chastise the Canadiens for giving 2 points to a team they are trying to beat out
of a playoff spot, take a breath and look back at the game they played. The
positives outweigh the negatives, and they didn’t leave empty handed. I
almost feel blessed in having seen Montreal play with 45 minutes of effort, a
full 30 minutes more than their usual outings lately! We did see a complete team
tonight, just not all at once. When there was no offense, there was solid
goaltending. When the goaltending left (in the shootout specifically), the
offense showed up. When the effort got lax, the luck was there. When the effort
was there, the luck took a backseat. What it really comes down to is can these
Montreal Canadiens put it all together, all at once, for a full 60 minutes
before the season ends and they’re out of the playoffs?
With final leg
of the season under way, and Montreal battling multiple teams for a playoff spot
(including the Rangers), let’s separate the players into who’s playing for the "Playoffs," the draft "Lottery" and
who is on the "Bubble."
Welcome Back!: I’d like to stop having a "Welcome
Back" section in this article. It’s time for Montreal to have a full squad and
keep it. However, Latendresse comes back from injury and is thrown right into
the mix. The rust was there, for sure, but by the end of the game he was
protecting the puck well, and even got a point. It will be interesting to see if
he stays with Saku Koivu, or if Bob Gainey reunites the
Latendresse-Lapierre-Kostopoulos line that was so dominate mid-season.
People’s Elbow: Glen Metropolit laid an elbow into
Sean Avery that dropped the universally despised pest for about 15 seconds. Awesome.
Virile: Apparently Alex Kovalev didn’t need the 10
pounds he lost while out with a virus. Kovalev had jump in his game, even trying
to be too fancy at times. He was a bit of a goat on NYR’s 4 on 4 goal, but
immediately looked like he was hell bent on making up for it. And he did. I’m
loving the falling down one-timer. All things considered, this was more than was
expected from someone coming back from an illness. Hopefully Alex Tanguay comes back from his
virus in a similar fashion.
Stepping Up: Maxim Lapierre, given a promotion (of
sorts) to work with Kovalev, stepped up his game. This is the best we’ve seen
him in awhile. There were hits, there was the drawn penalty, and there was the
highlight reel goal (partly a highlight because of the Ranger that KO’d himself
on the crossbar.) If this is the first game of his reemergence on the scoresheet,
Montreal will pick up some points in the final dozen games.
Quiet but Steady:
The focus has been taken off Josh
Gorges lately, and I think he likes it that way. He’s unnoticeably been playing
some good hockey. Of course we’d all like to see the player that was unleashed
mid-season that looked like a legitimate #4 defenseman, but this version
(probably the version we’ll see more often) is still a solid player for the
Shootout Strikeout: Carey Price let in all 3 shots he saw in the
shootout. He’s come a long way since showboating against Tampa Bay back in
December. This was an
unfortunate end to a very solid game by Price. Hopefully he shakes it off.
BS: Stands for Blocked Shots of course. A lot of Montreal’s shots ended
up on Rangers sticks, skates or shins. More of these shots need to go through,
even if it only leads to a rebound, because the puck constantly only making it
partway to the net instead of the full way is total BS.
Shooting Gallery: Yet another game of 40+ shots. With the Rangers getting
two 3rd period goals, I’m left wondering what the score could have been had
Montreal held them to around 20 shots instead.
Mike Komisa-wreck: There’s a lot that’s been said about his play that
doesn’t need to be said anymore. What’s fairly new though is his unwillingness
to take a hit. In all honesty, it looks like he knows he’s going to make big
money this summer regardless of his play (like Michael Ryder), so he’s trying to
avoid the only thing that will hurt his eventual paycheque: getting hurt. I hope
I’m wrong, but has there been any positive development in his game since his
Too Cute: It’s really sad when you get a shorthanded 2 on 1 and you don’t
even get a shot. I understand Chris Higgins wanted to get the puck to the left
handed shot on the right side, but everyone in the arena knew he wanted to. He
has a laser shot, and he should have just taken it. Too often the Habs look for
the cute play, and now more than ever the goals should be looking ugly.
Who Had the Virus?: Saku lost a lot of individual battles and spent way
too much time on the ice off his skates. Of all the worst possible times to call
for his role on the team to be reduced, this pretty much ranks up at the top,
but he’s looking old out there, and when Koivu looks old, that glaring spotlight
on the hole left by the big centerman the Habs don’t have just gets all
the more glaring.
Playing it Safe: It speaks volumes of the confidence of this team,
when with a man advantage to end regulation time, Montreal stuck with the safe
plays. The entire powerplay, there wasn’t a risky maneuver to be found. Whether
you like it or don’t like it, the Habs were playing for a point – a point they
sorely needed. Should they have pushed harder to try to take 2 points away from
a team they are battling for the playoffs with? Maybe. But has there been
anything in the team’s character this season that’s shown them capable of that?
I’ll take the baby steps over the risky leap right now.
Hitting the Wall:
Max Pacioretty has looked overwhelmed
offensively for awhile. The points have been elusive for him for awhile, but
there was at least always an offensive threat from his hard work. Lately though,
he’s looked a bit lost. Perhaps another stint in Hamilton would be good for him.
Fortunately though, he’s always working hard and always in the mix, so he may
catch a second wind and find the back of the net again in the NHL.
Know Your Role:
Tom Kostopoulos hasn’t been the same
player since Gainey demoted him to the 4th line. He should be taking his reduced
minutes as an invite to expend more energy on the ice. Instead, he’s either been
a detriment or invisible. The 4th line of Stewart-Metropolit-Kostopoulos has
left a lot to be desired, and you’d expect more hustle from these guys with a
spot in the lineup soon to be lost when Alex Tanguay gets back.
|Carey Price||B+||Maxim Lapierre||A|
|Andrei Markov||A+||Guillaume Latendresse||A-|
|Josh Gorges||A-||Tomas Plekanec||B|
|Patrice Brisebois||B+||Max Pacioretty||B-|
|Mathieu Schneider||B+||Matt D’Agostini||B-|
|Roman Hamrlik||C+||Andrei Kostitsyn||B-|
|Mike Komisarek||C-||Chris Higgins||C+|
|Penalty Kill||A||Saku Koivu||C|
This article was written
by Tristan Tapscott with
references to The Rock, jabroni!