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- January hasn't been a kind month for Lars Eller. He has just 12 points in 44 games, his lowest PPG average of any month.
At least the Habs can't be accused of being boring on this night. No matter how many times they came back, they still managed to shoot themselves in the foot with stupid penalties. One wonders when they'll ever learn. Furthermore, despite the club insisting that the defense is a strength, I beg to differ. Our defense is a large weakness. We have more giveaways deep in our own zone than I see from most other teams in a week's hockey.
Tough start for Gorges. First shift, two goals against - though neither his fault. On the first, the attackers were slow getting back and Bouillon was indecisive and that made a three-on-two seem more like a three-on-one. On the second goal, Bonk was a second late getting back for coverage. That said, he jumped in the rush more than most of our other defensemen combined and that put the Sabres on their back heel quite a lot. Something to learn from a player who was working on a successful San Jose unit. Then again, since he barely played down the stretch in this one, perhaps trying to make things happen isn't a required element on a Habs team that is ineffective at even strength. Once again, attacking instincts are culled immediately.
Aebischer: B- He let in seven goals, but let's be honest here, he didn't have a lot of support. Furthermore, he made a few stellar saves that actually kept the Habs in the game. There were a couple of goals where the RDS squad accused him of having no clue, I counter that the broadcast crew were not watching the game - Abby was following the play (unchecked by his "defensemen") all over the rink and had little chance to stop a great many.
Bouillon: D+ Abysmal. He didn't do any of the things required and was beaten to the puck and beaten all around the zone continually.
Dandenault: D Embarassing. Even the one pinch I saw was completely mis-timed as he jumped from the right point while the puck was with a Canadiens player not thirty feet from him. Instead, he skates across the zone to the far post. Defensively he might as well have sat at the blueline waiting for the puck.
Gorges: N/A Tough start, though as mentioned, at least he was willing to jump into the attack. His first pass is good and he's willing to take the body when necessary.
Komisarek: C Except for a spurt or two, he was butterfingers with the puck. When a team is running you around, you need your big man to act large. No momentum turning hits - narry even an attempt.
Markov: C+ His decision-making is in the crapper right now. Defensively he was barely average, and on the attack it was either a hit, or a big miss (blocked shots again and again).
Souray: C On the goal scored by the Sabres short-handed squad, he made a nice start to get back, then cooled off and coasted the rest of the way. Pretty much sums up his game. Sorta, kinda there.
Begin: C- Brutal giveaway which resulted in a goal and a significantly lower standard of play than usual. Pretty much nothing in the way of useful hits either. If you're hurting, maybe you should sit out until you can contribute and help the team.
Bonk: B He made a mistake on one goal, but other than that was a decent player at both ends of the rink. At least here was one vet still working his butt off. Let's send out a prayer that he gets re-signed in the off-season.
Johnson: B Another guy with a decent game. Shame he probably won't resign here because at least you know what you're getting game in and game out with him.
Koivu: B Disappointing performance. His game was average and that's just not what's needed out of him. Then again, tough to be a success when you're fielding passes in your feet all the time. At least he created a few chances.
Kostitsyn: N/A Started off tentatively and slowly, but as the game wore on he played better and better. By the third period he was one of the best Habs forwards out there.
Kovalev: B+ The first half of the game was actually good for Kovy - I mean, of course, other than the first two or three minutes when he was atrocious. He knew it, and played extremely hard for the next while. His overall game was actually somewhat better than you'd expect.
Lapierre: A A breath of fresh air. He was all over the place, constantly moving, and a threat each time he was on the ice. He showed what it takes to win.
Latendresse: C Fourth line fodder tonight, but still, fairly invisible. A big man like this needs to make his presence felt and if everytime he hurts someone after making a big hit he feels the need to stop, maybe he's just not made for the NHL game.
Plekanec: B+ Scored a couple of goals, played well in the offensive end of the rink, and worked hard. It wasn't his best game by any stretch, but he was in the right place at the right time a lot.
Ryder: C+ Except for his goal he was completely invisible - I barely noticed him out there. Unacceptable for a guy on the supposed first line.
Samsonov: B- A shifty play here, a shot there, he was almost passable tonight. He even won a battle on the boards!
Streit: A Sit up and take notice, Habs, this is how you play. He made one mistake all night - the weak play for the short-handed goal. Other than that, he was excellent.
PP: B Not really much of an opportunity to see it because when you play at low intensity, you don't draw penalties.
PK: F Abysmal. Men wide open, over pursuit of the puck. A mess overall.
Carbonneau: D Called the timeout early which was smart. Unfortunately, the team looked unprepared, and it's more and more evident that his coaching style is based around a defensive system that these players cannot work with. As much as implementing a system is good, you also have to work with the players you have. Watch the Sabres - going to the net hard, especially at even strength. They have constant chances on net. The Canadiens? We're embarassing at even strength, rarely creating anything. Instead we barely forecheck, our defense collapses into the zone BRUTALLY (how many times were the defenders at the net already when the Sabres were only crossing the blueline???), and our only hope is when everyone plays an almost perfect game while the goalies are out of this world. Where's the creativity? Where's the flair that so many of these offensively talented players seem to have?
Just one question: Can the Habs find the desire within them to win? Add a sub-question to that: Has the clock started on Carbonneau since he doesn't seem to be able to get it out of them consistently (and does he have the right system with the players available)?
Boston tomorrow night. Wonder if anyone will show up?
A Concerned Fan
- Habs Continue Trip in Buffalo posted by Matthew Macaskill