This is one of those games where the individual pieces did not add up to the whole. Singly, the Habs weren’t horrible, but they failed completely to play as a team tonight. Well, that’s not globally true, but certainly after Theo stabbed the team in the back with that ridiculous clear on the PK, most of his teammates packed it in with respect to the system and any game play formulated.
While I understand Julien putting Theo in the net in hopes that they could beat Atlanta with their best and get back on the winning side of the ledger, the fact remains that Theo is not playing well, Garon has always played the Thrash well, and Theo is too tired these days – plainly evident in his game.
There will be some that say we were missing Souray and Ward and, and, and, but the simple fact is this: when they were playing the system and working hard, Atlanta barely left their zone. When they gave up and played individual games, all hope was lost.
Theo: Take a break buddy. If the coach won’t give it to you, demand it because you’re no longer helping the team. Goal one had Theo cleanly beaten. Goal three was that idiot play off the back of the net. Goal four was a shot on a two on one that he would normally have gobbled up, instead leaving a juicy rebound for the goal. D
Bouillon: Played a strong game, and was good all night. The only time he was beaten he had to take a penalty, but it was a good one since it would have been a break otherwise. B+
Brisebois: Another who played a really solid game. In fact, I think his experience showed through because at the end, it looked like he was still playing the system when others were playing shinny. B+
Quintal: Post. Kovalchuk made him look like one all night long. He was scrambly, unaware, and out to lunch much of the night. D
Markov: Poor guy had to play with a post all night so it’s no wonder his +/- suffered. He made one bad play on the pich that led to the two on one, but at that point in the game, Julien had certainly told him to take some chances and make something happen. Can’t really get on his case for that. Then again, at times he was scrambling at the back – though it was because Quintal was all over the place. C+
Rivet: Not the best game he’s played and certainly at times near the end he was scrambly, which is a complete shame since earlier on he’d been solid much of the time. Perhaps it was frustration, but by the end of this one he didn’t seem to know where to go anymore. C+
Komisarek: I’m not in the least disappointed with his game. He’s supposed to make those rookie mistakes, and I see him making less and less. He’s getting really feisty as well and using his body continually. The penalty he took, while unfortunate, I’ll not complain about at this point in his development considering the circumstances. He nailed the guy legally, then continued playing him hard against the boards before getting a cross-checking call. He’ll learn soon enough when enough is enough. B
Kilger: Should have been given more of a chance in a game like this to make a physical impression. N/A
Perreault: Moved up to the second line where he actually made a few things happen near the end of the game. Of course, before that he’d missed on about 80% of his passes and had made some poor plays. However even before that, he’d hit a couple of people and had played pretty hard in his one or two shifts on the fourth line. End result? Better game than usual for him. B-
Dackell: Moved to the third line and thereafter looked pretty good when reunited with Sunny and Juneau/Begin. He’s still recovering from injury, but all things considered did well with the puck and off it too. B-
Sundstrom: Taken off the second line because he didn’t score in the game and a half allotted him. I mean, if you don’t score on one of the first two lines in three shifts you should probably be in the press box. Now, once he got to the third line he seemed in his element for sure, and that line was hopping and making things happen quite often. Of course, that was offensively, and defensively, at least he was not as good as usual. C+
Juneau: Took one heck of a hit in the second and missed the rest of the period because of it. Charlie horse, I’m guessing. At the end of the game he stayed out too long probably in an effort to either prove himself or out of some frustration, but at that point it was fine. He had a tough game at both ends, actually. C
Begin: Moved from the wing on the third to the middle where he played fine, but not extraordinarily. I didn’t find him nearly feisty enough tonight. C
Ryder: Didn’t matter who his linemates were tonight, he made things happen himself. He was just as good as he’d been through the stretch where he was getting all the points and it’s only a matter of time before he breaks out – unless he’s dragged down by those around him. B+
Ribeiro: Sometimes he was good, sometimes invisible. He was crushed a few times because defenders have figured out some of his tricks and don’t follow the puck so much as the body – something he has to adjust to. He made one very fine defensive play hustling back to break up a two on one, which was great to see. B-
Zednik: Well, at least he looked like he wanted it tonight. He hit a post, did a cut to the middle – something we haven’t seen in ages and ages, and was actually hitting in the offensive zone again. The change in lines certainly suited him. B
Bulis: Nice goal, a few other strong efforts, and you can tell he enjoyed having his buddy up with him on that first line. He looked fast tonight, and had all the jump he used to have on the third line – no wandering about like some of the last games. B+
Koivu: Funny, when the team was doing well, he was being treated by the coach as the number one centre, getting number one time and being put in at all the critical times in the game. Now, the team is horrid and he’s playing significantly less time than Ribeiro, is getting less shifts than he did before, and isn’t put in those critical situations nearly as much. I can’t figure out the strategy behind these moves because they’re obviously having a negative effect on the team. He was by far and away the best the Habs had on the ice tonight, yet Julien seems to be slowly phasing him out. Has the coach been told to start moulding the team around Ribs in the face of a coming move? Is Ribs being showcased for a potential move? Is this just poor coaching? I dunno, but when your best guy isn’t used as your best guy, it leaves a lot of room for second guessing. A-
Julien: I think he’s come to a point in the season where he’s a little uncomfortable and it’s showing.
Powerplay has become a problem again, and something needs to be done. First think is to get Markov to shoot more. Second is to get Sax behind the net as he’s just as good as Ribs and has a little experience. Second is to make a second PP unit to do something because the one we have now is … poor. And I’m being nice.
Calgary on Thursday and that’s a really good – and very tough – team. We’re going to get thundered all night and unless we find our game, we’re going to get hammered on the scoresheet as well. Ladies and gentlemen, the Hab team you see on the ice these days is *not* a playoff team by any stretch of the imagination. If they make the playoffs, it’ll be an embarrassing four game exit at this rate.
A Concerned Fan