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02-15-2004, 02:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Necrophile
I'd just like to know if you think this is a factor which explains the drop-off in the play of some as the game progressed, if only partially.
Certainly it's a major factor and has been over the last little while when Theo's game hasn't been where it was earlier in the season. It's a fragile team that's anchored by goaltending. The media and many GM's point to Theo as the key ingredient to Montreal's potential. They don't really have a playoff calibre squad, however with one of the top goalie's in the business, it makes a non-playoff group into contenders. The large problem is, when that one aspect struggles, the rest of the team starts to crumble.

Now, I don't think it's the only factor - not by a long shot. When your goalie plays badly, it doesn't give you an excuse to cruise, and that's what's been happening far too often lately. These guys are pro atheletes and should be playing each game at the highest level regardless of score. That's why that 8-0 win against Pittsburgh was so problematic for me before Christmas; that's why this loss against ostensibly the best team in hockey is so tough. Sure, we should lose the game, but it's the *method* we lose it that's so troubling.

Originally Posted by Necrophile
Also, it seems to me that Ribeiro has added a physical aspect to his game lately. Maybe the frustration of being more closely watched has frustrated him and fueled his desire for the physical play...? I know that when I play, I play fairly soft until I get a cross-check or a slash or something... After that, I play very aggressively.
I think frustration is one part of it for certain; witness his attack on Chara. That hook he received was as tiny as any you'll get in the game of hockey, yet he ends up throwing punches with the biggest guy in the game over it - nothing but frustration will lead you to that end.

However the hitting aspect of this game, also mentioned earlier by other posters, has been a dimension that he's been slowly applying from the start of the season. I don't believe it's an aspect of frustration, I think it's the growing process for this player. He is as well aware as most observers that, as a small guy, he has to make sure he's felt at this level even when he isn't producing. I have to believe that over the course of the year this has been brought up a few times by the coaching staff, and kudos to him for bringing it to his game.

I also have to believe that some of it is a result of playing with Koivu. Here's a small guy who's considered one of the better players in the game because he plays with such heart. Ribeiro's not a stupid person and will surely realize that he too can elevate his game by adding in some of the grit that Koivu brings to each match. This is the leadership that Koivu brings without opening his mouth, as far as I'm concerned. Before this year, Ribs wouldn't hit a fly, now in competing with Koivu for icetime, he's had to incorporate more elements to his game. BUt even without the competition, he realizes that when he's not scoring, he's a non-entity out there and in watching and learning has introduced to his game those elements he thinks will take him to the next level.

Honestly, if he continues to play with this fire, adds some more lower body strength so he's not so easily knocked about, and brings a consistency to his game we've yet to see, then I can see him taking the next step in the next couple of years.

The big question is whether he's got it in him to accomplish this.


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