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The bad news is that we lost the game.


The good news is that we played against one of the best that the NHL has to offer and gave them almost all they could handle on this night.  If not for a couple of errors here and there, the series would be much closer than it stands at this point.  There were so many good signs on the ice that a failure of Montreal fans to be optimistic about the future would constitute a crime against hockey.


And kudos to the Montreal crowd for drowning out the commentators.  When the Canadiens fans want to be, they are the best in the game.  I’ve watched hundreds of games in the last few years, and I’ve yet to see the passion that Montreal fans give in any other arena.  And that includes Stanley Cup wins at home.






Theo:  He once again let another horrid goal go right through him, and while you can make a case that he made a few great saves during the game, the simple fact of the matter is that he’s hardly played to the top of his abilities throughout the playoffs save one game.  Even the winning goal was a result of poor rebound control and when you’re a team that relies on goaltending, these results aren’t good enough.  B-


Bouillon:  He played a much better game, was feisty on and off the puck, and nailed a few guys solidly.  He still put the team at risk by over committing at times, but at least he wasn’t horrible about it.  B-


Brisebois:  As I rescan my notes, I’m pleased that his name appears just about as much as I remember him.  He scored a goal and was quiet otherwise.  That tells me he stuck to the basics (which he did) and played a smart game (very).  B


Komisarek:  He’s going to have nightmares for ages on that last play.  His clearance hit a leg and directly resulted in the goal – was it all his fault?  No, but he should have been sure about that clearance.  This was a rookie mistake and quite honestly, I’ll take it.  Julien would be wise to stick him right back in there next game and give him huge minutes – because other than that, he played a solid game.  C+


Souray:  Ever since his injury his game has gone steadily downhill.  Tonight there were to giveaways on the PP – one which led to a goal – and numerous other execution and mental errors.  D+


Rivet:  Good solid game where he kept his feet in line and didn’t make any dumb plays.  B


Markov:  Since his father passed away his game has gone steadily uphill.  He gets under the opponents skin, he makes wonderful touch passes and intelligent plays (anyone catch the beauty off the far wall when Bulis was streaking?  No where else to put it and he was bang on), he loses his stick yet still clears, he wins scrums, cuts out plays at the opponents blue line, is a brilliant pinching defender…I could go on…  A


Langdon:  Lazy guy never got off the bench (yet still had a good scoring opportunity!)  N/A


Sundstrom:  All he has to do is chip the puck off the boards.  Instead he tries the fancy cross ice pass, fails and the tying goal goes in.  First rule in last minute defensive hockey?  Chip the puck off the boards.  Shame, because otherwise he played a solid game.  B-


Begin:  Ahhh.  Now there’s the super pest and high energy worker we’ve come to know and love.  Was there anything that moved that he didn’t hit?  He makes so many things happen when he plays at that intensity and it’s such a wonderful thing to have on your team.  A-


Juneau:  Dug down deep and found an extra gear tonight.  He was great at both ends of the ice, made some fine offensive plays to go with his solid defence, and could easily have made the scoresheet with someone other than Bulin in the net for Tampa.  B+


Dowd:  If everything Gainey puts his hands on turns to gold as it has this season, we’re in for one heckuva ride these next few years.  Dowd was simply awesome tonight at both ends.  He saved goals, he created a goal.  His defence was simply wonderful and his hustle without end.  A


Perreault:  Not only did I see him lay in a few hits this season but he actually crushed – yes, you read that correctly – !CRUSHED! an opposing defender at one point.  Solid game at both ends; his +/- is misleading.  B+


Ribeiro:  A good game, though nothing spectacular.  He made a few things happen and worked fairly hard all night.  Got himself into some trouble and took a misconduct penalty, but honestly, my first thought was that Perreault would do a better job in that second line spot.  Probably his best game of the playoffs, though he still didn’t do that much.  B


Zednik:  A solid effort the entire way through.  He was making things happen, was pushing through opponents and looked much better than he has in recent games.  His one fault?  He isn’t going to the net enough.  One shot means he wasn’t in position to get them.  Board work is great, but he’s supposed to be a sniper.  B


Ryder:  There are those who say he’s struggled through the playoffs, that he wasn’t able to bring his game up to the next level.  With the exception of perhaps the first game against Boston, I’d have to respectfully disagree.  While he hasn’t scored, he’s done everything he needs to do to get into position and score; goalies have robbed him consistently.  But add to that his work ethic, which is second to none, and his willingness to get his nose dirty, and he’s been wonderful.  Tonight was much of the same, though this time he was rewarded.  A few huge open ice hits were wonderful to see, his goal was a typical goal scorers goal (in front of the net to collect the garbage), and he worked his butt off from beginning to end.  A


Bulis:  Not suited to the first line, though his work and digging certainly created things.  A typical hard-working effort, and yet another shame he couldn’t finish his chances.  B+


Kovalev:  One word:  superstar.  If Gainey is reading this, please, oh please sign this guy.  His moves were extraordinary, his vision impressive, his play sublime.  He was all that and a bag of chips.  A dominanat force.  A


Koivu:  First shift he comes out and hammers two Bolts to set the tone and get Montreal and the crowd roaring.  Follows that up with barely a shift where he and his linemates didn’t create at least one scoring chance.  His moves were fantastic as well, his vision wonderful, and his grit is something else indeed.  Yet another who was dominant.  A


Julien:  Can’t complain.  He did his homework, got the boys to buy into the system and adjustments and sent them out there to compete, which they did.  Nothing he can do about the execution.


PP:  When Souray is giving pucks away at the point, your PP will never be good.  D


PK:  75% doesn’t cut it.  They’re giving away the slot too easily.  C


Team:  Who can complain?  They did virtually everything they could have, but were beaten by a better hockey team tonight.  Yes, we can look to some errors and claim ‘what if’ but Tampa can say the same about goals like the Breezer one – how’d that get in?  A-




Now a supreme test of character.  Similar to game four against Boston, Montreal had this one then lost it in overtime.  Let’s see if there’s anything left in the tank to bring them back against the Bolts.  There can be no thoughts of game five, six, or seven, all that remains is tomorrow – the rest we’ll deal with after tomorrow.  First, practice and a chance to get emotions back to an even keel, that’s the goal.  Then, the next tomorrow, the next game.


Of course, if we play like we did tonight then, win or lose, it’s going to be one entertaining affair.


A Concerned Fan