Post Game - Habs 3 Lightning 2
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12-02-2003, 08:57 PM
Join Date: Mar 2002
Now *that* was an entertaining game to watch. A full effort for 60 minutes against a really solid Tampa team provided Montreal fans with the best hockey they've seen in quite a few weeks (unless they've taken to watching other teams...). I have to say it, I'm pleased on one hand and disappointed on the other about those who were out of the lineup. First, I don't think this team missed Ribeiro in the least - in fact I think Perreault played his best game this year - that despite being the goat on the LeCavelier goal. (Perhaps we just don't need small players who don't realize they're *part* of the team - not the majority of it.) Juneau I'm more disappointed about, though, because while I know what he brings to the table, it seems that, at least in the short term, Begin brought the same along with a physical presence.
Hard to say anyone had a bad game actually, though I'm sure when I get to the site I'll see plenty of fans whining and complaining about the usual suspects. Though I would hope there's less whining about Rivet, who played an *excellent* game as a forward. I'd like to see him on a checking line and see how that goes.
Theo: Great game; neither goal was his fault, though on the second he was on his knees for an eternity. Then again, I can't say if that's bad or good in that particular situation, because in terms of goaltending, he's been trained a certain way and it might be that he was doing exactly what he should. He looked solid and confident, though, and that is great to see. A
Bouillon: He played a solid game and since Tampa isn't that big, wasn't beaten down low much if at all. I particularly liked his play with the puck tonight and the rushes he made with it. As much as I'd like to see Hainsey up here, it's tough to displace a guy who's bringing everything to the table like Bubbles is. B+
Komisarek: Let's be honest here, it was a fairly tough game for him. He made a few errors and was the goat on the first goal as he was caught out of position and not marking his man. Having said that, he still made some fine plays and I really love that shot from the point: accurate and low. C+
Brisebois: His only silly passes were in the offensive zone, and I can't fault that because he was trying to make things happen, and that's where you want to do it. No cross ice doozies in his own end tonight, and that in itself says the Forum Ghosts were in attendance. A-
Markov: I think he and Breezer were kept off a little more because Julien is still thinking aobut that injury to Markov, but I found the Russian really good tonight. He had a couple of little problems in his own zone, but I felt it was more a matter of his team putting him in a nasty position. And really, if you don't notice it, please pay attention to how he pinches, breaks up plays in the neutral zone, and is generally the most proactive defender in Montreal since Larry Robinson. It's *fantastic* to see. A-
Quintal: Ok, on the last goal against he could have cleared the puck, but in reality, tonight was one of his better games. He kept it simple, played the body more than I've seen him do in a while, and made some solid passes which led to good chances, which is something we don't see him do that often. B
Souray: I'm sure I must be dreaming, but I think both Markov and Souray brought their 'A' games and that might be the first time this year they've done that in the same game. Brilliant to think that our two starting left defenders are really coming into their own at the same time - and add to that Breezer's steady play... We had a real defence tonight!!! A-
Rivet: When he doesn't feel the responsibility at the back, he plays a totally different game. Instead of panicking with the puck, I saw him make intelligent plays to retain possession. Instead of making mistakes in his own end, I saw him drilling player after player in one of the best forechecks we've seen in a while. Give him more time on the checking line, and he could *really* make a mark. And a pox on the classless clowns who booed a player who played a good game. A-
Kilger: The on-again off-again play of Kilger continues. He looked really good tonight and was hitting everything in sight, forechecking with abandon, and generally playing a super strong game. He even created a couple of scoring chances which was a great bonus. B+
Langdon: For the longest time, he was one of the better things on the fourth line, but tonight he was the quietest of the three - and that's saying something! He still played a fine game, but to tell the truth, it didn't look like he could keep up with the other two. B-
Sundstrom: If we could keep him just for the penalty kill, it'd be brilliant. He still makes great plays otherwise, and tonight he even put in a second effort here and there and made a few hits, but he could be so much more than he is. On the other hand, I'm not going to complain much because that line did a solid job out there. C+
Begin: Versitility. I don't know if he could take over this line indefinitely, but tonight he showed that, at least in the short-term, he could not only take it but thrive in it. His first shift or two seemed like adaptation, but after that he was cooking, throwing out hits, making great defensive plays. I love the fact he blocks shot after shot. Heart and soul player, and I love the guy. A-
Dackell: Honestly, I think he works better beside Juneau as I think there's a definite chemistry there. Defensively he was fine tonight, but he didn't seem to be able to adapt to the line changing like his other linemates and his play suffered because of it. C+
Dagenais: I didn't notice him much tonight, and didn't feel he brought much to the table when I did notice. He made a couple of hits and I'm pleased to see another big guy who has some agility, if not speed, on his skates, but he looked out of place for most of the evening. C-
Perreault: Zesty! That's what I'd call his play. He was everywhere forechecking and played a fantastic game in the forward third of the ice. Defensively he was okay, though it's an area where he still needs work, but he wasn't horrible. Sure, he lost LeCavelier on that second T-Bay goal, but if that's his only major error, I'll take it since many might have made the same sort of error against a player of that talent. Mike who? B+
Bulis: Another who took a shift or two to find his feet with new linemates, but he looked fairly good out there. Having said that, I really find myself thinking that he should be either the centre of our future third line, or should be the winger the line is built around. He was good offensively, and that goal was a pure speed goal which resulted from a great offensive play between him and Perreault, but I can't help thinking that, having learned so much about a two-way game, he's become a top-tier checking line player. B+
Ryder: Brilliant game. He may be slower at collecting those points than his linemates, but he's playing wonderfully right now. Tonight he did what I imagine Gainey and Julien have told him he should be doing every night: finishing checks, making plays with the puck, shooting, winning battles. If he keeps playing as he did tonight, he's not only going to be successful, but he's going to be a star as he continues his development. A-
Zednik: If only he would win the board battles in his own end like he wins them in the opposition end, he'd turn into the complete player. Constantly moving and creating havok for the coverage, he is getting back to the player he was last year. And having said all that about his defensive work, I do believe I recall him diving to block a shot. Talk about a solid night for effort all the way around on this team. A-
Koivu: Simply, he was everywhere tonight. Good to get that first goal, and he might have had one or two others but for great saves and timely defensive plays. That is the Koivu that makes the case for being top-10 in the league up front - he finally looks to be getting his legs after missing training camp etc. The fact that he plays well in his own zone only makes his first star all the more satisfying. A+
If one takes a step back emotionally and looks at the Hab situation from a logical standpoint, then I think you can say that Julien's choice to bench Ribby for his lack of team play was a good one. I hope Julien can capitalize on what he saw tonight and move Rivet up front, because I think that could make that fourth line really impressive. Our coach has had to make a lot of tough choices, and there have been times when everyone on these boards (as well as everywhere in the hockey world) has questioned them, but I think, looking back, that it all goes to Gainey's evaluation period, and you have to applaud, not be angry, with him for doing it all in the face of angry fans and the horrid Montreal media.
Home and home Friday and Saturday against the Hurricanes. Generally, you can be happy with a win out of these types of series, but I think against the struggling 'Canes, you have to look for three out of four points to feel you're successful. A performance like tonight, and short of 'Cane miracles, and we could and probably should take all four points. The challenge, though, is going into these games without being overconfident. At least the team has a couple of days to prepare and let this win fall to the back of their minds, and not sit in the front where they can gloat and feel proud of it.
And lookit dat! Habs are .500. For all the whining and complaining, this is a team just barely on the outside of the playoffs. Sorry to all the fatalistic posters, but I think Ovechkin is probably out of the question.
A concerned fan.
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