Wow, what a difference 24 hours make. Either the Panther prospects are really bad, or this group of Montreal prospects really turned things around after Wednesday’s debacle versus Tampa. No significant roster changes except for the addition of Aaron Asham. The other changes were Konstantin Sidulov, Jason Lehoux, and Sebastien Thinel who did not play. Benoit Cotnoir, Jerome Marois were inserted in the lineup. Mathieu Garon also replaced Evan Lindsay in goal.
For those of you keeping track, Montreal lost the opener on Wednesday to Tampa Bay by a score of 4-3 but were totally outplayed and outshot. In the night cap game, Florida beat the Ottawa prospects by a score of 4-3 as well.
In yesterday’s early game, Ottawa beat Tampa 3-2 in a shootout. After a 5 min overtime period didn’t settle matters, Petr Schastlivy beat Robert Holsinger with the only shootout goal for the win. Mathieu Chouinard was outstanding as he stopped all five Tampa shooters. Simon Lajeunesse let in two Tampa goals by Chris Gignac and Sergei Kuznetsov earlier in the game. The other goal scorers for Ottawa were British import Jonathan Weaver and Chris Neil.
So with Montreal’s decisive 5-2 victory over Florida each team has won and lost a game which should make Friday’s matches very interesting.
Here’s a quick rundown of what I thought of each of the Montreal Prospect’s performance in this game:
Gordie Dwyer—Another solid effort, he should be impressing enough people to warrant an invitation to camp next week. He fought Florida goon Eric Godard and held is own. He later challenged BJ Ketcheson who quietly skated away unwilling to fight. Dwyer was in on the best hit of the night as he and Asham teamed up to cream a Panther in the corner in the first. Also played on the top line with Ribiero and Asham.
Francois Beauchemin — An overall better performance. Scored a nice goal and laid out Ivan Novoseltsev with an open ice hit. I still feel he needs to become either more physical or improve on his offensive game before he’ll get a legitimate shot at the NHL.
Matt Carkner — More of the same physical style. He creamed Paul Harvey in a fight and later took on big Brad Ference who didn’t respond kindly to the physical abuse Carkner was dishing out on a teammate. Carkner held his own but Ference finished him off with a set of devastating upper cuts late in the bout.
Benoit Cotnoir — Another unknown to me. Surprisingly, this kid played well. He didn’t make any defensive errors. I’m not sure where his future with the organization lies, but I don’t expect he’ll ever crack the NHL due to his smallish size.
Eric Chouinard — “Will the real Eric Chouinard please report to the Hull prospect tournament please”. What’s up with the Le Gros E?? Another non-performance although he managed a pass on Ward’s goal (I still swear it was a shanked shot on goal), either way, he’s been a no-show and I don’t know why everyone is drooling over this kid.
Sean Dixon — Yesterday I wrote that Dixon was “smallish”, today I read that he’s listed at 6’3” 190lbs. I still say he’s smallish, maybe it’s his style. Anyway, he had another decent outing and overall has impressed me with his play.
Micheal Ryder — Salvaged another invisible outing with a nice goal in the third. He does show flashes of brilliance but didn’t get enough icetime to make it consistent.
Alexander Buturlin — His first game was no fluke. He showed the same signs of talent that he did in game 1. He was often involved in scoring chances and displayed the skill level that will eventually take him to the NHL. He should have a ton of points playing with Novoseltsev next season in Sarnia.
Dan Watson — Played a sound game, again, he didn’t do anything that stood out.
Jerome Marois — This year’s version of Pierre Sevigny, or was it Yves Sarault, or was it Eric Houde? Great speed, hits everything that moves (not effectively hard enough though). Should become a regular in the AHL for a few years and will probably put up decent numbers but will never play more than a dozen games for the Habs.
Daniel Tessier — Should have earned an invite to camp by now. The fiesty little center was all over the ice, skating hard, hitting hard and winning faceoffs. His one chance at the NHL will be as a fourth line checking center, but again, his size is a major factor.
Darcy Harris — Not as impressive as he was in game one, but didn’t get the same amount of icetime either. Fought Paul Harvey, didn’t lose the fight, but didn’t win either. I think he proved enough in the first game that the coaches didn’t need to see as much of him in the second.
Marc-Andre Thinel — My same complaints as yesterday. He’s not cutout for playing outside the QMJHL for now. Needs to bulk up and learn the physical aspect of the game if he’s serious about a future in the NHL.
Dusty Jamieson — Hardly played and when he did, didn’t do much. He’s young and he’ll have his chances in the next camp or two. I wouldn’t expect him to get invited to the real camp next week.
Gennady Razin — The more I see of him, the more I like. I heard comparisons to Popovic, but I thought he was more in the mold of a Rivet. I can almost guarantee he’ll see spot duty in Montreal this season.
Aaron Asham — A feisty guy, he could be the reason why this team played so much better. His play certainly seemed to wake everybody up. Reminds me a lot of Darcy Tucker and could very well make the big club next season depending on the team’s needs. He fought Ference and held on for life. Also contributed by adding two assists.
Jason Ward — Same type of performance from him in game two. Scored a goal in the first and took on Eric Godard in the third (which was a mistake) he was doing fine until Godard freed his arm and took a few liberties to his face. He leads by example and plays a fearless game, two qualities you won’t find in too many of the current Montreal Canadiens’ players.
Mike Ribiero — Whatever they put in his poutine at the Bob Guertin arena must have worked because this guy was on fire. He was all over the ice, making beautiful passes, scored two goals and generally controlled the offence for the team. Each time he was out there he created a scoring chance. I hope he’s not one of those on today off tomorrow kind of players because he has a ton of talent and if he can fillout with proper weight training he may very well get a good shot in Montreal.
Mathieu Garon — Outstanding. Made many spectacular saves and made them look easy. I like his butterfly style and he has a good glove hand. If he can put together a solid season in Quebec, Houle may be forced to trade Theodore to make room for him.
Ivan Novoseltsev — Was invisible for two periods as were the Panthers, but showed everyone why he’s considered a future NHL sniper with two back to back goals in the third.
Kyle Rossiter — Logged a ton of icetime and deserved it.
Brad Ference — Ok, he can fight, but he hasn’t proven to me that he can play good defense yet.
Ryan Jardine — Local kid, looked pretty good playing with Novoseltsev.
Denis Shvidki — Did absolutely nothing on this night.
Rod Sarich — Played a good game both offensively and defensively.
Jonathan Charron – Wasn’t impressed at all with his play. Alexander Auld is definitely the goalie of the future in Florida.
So there you have it. I basically tell it like I see it. If a player performs poorly I’m not going to cover it up, but if he plays well then he deserves the praise I give him. It’s funny how this team turned it around so quickly. I contribute the win mostly to the addition of Asham and Garon.
Hopefully I’ll make Friday’s game between Ottawa and Montreal. That should be the best game of the tournament and should draw more than the 500 or so who attended tonight.
1-Mtl—Ward (Chouinard, Beauchemin)
2-Mtl—Beauchemin (Thinel, Marois)
4-Mtl—Ribiero (Marois, Asham)
6-Flo—Novoseltsev (Jardine, Smith)
Shots on goal
The lines for Montreal were