forget the slump-busting goal (which was great) to tie
the game, Kovalev’s play tonight was feisty. He played stronger along the boards
than most of his team-mates tonight. The turnovers are still there, but they’ll
always be there. As long as he cancels them out by causing turnovers as
well, there isn’t much more that can be asked of him.
Tanguay (C-) – The only time I noticed him was when
Carbonneau put him on
the PK. With so many injuries to the forwards, Tanguay is one of the players
that has to step up. Tonight he didn’t.
Plekanec (B+) – If he were only supposed to be a defensive centerman, he’d have
an A+ on the night. Strong PK work, fantastic puck control, and won battles all
night long. Unfortunately, he’s counted on to score, especially now in Koivu’s
absence, and as good as he was in his own zone, he was next to useless in
Andrei Kostitsyn (B-) – He looked explosive every time he touched the puck, but
there was no finish tonight. All the time Montreal spent killing penalties kept
his ice-time down, which is a shame.
Robert Lang (B) – Same “steady as she goes” play from Lang that we’ve been
seeing from him pretty much all-season. He won the faceoff that led to Kovalev’s
goal, and you can start to see some chemistry forming between them.
Guillaume Latendresse (B+) – He showed us the shot that we want to see more
often. Far more impressive, however, was his strong play along the boards whilst
dishing out some hits. Latendresse’s only blemish on the night was shooting into
the stomach of a semi-sprawled Ward with 10 seconds left in the game.
Maxim Lapierre (B) – Dumb penalty aside, Lapierre played a strong game. About
40% of his ice-time was killing penalties, which he did extremely well, and he
and his linemates had a few good shifts with offensive zone puck cycling. A 75%
faceoff rating shows why he was out there in the final 10 seconds. What more can
be asked from a 4th liner?
Tom Kostopoulos (C) – Kostopoulos was playing well until the 1 awful turnover
that lead to a Carolina PP goal, but after that he seemed to go invisible for
the rest of the game. If you make a mistake, make everyone forget about it! He
Steve Begin (C+) – Didn’t hurt the team with his play, but didn’t really bring
the energy he’s supposed to. There was strong work on the PK, but grinding is
his game and it just wasn’t visible tonight.
Ben Maxwell (D) – Who? He was very close to getting a (N/A) rating but his
terrible turnover beside Halak finally made me notice him. Expect Maxwell to be
replaced by Chipchura (once Kyle’s groin heals).
Sergei Kostitsyn (C-) – Sergei made rushed, “close your eyes and hope” passes
tonight, and looked timid. Though a rolling puck is hardly his fault, I question
Carbonneau’s wisdom in putting him on the point during the final 10 seconds.
There was nothing in his play tonight to warrant that responsibility.
Matt D’Agostini (B-) – Created chances, had a couple big hits, and shot the puck
a lot. Sergei Kostitsyn should be worried about his spot on the team when
everyone is back from injuries.
Andrei Markov (B-) – He was vicious on the boards tonight, but other than
that he kind of faded into the woodwork for long stretches.
Josh Gorges (B) – Gorges had some fantastic stickwork tonight; pokechecks, and
passing lanes were covered. Most of his pinches were good, and even his bad ones
were recovered nicely.
Patrice Brisebois (C+) – Still rushes the puck to avoid being hit, but we’ve
known about that for years. Generally made good passes out of the zone, and
helped create some of Montreal’s only chances on the PP.
Francis Bouillon (C) – A bad stick decision gave Samsonov the passing lane for
Carolina’s 1st goal, and from then on a quiet game from the Cube.
Roman Hamrlik (C+) – His stellar defensive play to break up a 2-on-1 almost
overshadows the two unnecessary penalties, one of them very ugly. But the
Canadiens need more offense from him, and his play in Carolina’s zone was
Ryan O’Byrne (C) – O’Byrne wasn’t playing scared, which was a welcome surprise.
I was glad to see him take some chances with some pinches. His battles on the
boards still need work, as well as learning to use his big body better, but
overall a non-descript game from a player who desperately needs to fade out of
fans’ minds for a few games.
Goaltending & Special Teams:
Jaroslav Halak (B+) – The save of the game was huge, and it’s hard to fault
him for any of the goals. But there were a few too many iffy rebounds that
thankfully didn’t cost him.
PP: (C+) – The powerplay looked better than of late, as there were chances on
their one powerplay opportunity, but there were also ugly setups that folded
quickly under pressure.
PK: (A) – Three powerplay goals against doesn’t tell the story. Two goals came
from the only two mistakes Montreal made, and a 5-on-3 goal can hardly be blamed
on anyone. There was an aggressive kill every shift, which is amazing
considering how often the PK squad had to be on the ice.