HabsWorld.net -- 

Two weeks ago, hardly anyone would have seen
this coming, but the Habs now find themselves in a win or go home situation on
Monday night.  The Habs have lost 2 straight, and appear to be in one of
their worst slumps of the season at the worst possible time.  As always,
we’ll have the Weekly Grades, plus 5 keys to winning Game 7, and my take on the
CBC situation, and the humour around it, in the Recap.


The ratings:
8.5 – 10:  Player has exceeded
expectations for the week, very strong contributions.
6.5 – 8:  Player has met expectations
for the week, play has helped or at worse, not hurt the lineup.
5 – 6:  Player has performed below
expectations for the week, play has at best not hurt the team, but likely has
had a negative affect.
Under 4.5:  Player has had a week to
forget, questions should soon be arising about his future with the organization.


#31 – Carey Price:  7.0 
Despite the fact that he has allowed 10 goals in the last 2, he did win a 1-0
game this week, yet it seems so far away. (Playoff Average:
Season Average:


#51 – Francis Bouillon:  8.0 
If Brisebois can score, why can’t he?  Also played somewhat well
defensively on Saturday, which is better than most of the others. 
(Playoff Average: First rating  Season Average:

#71 – Patrice Brisebois:  7.5 
Tied for the team lead in points and had a game winner this week; even with some
iffy defensive plays, this is still better than expectations. 
(Playoff Average:
Season Average: 6.65)

#26 – Josh Gorges:  7.5 
A little iffy dealing with the hits, but he picked up his game when paired with
O’Byrne and looks more like the Gorges we saw down the stretch. 
(Playoff Average:
Season Average: 7.04)

#44 – Roman Hamrlik:  7.0  Really
struggled the last couple of games after being the top defenceman arguably on
either side in week 1. 
(Playoff Average:
Season Average: 7.35)

#8 – Mike Komisarek:  7.0  The
only defenceman that’s been able to handle the hits so far, but even his
defensive play was suspect this week. 
(Playoff Average:
Season Average: 7.48)

#3 – Ryan O’Byrne:  7.0 
There were some shaky moments, but for the most part, he acclimated himself well
to the playoff pace. 
(Playoff Average: First rating  Season Average:

#79 – Andrei Markov:  6.5 
The "Russian flu" seems to have struck, poor decision making and frustration
have crept in, which is something we’ve not yet seen this year. (Playoff

Season Average:


#22 – Steve Begin:  8.0 
Arguably the most physical Hab out there, and even better yet, he hasn’t been
injured (knock on wood.)
(Playoff Average:
Season Average: 7.18)

#11 – Saku Koivu:  8.0 
Brought some much needed depth to the lineup and certainly contributed
offensively.  His inability to hit top gear hurt at times though. 
(Playoff Average:
First rating 
Season Average:

#6 – Tom Kostopoulos:  7.5 
The offence went away, but he still was creating chances and dishing the hits
out, another quality week. 
(Playoff Average: 8.50  Season Average: 6.85)

#40 – Maxim Lapierre:  7.5  It’s hard
to expect much when you’re paired with 2 defencemen, but although he wasn’t not
as noticeable as last week, he still played well.  (Playoff Average:
Season Average:

#20 – Bryan Smolinski:  7.5 
Seems to be showing a little fatigue, but his play is still much improved from
the Smolinski we saw during the season. 
(Playoff Average:
Season Average: 6.93)

#14 – Tomas Plekanec:  7.0 
We saw some signs of life when he wasn’t relied on to be the only offensive
minded centre out there. 
(Playoff Average:
Season Average: 7.70)

#21 – Chris Higgins:  7.0 
Much better Game 6 after being invisible in Games 4 and 5, seems much more
comfortable back on the wing.  (Playoff Average:
Season Average:

#74 – Sergei Kostitsyn:  6.5 
Rebounded in Game 6, but before that, the only time we saw him was en route to
the box.  (Playoff Average:
Season Average:

#27 – Alexei Kovalev:  6.5 
The other victim of the "Russian flu," this is the Kovalev from last season that
we loathed.  He may very well be hurt, but injuries don’t prevent
selfishness.  (Playoff Average:
Season Average:

#25 – Mathieu Dandenault:  6.5 
He’s not doing much, but he’s not really expected to be doing a whole lot
anyways.  (Playoff Average:
Season Average:

