Article written by Tristan Tapscott.
off to Maxim
Lapierre! His goals sure did the trick! You’d certainly say he’s a
natural! (I’ve got plenty of these, and I missed grading Kostitsyn’s
hat-trick game, so I’m using them all here). The offense came in all forms
against the Florida Panthers.
Like a traveling circus of
offensive style, there was something here for everyone.
There was a lucky bounce off
a foot, a skilful top shelf roofing after a speedy race for the puck, a
wraparound after a wraparound, a snipe from the circle, and an empty netter.
This was one of the Canadiens better 60 minute efforts so far this season, and
was easily the best game of Maxim Lapierre’s NHL career. You can bet he’d take
another like it at the drop of a hat! Thank you, I’m here all week.
weak goal in the 1st could
have deflated the Canadiens early momentum, but thankfully the team recovered
without missing a beat. After that, Price made up for the gaffe with steady play
and spurts of excellence when needed.
Josh on the power play is
an interesting experience. He rushed his shot when he should have waited, and
then waited when he should have rushed it. But while his offensive game
continues to be an interesting journey, his defensive game stays stalwart.
That delay of game penalty
at the end is in no way justifiable with the time he had to make a play, but
other than that I didn’t notice him.
There were too many soft
penalties for my liking. “Holding the stick”? “Hooking”? I’d prefer 2 minutes
for “checking someone through the boards.” At least the hits were there, and I
guess the penalties mean he’s battling, but this still isn’t the fierce
Komisarek of last season.
It wasn’t the usual
physical game from Hamrlik, but there was nothing to complain about.
There was one too many
moves on his near breakaway late in the 1st, but it’s good to see
some revitalized offensive confidence from him.
I do worry when I see him
on the point on the PP. He’s looking tired, and lackadaisical, even after the
holiday break. I wonder if he should see the ice from the press box for a game
or two, and try to restart the motor.
Three goals is enough that
need be said, but I want to say more. Lapierre, Begin and Kostopoulos had a
brilliant shift of straight up grinding in the 2nd period, and it
resulted in the prettiest, ugly goal of the game. And don’t discount his 3rd
goal as an empty netter. Lapierre didn’t give up on the puck on the backcheck,
and the result was a well deserved hat-trick.
Used his speed to chase
down a puck before it was too far out of a scoring chance. I liked him tackling
Campbell after the late hack at Price. However, punching a guy in the back of
his head while he’s on the ice? I like the vigour, but I don’t like being
reminded me of Todd Bertuzzi and Steve Moore.
Though his slow-it-down
style on the PP has been part of the Habs woes, on the 5 on 3 it just caused
mayhem for Florida. I wonder how his down low, cross ice passes would work on 5
on 4’s instead of just on the 5 on 3’s. It may work better than his play along
His effort in the fight is
appreciated, and the energy he brought kept the tempo of the game up. You can’t
ask for much more from Steve Begin.
Playing with a big body
has worked well for him, and he’s learning that. Also, good things seem to
happen when he blocks shots at the point. Perhaps more players should take his
cue and charge the point more aggressively. Players with more speed than
Latendresse (read: pretty much the rest of the team) could break away down the
ice more effectively.
He has an ability to crash
the net and create offense, but just seems to have no ability to put the puck in
the net. This makes his shifts exciting, but in a teasing kind of way.
Dangerous looking as per
usual. He created chances when none were there, but the offense just didn’t
follow. The giveaway that led to the Panthers first goal was bad, but the goal
was more the fault of Price than Andrei.
He’s not afraid to dump
and chase (S. Kostitsyn take note…) and he uses his body and speed effectively.
It was a fairly quiet game from his line, but I won’t point the finger at the
rookie playing with two veterans.
gets marks for being above 50% in the faceoff circle. It seems his entire game
in the NHL at the moment is to not be a liability. That leaves a little to be
desired, but I guess it will do until someone who will make a difference in the
game takes his spot.
I’m usually amused by
Lang’s wily, consistent, veteran play that is mostly about being subtle and
boring. I don’t like, however, when he’s ineffective while being subtle
and boring. Some games he just fades, and that shouldn’t happen when playing
with talent like Alex Tanguay.
Well, he crashed the net
on the PP to help with the first goal, but otherwise he was quiet. Too quiet.
Sergei tends to try to
carry the puck like Alex Kovalev. Alas, he’s Sergei Kostitsyn and the
sooner he realizes that the better. There’s being confident, and then there’s
being overconfident. Sergei would be better served by playing a chip and chase
game with aggression. It was quite the awful giveaway on Florida’s 2nd
goal, and he loses the puck way too often at the blueline when a dump-in will
do. Keep it simple!
Well… it no longer looks
useless, but it is equally as ineffective. The 2nd unit in particular
looks bad as they don’t appear to enter the zone with a plan. At least Kovalev
got a bounce with 2 men in the box.
Body and stick positioning
are great, but they need to take advantage of their opportunities to clear the
puck. This is nitpicking, as it didn’t hurt them tonight (though it has all
season). 2 shorthanded goals and killing off 1:40 of a 5 on 3 is fantastic.