Montreal Canadiens Prospects Tournament Game 1

By Paul Tanasi

Prospects Tournament Game 1

The first game of the Prospect Tournament took place in Hull, Quebec last night. Once again the Montreal Canadiens’ finest and brightest future stars were assembled to take on a talent stacked Tampa Bay Lightning prospect roster.

There were no notable standouts on the Canadiens’ roster. In his much anticipated debut, Andrei Markov scored a nice goal off the draw, he blasted a hard low shot past Konstantinov in the second period, however he failed to impress. Mike Rebeiro scored in the third to make it a closer game when he deflected a Markov shot into the low short side but Tampa ran away with this one 5-2. Montreal had only a very few good scoring opportunities throughout the game. Matt Carkner seemed to impress me the most with his physical play. In the first period he took on hulking Kristian Kudroc who was on the receiving end of a few good punches before he fell hard to the ice. In the second period Carkner fought another heavyweight in Brett Scheffleimier, the two went toe to toe exchanging numerous blows. Francois Beauchemin fought Greg Black in the second period. It was nice to see Beauchemin drop the gloves although the fight ended up a draw. The massive Mitch Fritz (6’7”) attempted to fight but couldn’t coax Aaron Gionet into swinging back so he ended up with a disappointing four minute roughing minor.

In short, they were outplayed by a wide margin. They looked sloppy and unorganized much as they did in Game 1 of last year’s prospect tournament. This year’s group is lacking the leadership that Asham and Ward provided and the spunk that Dan Tessier displayed last year. Ribeiro and Chouinard are expected to lead by example but unfortunately neither one seems ready to take on that leadership role. There was no “C” or “A” on any of the jerseys tonight. A repeat last place finish is looking like a possibility.

Player Performance Summary

Daniel Payette – LW – Logged a good amount of ice time although he didn’t seem to possess any special skills. An average skater with average skills. Was probably given the opportunity to show his stuff by playing with Chouinard on the first line.

Eric Chouinard – C – Last Prospect camp I wrote that Chouinard was a wasted pick. A year later my sentiments haven’t changed. Zero intensity. It’s no wonder he was benched at the WJC. There’s no positive to write. He is loaded with talent, he has the size and has proven that he has offensive ability, but likely won’t be able to take it to the next level. A year in the AHL will make or break him.

Jozef Balej – RW – Smallish, speedy winger who reminds very much of Valeri Bure. He was the player of the game for the Canadiens and was easily the fastest player on the ice. He will likely return to Portland where he should dominate while playing with Marcel Hossa.

Micheal Ryder – LW – Played a weak game and wasn’t very noticeable. Ryder can play better than he did tonight but the whole team seemed to be in a bit of disarray. Ryder should end up scoring a bunch of goals in Quebec this year, but he’s definitely not ready for the NHL.

Mike Ribeiro – C – Last year at the camp he didn’t show any interest in the game. Apparently he’s added 20 lbs to his frame but you wouldn’t know it. Ribeiro still plays perimeter hockey and shies away from the physical game. Showed some excellent puck carrying skills and displays good hockey smarts. Houle made a big mistake last season trying to rush Ribeiro, he needs time to build his strength and a few good seasons in the minors to increase his desire. Loads of talent.

Dusty Jamieson – LW – Was knocked out of the game by Kristian Kudroc in the third. Tall lanky forward plays physical and drives to the net but needs to work on his skating.

Marc-Andre Thinel – RW – Much improved player from one year ago. Looks and plays bigger than he really is. Displayed excellent speed and puck control along with good forechecking skills. A long shot to make the NHL but could turn out to be another Sebastian Bordeleau type.

Christian Larrivee – C – Young centerman didn’t look out of place. Has good size already and should get bigger. This camp will be a good learning experience for him. Watch for him to have a good year in the Q.

Jerome Marois – LW – He went unoticed for most of the night. There’s not much of an upside to his game. He didn’t display any real offensive weapons nor did he look to be checking or hitting anyone.

Ben Guite – LW – He may be a long shot but looks to be the only guy on the team who has a legitimate shot at some time in Montreal this year. He has good size, decent offensive ability and accounted for the some of the best hitting on his team.

Mitch Fritz – C – A mammoth of a player. His main job will be as an enforcer due to his intimidating size. His skating abilities are questionable and his anticipated heavyweight bout didn’t occur. Not much upside to his game if he’s not fighting.

Jonathan Beaulieu – RW – Did not stand out. He wasn’t much of a factor although he played a physical game on occasion.

Matt Carkner – D – A better Brad Brown? Good intensity and willingness to hit and punish the opponent. He will spend a few years with the farm team but if his game improves may get the call when his toughness is needed.

Sean Dixon – D – Solid two way defenseman played a sound defensive game and moves the puck well. Probably the best defensive prospect on this particular night.

Tyler Hanchuk – D – Didn’t have a spectacular game but didn’t look out of place either. Can’t judge him by just one game but he didn’t seem to make any blatant defensive errors.

Andrei Markov – D – Showed flashes of brilliance but looked pretty ordinary most of the night. For a guy who was so good in the RHL, you expect more.

Francois Beauchemin – D – Another Dykhuis or Brisebois in the making except he has a few better prospects to leap over before he gets to the NHL. May one day make it. Moves the puck well and isn’t afraid of the rough stuff.

Eric Tremblay – D – Another enforcer type who laid out some big hits and didn’t look out of place.

Evan Lindsay – G – Had a terrible night. Let in 3 relatively easy goals in the first and never settled down after that.

Sean Connors – G – Made several outstanding saves and seemed to calm the team down once he took over midway through the second period.

The lines:

Daniel Payette-Eric Chouinard-Jozef Balej

Micheal Ryder-Mike Ribeiro-Dusty Jamieson

Marc-Andre Thinel-Christian Larrivee-Jerome Marois

Ben Guite-Mitch Fritz-Jonathan Beaulieu

Matt Carkner-Sean Dixon

Tyler Hanchuk-Andrei Markov

Francois Beauchemin-Eric Tremblay

Evan Lindsay

Sean Connors

Scoring Summary

1st Period

1 – Goal Tampa Bay: Dimitri Afanasenkov 1 (Sheldon Keefe, Mike Jones) pp

2 – Goal Tampa Bay: Johan Hagglund 1 (Martin Cibak)

3 – Goal Tampa Bay: Dimitri Afanasenkov 2 (Sheldon Keefe) pp

2nd Period

4 – Goal Montreal: Andrei Markov 1 (Christian Larrivee)

3rd Period

5 – Goal Montreal: Mike Ribeiro 1 (Andrei Markov)

6 – Goal Tampa Bay: Dimitri Afanasenkov 3 (Martin Cibak)

7 – Goal Tampa Bay: Kevin Malcolm 1 (en)

                Shots on goal
1 2 3 Total
Montreal 7 4 11 22
Tampa Bay 9 11 9 29