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The Canadiens fans responded to the class shown by the Boston faithful as they applauded the Star Spangled Banner tonight, in a reversal of the ridiculous boos heard in recent games.  And that was just the beginning of the good stuff.  Somehow this fantastic series gets to go to seven games for fans of both teams to enjoy.  And it’s going there because some young American kid on the Montreal blue line hammered (albeit illegally) Joe Thornton into tomorrow.


For a period and a bit, Montreal was struggling as they were dominated by Thornton and his monster linemates.  For a period and a bit, it wasn’t looking nearly as hopeful as it had for the last four games.  For a period and a bit, Thornton‘s line had Koivu’s line penned for periods of time.  All that changed, as did the direction of this game, when the smacketh down was applied.  It’s the one thing the Habs have been missing for years, and tonight they served noticed that they finally have a defender who will make any and everyone pay.






Theodore:  Okay, who else said, “Oh here we go again” when he let that terrible goal in during the first?  Let’s give him his props, though, because after that, he was stellar, robbing Samsonov, among others, to keep Montreal in the game in the first, then making the necessary saves to ensure victory.  B+


Bouillon:  Twice he was cross-checked from behind and twice it was called.  The first time he even stayed on the ice for a moment (shame on him) while he got his bearings.  He played a good game, though at times he was run around by the Bruins.  B


Brisebois:  There have been nights this year when I’ve watched him play and wondered where he’d discovered this new no-risk method of competing.  This was not one of those nights.  This was the worst Breeze-by night I’ve seen this season.  The number of times he lost his coverage, the number of missed and bad passes, the number of poor choices were incredible.  Both goals came because he failed to cover Samsonov.  He left him alone after the faceoff for goal one and he was nowhere near him for goal two.  D-


Souray:  Another struggle tonight, though not nearly as bad as last game.  He made some poor decisions and his play with the puck was troubled at times.  At least tonight, though, he was good enough to make up for those mistakes.  C+


Komisarek:  He played just shy of eleven minutes.  Unfortunately – since I think he would have been way better than Breeze.  But in those minutes he turned the game in the Habs favour.  We finally have a big man that can handle everyone.  We finally have that defender that can crush someone to turn a game.  Since Larry Robinson left, we haven’t had a big hitter back there.  He made a few mistakes, of course, other than that, but looking at the overall scheme of things, he was pretty darn good.  B


Rivet:  Mr. Consistency – and who’d a thunk anyone would ever say that about him!  He made the simple, smart plays all night long and was effective along the boards and in front of the net.  B+


Markov:  Another quietly effective game.  He does such a great job against Thornton and yet barely anyone notices because he does it without big hits.  He just angles Joe into the boards and wins the puck away.  Now *that* is quality defending.  A-


Langdon:  And I quote:  he did “as a natural goal scorer does, just put it in the net.”  Anyone think he’ll lose that smile by game seven?  A+++


Dagenais:  Relegated when he once again produced nothing but a void on the second line, he was a -1 and played once from the middle of the second on.  Useless.  F


Juneau:  He shifted lines around a lot tonight, but still played solid defence.  He also got a breakaway (I kid you not), though Raycroft came up with a nice save when he tried to sneak it between the wickets.  B-


Dowd:  Typical steady game from a solid two-way player.  Nothing special, and virtually no mistakes.  Oh, except missing the net on a two-on-none.  Oopsie.  B


Bulis:  A better game as he used his speed much more tonight.  He was solid defensively, made a few things happen up front, and complimented his linemates well.  B


Begin:  Played a great game, even after losing half his head to the boards.  On the other hand, he did stay down on the ice pooling blood for an awful long time.  To top it off, he came back and played almost on his next shift….okay it was over a period later.  Musta been a dive.  ;-)  B+


Perreault:  Promoted to the second line because he was working again tonight, and when he works he’s ten times the player than Dagenais is – and he scores just as well.  He took the body on occasion (including on the Bulis empty-netter) and his laser shot was very effective tonight.  A-


Ribeiro:  There were times when I thought he was going to start being the player he was in the regular season, but then he never followed up a good shift with another one, he always faded for a while.  He made a couple of good defensive plays, but was adrift on others.  He made some fine offensive plays and dominated a shift or two, but at other times was kept to the outside and didn’t seem inclined to change that.  He’s got to do more if he wants to prove his character.  B-


Ryder:  All I can think when I see him out there busting his butt and making the hits, creating chances, and leading the team in shots, is that, if he were on Koivu’s line, he’d be putting in the points in droves.  That was a stellar touch pass to Perreault for the goal, and on a couple more occasions he was simply brilliant.  B+


Zednik:  Somewhat more discreet tonight, though he did attempt a few thrusts through the middle.  It wasn’t his highest-intensity effort, however.  B-


Kovalev: After the first shift when he completely dominated the opposition, I thought we were going to see one of those games where the superstar comes out to play.  It never quite ended up like that, but he still put in a really good effort, and those of you who look closely at his game will notice that he’s basically comfortable in the system now.  He was doing dump-ins and making the little passes and plays that this team needs in order to succeed.  Not only that, but now he’s adding his own talent and abilities to the system and is starting to break out of his shell.  While he wasn’t dominant tonight, he had a really solid game at both ends of the ice.  B+


Koivu:  He’s tied for the playoff scoring lead and he’s elevated his game, and the game of those around him to a whole new level.  After Koval-gate, Alex could have folded up and gone home, but Koivu went and chatted with him and the Russian has been better than ever.  He’s being matched up against superstar Joe and is the better player at the moment, playing with far more heart and intensity.  At times, he completely controls the game.  Two words:  heart, soul.  A


Julien:  Deftly took Dags off the second line when the big man was doing his best interpretation of the invisible man.  Kept Komi out of “passionate” situations to continue to allow the young kid to grow into the playoff experience – don’t put him in a place where he’s going to lose his confidence.  Smart stuff.


PP:  We were 0/2 and yet, on one of those, I do believe I saw control in the Boston zone.  Nah, musta been the beer.  Or a mirage.  C


PK:  We were 2/2 and on one of those, I do believe I saw two scoring chances.  Does it get better than that?  A


Team:  One bad goal by the goalie and one poor play at the blue line.  There were other goof ups, but on the whole the team stuck to the system, only got penned three or four times, and generally acquitted itself very well throughout the course of the game.  B+




Game seven baby.  Is there anything better than that?  Win or lose, we’ve been able to witness a wonderful series filled with intense and passionate hockey.  Never mind the Ribeiro and Kovalev incidents, the Habs surely should be proud of themselves for this effort.  Oh, I do believe that this is the first time since about ’57 that the Habs have come back from 3-1 to force a game seven.  They’ve never won from that situation.  Boston, on the other hand, has never lost after leading 3-1.  Game seven will either be a continuation of the trend, or will start something new.


Now, Julien has to calm these guys, get them to remember that they are still the underdog, that they shouldn’t be over-confident, and then get them to come out and play another solid game.  Forget the past, ignore the future, the season is one game long and everything has to be left out on the ice for this one. 


And against Boston.  Nothing better.


A Concerned Fan