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The key to the Montreal Canadiens’ season will be team defence, special teams, and Jose Theodore. Sadly, with all three failing to deliver, the Habs had ‘one of those nights’. The Canadiens also had to avoid the penalty box against such a potent Ottawa power-play, but they failed to do so as well.


Scoring summary:


Ottawa 1-0: It began with a too many men penalty 5 minutes in.  Rivet left Spezza alone in front of the net and it was 1-0.


From that point Ottawa took over, applying an overwhelming forecheck that had the Canadiens reeling for the next 5 minutes.


Montreal 1-1: Following another penalty kill, the Habs then had their first opportunity with the man advantage. Hossa missed a perfect breakaway pass from Markov, and later Audette nearly scored on a one-timer from the slot after a nice feed by Perreault from behind the net.  Finally, just as the penalty had expired, Juneau found Hainsey sneaking in from the blueline and he scored on a one-timer.


Ottawa 2-1: Audette misses 2 defensive assignments on the same play. He doesn’t cover his point man who slips into the slot for a first scoring chance, then doesn’t cover Redden at the blue line who is clear to shoot… the shot is deflected by Neil whom Perreault failed to cover in front of the net.


Ottawa 3-1: Hainsey hesitates to pinch in, then is caught flat-footed and is forced to trip Marian Hossa who had him beat. With 5 seconds remaining in the 1st period, another shot from the point deflected by Schastlivy results in Ottawa’s 2nd PP goal.


Ottawa 4-1: Rivet leaves his point to go to the net while Perreault has the puck coming out of the corner. The play is broken up and Hossa & Phillips have a 2-on-1 against Markov. Audette, the closest forward to Phillips at the start of the play gives up… Perreault tries to catch up from further back but had no chance. Markov can’t intercept Hossa passing to Phillips, who scores.


Montreal 2-4: Second 4 on 4 situation of the 2nd period where the Habs do well. Ribeiro has some trouble defending against Alfredsson, but finally gets it done. Then the play moves to the offensive zone, and after being sent in alone by Zednik… Ribeiro makes beautiful move on Lalime.  Zednik got leveled by Volchenkov, but sacrificed himself to get Ribeiro the puck.


Ottawa 5-2: Marian Hossa gets cute in his zone instead of getting the puck out, turnover leads to Alfredsson in alone against Theo… who surprises him between the legs. Of all the goals, Jose wanted that one back the most.



– Claude Julien thought the team was a little too excited or nervous, didn’t stick to the game plan and made too many mistakes and faulty execution.

– Habs lost the faceoff war 41-25, all centers were under 40% including faceoff “king” Yannick Perreault.

– The plus/minus goats of the night were Audette, Perreault, Rivet, and Bulis all at (-2) for the night. And for Rivet that doesn’t count the 2 other goals he was on the ice for on the PK.

– The Souray-Quintal pairing had some communication problems, didn’t look as good as 2 years ago.

– Hainsey looked good offensively, but was struggling defensively all game long.

– Jose Theodore had a good game considering the opponents and the lack of support from his defensemen. He was very solid on many instances when his team left him alone out there. However, on the Alfredsson play, the team needed him to steal one to keep them in it… and he couldn’t do it.

– Ryder did well despite starting on the 4th line. If he keeps playing this way he won’t be on the 4th line for long.


Habs’ hero: Mike Ribeiro. As he did all pre-season he made things happen offensively every time he touched the puck, made a few great passes and scored a beautiful goal.  Wasn’t dominant all night, but then again, who was?

He was the Habs’ best player, and yet one wonders what will happen to him when Koivu is ready to return… stay tuned. Many fans said Ribeiro only looked good in the pre-season or against weaker teams, Ottawa must be weak then… 


Habs’ zero: Donald Audette & Craig Rivet.

Audette missed defensive assignments on two of the goals and spent more time lying on the ice than standing on his skates. Hitchcock got sick of him because he couldn’t play in his defensive system, one wonders if Gainey is about to have a feeling of déjà vu.

Rivet was on the ice for 4 of the 5 Ottawa goals, and personally responsible for two of them. Komisarek was left out, somehow I can’t imagine him doing any worse.


Final thoughts : The Habs didn’t look good, but they were facing what might be the best team in the league. As the team settles into Claude Julien’s system and the injured players return, the Canadiens can look forward to better things in the future.