Habs VS Pens 22nd of december 2003
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12-22-2003, 10:06 PM
Join Date: Mar 2002
Playing with fire. If the Habs want to continue their good run, they can't come out and play at half speed, even against the worst clubs in the NHL. TOnight, they found their legs after a time and fortunately played a fairly decent game for the most part, but there were moments in the first and second particularly which were ghastly. Against a better team, we would have been playing catch up all night, and we just don't have the talent - especially against a team like the Devils or similar.
It's a shame Begin is injured because Juneau is hurting. Gratton took some shifts as well as Sax - the latter being particularly gratifying to see because he's really getting strong first line time. He played less in the third, but I think the game was looking solid and they have another right away tomorrow. To Juneau, I have to wonder what's going to happen in his case. He had trouble against the Pens, and they're a long shot from the Sens, let alone the Bruins.
Some nice things that I noticed during the game included seeing Zed sitting on the bench going over things with Dagenais (he looked like he was teaching), The ice time of Komisarek and particularly his usage in some of the critical situations, and the fact they pushed, despite the lead, up until the siren went off.
Theo: Let in the one goal, but made a few fine saves. He wasn't instrumental in the victory, but certainly I think the players play with more confidence when they know they have a margin for error. He's had trouble with rebound control the last two or three games, but tonight it looked a little better. A-
Bouillon: The AHL Pens pushed him around a lot tonight, and the goal was a direct result of him and Rivet being out-hustled. When you're his size and in his precarious position on the blueline (a marginal 6th defender at best), you can't be out-hustled ever. Now, that was just one point in the game when it cost, and he was certainly not brutal tonight, but he made a few errors that would have been jumped on by better players. C+
Rivet: Quite a shame he had to take that utterly stupid penalty in the third and put the Habs on their heels for a little. I also felt he was pushed around more often than not down deep, and was caught running too often. Better teams would eat this kind of defending up. C+
Komisarek: Fifteen plus minutes and most of them were fairly strong. He made his rookie mistakes of course, but one of the things I like best is his accountability - he never *ever* gives up. Late in the game he absolutely crushed a Pen, and it's almost starting to be a habit seeing him making one or two really hard hits a game. Good habit to get into. C+
Markov: One or two blatant mistakes tarnished an otherwise strong game. He really does look like he's starting to put things together again, though he's not jumping into the play half as much as he used to. Part of that has to be who he's paried with; I'm sure he has special instructions to be sure to cover back for Komi just in case. I wish he's shoot more, but I think his confidence in that category is still in the tank. B
Quintal: Despite him getting a star (mercy star?), I thought he looked like an AHL defender for two periods. Sure, he played a much better third, but when you're losing the puck repeatedly, chasing players like a mad rodent, and muffing simple plays repeatedly, I just don't think you can say you had a good game. C
Souray: Again, he gets the points and is physical here and there, but it's the little things he's incorporated into his game that are the real gems. Numerous times tonight he poke-checked a player to win a battle. He angled guys out before they had chances to make things happen. With the puck now, he has the confidence to make an extra move thuys springing teammates - and a lot of offense is generated from simple plays like this. A
Langdon: Ten minutes of solid ice time with no silly penalties, and a lot of good check finishes. I appreciated his work ethic. B+
Kilger: One shift he does his weak hit, or curl away play, then the next he finishes a check and puts someone hard into the boards. It's so frustrating to see what he *can* do, and then watch what he usually does the next few shifts. C
Gratton: He's not even a poor man's Begin, sadly. His hits, while numerous, are weak and easily absorbed. Don't get me wrong, I love the work ethic and the hustle, but really, he looks like another AHL-fill player that we'll use while we have injuries and Audette's on the team. Oh, and taking stupid penalties like he did will not keep him in Montreal long! B+
Sundstrom: The mercy goal looks good on the stats, but he didn't have half the hustle he's had in recent memory. While not Invisible at all, he just wasn't winning the same battles, or even getting into them, that he'd won lately. B-
Juneau: As much as I really *hate* saying it, I think I'm slowly joining in with the legions of fans who feel he's at the end of his rope. I actually felt better when he didn't show up for his shift. He still gives all he's got and still has a lot to teach players, but perhaps it might be coming close to the time where he teaches from the other side of the bench. C-
Dagenais: He makes Ryder look like the passing king. I know his job is to shoot the puck for the most part, but there were a couple of times where Zed probably would have been forgiven for whacking him upside the head for zero-percentage shots. I'm impressed he's getting the points, and it's all desire. It's certainly not skills, because other than a shot, he's a very marginal NHLer at the best of times. But when you have a shot like his and someone who can get you the puck regularly, you tend to look much better than you are. B
Zednik: I saw elements of leadership from him as well as elements of the old Zed again. There were a couple of times where he went to the net tonight, and I feel he's gotten away from that game in the last week or so. I'm tempted to say it's time for a change between Zed and Bulis, not because the latter is under-performing so much as Zed needs a boost and he'll get that with Sax. B-
Ribeiro: Well, it's better than playing only one period, but a period and a half still doesn't cut it. It's fabulous that we have two centres who are regularly getting points, but Ribs really has to work on his consistency. I like that he works into the corners (when he feels like it) and I like that he's inproved his speed, but he's still got to get stronger on his skates and, vitally, has to play hard for every second. You wonder why he takes long shifts? It's his lazy style of play for half the game. B-
Bulis: Oh, if only he's seen Sax when he took that shot, but at least he doesn't have a fear of shooting. Typical Bulis game where he worked hard and had nothing in terms of points to show for it. He really compliments the other two on his line well. A-
Ryder: Somewhere on these boards there was a comparison of his and Ribs' first years and there were those saying that Ryder has had more opportunity by playing on the first line. Well, yeah, of course! When you work your butt off every night, of course you're going to get rewarded. I'm really pleased to see his fundamentals still improving game-to-game. His skating, passing, and deft touches are better and better. B+
Koivu: Why he didn't get a star I'll never understand. He was the best player on the ice again, and not just offensively, but defensively as well. Best of all, he's being treated like the first line centre, he had one two minute PP where he was point for half and up front for the other half, he played the PK, played on the defensive line for a few shifts, took important faceoffs. Just what you want out of your best player. A
Off we go to the last game before the break against a team under new direction who are trying to salvage a season: the Caps. If the Habs take this game lightly, especially since it's away from home, they're fools, pure and simple. A key will be shutting down Jagr, and I look to see Juneau getting that responsibility, though I would think, if the new coach has any brains at all, Jagr will be put out against Ribeiro as much as possible, and it will therefore probably be a big challenge for Ribby.
I think we're 7-3-3 in our last 13. Raise your hand out there if you thought we would do that at all this year. If you raised it, please watch where you walk, your extended noses are a danger.
A concerned fan.
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