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Unsurprisingly, the Habs were just not ready for the start of this one, and in the end it cost them as they fell to a vastly inferior team, and one that had lost two of it’s better offensive talents.  While they had more spunk than I would have expected to start the game, they only really found high gear in the third, and when you’re playing Luongo, you have to make every moment count or he wins games.


Still, I don’t think anyone can be horribly disappointed in this one, at least if you look at some of the little things that transpired.  The penalty kill was exceptional, we finally got to see Kovalev for 60 minutes, and we saw a Komisarek who looks to be starting to improve more and more.  The fact that we have more talent in Montreal than we’ve had since the mid 90’s is another reason to smile, and as long as they don’t melt down completely, I’m not overly concerned with a loss after such a long stretch of pulling one out of the hat.






Garon:  No chance on either goal, and in fact he played a very solid game.  His positioning was very good and his lateral movements were spot on as well.  I wonder how long before we hear rumblings from the dressing room and the beginnings of a goalie controversy.  Not until next year, I would guess, but I believe Garon is just about there.  A-


Bouillon:  Some fantastic rushes up the ice and great puck movement most of the night.  However he did struggle, particularly early on, down low against the more physical of the Panther forwards.  Once the team got into a bit of a rhythm, though, he seemed to find his groove.  B


Brisebois:  Two bad pinches, a couple of horrid passes and, what looked to me anyhow, too much effort to impress the new guy led to him having his worst game in a while.  Basics, Breezer.  Stick to them and you’re successful, anything else….   C-


Komisarek:  He’s making decisions much more quickly now and he made some fine passes and intelligent outlets.  He doesn’t always make the right decision, but at least he’s making them, which is a start.  With a little confidence, he’ll start learning to make the right choices and will vastly improve his game.  C+


Quintal:  Early on, when someone came at him with speed and walked around him, I was wondering if this was going to be an extremely long game, however he found himself, used his positioning and size to advantage and improved thereafter.  That is, until he started puck chasing and leaving his man all alone in front of the net – eventually to score.  B-


Rivet:  He made a couple of pretty proactive plays including the one that led to Wardo crashing Luongo’s net.  He didn’t get caught running around on this night, and in fact played an extremely solid game.  B+


Markov:  A mild step back, but only a mild one.  While he wasn’t dominating on this night, he was still doing most of the little things right.  Yes he got tagged with a -2 on this night, but in both he was the active defender.  The two on one was a precise pass that he still played virtually perfectly, and the other goal was the Quintal gaffe, where Markov followed his man, and Quintal went chasing.  B+


Langdon:  Good game where he did those things on the ice that he needs to do.  If I don’t notice a player like him all that much, it tells me he’s doing his job.  B-


Dackell:  Very strong on the PK, however he’s just not creating anything at even strength.  Then again, he was on the ice for a mere three seconds more than Langdon at five on five; which means he had to be careful and just play his game.  B-


Juneau:  You can tell even the coach knows that age is catching up to him.  While he played, and well, on the PK, the fact is that he was the player with the lowest time on the ice five on five.  What this tells me is that it’s his intelligence that keeps him out there, not his back and his legs.  B-


The trio:  They did their job, though they didn’t create anything.  What’s most disappointing to me is that, as the season winds into the playoffs and Bulis and Sunny make it back to the lineup, two of the three of these guys will probably be sitting – specifically Juneau – since the two coming back are PK specialists AND can play regular shifts.  C+


Ward:  Made a couple of great plays tonight, including the one where he crashed the net.  I’d like to see more of that out of Wardo for him to keep his spot.  He finished those checks, tried to make things happen offensively and was solid in his own end.  B+


Dowd:  A more discreet performance, though it was still filled with all the little things that make a player like him so effective.  What he does off the puck and in checking roles is hard to duplicate; he’s another who plays both on the ice and in his head – and he does it with energy.  B-


