With the Junior Hockey season finally upon us we can again begin to follow the Montreal Canadiens’ junior prospects. The entry draft not only gave us a few more players to follow, but also gave us one less player to follow, as Gregor Baumgartner re-entered the 99 draft when Montreal failed to sign him to a contract prior to the imposed deadline.
The old faces include Francois Beauchemin, a hard-nosed defenseman who was Montreal’s 3rd choice in the 98 draft, and is currently playing with Acadie-Bathurst in the QMJHL; Eric Chouinard, a tall finesse player who was the Habs’ 1st choice in the 98 draft, and is currently playing for Quebec in the QMJHL; And Michael Ryder, a natural scorer who was the Habs’ 8th choice in the 98 draft, and is currently playing with Hull in the QMJHL.
Missing faces include Jason Ward, an intensity driven winger who was the Habs’ 1st choice in the 97 draft, and is no longer of junior age. Ward is currently playing with Quebec, Montreal’s AHL affiliate. The final missing face is Mike Ribeiro, the CHL’s leading scorer last season and the Habs’ 2nd choice in the 98 draft. Ribeiro made the Canadiens’ roster out of training camp. He played in the opening game against Toronto with mixed results. He looked good on the power play setting up two of his teammates for good scoring opportunities. But was often moved easily off the puck by the bigger and stronger Maple Leaf players.
Talk about a roller coaster ride. This team went from terrible to excellent and then squeaked in a period and a half of decent hockey before the wheels came completely off. They reached a new low in this game against Ottawa. Outplayed, outshot and outscored, they came out in the third period looking extremely tired, then all but gave up with about ten minutes to go. With the score 7-2 and only a few minutes remaining, I can’t recall ever watching a team wanting to playout the clock the way these guys did. They iced the puck at every opportunity, and stayed almost completely out of Ottawa’s zone. I guess you could blame it on exhaustion as the team played with a short bench most of the game. Gordie Dwyer didn’t play due to an injury, Alexander Buturlin left the game mid way through the second with a knee injury and Aaron Asham didn’t play in the third after he had two fights in the second period. Konstantin Sidulov was inserted in the lineup in place of Dan Watson on defense and Sebastien Thinel played for the injured Dwyer. Once again, Jason Lehoux and Olivier Morin did not dress for the game nor did goaltender Dan Murphy. Three games in three days with practices every morning is tough, but I didn’t notice the Ottawa team slowing down.
One might wonder if the ice was that bad, or if there was that little talent. After
a hard fought match between Florida and Montreal, where the brawn outshone the talent,
the Ottawa Senators prospects took on the Tampa Bay Lightning prospects in what seemed
to be a slip and slide matchup due to a sheet of water covering the ice. These were the
final two games of a four-day tournament which featured two games per day, with
each team playing in one of those daily two games.
In the Panthers’ four games, they deteriorated from giving the impression of being
a fairly strong, experienced and mature team to revealing themslves as an
undisciplined, immature and flat out joke of a squad. Their top player, Novoseltsev
was injured for all games aside from Game 2 versus Montreal in which he notched the
only two Panther goals. The pressure was then placed on Florida’s number one draft
pick, Denis Shvidki, to lead the way offensively for the talent-challenged Panthers.
But after a respectable opening game against the Senators, Shvidki trailed off and
disappeared for the rest of the tournament. Receiving some PK time, and tons of
powerplay time, Shvidki remained unsuccessful and mainly a liability defensively.
Perhaps too much was expected from the supposed feisty young player. It may
be that not only his numbers but his stock was blown out of proportion while Read more»
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: