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It’s never great to be swept out of the playoffs, but there’s no doubting that the sting of this sweep is significantly lessened by the fact that we made the playoffs and beat Boston when we weren’t even expected to come close to a playoff spot.  I felt tonight’s game encapsulated the season quite nicely, with the same types of errors that were prevalent and the same positive signs that will offer us an even better product in years to come.


Certainly there’s work to be done before next season, but one can hardly make any bold predictions on what will be done since the make-up of the team won’t be known for, presumably, a very long time – until the new CBA is completed.  General statements can be made, though.  More talent on the defence along with more speed, so that teams like Tampa can’t prey on us down low would be a starting point.


I think the one thing we can take from tonight’s game is that there is no quit in this team now.  Yes, they may have lost, but they were not obliterated and fought until the end.  Julien and Gainey are behind that to a large extent.  So is Koivu, the lone Canadien who remembered to salute the crowd (and thereby got others to do the same) and, unequivocally, the heart and soul of this franchise.






Theo:  I hope this summer will settle his mind because he was playing without it much of the time these playoffs.  He cheated like there was no tomorrow on the winning goal tonight, and that play was symptomatic of his season.  Great goalie but sometimes out to lunch it seems.  B


Bouillon:  Ultra-feisty as usual, yet made a few errors.  As the playoffs have moved along he’s allowed silly mistakes into his game – particularly not being effective at clearing the puck.  Plus, he’s guilty of over-handling at times. Went puck chasing on the winning goal.  C


Brisebois:  Back to the basics and low and behold he has another solid game.  Now that’s a Breezer worth hanging on to.  B+


Komisarek:  Butt-ugly penalty slashing Tayor after the play was done, but let’s be honest here, his actual play is rapidly catching up to that of the falling Souray, and he might actually be the better defender now.  B


Souray:  Looked more like a real defender tonight and played within his means for the most part.  But it’s a long way down from where he was early in the year and it’s quite a statement when you can say that Komisarek was probably a better defender this series.  C+


Rivet:  He’s come a long way this season and has become one of our more reliable defenders.  Nothing special, can still be run around, particularly by faster opponents, but generally gets the job done.  B-


Markov:  Quick capsule: steals the puck off an opponents stick then turns on a dime, dekes an attacker with a deft outside-in move, and fires a tape-to-tape pass to a Montreal forward to start a three-on-two.  Another excellent game.  A-


Langdon:  One minute and a second of stellar ice time.  Is there no end to his talents?  N/A


Sundstrom:  He played a solid game, chipped in offensively with the goal but also with a few good scoring occasions otherwise, and played well defensively.  Also put in a few hits and played probably the best game we’ve seen in a Montreal uniform.  Shame he had to wait until now to put it all together.  A-


Begin:  Super-pest was at it again, also had a few chances, and played his two-way game at the highest energy level.  A-


Juneau:  Perhaps it was his last game in a Montreal uniform; perhaps his last in the NHL.  Either way, he put it all on the line tonight, played his heart out, and was excellent in his usual roles.  A-


Dowd:  He made his first huge error in the uniform – one of those mistakes that the team has tried desperately to get away from as the series went on.  Sadly, it cost us the winning goal, which is a shame, because otherwise he played great once again.  B


Bulis:  Take note, Julien, keep him on the checking line.  He was flying tonight, in the face of his opponents, making hits and causing no end of trouble with his speed.  Build the checking line around him!  B+


Perreault:  The best hit of the night goes to Yanic, who clobbered Marty St.Louis into the boards in the third.  He’s been at his best lately, adding the grit into his talents.  He should have been centring the second line, in fact, which might have given poor Ryder the boost he needed.  Yanic went to the net, sacrificed to do the job and was a hard working guy tonight.  B+


Zednik:  Sadly, his injury took a lot of the wind out of the teams sails.  On the good side of things, he has the summer to recover.  Shame, because he played a really good first and did all those things that we need from him.  B+


Ribeiro:  Capsule:  Ribs gets knocked off the puck by a Tampa defender in the second period behind their net and…  gives up.  It’s painfully obvious that his confidence is shot, but he’s not even trying half the time it seems.  It’ll be a long summer for Ribs, hopefully he comes back energized and a little stronger.  If this season was the learning experience, next will be his proving ground.  D-


Ryder:  Created a pile of chances on his own again, but he’s started to get into the habit of doing it all on his own, rather than using his teammates.  Understandable on the one hand, but individual play doesn’t work in a team concept.  B-


Kovalev:  He was probably the skater who showed the most talent tonight for either team.  His abilities with the puck rival the best in the league and I can’t remember how many times I had to pick my sore jaw up off the floor as he made yet another Bolt look like a pee-wee player.  If there’s a way to sign him, I’d love to see it; I think he feeds off Koivu and is learning a little of our captain’s work ethic.  A


Koivu:  As usual he was everywhere.  He played a good defence and on most shifts created a chance or two.  He’s not afraid to go into traffic and makes things happen, and is routinely the player who goes to the net on his line.  There’s no doubting his heart or leadership abilities anymore, especially when it was found out he played the entire playoffs with a cracked rib, bruised lung and torn rib cartilage.  A


Julien:  He probably should have given that second line to Yanic, but that’s a tough call since Ribs was your team leader in points through the year.  Keeping Komi in over Quintal, while tough on the vet, was the best choice for the future of the team – and definitely for tonight.


PP:  This is an area that will need work next season.  One of our greatest problems was that our defenders seemed to want to blast the puck through Bolts.  That just ain’t gonna happen.  We did have more control on the PP, though.  C


PK:  They scored, but it was that ridiculous deflection off a shin that went in.  Quite honestly, this has been the best part of our game through the playoffs, and was a pleasure to watch.  A


Team:  Towards the end there started to be too many individual efforts, which was a shame.  We did have Tampa‘s measure for a lot of the game, but as things got desperate, everyone started to believe they had to do it themselves.  Still, the system that everyone mocked up to about game 20 has been mighty fine for us, and augers well for a promising future.  B




Well, our season is over and I think no regrets.  We went from a group of players without a cause to a unified group that showed what hard work and intensity will get you when you work together as a team.  I think we, as Hab fans, can say to the rest of the NHL “Look out, the Habs are back.”  No longer will we be doormats or also-rans without a clue on or off the ice.  When Gainey was hired, he quickly put things in order in both places and has us on the fast track to eventual success.


In years gone by I’ve been deeply disappointed, and at times devastated, by the season I’ve just witnessed.  Not so this season.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been more satisfied when seeing the Habs knocked out of the playoffs – swept no less.  In some ways it’s even good that it happened this way:  imagine if we’d won this series what the expectations would have been?  And imagine what would happen in Montreal if they were not met next year?  I don’t want to lose Gainey right at the beginning. of a potentially long and very fruitful run…


Well, that’s the last game recap from me this season, and while you may not have agreed with me, perhaps ever, I can only hope that I’ve offered at least a different point of view that you can appreciate.  I’d like to thank everyone for their emails and support, it’s usually a fun exercise to go through, but it’s made that much better with constructive feedback and the occasional comment of appreciation.  My one hope is that you might have come to understand something better from what I’ve written – be it as simple as clarifying your own point of view upon reading mine, or as complicated as getting a better understanding of the Canadiens from this hockey fan’s perspective.


Naturally, you’ll see a little more from me, my year end review player by player will be up-coming in the next few days.  I’ve also got a couple of other ideas that I’m banging around.  Whether you catch up with it all then, or I don’t see you until the fall, I hope you all enjoy an enjoyable and safe off-season.


Vive les Glorieux!  


A Concerned Fan