I've held back on writing this post for a while now to give him a chance to find his game, but the Habs have now played 14 games and Mike Komisarek is nowhere near the same player who struck fear into opposing forwards last season.
Yeah, he's blocking shots, he's hitting guys, and that's great. But there's a certain lack of confidence that appears every now and again in his game, and in tonight's 6-1 loss in Boston, those came at very inopportune moments.
On Boston's first goal of the night by noted sniper Shawn Thornton, Komisarek inexplicably hesitated to play a puck coming toward him in the Montreal zone, deferring to Mathieu Dandenault who was facing his own net. That puck was Komisarek's to play, and his indecision on the play directly led to the goal.
Now that's just one example, and it doesn't explain why the Habs were just as flat - in fact far more so - than they were in Toronto on Saturday night. But plays just like that one have been popping up more and more from Komisarek, and that's got to be of some concern.
Guy Carbonneau was asked after the game if the reason Komisarek didn't return to the ice after suffering a beat down at the hands of last year's playoff nemesis Milan Lucic was because of a hand injury he may have suffered in the fight. Carbonneau kind of brushed the question aside, saying they didn't know yet, but then went on to talk about emotion and work and wanting to win.
I don't know about anyone else, but the only reason I can see Carbonneau giving that kind of an answer to a question regarding the reason a particular player was nailed to the bench, I don't think his hand or either of his upper or lower body were a problem. Komisarek's problem was between the ears, and I think it may have been a message Carbonneau was sending him by sitting him in the third.
I could be wrong, Komisarek may have hurt himself in that fight because at one point he simply stopped throwing punches and fell rather easily, which is really not his style. But before that fight he wasn't playing his best game, and it was just a continuation of a trend that's been building all season, one that happens to be a contract year for the unrestricted free agent who, as of right now, is playing himself out of a lot of money.
Of course, the team as a whole was horrendous Thursday, with turnover after turnover in their own end and a bizarre inability to complete a pass. Not one, or so it seemed.
Then there was Carey Price, who was just as bad as his teammates in front of him. But you know what? I and a lot of other people at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night didn't give him enough credit for that 4-0 shutout of the Sens, so I feel he should be absolved of a good portion of the blame for this 6-1 blowout. No goalie can be ready for so many turnovers, so many mental lapses. Price could have been way better, but he wasn't about to steal this game for the Habs.
Still, Carbonneau felt inclined to leave him in there for all six goals.
"He's still a young player, but you can't play 82 games for 15 years, if he plays 15 years, and not have goals scored on you," Carbonneau said. "Obviously there's a lot frustration some times, but he'll have to learn, just like the rest of the players."
Here's hoping that Carbonneau feels inclined to use the forward line combinations he finished the game with against the Flyers at home Saturday. They obviously didn't do a whole lot Thursday, but they deserve at least a full game like that to see if they work. I'm convinced they would, with the biggest beneficiary being Andrei Kostitsyn who becomes the go-to guy on that line with his brother and Tomas Plekanec.
Another thing I'd like to see changed is the order of the power play units. The emergence of Saku Koivu's line as the top unit with Robert Lang and Andrei Markov has taken, most of the time, Markov away from Alex Kovalev. That combination is what made the power play go last year, and I feel they should be starting every power play together until it's clear it's not going to work.
But Thursday night, absolutely nothing worked for the Habs, and I was expecting far more from a game featuring the two best teams 5-on-5 in the league so far, a stat that would lead you to believe this would be a hotly contested affair.
In order for that to happen, however, both teams have to compete.