How 'bout them rookies?

Chris Higgins and Alex Perezhogin both scored their first NHL goals last night. The Habs' crop of rookies is turning into a real story this year. None of them stand out as Calder contenders, but they look to be solid NHLers.

Perezhogin played on the top line with Koivu and Kovalev, although he had to share his time with Ryder later in the game. His goal was on a breakaway, 2-line pass from Kovalev, and his shot to beat Weekes was absolutely Kovalev-esque. For the rest of the game, he was certainly energetic, making an effort to do every little thing at full speed. At times it looked like his hands and feet were moving faster than his head, but the effort is noted and appreciated. When he settles down, he'll be a dangerous player 1-on-1.

Higgins scored a nice goal on an equally nice pass from Plekanec. These two seem to be more polished players than Perezhogin and played a high tempo yet composed game. As the game wore on Ribeiro was atrocious, and Dagenais was atrocious from the get-go. Plekanec actually logged more icetime than Ribeiro, who may find himself trying to set up fancy goals for Ivanans if he doesn't pull up his socks.

Montreal had three extended 5-on-3 power plays, and failed to score on the last two. That cost them a regulation win. A team that calls itself 'skilled' has to make a minute-long 5-on-3 an almost automatic goal.

Andrei Markov played a stellar game. I thought he would have a very good year based on his season in Russia and the new rule enforcement. His quick stick and his speed stopped Jagr all night - those skills will make for the best defensive defensemen in the new NHL, if the crackdown persists.


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