Theodore was terrific again tonight...Also glad to see Dackell make DiPietro pay the price for all that puckhandling he did tonight. It's goalies like DiPietro who make me wish the goalies were fair game when they leave their crease.
I agree, I'll let the unstickyed game thread open 10 more minutes in the future instead of immediately closing it after posting the after game thread. It's just that I don't always have much time to mod after the games (homework) but the transition game/after game thread will be made more slowly starting next game. Sounds good?
OK I am getting worried, the more the win, the more disappointed I will be when they start to loose. I had no hope at the beginning of the season, cause I rather be surprised then let down, but I am happy, but damn this is worrying me. Do we really have a team to compete, or are we just lucky, cause when Theo has let in 3 goals over 5 games, that is awesome, if it wasn't for opening night, his save% and GAA would be awesome.
When Theo's in his game like that, there's not much the other team can do unless it's Ottawa or Colorado. I'll say this one more time, Souray is THE element our D corps lacked to be strong in the past. With him, Markov and Brisebois, the puck moves fluidly and quickly out of the zone and the crease is cleared when need be. I wonder how long it'll take for the other teams to realize we're actually quite strong defensively now.
...glad to see Dackell make DiPietro pay the price for all that puckhandling he did tonight...
Is it just me, or has Dackell elevated his level of play for the last 3 or so games? I find he hasn't been playing 'physical', but he has made a few hits, and at least made his presence known, unlike Juneau who has been practically invisible (but, to be fair, he has still one his job). I think Dackell realized that he is on the outs and is trying to show the brass that he really wants to stay, and play, in Montreal.
The first thing a Hab fan can take form a game like that is that we won't be pushed around anymore. This team may not be overly bigger than it was last year, however there are plenty more guys who play with heart than there were at any point last year. With the addition of Souray and the health of Rivet, finally we have more than just poor Quintal who will do anything to protect Theo. Add to that Brisebois' increased physical presence and Markov's incredible feistyness, and we have a back line that will not be pushed around.
The second thing we can take from that game is that by playing a system - even when it breaks down as it did for stretches in the second and about half the third - the Habs can still gives themselves a chance to win when they are playing a better team. This was an incredibly important victory, despite it being so early in the year because we'll most likely be fighting with these same Isles for that last playoff spot. (I say this despite our record which is amazing me at the moment...)
The third thing we can take from this game is the Koivu factor. There were players out there performing much better than usual because they are trying to hold onto a spot when Koivu comes back to take his number one centre role.
Theo: Extremely solid, and even flashy once or twice. A big pat on the back to our goalie for giving us this victory despite our being outshot rather considerably. He actually made it look much easier than it might have been because his positioning is *that* good. A+
Hainsey: Not a bad game, but quite honestly, I think the experience of Bouillon would have done us better against a faster team like this. He made some good plays, but made some mistakes as well. On the other hand, he'll gain good experience, and at least his presence didn't cost us anything. B-
Brisebois: Heavens to Betsy (who invented that saying anyhow? ) when he plays the fundamentals he's good. That was one solid game he played and it was pleasing to see. Finally he's playing well enough that the rookies playing beside him can learn something - other than how to panic when Breezer makes mistakes. A
Quintal: Count the teeth. He's been getting more and more solid game by game, which doesn't auger well for Komi, at this point. He gets beaten once in a while still, but his positioning seems to get better constantly. B+
Souray: A good test playing against such a quick team and he did well. His puck movement was much better than the last two games and he didn't give much, if anything, away tonight. Still, he needs to move quicker when he's under pressure. B+
Rivet: A little nasty tonight and I liked it. Mind you, his hitting contest with Peca almost cost us. I've been noticing lately that he's being caught out of position down low every once in a while...hopefully the coaches notice and work on remedying that situation. B+
Markov: What can I say? Solid to the extreme. I still find myself amazed with his hand-eye coordination and how he wins pucks in scrums so frequently. Even better is his positioning; he was brilliant tonight, two or three times taking dangerous plays and completely neutralizing them. A
Begin: Somewhere I saw today on these boards that we didn't need this guy. WHAT? He was matched against Yashin tonight and pested the poor bugger to death. He energy and tenacity were integral to that line being held off the score sheet. A
Ward: After the last three, I was surprised he was put in the lineup. Tonight, he justified his spot. He was hard on the puck and finally didn't overpursue to the point where he took himself out of the play. B
Sundstrom: Although he knew he was the one who was going to be benched when Sax came back, I thought his effort was still lacking. Yes, it was better than before, but for someone with so much talent, it was still disappointing. B-
Juneau: Took Peca out of the game - and the latter is an underrated attacking forward - though not to Julien, since he chose to use Juneau against Peca instead of Yashin. (Could have had something to do with Yashin being very vulnerable to pest issues, though - see the Yash/Peca contests when Yash was in Ottawa.) A-
Dackell: Despite one or two defensive gaffes, he still played a good game. If he could show the hustle he used in scoring that goal every shift, no one would ever complain about his ice time. B+
Bulis: Didn't stand out as much, probably due to the fact that the Isles are fast and therefore could neutralize him. Then again, he still created offensively and was excellent defensively. A-
Ryder: Another somewhat quieter game, but I'd guess that had more to do with ice time issues. With Begin's line matched against Yash, obviously the two top lines had significantly less opportunity to produce. Still, in limited time, he managed to create. B+
Perreault: The first period was his best as a Hab. Period. Did you see his hit? Crushed someone. Can you tell he's worried about his position when Sax comes back? Too bad the rest of the game was more typical Perreault. B+
Audette: Someone remind me why's he paid $3 million a year please? He's just not creating anything anymore. He looks timid going forward now, and you can see the pressure is just building on him. C
Hossa: Another good game, and this time was rewarded with a goal. He was great along the boards and is also getting into better position off the puck. B+
Ribeiro: Despite Pedneault and Houde basically bowing down to His Reverence, I didn't think he played the best game, even though he made that nice pass to Hossa. He was good, sure, but he was still pushed off the puck like a gnat. He's more tenacious than he ever was, but he's *got* to work on being more stable himself so as to create more. B
Zednik: Another one who's feeling the pressure. Not of Sax's return, mind you, but of only scoring one so far and being expected to lead the team in scoring. He rarely passes (and never to someone who might get more goals than him - hello wide open Ryder a couple of times) and because he holds on too long, we lose great scoring opportunities. He has to realize that it's his play *off* the puck that's going to get him on track. B-
We were lucky tonight that the Isles couldn't finish any of their chances - lucky that when they did finish well, Theo was up to the task. The team is coming along nicely, that's a certainty, however we still have to play that system for 60 minutes, not panic, and work hard in order to be competitive.
For the last two periods specifically, we were the second best team on the ice. And if we're going to challenge for a playoff spot, we cannot afford to ever do that against teams we'll be competing against at the end of the season.
And now Ottawa comes to town, the only team to score more than a goal against us this year. My guess is that we'll play an infinitely better game than the first one - the jitters are gone and the system is proven to be working. But if we play as we did tonight, another loss. 60 minutes of solid effort, and anything can happen.
The real X-factor for Saturday night, though, is Koivu. Oh, and for everyone reading this, stop buying into the press and thinking anything in the Koivu situation is more than it really is. He's injured and even pulled HIMSELF out of the game.
There were some defensive breakdowns in the 3rds. Lots of them. The forwards were pinching too much (one time, both Perreault AND Audette were deep, which is a no no in the 3rd), the defencemen were dishing the puck too often by the boards, while the wingers were nowhere to be seen. It lasted about 13 minutes. Maybe a bit more.
Then, don't know what happened, but the Ward-Bégin-Sundstrom line went on the ice and DOMINATED the Isles in their zone. Bégin and Ward hitting everything in site. They kept the puck down low. And the rythm changed. The defencemen started looking around before dumping the puck, and the forwards came back in the defensive zone.
Besides that, a boring but effective game. The Isles shot a lot, but there were at least a dozen shots from very bad angles. Mostly low shots, easy saves for a quick-pad goalie like Theo.
Ribs has looked beautiful in his zone. Even if he's small, he's in the forward's face a lot.
Brisebois is playing solid as ever I've seen him play. Impressive. Rivet was good tonight. In fact, the defensive corps was excellent.
Ryder was a non-factor except for the pass on the goal and some grinding in the late stages of the 3rd. Perreault played one of this best games I've seen him play. He had jump. It's impressive, since the Isles are a more physical team than I thought.
Theo, well, he was perfect. Difference between him and Di Pietro: he's positionnally sound, a thing he perfected over the years; when he started in the league, he was everywhere.
2nd in the league in least goals against (9)
tied for 3rd in the league in goals scored (20)
not bad... not bad at all!
I'm also very impressed...I believe calaud Julien deserves some recognition fo r his coaching skills + decision making...he has matched lines very well...also players like Juneau/ Dackell...have taken alot of heat before the season...and they have been excellent thus far!!!
By the way Hockey Nut...I also live in Toronto, and believe me there are a lot of hab fans here!!!
I agree with the B for Ribeiro. Everyone raves about his pass to Hossa but he didn't do much good otherwise. I wouldn't give Hainsey a B-. He wasn't quite that high, maybe a C. IMO Sundstrom played well. The only one who didn't was Audette. Théodore was superb. The Habs didn't win that easily and the Isles outplayed them in the 3rd period and part of the 2nd.