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Defense? What defense? There
were players not covering their man, weak battles in their own zone, and
giveaways galore. Frank J. Selke just hit 10000 RPM. A 6-5 shootout win for the
Habs was an exciting a game for everyone (except perhaps for the coaching
staffs.) Though the Canadiens’ top line were kept off the score sheet, there
were few moments in the game when you didn’t think someone was going to score.
Even Montreal’s 5-3 lead in the 3rd period didn’t feel safe, and ultimately it
wasn’t. The ongoing woes of the powerplay show no signs of a turnaround, with
the only positive to be taken from the staunch ineptitude of the man advantage
is that Montreal scored 5 even strength goals. Given the free wheeling nature of
the game and complete lack of anything resembling a goaltending duel, one
expected a high scoring shootout to end the game. Two mishandled pucks, two
posts, one save and one goal later the blundering breakaway contest mercifully
ended with the Habs on top.                 


Jaroslav Halak:
Most of the goals were
because of poor defensive coverage, and can’t be blamed on Halak. However, it
was a decidedly average game from Jaroslav, and I think everyone was hoping for
a statement game from him after the New Jersey debacle. Hurry back, Price!  


Andrei Markov:

Two spin-o-ramas!! Was he
watching PK Subban’s play against Russia? Good call by the coach to use him in
the shootout. Markov has been playing with a bit more offensive confidence
lately (although his shot appears to have regressed to that of a 10 year old
girl). Hopefully this is a turning point to Andrei’s rediscovered offense. His
poor defensive coverage in OT with Brisebois almost ended the game.

Josh Gorges:

Another generally
unnoticeable game by Gorges. He did get caught playing the puck in the 1st, but
it was a rare deviance from his usual play. I like how he seems to know where
everyone is in the defensive zone at all times, as he tends to find open ice
better than most. 

Francis Bouillon:

Good to see him pot one.
There were some iffy choices in his own zone (like screening Halak on the first
goal while skating to cover… no one?) But in a game where both teams may as
well have played with 5 forwards at a time, he fit right in with the tone of the

Roman Hamrlik:

He battled hard along the boards,
but otherwise has left me nothing to note on his play.

Mike Komisarek:

It was nice watching the opposing player bail out on a rush when he saw
Komisarek swooping in on him. It was even nicer seeing Komisarek battling in
front of the net at the end of the 2nd. It was a bit of spunk we haven’t seen
from him recently. Personally, I like "Komisarek the Controlled Monster" more
than his somewhat tamer persona we’ve seen most of this season, and hopefully
we’re starting to see that revival. 

Patrice Brisebois:

 Wow, is he worrisome at
the point! He can’t control the puck on the PP, he can’t win a battle along the
boards. So what can he do? He makes a fine first pass and has a good
playmaking shot. Lest we forget, he was supposed to be a #7 defenseman. Until
Gainey brings in someone who can do what Brisebois can do offensively, Patrice
is going to continue to get more ice time than he should see.


Robert Lang:

This is the Lang we haven’t seen for awhile. He got the unmarked assist in my
opinion on Andrei Kostitsyn’s first goal by forcing Florida goalie Craig
Anderson to make a rushed play with the puck, that ended with a gimme goal. Add
a goal (and what a goal!) an assist, and 71% faceoff wins and you’ve got a
player that showed up in the game and on the scoresheet. Keep it up Robert!  

Andrei Kostitsyn:

Snipe! What a shot for his
second goal of the game, and it was an appropriate end to a brilliant shift in
the 3rd. Is there a better skater on the team? Keeping him off a line with
Kovalev seems to work out well, as both of them can open up the ice very well.

Tom Kostopoulos:

He and Lapierre have
really developed a camaraderie on the ice, as they both work well together and
seem to read each others moves on the forecheck. It took him 3 whacks
uninterfered with before he put the puck in the net, but it’s good to see the
second effort in his game.

Maxim Lapierre:

Did exactly what he’s
supposed to: play hard on the boards, cause Florida problems in their end, and
win faceoffs. 

Tomas Plekanec:

Like Alex Kovalev, tonight
was all flash and no finish for Plekanec.
tried to make some nifty plays, and the chemistry with Kovalev was there, but
they just couldn’t hit twine. Looking at the stat sheet and seeing him at 38% in
the circle was jarring. All in all a good but not great game for Tomas.  

Alex Kovalev:

The chances were there, but Kovalev couldn’t buy a goal.
He seemed to go into "Fine, I’ll do it myself" mode on the powerplay, and it
wasn’t entirely unwelcome. Twice he gained the zone (after nobody else could),
but once he coughed up the puck that led to Radek Dvorak’s breakaway goal. I’m
not absolving him of the turnover, but you have to think that if the Habs
powerplay was at least competent in gaining the zone, you wouldn’t see him
taking those kinds of risks.   

Kyle Chipchura:

has good ideas and I like
his vision, but sometimes he just can’t execute. He was the best player on his
line, but that’s not really saying much. His penalty kill work was excellent to
the point you’d think he’d been there all season. I don’t think he’ll be the
first player sent down when the IR becomes less crowded, but he’s going to have
to show more in order to stay up with the big club.

Sergei Kostitsyn:

He looked
like the odd man out on
his line with Lang and his brother, but he put up the points so he may warrant
more time on their wing. His work at the point on the powerplay had visions of
Brisebois flash in my head, but his PK work is strong and he’s shown he knows
when to just dump the puck instead of go for the shorthanded rush.

Guillaume Latendresse:

He got caught cheating out
of the zone instead of taking his man on the 4th goal, and it put Florida back
into the game. One glaring mistake aside, Latendresse is the offensive catalyst
on his line. Most chances seem to stem from his stick, and playing on the third
line appears to have taken some weight off his shoulders.

Steve Begin:

Had an average 1st period,
an invisible 2nd period, and a recognizable 3rd period. Begin needed to lead his
young linemates into Florida’s zone, but the entire line was invisible at even

Max Pacioretty:

Max taking the penalty
doesn’t bother me that much. Mistakes happen. What does bother me is how he
stopped skating after the ref’s arm went up, which helped allow Florida a few
good shots before their powerplay even started. He did play a physical game, but
may have been feeling increased expectation starting on the top line.

Matt D’Agostini:

D’Agostini’s play as taken a dramatic turn for the worse ever since his
interview a couple weeks ago with Elliotte Friedman in which Elliotte told him, and
I’m paraphrasing, "There’s no doubt you won’t be sent back to Hamilton now." Is
this a case of believing his own hype and coasting? Being put on a line with
Begin and Chipchura was a message for Matt to skate hard, play physical, and
forecheck. He didn’t.   



Embarrassing. Inept.
Maladroit. There are a lot of words that can be used to describe the Habs
powerplay system, and none of them are positive. How bad was the powerplay?
Basically, take how bad they’ve been recently and then add a shorthanded goal.
Ugh. I see the coaches went with the checking line again after the 1st and 2nd
units couldn’t even gain the blue line. You’d like to blame it on key injuries,
but honestly, has anything changed from when they had a healthy squad?

Penalty Kill:

They held off the 5 on 3 attack fairly well (I thought it was a weak goal
allowed by Halak) and they effectively keep the puck to the perimeter with
excellent stick and body positioning. If only the Habs could show the same kind
of poise with their other special teams unit.