This was about
as undeserved a win as you can imagine. San Jose threw 48 shots and the kitchen
sink at Jaroslav Halak, while Montreal managed a piddly-by-comparison 21 shots
against a very poor looking Brian Boucher. In fact, aside from 8 minutes in the
first that San Jose wishes they could have back, Montreal was thoroughly
dominated by the top team in the West. After the 1st period, there was a feeling
that the Canadiens could beat the Sharks with hard work and a lot of luck. After
the 2nd period, there was a feeling they would be fighting hard to even get a
point out of the game. After the 3rd, there was a feeling that perhaps they
should find a safehouse to lay low for awhile and hide their stolen win. It’s a
little sad that this is the game that Bob Gainey will have in mind going into
the trade deadline.
In a game as
lopsided as it was, the only thing you can really look at is what was "Positive," "Negative" and "Neutral."
2 Points: With a playoff spot for Montreal being as
unsure as it is, at the end of the night, no matter what happened on the ice, if
the Habs get the "W," we’ll take it. We’ll all take it. I hope Guy Carbonneau
skates the team into the ground in practice after a game like that, but the
points are welcome.
Smackdown!: Georges Laraque threw a big hit and it
led to a fight in which he dominated Jody Shelley. Later in the game, when
Shelley started to agitate a Habs player after a whistle, Laraque skated right
to Jody’s face to be apart of whatever physicality he wanted to start. This is
his role. Unfortunately, Laraque only saw about 5 and a half minutes of icetime,
and I’m not sure he saw the ice at all in the 3rd.
Powerplay: 1 for 1 isn’t much to work with, but the
general feeling that everybody should be getting about the PP is that it’s
clicking. Some games are off, for sure, but there is now an "X" factor to the PP
that has switched the feeling of dread when Montreal gets a man advantage to a
feeling of excitement.
Halak it a lot!: Yeah, it’s a weak pun. Jaroslav
has stolen a few games for Monteal, but this was superb. In the 2nd game of a
back to back, he stopped 46 shots, including all 20 he saw in the 3rd. Keep
riding the hot hand, franchise player be damned!
Evil Monkeys: A bit of weight was lifted off
Koivu’s shoulders when he scored what proved to be the game winner, and Gorges
finally got rewarded for going to the net. Heck, even Markov scoring is good to
see, as it means he actually shot the puck instead of passing. It’s nice to see
monkeys falling off some backs.
Watching this team try to win the
puck back in their own zone is painful. As good as they are cycling the puck in
the opposition end is juxtaposed by how bad they are getting puck in their own
end. The worst part is, when they do get the puck, it’s usually thrown up the
boards to a winger that isn’t there, and the opposition cycle starts all over
again. It’s the same thing every game, and it has to be addressed.
The Defense (?):
If you can call it that. Roman
Hamrlik was beaten 1-on-1 and should have had a penalty called against him while
trying to fix his mistake. Mike Komisarek continues to be a turnover machine
with some rather weak passing that is embarrassing to his body size. Everyone is
talking about the calming affect Mathieu Schneider has had on the Montreal
players, and specifically on the defencemen. I don’t see it. He may have stopped
the bleeding (his presence has been valuable) but there’s still a deep wound. No
wonder the rumours of Bob shopping for another defenseman have been gaining
momentum (and approval).
Energy Depletion: In only the 2nd game since Steve Begin was traded,
Gregory Stewart and Tom Kostopoulos brought no energy to the team. Yes, Gregory
Stewart led the team in hits against San Jose (3 hits, folks… 3 hits), but
were any of them memorable? Stewart’s play since his callup was a key reason why
Begin lost his roster spot. Now that Steve is gone, it is not the time for
Stewart to sit back and bask.
Penalty Kill: There wasn’t much work for them to do, and it was a broken
play scramble that led to the goal, but the PK lacked the aggression that made
it so effective. Hopefully this is a bump in the road and not a new route.
Maybe They Don’t Like Him?: Yet another game when Montreal allows
40+ shots through to Halak. How they have been winning in spite of this, I don’t
know, but it won’t last and a change is needed.
"Bugsy" Kostitsyn: Andrei is still taking a backseat to
Alex Kovalev on that line. Like Kovalev, he’s a player who’s better with the
puck on his stick than not, so why not seperate them? Though you hate to mess
with a lineup that’s winning, I think he’d be so much better served playing on
Koivu and Higgins’ wing than on Plekanec and Kovalev’s.
Some will show surprise that he isn’t
in the "Positive" section. Well my reasoning is simple: consistency. If recent
history proves me right, in his next game, D’agostini will not play with the
drive he showed against San Jose, but instead play average hockey with average
effort. That’s not good enough from a rookie who could lose his spot in the
lineup to Alex Tanguay or Guillaume Latendresse.
This article was written
by Tristan Tapscott despite
rumours he’s being traded to Habs I/O on deadline day.