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Bad Bounces Bury Habs: October 15th Player

Colorado 3, Montreal 2.  Colorado
capitalized on a couple of fluky goals and hung on to beat the Habs in their
home-opener, 3-2.  The Canadiens are now 2-4, and have lost 4 games in a
row.  Roman Hamrlik opened up the scoring in the first period on the PP on
a nice pass from Tomas Plekanec.  The Habs maintained that lead through to
the second period until Carey Price was beaten on two goals (Hejduk, Cumiskey)
that careened into the net off of his own players.  Plekanec tied the game
up in the third to give the hometown crowd hope, but Ryan O’Reilly scored the
game-winner with 6 minutes to go in the period.  Craig Anderson shone in
net for the Avalanche, making 29 saves, and was effective in limiting second
chances.  Price responded with 20 saves in a losing effort.


Playing With the Lead: For the first time since
the first game in Toronto, Montreal scored first, putting Colorado in the
unenviable position of playing catch-up.  Unfortunately, the Avs were up to
the challenge, but it was a welcome change to see.

It’s Alive!:  That is, the second line is
alive and providing ,*gasp*, secondary scoring.  The second line
finished with the trio of Plekanec, Andrei Kostitsyn and Max Pacioretty and
combined for 5 points (1 goal, 4 assists) and 8 shots on goal.  They were a
force to be reckoned with and were clearly the best line for Montreal this

Today’s Specials:  Although the
PP only went 1 for 6, it was more dangerous tonight that it has been in a while. 
If not for Anderson, the Habs would have likely converted on a few more chances
with the man advantage.  It is reassuring to see, as its efficiency should
be augmented by the inevitable arrival of Marc Andre Bergeron (and eventually
Andrei Markov).  The PK went a perfect 4 for 4, and the units were
noticeably more aggressive in killing off the penalties.  The Habs were
good at keeping shots from the outside, and Price in turn smothered rebounds.


Break Out the WD-40:  It was painstakingly
obvious that Montreal hadn’t played since last Saturday, as they struggled to
shake off the rust early on in the game (although some Canadiens never did). 
It could have been a very different game had Montreal converted some of their
good chances in the first period, and there was no reason for them to come out
flat in their home-opener.

Mike Cammalleri’s Vice Grip:  Cammalleri is
going to reduce his sticks to sawdust pretty soon if he grips the stick any
tighter.  He’s snake bitten, and no one knows that better than he does. 
Although one sympathizes with his early temporary struggles, the Habs
need Cammalleri to start scoring if they’re going to be a winning squad.

The Game is How Many Minutes Long?!:  
Once again, the Habs were unable to put forth a full 60-minute effort, and were
vastly outplayed in the second period.  Jacques Martin has his work cut out
for him, as this is becoming a trend.  It goes without saying, but I’ll say
it anyway: A team must play the full 60 minutes if they’re to win consistently.





Although victimized by bad
bounces, Carey was merely average tonight.  He made several key stops
in the 3rd to keep Montreal in the game, but fell just short.  Love the
new mask.
B Moen did all that was expected of
him, and didn’t look too out of place during his stint on the top line. 
Played a good physical game.
B- Gomez created
many chances, hit the crossbar, but ultimately ended up a -2 on the night. 
Better contributions from his linemates would have aided his performance,
but more is expected from Gomez.
B- Gionta’s game was mostly
neutralized by Colorado’s system.  Although he played his usual
never-quit game, he was largely ineffective.  Like Gomez, more is
expected out of Gionta.
B- Cammalleri is
trying, that much is clear, but he’s trying to do too much.  Tied for
the lead with 3 shots on goal, Cammalleri created many chances, but
ultimately fell short of any points.
A+ I’ve grown accustomed to
referring to Plekanec as the Habs’ best player.  With a goal and an
assist on the night, Tomas took over the team scoring lead.  Adept in
all situations, Plekanec was a force to be reckoned with all night.
A- It was without
question that Andrei was drinking Gatorade tonight and not Nyquil.  He
awoke from his previous slumber and was part of a very effective 2nd line. 
You can see that his confidence is returning and that he isn’t afraid to
shoot OR make the good pass.

It was a forgettable game for
Gui.  He seemed out of sync all night long, and coughed up the puck far
too frequently.  He did make several good physical plays and crashed
the net with consistent frequency.
C It was an
atypical off-night for Maxim.  He was largely unnoticeable except when
he was fighting the puck.
A Max was rightfully promoted to
the 2nd line and was a physical presence all over the ice.  His speed
caught many off guard, and he showed glimpses of the power forward he will
eventually be.  He was a solid contributor to the 2nd line and looked
very much like a top-6 forward.
 Matt D’Agostini NA D’Ags only
played 4:16 and I barely noticed him on the ice.  It’s a shame he can’t
get more minutes in Hamilton, because he’s stagnating in Montreal.
B Chips wasn’t a game-breaker in
any way, but he did what was asked of him and played responsibly and
physically.  He’s not afraid to go in the tough areas and his skating
has really improved this year.
C+ Big Georges was
mostly unnoticeable, but did have several shifts where he was solid on the
fore-check and created chances.  More is expected of him physically.
A- Hamrlik looked
again like the Habs’ number one defender and chipped in a PP goal to boot. 
Logging over 25 minutes, he was a stabilizing force on the backend, and had
an offensive upside,
B Spacek played a solid game
defensively, but more is expected from him offensively.
B+ I barely
noticed Gill, and that’s usually a good thing.  He was part of a very
effective penalty kill, and showed that he can be effective when implemented
properly by the coach.
B+ Gorges played his usual physical
brand of hockey and pinched in when appropriate.  His efforts drew a
penalty, and he logged the most minutes on the PK.
B A solid game
for Mara, but he gets tagged with a -2 for the night.  There were
several occasions where Mara fully sacrificed his body to break up an
Avalanche chance.  (An Aval-chance?)
B- Belle didn’t look out of place,
and played a solid, punishing game.  He showed great speed and good
vision offensively.  He does lose points for owning the skate that
redirected the puck behind Price.
 Powerplay B+ The PP went 1
for 6 and seems to be coming together.  The unit will be more effective
once there is a feared shooter at the point, so the PK won’t be able to
outnumber the Habs down low.  Paging MA Bergeron…
A The PK kept the
shots to the outside, and Price was good at tracking the puck and freezing
it whenever possible.  The skaters were aggressive and didn’t give the
opposition much time or space.


This article was written by a sleep-deprived Matt