Begin:  Or should I say, Rocket Man.  That one PK shift where he went flying down on the forecheck, hammered his man, then flew back to the Habs zone and hammered another guy was completely amazing.  He was all over the place tonight and his game was top-notch at both ends.  A+


The trio:  I love these three together because while being defensively responsible, the high intensity play usually forces mistakes.  It’s no real surprise then that they were the trio to pin the Panthers in their own zone for the longest stretch.  Great night.  Oh.  Except on the winning goal.  *sigh*  A-


Ryder:  He’s not used to receiving passes on that line from anyone other than Ribs so when the puck magically appeared on his stick because of wonderful passes from Kovalev, it’s hard not to understand how they might hop up and he might miss a few chances.  He really finished his checks tonight, and other than Begin, is the one player I didn’t want to see bearing down on me.  Yes, he had his chances offensively, which is good, but he still makes the occasional blunder which may potentially cost goals.  Imagine his point total if he converted even a fifth of the missed chances he has?  B


Ribeiro:  He really stepped his game up tonight in both ends of the rink.  He was also smarter with the puck in that he didn’t hang on to it for too long since he now has two linemates who can also move with it.  Some special passes and close calls were nice to see, and if he keeps this up, he’ll be rewarded handsomely.  B+


Kovalev:  It’s like he’s playing a totally different game.  His hands and arms are lightening quick and that makes him look terribly lazy when he’s doodling with the puck.  There were times when he played with hit too long, and other times when he should have passed, but elite players have to create sometimes – or they aren’t elite players.  He had a couple of chances and even more impressive passes and it won’t be long before he starts to feel comfortable and explodes.  B


The trio:  It’s a great combination for a line and once the chemistry develops between the three, it could be deadly.  At this point, though, neither Ryder nor Ribs are sure what Kovy is going to do next, and that leads to some confusion and missed plays.  B-


Perreault:  Half the game he floats, the other half he works hard, makes plays, wins battles and actually hits.  I only wish he could be consistently good.  He’s a sniper, no doubt, and I would guess that his goals per time-on-ice is a lot better than the scratched Dagenais.  C+


Zednik:  He’s found his old form and he’s flying now.  A few times he went through the defence and created problems for the Panthers.  He only gets one point on the night, but he could have easily had about five had others finished or passed at the right moments.  B+


Koivu:  There were times when he struggled with the puck, but as the game wore on he found his legs and got better and better.  I think Kovy on the other line is a blessing in disguise for the captain since things are going to open up for him and he’s going to continue this hot tear.  B+


The trio:  They were the best of the two offensive trio’s on this night and a couple of times kept the Cats pinned deep.  The biggest problem is that Zed and Perreault are not defensive stalwarts, and they can therefore get pinned themselves at times, which happened tonight.  Still, on the whole it was a successful evening.  B+


Julien:  I wasn’t sure about it at first, but now I like Kovy on the second line.  It allows Sax more space and gives that second line three potent talents. 


PP:  Some shots but no real menace.  Kovy is being worked into the point situation, though it’ll take time for that to gel.  Until then it would behove the boys not to be so fancy and to get someone to the front of the net and start shooting; that’s how you score in today’s NHL.  C


PK:  A perfect night because everyone was busting their buns to make the plays.  In fact, the hustle was so great that the Habs actually had a few chances to score, and that’s something we don’t see often here.  A


Team:  For two periods we relaxed our way about the rink, probably thinking that, since it was Florida, we’d be able to win with a late surge no matter what.  That’s a bad habit brought on by our recent play, but also a reflection of coming home after the long trip.  Fortunately the third was worth watching.  C+




The circus comes to town as the Toronto Maple Leafs and all their new acquisitions come to the Bell Centre to take on the Habs.  It’ll be a tough game, for sure, but my big question is how all the egos in Toronto are going to work together – they have the potential of becoming the Rag$ of the north.  And critically they did nothing to improve the defensive aspect of their defence which leaves an opening for a team that can score.  Should be a fun one to watch, though, as the biggest hockey rivalry continues.


A Concerned Fan