Saturday, 28 November 2015

Game 25: Devils vs. Habs


- Well, this is stupid and completely unnecessary.

- I'm still fuming over Therrien calling that timeout. What a stupid, stupid decision.

- Oh, FWIW, both teams through 60 minutes:

- Markov pinches, loses, and everybody gets caught up ice. Condon with a great initial save on Moore, but he can't get up for the rebound. A terrible way to loose - totally unavailable, a huge mistake by Therrien calling a timeout late in the 3rd, and allowing the Devils the opportunity to put together a set play to tie the game. Argh.


- Habs and Devils through 40 minutes:

- -- S- - Should come as little surprise the Henrique line is the best playing unit for the Devils tonight, but still, if they're contained from scoring, the Devils are in tough.

- Condon't been excellent this period - really solid through much of the game. Keeping things very simple, very compact tonight.

- Habs have been pretty disciplined this period, not taking any unnecessary chances, and doing a pretty decent job maintaining puck control in the Devil's zone. Also matching them well in the battle for centre ice. So far, Jersey's shots on Condon have mainly come from the point. They're looking for a lucky bounce.

- Weird, very marginal interference call on Elias, and the Habs quickly take advantage on the powerplay, a loose puck around Schneider that Galchenyuk eventually roofs to give Montreal a 2-0 lead. Galchenyuk is officially on fire.

- Jersey gets that lucky bounce off a point shot, through the legs of Condon. Larsson the goal with Henrique line on the ice.  2-1.

- Jeff Petry injured? Not on the Habs bench. That could be huge.

- 7 minutes left, Habs in hang-on mode.

- Petry has returned. We breath. And now hope the Habs don't continue to try to hold on to this one goal game.

- Devils taking chances now, and it's creating some odd-man rushes for the Habs. Just need to bury one more ...

- Beaulieu misses golden opportunity - he tries way too hard sometimes. A minute left, and Habs will just stack the line.

- With 24 seconds left, faceoff deep in their own zone, Therrien calls a timeout. Which is very strange strategy, as it gives the Devils best forwards time to rest and set their play. Okay, then.

- And wouldn't you know it, the Devils score off a set play. What the heck was Therrien thinking?!?


- Habs and Devils through 20 minutes. It was, for the most part, a stalemate period.

- Scoring chances in the first were kind of sad, especially if you're a Canadien:

- Habs are having a "devil" (sorry) of a time setting up a shot anywhere near the slot. The Devils forwards do a great job collapsing to protect their goal whenever there's even a sniff of a threat.

- This game evolving (devolving) into a titanic struggle between checkers. Virtually no flow to the game, and almost no good scoring chances are being generated. Might take a lucky bounce to break the zeros on the scoreboard.

- Well, there you have it. Beaulieu with a point shot that hits Galchenyuk in the shoulder, and deflects top corner behind Schneider. As lucky a goal as you'll see. 1-0 Habs.

- Before the Galchenyuk goal, the Habs had only mustered three shot attempts (that's attempts) through the first 9 minutes of this period - so lethargic has this game been.

- Galchenyuk might have the only goal so far, but Plekanec line has by far been the Habs most consistent tonight. Desharnais line hasn't shown much, and the 4th line continues to look amiss without Mitchell in the lineup.

- Desharnais clearcut breakaway, but follows through with a pretty lame backhand deke.

- Pacioretty assessed a nonsense hooking penalty with 5 minutes left. Tells the official the call was bullshit. He's right about that. Professional referees should never be making calls like that.

- Credit to the Habs defence, they're largely doing their job guarding the rush, and covering passing lanes. Devils really haven't challenged Condon in the period.

- Apparently the Devils outshot the Habs 12-6 in that period, although I'd be dammed how that result was calculated. NHL stats, I guess. Anyways, another tight checking sleeper of a period, the Habs got their lucky bounce, and the Devils ... well, they're just not able to generate any sustained momentum. Yeah, they're getting a few pucks on Condon, but very few are coming from close distances. Basically a game of attrition. At times, unbearable to watch.


- So Christian Thomas gets his first start of the season, with Holloway being the healthy scratch tonight. All for having the (younger) kids get a chance to demonstrate themselves. So far Andrighetto has produced an "A" performance, let's see what Thomas can do.

- Also interesting to note that Pateryn gets another start, Emelin is again a healthy scratch. Emelin isn't really a movable asset this year, but Gilbert certainly is.

- Early on, Habs defence really struggling to move the puck forward successfully, a lot of pucks being turned over in the neutral zone, producing odd man breaks for New Jersey. Sloppy start.

- Another poor puck turnover in the neutral zone, leading to odd man break for the Devils, Condon forced to make an excellent pad save off the pass to keep the game scoreless.

- With New Jersey really producing significant puck pressure, Galchenyuk line hits the ice with 9 minutes left, and promptly force the Devils into a couple of puck giveaways. That line be human'.

- Devils powerplay is a real hot mess. Puck movement is simply not fast or accurate enough.

- Habs first powerplay was "okay". Had decent zone control, but the Devils PK really collapsed nicely around their slot and blocked most shooting angles. Habs must adapt. If the Devils are intent on cramming their own slot, then the Canadiens could try working the puck deep. Perimeter passing simply won't amount to anything.

- 1st period looking much like it did last night - very tight checking, Devils really stacking up aggressively at centre ice. Habs simply couldn't get their speed into gear, which resulted in very few good scoring chances on Schneider. Meanwhile, apart from some sloppy transition passing, Habs were, for the most part, disciplined in their own zone, containing the slot and preventing the Devils from reaching any rebounds. Condon played pretty solid. Looks like this will be a low scoring game.


No real "preview" today. We saw the Devils last night, and we know the important stuff. They struggle with scoring, they play really good defence. Nothing has changed in 20 years there.

One thing to note about last night's comparables (see below) was how well the Plekanec and Galchenyuk lines (again) were with puck possession. The Devils' offence is pretty top heavy - it relies much on the Henrique/Cammalleri/Stempniak line. If they don't produce, the Devils' odds of winning any given night are pretty close to zero (that the Henrique line did produce last night gave New Jersey a fighting chance).

The Desharnais line, as per usual, struggled defensively, getting soundly outchanced by an inferior opponent. We put up with their shaky zone defence because, for the most part, they've been able to hold their own in producing the necessary goals. But if that line ever starts to faultier offensively, watch out.

The big Habs question heading into tonight will be their defensive pairings. Will Greg Pateryn, who had an up-and-down evening, get another start in place of Alexei Emelin? Or maybe Therrien might consider giving Tom Gilbert an evening off?

Cory Schneider had a very good outing last night - whether that means he'll get consecutive starts is yet to be seen. The Devils do have a more than capable backup in Keith Kinkaid. It's a near certainty that Mike Condon will get the nod tonight for the Habs.

A win tonight will get Montreal to the 40 point plateau, a point reached before December even begins will be an outstanding accomplishment. Puck drops at 7:10 EST.


That's a wowzers goal from last night - and set the Habs up for an eventual shootout victory.

We'll have more as the day progresses, including a little preview of tonight's game. In the meantime, here's a breakdown of last night's game, which was a very good one for both the Galchenyuk and Plekanec lines: