Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Game 55: Lightening vs. Habs

THIRD PERIOD:

- Habs and Lightening after 2nd period: Trouble for Habs is their declining CF (just over 42% in the period), and zone starts have been pretty horrible as a whole. Habs will need to gain more neutral and offensive zone faceoffs in this 3rd period if they hope to hang on to this lead.


- Ugh. Flynn and more critical, Beaulieu will not return tonight because of injury. I'm not 100% on this, but I believe they were injured off the same shot by Stamkos.

- Plekanec. Somebody get out an extinguisher, because this man is on fire. Made Bishop look bad luring him way out of the net. Habs take a momentous 4-1 lead.

- Habs more or less all over Tampa in their zone. Not sure if the Lightening have thrown in the towel, but if they don't get their act in gear quickly, they might as well.

- Not sure what Scrivens was doing, but he wanders way out of his net off a rebound, leaving his cage completely wide open. Hedman with a goal as pretty much as easy as they'll come, and it's 4-2.

- Uh-oh. Tampa finding some mo' here. Habs on their heels in their zone, being very sloppy with the puck, and containing rebounds.

- 7 minutes left, fantastic shift by the Eller line, Habs coming very close to regaining their 3 goal lead. Habs must continue to play aggressively if they want to close this game out.

- Signing off at this point as a work meeting beckons me, but if the Habs do hold on, Montreal is taking bigger steps towards getting themselves back into playoff consideration. A lot can happen in a week, but then again, who saw coming Plekanec catching fire and Scrivens playing outstanding net minding?


SECOND PERIOD:

- Habs and Lightening after one period. Habs CF (5v5) was a not-very-good 45.9%.



- Of note in that first period, Eller CF (5v5) was 100.%, but he had the least amount of ice time among forwards, while Flynn at 6:01, had the second most. Don't ask me for answers, I have none.

- Great start. Another blind attempt to clear the zone by shooting the pucks up the boards results in (predictably) another turnover, and a soft little wrist shot by Filppula somehow finds the back of the net. Game tied.

- Not sure what's going on. Habs line combinations are scattered all over the place. Andrighetto with Pacioretty, Smith-Pelly with Eller. Impossible to keep track.

- The suddenly red-hot Tomas Plekanec strikes again, picking up the rebound off a point shot and beating Bishop with a backhander. Bishop has long been inclined to give up juicy rebounds - tonight appears to be little different. 2-1 Habs.

- Bishop is big, but he's hurting himself by not being able to contain the puck. Habs getting some great close in looks off bouncing pucks around the Tampa net tonight.

- HABS GET A POWERPLAY. That actually just happened.

- HABS POWERPLAY IN COMPLETE DISARRAY. But you knew that would happen.

- Beaulieu sacrificing his body, and quite possibly an entire leg, to block a Stamkos bullet. Credit to the kid after getting screwed over by his coach this weekend, he's demonstrated some fortitude tonight.

- Habs not doing a particularly good job breaking from their zone, pucks from the defense have been widely off the mark, although Habs forwards haven't really been doing a very good job finding open spaces up ice. The line blender might have something to do with that, as forwards try to figure out their new line mates. Deployment issues, folks.

- Andrighetto given lots of powerplay time, and suddenly, the Habs look great with the man advantage. Bishop giving up tons of rebounds, but his big body manages to keep the puck out. Still, Habs powerplay looking 5 times better the second time around, Andrighetto definitely a big part of that.

- Huge. Huge. Subban with some incredible work carrying the puck, then feeding to the front of the net, the puck hitting Smith-Pelly's skate and into the net. Good goal, and Habs take a 3-1 lead into the break.

- Habs were inconsistent in the period, but seemed to get things in order late in the period, first a very good late powerplay, and then continuing pressure giving Habs a two goal lead. This team seems to be finding some of its mojo again. Hard to pinpoint where or who it's coming from, but it seems to be coming.



FIRST PERIOD:

- Woah, Beaulieu, taking it out on Paquette with the fists.

- Desharnais with an absolutely horrendous puck giveaway right in front of Scrivens. It's a good thing he's more defensively responsible than Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller.

- Pleakanec generates a turnover in his own zone, and feed Gallagher who takes it one end to the other and beats Bishop with a beauty of a snap shot. Habs take early 1-0 lead.

- Bizarre turn of events. Plekanec with a snap shot that beats Bishop, and as far as we can tell, entered the goal since the official pointed to indicate a goal was scored, but play continues for another 4 minutes before ending with a penalty on the Habs. But did Plekanec score??

- Plekanec's shot hit one post, crossed to the other side, and hit the other. That pretty much sums up Montreal's puck luck since early December. Meanwhile, the defensively responsible Emelin gets nabbed for a clunky hook. Defensively irresponsible Lars Eller might see some ice time on the PK.

- Habs actually generating some decent breakouts from their own zone tonight. But that Tampa defense, with Garrison's absence, not quite as nimble.

- Another bad penalty, this time by Smith-Pelly. More useless and hurtful ice time for the Habs almost completely useless 4th line.

- Habs enjoy again a first period lead, although they need to be more disciplined from taking stupid penalties. But that's a deployment issue - with Therrien insisting night after night putting out guys like Emelin and Smith-Pelly (while there are far better options at hand). Anyway, Scrivens looks good again tonight, lending even more suspicion that he might actually be in a groove.


GAME NOTES:

- So Jeff Petry is out tonight with an unspecified lower body injury. In his place, as absurd as it seems, will be Nathan Beaulieu, whom, for whatever dizzying reason possible, has fallen out of the Habs top six defensive starters.

- Ben Scrivens is in net, which should surprise absolutely nobody given how well he played over the weekend. Ben Bishop, Tampa's number one starter, will be backstopping the Lightening.

- Tampa has enjoyed much success of late in the Bell Centre. They're 5-0 over the past 5 on Montreal's turf.

- Lots of buzz surrounding the Lightening today, specifically soon-to-be unrestricted free agent Steven Stamkos, in light of the trade earlier today between the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs, in which the Leafs managed to unload Dion Phaneuf's contract on Ottawa, thereby clearing all the decks for Toronto to make an aggressive bid for Stamkos' services this summer.

- And speaking of Ottawa, the Lightening were more or less manhandled by the Senators last night 5-1, which may be good news for the Habs if Tampa is entering a slump, or bad news for the Habs if Tampa wishes to take out their frustrations from losing against a pretty bad hockey team.

- Normally we'd speculation about Habs strategy before the game, but with things going as they have been the past three months, we're no longer sure the Canadiens really have much of anything resembling a strategy on any given night. Regardless, the Habs would be wise, with the luxury of last change, to send out their most capable players to shadow 2nd line right winger Nikita Kucherov and, of course, 1st line Stamkos. That means, no Desharnais line, no 4th line time against either player, if it can be avoided.

- Injuries, well ... except for the Petry LBI, Tampa will be without the services of Jason Garrison, which hurts them a bit. The Lightening's defence won't be quite as agile around their net tonight as per usual, so a little window of opportunity at hand for the Habs.

- The Bolts lines tonight? They are:

- Palat/Namestnikov/Stamkos
- Kilorn/Johnson/Kucherov
- Brown/Filppula/Callahan
- Paquette/Boyel/Marchessault

- Puck drops at 7:40 EST.