For the first few moments of this game, I was worried this was going to be another whupping to the extreme. The Habs started out fairly strong, but the Pens looked horrible and couldn’t do anything. They were flat and not moving or covering at all – I was starting to feel badly for them. Well. Seems the Habs decided to go to sleep when they thought the game was over after two quick goals, and the Pens, after a rallying call from Olczyk, started playing tireless hockey and winning most of the battles.
This is the problem when you take on a team that’s significantly worse than you are, but still works really hard: you get beaten by overconfidence and therefore lack of effort and complacency.
Fortunately, we played just enough hockey to win tonight, but I don’t think anyone can be pleased. I know, a win is a win, but the way this game was play, combined with the way we played against the Hawks, surely has to worry everyone out there who really understands the game. Half efforts and lazy attitudes will not work in this league, even against the worst teams. The Pens are AHL quality and they almost got us because we didn’t give a hoot anymore.
Garon: Scrambly, unable to hold his rebounds, over-committing. Not what you want to see from your backup. He cost himself a lot of trouble with his work tonight. C
Souray: I’ll make it quick since he barely played: STUPID. That’s twice in a row he’s fallen for that. C
Brisebois: Playing some fine hockey at both ends of the ice right now. He’s finally found his offensive game and has the confidence to use it. While he may not be living up to that hefty contract, he’s definitely worth having out there. B+
Quintal: The first goal was a case of him getting rounded by a faster player and unable to catch up. He was slow on his pivot, slow in moving to the man, and never managed to tip up the stick. B-
Rivet: I don’t have any worries about his game anymore. I feel the coaching staff has brought him around slowly to the point where he’s putting in solid performances every night. It’s a nice change and I’m sure he’s feeling far more confident out there. What’s really nice is that he’s not running around aimlessly in his own zone. B
Markov: Ah, finally glimpses of last year’s Markov appearing in consecutive games. He’s looking far more confident out there and is playing his best hockey of the year right now. Hopefully he keeps it up. B+
Komisarek: I’m a little displeased with the fact he’s had so little ice time, because it shows in his game. There’s no way you can get used to the speed of the NHL while you’re playing only in practice – there’s no comparison between the two. He made some fine plays tonight and used his body well, but he also struggled at times with positioning and at moving the puck. There’s still an element of hesitation that permeates his game. C+
Langdon: First he gets in the fight then takes a shot off the hand. Mind you, who else out there thought he was going to fight someone in the first row when he threw his gloves and stick like he would have done for a fight? B-
Begin: Thank gawd for this guy. No matter what happens, he works his tail off every night every shift. That goal was just reward for the work he’s done. Taking that shot off the foot and refusing to leave the bench just shows you what kind of person he is. A
Perreault: Boy, I hope this wasn’t a showcase game or we won’t get more than a couple of used skate laces. I know he doesn’t like the fourth line, everyone does, but he’s still got to put out the effort. I guess I shouldn’t be so hard, because early in the game he looked better than the way he finished it. C+
Sundstrom: Nice to see him pot another one – and particularly since it was hard work that got him that goal. He also made another couple of really pretty passes that just failed to create goals, and that bodes well for his offensive game. Naturally, he was strong defensively as well. B+
Ward: Another guy who works his buns off and makes me smile. I may not like his talent level, but there’s no doubting his work effort is second-to-none. Now, if only he could translate that on the ice into something more than half hits. B
Juneau: More evidence that he’s not done yet. A couple of times he broke out with speed and created something. No questioning his defensive game either. B+
Dagenais: Well, I think he’s nearing his end. If he doesn’t get that shot off, he’s nothing. I’m not sure he’d make the Pens. F
Zednik: We gotta bench this guy more often. That’s the best I’ve seen him play in ages, as he was everywhere, making hits, making plays, working hard all night. B+
Ribeiro: Decent game, for sure. That goal was a dandy and he showed a goal scorers patience. I was also pleased to see that he was one of the harder workers tonight, particularly through the first two periods: he came back defensively with intelligence and passion and he made a couple of strong hits up front. It’ll be interesting to see how he adapts his game now that everyone is getting used to his style. B+
Bulis: Tick tock. That’s my frustration level’s clock ticking down as Julien completely fails to get him off this line. He’s a great player and a hard worker, but is just not in the right place right now. B
Ryder: Not the best game for this kid. He was easily contained and didn’t make much happen. Again, interesting to see how he adapts. I thought his work ethic, for one of the only times this year, wasn’t the greatest. C+
Koivu: That goal was about the easiest he’s ever scored, for sure, though I doubt anyone will complain. He had a slower first period, but picked it up well and carried things nicely for the third. I still find it a shame he doesn’t have real first line wingers, because with his effort level and skill level, he could and should be giving so much more. B+
Julien: The Bulis thing is bugging me a little now, and so is Dags hanging around the lineup. I’d also like to see more of Komi regularly. Other than that, it seems this team is on a bit of a low, having played only one really good game in a couple of weeks. Good challenge to see if he can get them back on track.
Our powerplay keeps motoring on, lately, however we seem to be finding some troubles with that penalty kill. We’ve been scored on regularly and have dropped significantly down the overall standings in that respect. I see a definite diminishing of intensity out there over what was happening a couple of weeks ago, and this is a troubling aspect. Something needs to be done quickly before things get really out of hand.
Critical game against the Isles before the All-Star break. Thursday night will see them either pull up right behind us with games in hand, or will have us stretch our legs a little. The way we’ve played lately, I think we’re going to have trouble holding on to the 7th position in the Conference.
A Concerned Fan