All in all, I was very impressed with our special units.. the PK was outstanding and the boys were quite opportunistic on the PP, though not always organised or threatening. Goaltending was a key to this game as well as solid defensive positioning and more discipline (except Niinimaa, who always decides to take interference penalties at the 13 minute mark of the third period). I think they played a good game, very systematic, though down low they were dominated by Lecavalier and St-Louis. Thank god Boyle was crap all game though.
Onto the report
Saku Koivu: B
Played a solid game...wasn't too noticeable on every shift but won important faceoffs on the PP that led to both Souray goals. Overall, I'm very satisfied with his play but I wish he, Ryder and Latendresse had more coordination 5 on 5, they often seem tangled up in the neutral zone...He worked hard along the boards and made some nice passes to clear the zone.
Mike Johnson: C+
Very ordinary outing and possibly his weakest game since joining the habs...he took a pretty bad retaliatory penalty (his first) and was outclassed by the Lecavalier line...didn't produce much offensively but was his usual self in the neutral and defensive zone. If this is his worst effort, then he's DEFINITELY a keeper. He also drew a crucial penalty, despite himself, in the late stages of the game when Fedotenko kneed him from behind, putting to rest all comeack attempts from the Lightning.
Andrei Markov: B
Still not in his 05-06 form yet, but he's making a lot less mistakes in his own zone. Having Souray as your partner on the PP sure helps boost up point totals. Can you believe he's at a PPG pace? He's getting more comfortable as the season goes and it's only a matter of time before he returns to his dominant self. Or maybe I overrated him in the past who knows.
Chris Higgins: F
He sucked so bad, the coach banished him to a VIP suite to spend the night with ''friendless chicken-eating'' Bob Gainey.sorry guys, just had to.
Alexei Kovalev: B-
A decent game. I think we all take for granted his unbelievable prowess with the puck. This guy can cut and deke like no other player on the roster and his line played a good game tonight. Lots of reativity and scoring chances. Even when Kostitsyn was replaced by Plekanec, they didn't seem to miss a beat.
Andrei Kostitsyn: A-
An exceptional outing...The play I noticed the most was an errant pass he took behind him, he deflected the puck back between his legs onto his forehand while avoiding a check from an opposing defender and setting himself up for a scoring chance, all done at high speed..Elite players do that. I saw him strip the puck away from numerous players, I saw him forechecking hard and giving a second effort. At this rate he won't take too long to cement a spot in the habs lineup. Great start for him, he doesn't belong in Hamilton.
Michael Ryder: B-
Can you say snakebitten? Effort was there, work ethic was there but you know his confidence level is through the gutter now. He's had a few chances but can't bury them to save his life. But don't worry, this isn't 05-06 Ryder, so that's a plus and once he scores, he'll score in bundles. Hello Zednik! minus the useless one hand maneuver.
Guillaume Latendresse: B-
Looked unsure of himself against the speed and talent of the Lightning's top two lines. He still managed to log 16 minutes of ice-time and was noticeable from time to time, especally when he gets an opening to skate with the puck. I think he's got decent speed when he gets going...honestly! His bodychecks weren't effective tonight. He scored on an absolute beauty move and shot which consequently cut off the Lightning's legs and sealed the victory (though Niinimaa had other things to say about that). A strange observation, he has as many goals as Ryder does this season (and more goals than Thornton had in all of his rookie year). I like this kid on the top line...it will help him in the future when Higgins comes back.
Alexander Perezhogin: C
Invisible out there tonight and very very timid...Pulled off a Bulis when he smashed into Rivet which resulted in an extremely scary turnover...wasn't forechecking as hard and kept losing the puck all the time. He did some nice things though and I really like how he plays the man along the boards, his technique is impeccable. Still, that aftertaste was definitely sour. I'm not worried though, it was a bad game for him but he'll rebound back I'm sure of it.