#32 – Mark Streit:  6.5 
Shouldn’t have tried to play through the injury, and even when he was healthy,
he wasn’t doing much anyways. 
(Playoff Average:
Season Average: 7.13)

#46 – Andrei Kostitsyn:  6.0 
It’s the same boards you were hit into all season, they’re not any harder than
they were before.  (Playoff Average:
Season Average:

#84 – Guillaume Latendresse:  6.0 
When you’re the biggest forward on the team in a physical series, and you get
benched, what does that say about a player?  (Playoff Average:
Season Average:

#73 – Michael Ryder:  6.0 
Has been scratched twice now, all but solidifying that he will not be back with
the team next year.  (Playoff Average:

Week’s Average:
Season Average:
Playoff Average:


Here are my 5 keys to winning Game 7 (or at
least not getting blown out of the water):

1)  Survive the first 5 minutes – even with the crowd being on the
Habs’ side, Boston will be out to try and demoralize the team early.  The
team’s psyche may be fragile enough that 1 goal could possibly all but kill them
if there’s an early one.

2)  Special teams – mark my words, they will have the biggest impact
of anything on this game, be it a timely goal, or momentum shifting penalty
kills.  I don’t see there being too many penalties called, so both teams
had better take advantage.

3)  Adaptation – the pace at the end of Game 6 was more offensive
minded, which in most cases, should favour the Habs.  This may be a chance
to push the game strategy more towards Montreal’s style and not Boston’s. 
Making special teams adjustments are a must as well, the PP for obvious reasons,
while the PK has not been as sharp lately either.

4)  Coaching – The Habs have been out coached this series, but with
home ice, the last change reverts back to Montreal.  It will be up to the
staff even more than usual to get the right people out at the right time, and
make quick adjustments when necessary.

5)  Nerves of steel – If the Habs play like they’re nervous and
afraid to lose, they’ll be dead before the game even starts.  I don’t want
to put any more pressure on Carey Price than necessary, but if the team follows
his lead in staying calm (at least at the beginning), this should help their

Of course, there’s plenty more to list here (veterans pick the team up,
goaltending, etc), but I think everyone gets the point by now.


The whole CBC "issue" of whether the network is
cheering for the Habs or not I must admit is quite humourous to me.  For
starters, this really is nothing new, be it this year or in years past, were
people really expecting different? 

Personally speaking, and I’m sure a lot of you will disagree with me (and if you
do, please keep it civil), but I don’t find it as bad as a lot of others. 
I have the privilege of having RDS and watching games on there, where there is a
heavy Montreal bias.  On CBC, it’s not all Habs, and I don’t mind that,
sometimes balance is nice.  Sure, some Boston segments have been overdone
(like the Savard and his stick one), but if it’s that or another feature on the
Price family (with all due respect to them), I’ll take the former, because
that’s something I haven’t seen before…or at least 5 times before like with
the Price feature. 

As for the CBC crew, again, I’m not that surprised.  Don Cherry has been a
Boston supporter since the day he became affiliated with the team, why should
that stop now?  If it was Ottawa playing Boston and not the Habs, I
wouldn’t expect any different.  (Toronto on the other hand, could be a
different story.)  As for the commentators being "happy" over Boston’s
success – I would think you would be too when it means you get another paycheque
and get to call another game.  As for CBC management, more Canadian games
means more revenues and viewership, so Boston’s success has been great for them,
7 games worth of revenues versus just 4 or 5.

Is the CBC perfect?  Of course not, but they’re not as evil as some people
make them out to be, at least in my opinion.  We all certainly disagree
with their policies in terms of game selection, but c’est la vie.  But to
call them Anti-Canadian may be going a little far in my opinion, and that
opinion was formed well before Executive Director Scott Moore put out his damage
control article.  I don’t mind having some variety in my hockey, be it CBC,
TSN, RDS, etc, and I’ve quickly learned that some don’t.  So to each their
own, if you don’t want to watch the games on CBC, it’s your call, but do we
really need this discussion every year?  The CBC knows the concerns of the
fans, but really, there’s not that much more that can be done.  The primary
focus of the fans should be team, not how they’re being (or not being) covered. 
That’s just my 2 cents on the issue, and I know there will be many who disagree
with me.  If you want to drop me a line to let me know your thoughts,
please keep it civil (and leave an e-mail address to respond to, I always do
within a few days.)