Article written by Tristan Tapscott.
This was a consistently exciting
game for the full 64 minutes and 35 seconds. Both teams were flying all night,
with a combined 80 shots hitting the goalies or the twine. It seems a few Habs
stopped off at the "Lost and Found" bin before the game and picked up a few
items: Alex Kovalev apparently retrieved his ability to dominate a game, Sergei
Kostitsyn found the 1st powerplay unit’s shooter at the point, and Francis
Bouillon picked up his rarely used rush up the ice. (Still in the bin:
Plekanec’s offensive game and Laraque’s physicality.) It wasn’t the strongest
game the Habs have played recently, but it was a good win for a team missing
quite a few weapons up front.
Jaroslav Halak: B+ Two
screened shots and a cross-ice deflection can’t really be faulted to Halak.
However, there were a few iffy rebounds that the defense effectively swept away.
A few big saves kept the Habs in it when Buffalo had good pressure, but I think
he’s starting to look a little tired. I expect Carey Price to get the nod
Roman Hamrlik: A See what
happens when you shoot the puck, Roman? He had the 2nd most icetime for the
Canadiens and it was well deserved. I especially like his defensive positioning.
Opposing players don’t get much to work with when Hamrlik is on the ice.
Francis Bouillon: B+ There
are a few games a season that Bouillon decides to go on the offensive. Tonight
was one of them. His unexpected rushes didn’t cause results on the scoresheet,
but they are a nice dimension of Bouillon’s game we don’t see often.
Mike Komisarek: B A
fiercer Komisarek than last game, but still not what he can be. Hopefully in the
next few games will he will continue rounding into his physical form. In the
meantime, enjoy watching his defensive work. Even a non-physical Komisarek is
worthwhile to this club.
Josh Gorges: B- A slightly
timid Gorges tonight. He gave Buffalo players a bit more room to maneuver than
he’d usually allow. The blocked shots and well executed poke checks are still
there, and he’s starting to take more offensive chances. Not his best game, but
not terrible either.
Andrei Markov: B- 2
assists aside, Markov’s work on the powerplay wasn’t all that effective.
"Boring" isn’t the right word, but it’s the one that comes to mind. Once he gets
the puck there is very little movement, and his shot attempt at the yawning open
net was laughable. Thankfully, his defensive play is still fine.
Patrice Brisebois: C Derek Roy played
Brisebois perfectly as a screen on Buffalo’s first goal. I also wasn’t a fan of
Patrice’s work on the penalty kill, but then again, why did Carbonneau have him
Sergei Kostitsyn: A If
he’s willing to shoot from the point on the powerplay, keep him there: it’s
working. Not only that, but his other special teams work on the penalty kill was
good too. I especially liked Sergei’s safe dump down the ice after a turnover at
the blueline. He could have gone on a rush, but took the opportunity to dump the
puck and make a change. It was a smart play, and a pleasant surprise from a
Steve Begin: A Begin
brought the energy tonight and really got the crowd going. Whoever didn’t like
his shift when he hit 3 Buffalo players in a 10 second span, raise your hand.
Alex Kovalev: A- The goal,
fantastic. Hard work along the boards, lovely. Deft stickhandling, beautiful.
The selfish plays, tolerable to a point. My favourite and least favourite shift
of Kovalev’s was the exact same one: he drew three Buffalo skaters to him, deked
all of them, then got a shot off that missed the net. It was nice to watch, but
if you’ve got three Sabres around you, that means two of your teammates are
open. It just seemed Kovalev neglected the better passing option just because he
was on a roll, and luckily it paid off tonight.
Alex Tanguay: B+ I still
think he should shoot more, but Tanguay controlled the play tonight. A
non-descript game, but results shan’t be questioned this time.
Guillaume Latendresse: B
He played it simple and kept up his recent good work along the boards. His
offensive plays were a bit rushed early on. A step back in his game, but only a
Maxim Lapierre: B Bit of a
quiet game from Lapierre. His forecheck is still best on the team, as he really
causes problems for the opposition. His offensive decision making leaves
something to be desired. If left with the puck too long, it’s like he outthinks
himself. A quick tempo with only enough time for instinct is more his game.
Tom Kostopoulos: B- Did
exactly what he’s supposed to: forecheck hard, throw the body, and cause
turnovers. I’m tempted to mark Lapierre, Kostopoulos and Begin as one
three-headed-monster, as their game of late has been similar and effective.
Therefore, "Lapopoulin" gets a B on the
Georges Laraque: B- He had
what I guess could be defined as a "classy" fight with Andrew Peters, allowing
Peters to get up after falling down, and then promptly punching him down again.
I liked his play down low (it’s like a skating stone pillar that can stickhandle
put on a Habs uniform and was placed behind the net) but until he hits someone,
hard and often, he’s not doing his full job.
Matt D’Agostini: C+ His worst game in a
Montreal uniform so far, and still managed to get on the scoresheet. He was
essentially a non-factor in the game until his final few shifts. Where was the
physical play? Where were the speedy rushes? I expect a conversation with the
coaches will bring out a better effort from D’Agostini against Carolina.
Robert Lang: C+ Was mostly invisible until
his last shift in regulation. I know he’s not an exciting player, but he needed
to play a bigger role for the first 59 minutes, not just the last 6. His 71% in
the faceoff circle tonight (tied with Lapierre) and a bad break on a jarred net
were his only laudable additions to the game.
Ben Maxwell: C+ The poor kid had the
unfortunate task of trying to create offense with Laraque and Begin early in the
game. Eventually he got to play with skill players, which is more suitable to
his abilities, but he hasn’t shown enough to warrant staying in the NHL after
anyone comes back from injury.
Tomas Plekanec: C Outside
of the face-off circle Plekanec was a non-factor all night.
Powerplay: B I don’t quite
get it… they scored early on the PP by skating, moving the puck, and shooting.
Then they reverted back to bad habits of passing, waiting, waiting some more,
pass, put the kettle on, read "War and Peace," knit a nice sweater, pass, and
maybe shoot if they get bored. Can they only do it right when only 3 opposing
skaters are on the ice? They get a B only because
of the 5 vs 3 and 4 vs 3 work.
Penalty Kill: B The
aggressive checks were still there, but it wasn’t as tight as it’s been lately.