Tomas Plekanec: A
Brilliant game. He did all the little things right, showed great speed and poise. I can't believe how underrated this guy can be. He was essential on the PK and made the fourth line look like a second line (on a good team!). The fourth line in general was stellar tonight and gack! spent more time in the offensive zone then they did in the defensive end. He was duly rewarded with spot PP duty and spot 2nd line duty, centering the two freak Russians and doing well in turn.
Sergei Samsonov: B+
Haha his assist was too funny, he basically lost the puck in his skates and unwittingly got deked by Guillaume Latendresse. That aside, I think he played a very good game, and had wonderful vision throughout the game, setting up teammates and piercing the defense on numerous occasions. He's starting to show consistency and I think he's finally found his niche.
Mathieu Dandenault: A-
An excellent first game for him. Intimidated the Lightnings with some solid bodychecks and some great forechecking. He played his role to a tee and hasn't lost a step from last year despite being out four months. I noticed him less in the later stages of the game but I saw him do all the things that made this fourth line so strong tonight.
Steve Begin: A-
Wow! Well he definitely is the ideal fourth liner, not only does he have a ton of energy, but he's extremely efficient on the PK and the dying moments of a game. He's fast as hell despite his awkward skating stride and lest we forget, made Boyle look like a slow pylon from hell on several occasions. I think the addition of Dandenault on the lineup really helped free his game mentally, he did all the right things tonight.
Mark Streit: B
Again, I don't like the way he gets so much flak from the habs community. He's a very smart defenseman and makes good outlet passes. Sure, he's not very strong in the defensive end and makes stupid mistakes once in a while but I think he's one of our better weapons on the PP. He can amount to a very good PP specialist if the brass trusts him enough. Hell he's got 6 points already.
Mike Komisarek: B
A good game for him overall. He played his man and didn't take any penalties tonight. I can't say I payed special attention to him tonight but I don't remember him getting caught flat footed and I believe he's a legit top 3,4 d-man.
Radek Bonk: B
Was the best player on his line but that isn't saying much. He played well, had some good chances but I felt his line was always in the defensive end.
Janne Niinimaa: C-
Wasn't awful but he HAS to stop taking stupid penalties in the third period and he has to start making better decisions in his zone. He's easily our worst defenseman but I think he has a place in our line-up (spmewhere upstairs though). He does some good things but man the bad sometimes totally offsets them. I can't believe this guy used to be a 40 pt number 2 D in Edmonton, he looks like one of those slow Ds fans liked to harp on in the late nineties.
Craig Rivet: B-
err solid I guessI don't remember too much of him.
Christobal Huet: A
A brilliant game tonight, made some important saves and gave no bad rebounds. I think he's the real deal and I'm glad to have him (along with Aebischer). He only looked silly a couple of times when playing the puck behind the net.
Well that about does it for tonight's game. I think a poster should make a player report for about every game.
Last edited by Form and Substance: 11-15-2006 at 11:09 PM.
Mike JOhnson actually played his usual game. HE drew 2 penalties in the third and controlled the puck well in the opposing zone. I say give him a B at least. But good view on Pleks. Not every fan would have noticed how well he played tonight. PK was aggressive and made some noise every shift. Good call.
The grading system is relative at best. I tried balancing the output/talent ratio as best I could. For instance, I know what I can epect from Johnson on a nightly basis and if he delivers what I expect, he gets a B. I felt Johnson could have played better tonight, that's why he got a C+, as simple as that.
Higgins may actually have been sitting with Gainey, because AFAIK Gainey wasn't in Tampa.
I'd probably give Lats a B+ or A-. I didn't find him lost at all, in fact he was better than either of his linemates at times. He's going in for the forecheck on line changes, and controlling the puck pretty well. Pretty much any game where we get a goal like that from him, he should merit more than a B-.
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I never realized how grateful I'd be to have Dandeneault back in the line-up even though he didn't play a whole lot. Hopefully we'll see less of Niinimaa and Streit from now on. However, both guys make excellent depth d-men, which is something that a contending playoff team needs desperately because the long season grind can take a toll on the body. This is probably the happiest I've been with our depth on the blue line for 10+ years...