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Defensive Lapses Spell Defeat: November 3rd Player Grades

Atlanta 5, Montreal 4. 

Recap: Atlanta opened the scoring with
a fortuitous bounce off of Bryan Little’s skate, and Rich Peverley continued his
hot streak by capitalizing on poor defensive coverage to stake the Thrashers an
early 2-goal lead.  Brian Gionta then countered with a goal from a
blistering slapshot, but Mark Popovic restored the 2-goal lead on a shot Carey
Price would likely want back.  Mike Cammalleri drew the score close with a
nice deke after an egregious giveaway by Peverley, and Gionta tied the game
early in the 3rd period.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before Atlanta
regained the lead as Pavel Kubina capitalized with the man advantage on Mathieu
Carle’s first NHL penalty.  Tomas Plekanec tied it once again, but the
infamous headhunter Colby Armstrong quickly restored the lead for good as he was
left all alone in front of Price.  Ondrej Pavelec needed to be spectacular
in net all night, and finished with 34 saves.  Price was merely adequate,
as was most of the team, and turned away 25 of 30 shots.


That’s the Spirit:  The Habs might have
lacked that killer instinct in the opposing end this game, but they weren’t
willing to go quietly into the night.  The Canadiens fought back multiple
times to keep the game close and/or tied, but inevitably fell short.


What Do You Mean, We Can’t Do That?:  For the
sixth time in five consecutive games, the Habs took a delay of game penalty by
shooting the puck over the glass from their own zone.  This particular
instance stemmed from Carey Price overplaying the puck, and fortunately didn’t
end in an Atlanta powerplay goal.  Nevertheless, I’m sure everyone can
agree that it is long overdue for this trend to end.

Defensive Zone Lobotomies:  It seems that
there are far too many times when the Canadiens are without their respective
grey matter when the puck crosses the Montreal blueline.  On many of
Atlanta’s goals, the Habs seemed unsure about positioning, unsure where to put
the puck, and oblivious of Atlanta’s player movement.  Price bailed out his
team multiple times in spite of horrible in-zone defensive play, but the shoddy
collective defensive effort doomed the Habs early on, and ultimately led to
their defeat.

Giving It Away For Free:  No, this isn’t a
"your momma" joke.  In fact, it’s no laughing matter that Montreal had 28
giveaways, and most of them were of the dangerous kind.  Against a better
team, the score would have been much worse.  This simply can’t continue. 
It’s sickening.




Despite receiving the October
installment of the Molson Cup, and making a few highlight reel post-to-post
saves, Price was saddled with another loss, his 6th in a row.  Price
played well early on, but faltered as his team broke down in front of him. 
Price deserves full credit for his puck-handling abilities, and made
numerous clears and outlet passes on his own.  Nevertheless, Price
needs to make it through a game without letting in a stoppable goal.
Mike Cammalleri B If only Cammalleri could get more
breakaways handed to him, I think Habs’ fans would be quite pleased. 
His lethal shot and stickhandling made him a constant threat all night, but
he needs to bury more of his chances; his team is relying on him.

B- Gomez played an
all-around good game, but was guilty for poor defensive coverage, which led
to a goal.  Gomez is the first Hab since Markov with the ability to
effortlessly gain the zone on the powerplay.  Now, if only the Habs
could do something with it.
A- The shot is back.  Gionta’s
effort finally translated to goals and he was hustling all night long. 
He led the way with 2 goals and a team-high 6 shots on net.
C+ Latendresse
played one of his better games, and seems to have rekindled some of his
chemistry with Lapierre.  Most importantly, Gui was going to the net,
backchecking more effectively, and using his size on the boards more often.
B+ As usual, there is little to
fault with Plekanec.  He scored a clutch goal when it was needed,
(unfortunately he wasn’t up for an encore), played well on the PK and played
big against physical players.  Re-sign him now, Bob!
C+ Lapierre was
hustling all night, and played hard along the boards.  He and Gui are
clicking again, and showed signs of eventually becoming a suitable 2nd line. 
More work is needed.
Max Pacioretty


Max is clicking well on the 3rd
line and gaining confidence.  He wasn’t much of an offensive threat,
but he and his line wore down the Thrashers more often than not.
C+ It was a pretty
quiet night for Metropolit, but he and his line did well in a defensive
Travis Moen C+ Like Pacioretty and Metropolit,
Moen was effective at containing the Thrashers and pinning them in their own
end a few times.  He led all Habs with 5 hits.

Greg Stewart
NA Stewart didn’t
do much with his 4:49 of ice-time except take an offensive zone penalty. 
Fortunately, the PK units were up to the challenge.
C+ Chipchura did well in a limited
capacity, but was woeful in the faceoff circle (20%). His play created a few
chances, and he played physically all night.

Andrei Kostitsyn
C+ The beleaguered
Belarusian played his usual inconsistent game.  Invisible one shift…
racking up shots the next… turning the puck over… and delivering
punishing checks at random intervals. He led all forwards with 4 hits and
fired 3 shots on goal.  Martin gave him 12 minutes of ice-time, but to
no avail.

B Hamrlik
finished with a team-high +2 rating, but with a team-high 5 giveaways. 
No points for Hamrlik this evening, but his offensive efforts didn’t go
unnoticed.  He logged a whopping 28:03 of ice-time and led the team
with 5 blocked shots.
C Spacek is struggling with his
additional responsibilities on D.  He too had 5 giveaways, and was part
of many a Montreal meltdown in the defensive zone.

Paul Mara
B- Mara had a
quiet night, and made many good plays to keep the offensive pressure going.
B- Gorges played adequately in both
ends and was 2nd on the team with 3 blocked shots.
D Bergeron was a
team-worst -2 and looked like it.  Despite being a so-called power
specialist, MAB was largely ineffective with the man advantage, and fumbled
the puck with regularity.  In his defense, the team needs to set up his
one-timer better.  Despite only playing 10:37, Bergeron led all Habs
with ulcers created and curses shouted at the television screen.
Mathieu Carle C- Carle appropriately looked like
he was playing his first NHL game.  Despite finishing with a +1 rating,
Carle had 5 giveaways and was in the box for an Atlanta goal.  He
demonstrated strong skating and good first pass.  He’ll get better.

C 0 for 3. 
Montreal’s powerplay played as well as it could without actually scoring. 
They showed better setting up, puck movement, and outnumbering their foes
down low, but couldn’t get one by a hot goaltender.  They need to
better utilize Bergeron’s shot from the point.

B+ 75%. 
Montreal killed 3 of 4 quite well.  For the most part they were
effective at pressuring the puck carrier, keeping shots from the outside and
winning battles along the boards.
If it wasn’t for a meltdown on the last attempt, they would have earned an


This article was written by Matt
, who would love to try grading a winning game.