took most of the season, but Montreal finally ruled supreme over a significantly
lesser opponent. It’s good to see
Montreal take the late playoff push seriously, especially against the
non-playoff teams. If they take this attitude into the next two games against
other "Lottery Hopefuls" in Toronto and Ottawa, the Habs should have a full tank
of confidence facing tougher opponents to end the season and in the playoffs. It
was a slow start against the Islanders but a very strong finish, and it’s easy
to get excited about this team with only five games to go in the regular season.
Playoffs. We’ve jumped from "possible" to
"probable," with potential to head straight to "downright likely." With the
teams movement up the standings to 7th, with 6th place in sight, let’s see who’s "Pushing"
the team forward, who’s "Holding"
the team back, and who’s currently "Coasting."
Pontiac Got Pimped: Back on March 4th in
player grades article, I called Glen Metropolit a "Pontiac Sunfire" hockey
player: definitively average. Apparently Xzibit pimped my ride! His game was
clicking with Dandenault and Higgins, but then poor Glen went from having 2
speedy wingers with offensive instincts to a couple of bangers who are better
off with bone clubs than hockey sticks. Guess what? He switched up his game to
better suit his linemates by taking more control offensively. My goodness, he
even fought Doug Weight it what must have been a great amusement to his to
pugilist linemates. Glen Metropolit is finding his place on this team.
A Dandy Streak: The Habs improved to 5-0-1 when
Mathieu Dandenault starts on defense. Is this just a frivolous point streak that
obviously won’t hold up over time? Absolutely. Am I wanting Bob Gainey to ride
that streak until it falters? You better believe it.
Options: The 1st PP unit is playing with balls out
confidence, and it’s a damn sight to see. Mathieu Schneider is unleashing bombs
from the point… OR Koivu is finding Markov with the backdoor play down low…
OR Koivu is crashing the net belying his size… OR Markov finds Kovalev on the
cross seam pass. Options are nice to have, and options backed with confident
play are beautiful to see.
Punches and Smiles: He could have been a malcontent
after sitting a few games, but Georges Laraque played hard, avenged a teammate,
had a tilt with an Islander that only left Laraque smiling, and he even had a
shift showcasing unnatural puck control and possession. It’s good to see Big
Georges playing hockey again, but it’s even better to see him enjoying playing
What More Can You Say…:
The 1st line. It feels good to say
it, because it’s been awhile since you could say that about the Montreal
Canadiens and actually see the names to back it up. With no offense or lack of
respect to last year’s Kostitsyn – Plekanec – Kovalev, I’m a much bigger fan of
Tanguay – Koivu – Kovalev. Hot damn, it even looks good typed, let alone what
you see on the ice. I’m even going to bold it, underline it, and switch to a more important looking font:
Tanguay – Koivu – Kovalev.
65% in the faceoff circle. That’s
just downright surgical, and Maxim Lapierre led the way with an 82% rating.
Secondary Scoring: More like Secondary Snoring! Amirite?!!! I’m
hilarious. The second line struck out again, and 1 scoring line won’t take you
all the way – just ask Ottawa. There’s an interesting dynamic to the Higgins –
Plekanec – Kostitsyn line; they all skate like the wind, they all are a threat
to score, Higgins wins battles, Kostitsyn dangles, Plekanec can set up a play…
what’s not working? They have 5 games to click, because almost everything else
for the Habs is aligning nicely.
2-on-1’s: Probably the biggest cause of popcorn being thrown at TV
screens this game was the odd man rushes: specifically the 3rd line’s multiple
attempts and opportunities. Granted, the Lapierre – Latendresse rush that
Guillaume was robbed on by Yann Danis was done well. But the others? Passing
when they should be shooting, deking when they should be shooting, mishandling
the puck when they should be shooting. What I’m trying to say here is that they
should be shooting more and then crashing the net for a rebound. These are big
bodied fellows, and I’d like to see more goals that include a little blood being
left in the crease.
Should He Even Have a Stick?: Wow, Gregory Stewart is offensively
inept. It seems to me the only way he’ll score a goal is if he body checks the
puck into the net. Obviously scoring is not his role, but the sea change in his
game from when he doesn’t have the puck to when he does have the puck is
evident. Thank goodness he can skate and sacrifice his body. Still, he hasn’t
cemented a spot on the ever changing 4th line, and I expect S. Kostitsyn will be
given a look when he’s healthy.
Give Them More Time: I would have liked to have seen Gainey give
the 2nd PP unit all of the man advantage shifts the Habs got in the 3rd. The
game was already a guaranteed win by then, so why not give Higgins – Plekanec –
A. Kostitsyn as many chances as possible to hit the back of the net and maybe
gain some momentum? Gainey did at least start them on every PP in the 3rd, but I
felt more time was needed to truly get that 2nd unit moving.
|Jaroslav Halak||A-||Saku Koivu||A|
|Andrei Markov||A+||Alex Tanguay||A|
|Josh Gorges||B+||Tomas Plekanec||B-|
|Mathieu Dandenault||B+||Chris Higgins||B-|
|Mathieu Schneider||A||Andrei Kostitsyn||B-|
|Roman Hamrlik||B+||Maxim Lapierre||A-|
|Mike Komisarek||A-||Guillaume Latendresse||A-|
|Penalty Kill||A+||Georges Laraque||A-|
This article was written
by Tristan Tapscott who got
a computer on his computer so he can write articles while he write articles!