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Well, I think we can safely say the Habs are back down to Earth after two
lousy performances two days running. For those who figured the next step in the
evolution of the team was to challenge those above, certainly there was a
significant reality check. I think it’ll be enough to make sure we don’t get
overtaken by those down below.

Troubling for fans, coaches, and everyone
else associated with the team, has to be the way these two losses occurred. The
play was just not sharp at all. There were too many passes in the skates, too
many stupid plays, and too many passengers. Something that should give everyone
some stress is the lack of offence that Montreal has displayed. As recently as
earlier this week the lines of Ribeiro and Koivu were making things happen with
frequency. Now we’re lucky to see them make good plays a couple of times a

Tonight’s contest was just another example of how the Habs will not
be able to compete with the best of the best when the most talented players are
having tough nights. Of course, it’s still a learning process, and something
every Hab fan everywhere should note is this: we are not a better team than
Toronto. Had we won, it would be considered an upset. There is no need to panic,
just for everyone to get back to the game that was doing so well for us, and
keep plugging away.



Theo: That first goal was
dismal. It was one he would have saved 99 times out of a hundred, and if you
could see the Habs deflate afterwards, well it’s understandable. Furthermore,
while the others were significantly tougher plays, usually you can count on Theo
to make at least one of those saves – that’s the way he’s been this year. I’m
also still concerned about his control: too many times he failed to corral a
bouncing puck. B

Bouillon: He was pushed around at times in the defensive
zone, quite badly. He also didn’t level anyone until the third – and that’s
something we usually get to see earlier in the game. With the puck he was fine,
though as he is wont to do, he occasionally over-handled it, however his
defensive game wasn’t the best. C+

Brisebois: I would humbly request that
Julien please take Breezy aside and remind him of how successful he was when
playing the simple game. Way too many times we had a view of the Breeze from
last year – either with mental errors or abysmal passes. C-

Rivet: He
played a mostly safe game, which I like to see – continuing the theme of his
season turn-around. And while he may have taken a minus overall, he was not at
fault for any goals. B

Markov: A hundred times better than last night,
but he’s still got a long way to go. I felt his defensive play was much better
than his offensive play this evening, and that’s good news. He takes a minus on
the Renberg goal when his shift was penned at the end of the second, which was
tough, but the other minus was on the three on one break where he played it as
best he could. B-

Quintal: Hold of praying for him to be traded just yet.
Tonight he was one of our better defenders and his size certainly helped down
low. Nice that he didn’t make any of the glaring errors with the puck that his
peers made. B

Souray: Interestingly, on a night where he was still
struggling with the puck, he managed to come out even. I think it’s horribly
unfortunate that he’s going to the All-Star game, because if there’s anyone who
needs a break, it’s the guy who hasn’t played a full season in forever. Too many
silly mistakes for a guy who was doing much better. Hopefully he’ll find a way
out of this mini-slump soon. B-

Langdon: “Hello Tie, I need to get my
players going, so I’m going to punch you in the head.” *FWAP* But no, he stuck
to hockey – ostensibly fine, but when the Habs were getting pulverized late in
the second or early in the third, they needed a boost. B-

Perreault: I
don’t think he’s enjoying things in Montreal anymore. He goes around with a
perpetual scowl on his face. I do too when I watch him play. Question: when was
the last time he won a one-on-one battle? D+

Balej: When Plekanec came up
with the Habs, I was really pleased to see his game. Balej is more ready, in my
opinion. He plays a better two-way game, he’s got just a little more speed and
he got used to the speed difference a little quicker, and he made things happen
on his own once again. He had more than a few really strong shifts where he made
some excellent plays, both offensively and defensively. And he can lay the body!
Anyone else see him nail some Leaf in the defensive end? B

Sundstrom: Bad
boy for tripping Sundin in the third. Now, I know you were nowhere close, but
bad boy nonetheless. The line did a decent job against the Sundin line when
given the chance. Sunny made some good plays, and was fairly solid in his own
end as usual. B

Kilger: Does he come with a manual, because that could
really help. Some shifts he was skating all over the place and looking like a
solid player. Other times he was turning away from hits and generally lazing
around the ice. Defensively, he did keep to his man and play well enough.

Juneau: I’ve started humming Robaxicet commercials when I see him. No
complaints once again as he did his job. Though there are many that want to
replace him, he’s still the best defensive centre we have by a fairly large

Dagenais: Fairly classless play to go after Marchment and clip
him in the face with his stick after being decked legally. You know, when Ribs
and Zed aren’t creating anything, Dags is utterly useless out there.

Zednik: Give him credit for that goal, it was a real goal-scorers
goal. However, he’s *got* to learn how to defend better and play within the
system. Too many times that line was caught deep because he and Dags failed in
their plays along the boards. I was fairly happy with his offence, he was
certainly one of the most creative tonight. B

Ribeiro: Easiest assist
he’ll ever get, but when things are bouncing your way… Other than that, however,
he was dominated out there completely. This is the kind of game that presents
the biggest challenge for him, and the type of game where he has to learn to
find a way for him to be successful in the league. Tonight was a strike against
that. C

Bulis: I thin kit’s time for to move him off that first line. I’m
happy to see that he still gets chances here and there, but he’s not a
goal-scorer, and I think his skills would be better suited elsewhere. Sax needs
a little more talent on his wings. B

Ryder: Amazing. When the rest of the
team struggles, he still manages to make things happen. He still hits hard, gets
shots off, works his butt off. And while he might not score on nights like this,
it should be encouraging for all Hab fans to see this type of game.

Koivu: Two really dismal games in a row. Now, tonight was better than
yesterday in terms of handling the puck (barely), however he made another pile
of ill-advised plays that reeked. The first and last goals against were a result
of poor plays on his part and that’s just not like him at all. Hopefully a
coupld of days off will let him recharge and come back strong. C-

Can’t say I was pleased at seeing Sundin against Ribeiro that often,
particularly when we had the last change. I also don’t like that he stuck with
Dags when Balej was obviously offering more tonight. There’s still some learning
to go, obviously. Still, I like that he’s reunited Markov and Rivet, now that
the latter is playing better hockey. If he can get Markov’s game back up in this
manner, the Habs will be much better for it in the long


I’m miffed by the reffing. Now, it certainly had nothing
to do with the outcome of the game, there’s no question there, but still, that
was a poorly done game leaving me wondering why the NHL is paying two guys a
night. Koivu’s penalty for interference….when Belfour left his net to hit Sax? I
don’t think so. No call when Sundin hooked Ribeiro the length of the ice? Hrm. A
call for interference when Sundin fell in the faceoff circle on plays that we
see every faceoff?

Pat Quinn, with all his whining, has actually done
some good, as the refs are afraid of making calls against him, particularly on
Saturday nights.

Then again, that play by Dagenais was despicable. If
I’m the league, he’s suspended. Speaking of suspensions, that spear on Ryder by
Ponikarovsky after the former had hit the latter legally was dangerous to say
the least.

Tuesday we meet the Sabres in Buffalo. While they’re certainly
never going to be mistaken for a top-caliber team, they will still make you pay
if you play as poorly as the Habs have the last two nights. The days off will be
needed to work out some kinks in the game and get everyone back on the same
page, hopefully. Time to turn things back around and get back to the solid play
of earlier this week.

A Concerned Fan