HabsWorld.net -- 

Too Little, Too Late: October 11th Player

Edmonton 3: Montreal 2. The Montreal Canadiens missed the opportunity to end their season opening five-game road trip on a good note. After going down 3-0 in the middle of the second period, the Habs made a late attempt at a comeback with goals by Brian Gionta and Roman Hamrlik, but fell short. Despite playing a decent game, the Oilers shut down the Canadiens, and forced their many shots to come from the outside. Those that were dangerous were handled by a Nikolai Khabibulin in top shape.


Quick Start: The Canadiens came out of the gates with momentum. Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn were just two of the Canadiens that managed to test Khabibulin early with quick, accurate shots. It’s a shame the Canadiens came out of the first period down a goal because they thoroughly outplayed Edmonton in the period, outshooting them 13-6.

No Quit  Optimists will be happy to note that the Canadiens did not give up after going down 3-0 midway through the game. Gionta scored late in the 2nd, and the Habs played a respectable third period, scoring one goal and a second disallowed one.

Right On Target   The Canadiens have been routinely outshot in the first 4 games of the season. This was not the case against the Oilers. The Canadiens outshot Edmonton 35-19 in a decent effort. This performance was much closer to that of the Calgary game than of the Vancouver blowout.


Sloppy Second:  Two player grade articles with that title being needed so far. Sean Avery would be proud. The Canadiens played a horrible second period, getting fenced into their zone by the Oilers many times. The Habs were totally lost in this period until Gionta’s goal in the final two minutes. Even when they did manage a chance on goal, Khabibulin would stifle it.

Lack of Depth  The trio of Gionta, Scott Gomez and Mike Cammalleri has been golden for Jacques Martin, but they have not been receiving much support from their teammates. When they are broken up, no line combinations seem to work. A big part of this hinges on Andrei Kostitsyn’s play.

Easy to Play Against:  The Canadiens were a very easy team to play against. They did not challenge the Oilers physically, not were they winning many battles along the boards. They continued to get boxed into their zone for long stretches of time, and lose races to rebounds.




 Carey Price
He can not be blamed for any of the three goals, but he did not do anything spectacular either. He made all the easy saves and missed all the tough ones. He did not look particularly confident and seemed to be over-sliding to me. Price also needs to stop handling every puck that comes near him.
 Mike Cammalleri B+ Cammalleri’s one of those players that can start something out of nothing. He was firing shots, rubbing guys out and playing hard all night. He may not have it in him to dominate shifts, but he is always involved in the play. He and Gomez led the team with five shots on goal each.
A- Gomez was solid offensively, defensive and on special teams. He assisted on Gionta’s goal, was one of the few Canadiens that was consistently involved. Like his linemates, he can outwork players bigger than him because of his attitude. I was impressed with his work on the PK.
A- The best player on the ice for Montreal. He opened the scoring for Montreal with a goalscorer’s goal, and controlled every one of his shifts. It almost seems like he plays every shift for us. He is making turnovers in the neutral zone, he is there starting rushes into opposing territory and he is there firing shots on goal. Our future captain.

 Guillaume Latendresse
B Gui did his job, making the big hits and coming up with the occasional scoring chance. I am, however, concerned that he does not seem to be developing above this. He has puck skills, size, a good work ethic, and acceptable speed, yet he is kept very quiet by our opposition.
B+ Plekanec is doing all that he can with the linemates that he has. Kostitsyn was benched halfway through the game, while Pacioretty and Moen just are not quality wingers for a speedy second line center. He played a really good game, making smart plays with the puck on his stick, and looks like the 69-point Plekanec of two seasons ago.
D AK46 started looking really sharp. He was actually using his shot and causing Khabibulin trouble. That being said, the intensity just is not there. It was his mistake that led to the third goal and he was benched for the rest of the game as a result.
 Max Pacioretty
This might have been Max’s best game in the NHL. He was not able to hit the scoreboard, but he did create some chances for himself, by using his combination of speed and size. He played a mature game and was not as prone to mistakes as he has been in past games.
B- He played a really quiet game. Max played his usual role, dishing out body checks and getting under the other team’s skin. He almost picked up an assist on the Latendresse non-goal, but was otherwise neutralized, and did not have much impact on the game. He did, however, manage four shots on goal.
B+ After Kostitsyn’s benching, Moen was promoted to the second line where he did not look at all out of place. He was a demon on the ice, crunching anyone that came near him. He really does set a great example for our other players with the intensity that he plays with.
 Matt D’Agostini C- D’Agostini’s job in the NHL is at risk. His defensive game is not well-rounded at all, yet his offensive game is not developed enough to get anything going at the NHL level. What more, he is not going to develop it playing on the fourth line. Given Martin’s style and system, he may be left on the outside looking in.
C He is working hard and playing a physical game, but his inexperience is showing. Chips played a much better game than he did two nights ago against Calgary, but was decidedly average as a fourth line center. Time might be running out for Chipchura.

C He had no impact on the outcome of the game in 9:40 of ice time.
B+ Hamrlik scored a goal and played a really safe and solid game. In the absence of Markov, Hammer has stepped up and taken on the position of Number One defenseman. For the moment, he has been doing as well as we can hope for. Like Plekanec, he seems to have regained his 07-08 form.
B I did not notice Spacek that often tonight for a guy that logs so much ice time. That is usually a good thing for a defenceman (take note, Hal Gill). Spacek was reliable and effective at both ends of the ice, but continues to disappoint me slightly with his work on the PP.
 Paul Mara B+ Mara was physical all night, effective on the power play, broke up a two-on-one nicely, and stood up for his teammate by chasing after Brule. A character guy through and through. He was, however, the only -2 on the team, and his time in the box put a strain on the other Montreal defenders.  
B Did not play his best game, but was not bad either. Always hard working, Gorges is performing very well for our bottom pairing defenseman. With Markov out, all the blueliners need to step up, and Gorges is one who we have already seen up his game when injuries arrive. I liked what he did with his PP time, but I want him to work his way into that #4 spot.
 Hal Gill C- Erm… what can I say? He is a liability with Weber, a liability with Mara, a liability with Gorges… Gill made his usual share of gaffes in the defensive zone (okay, and in the offensive zone too) but it was not such a horrible game for him. He had an active stick on the PK and was strong along the boards on the occasions where he actually caught someone before they could pass away the puck.

C Weber was pretty much invisible, which is an improvement over his performance in Vancouver. Yannick has disappointed in the early stages of this season, looking out of place defensively. Bigger forwards bully him around in his own zone. It will be a relief when Bergeron comes up.
 Powerplay B The Canadiens moved the puck well on the power play, but were mostly kept to the outside by the Oilers PK. Martin used some unconventional players, yet the Habs still managed a few chances.
B 3/3. The Canadiens continue to have problems clearing the zone, and they need to put more pressure on the attackers. That being said, they did a good job, especially in the first period, when they generated chances of their own while short-handed.


This article was written by Michael