Saturday, 29 October 2011

Game Eleven: Bruins v. Habs

So here we've arrived, a claim to a "hot streak" on the line against a mightily struggling Boston team, Claude Julien has made quite a few line changes in an attempt to get the Bruins sputtering offense on track.

Price, rightfully, starts following a very good outing two nights ago. He's really looked solid since his semi-disastrous game against Tampa.

First Period:

- Transition game very strong to start, Bruins defense having trouble adapting to the attack. Eller rings one off the post from a rebound, never seen a player *just* miss so many times.

- Surprise player of the year (so far) Moen with a goal-saving backcheck.

- Gionta continues to struggle, terrible pass off the rush. Needs to do something about these unforced errors.

- Cole motoring again. What a great pickup for the offense. Really has given the team's offense another dangerous dimension.

- Beautiful rush by Patioretty, setting up Weber perfectly, his shot just wide.

- One of these years Subban is going to break through on those end-to-enders to score a goal for the ages. Might take awhile though against NHL defenders.

- Habs really have improved all-around compared to just two weeks ago. If this is the way the teams plays from here on out, I see little difficulty they making the post season.

- Rask really impressive tonight, especially coming in "cold". 9-2 shots on goal.

- Price really wiffed on the shot off the post. Horseshoe bailout.

- Plekanec from the point finally pays off. Rask never saw the puck until it was behind him in the net. Just the third time this season the Habs have scored first.

- Eller! FINALLY. Rask really should have done better, though.

- Habs ALL over Bruins right now. Julien not calling time, probably hoping to ride out the storm till the intermission.

- Through 20 shots are 12-8 Montreal. Pretty one sided, Habs firing all engines, Bruins look stunned and disorganized. Will Boston get nasty next period to reclaim some momentum?

Second Period:

- Fourth line soooooo much better since its reconstruction. Nicely sets up the other lines for their attack.

- Forwards really solid bottling up the neutral zone, stunting and frustrating the Boston transition game.

- And the Bruins' frustrations bubbling to the surface, punches flying and gloves dropped after the whistle. Trying to find a game-changer here through fisticuffs. Totally expected turn of events.

- Excellent positioning by Price on the Kelley breakaway. Bruins in tough finding the back of the net.

- Habs PP looking so much more coordinated now. Rask absolutely robbed Cole point blank.

- Habs 5-on-3 far too concerned with finding that high percentage chance. Just tee the danged shot up from 30 feet and ram in the resultant rebound. There. Done.

- Something had to give. Bruins frustrations finally leading to a 3-0 advantage. Eller wiffing at a wide open net via a perfect pass (again). Should be 4-0.

- Eller with a terrible turnover, borderline should have been a hooking call on Thornton. 3-1.

- Pushback by Bruins, trying to keep momentum going, dishing out some pretty hard hits and generating pressure.

- More poor discipline by Bruins Lucic with a silly slash. Julien is furious with the officials but really, each Boston penalty has been correctly called.

- Shots in period 12-8 again, really has been 70-30 Habs edge so far. Not sure in the game if the Habs are this good or the Bruins are that bad. Probably a bit from each column.

Third Period:

- Bruins have their first PP a minute into the third courtesy a foolish penalty by Eller. Now the Habs find themselves two short doing their best to let the Bruins back into the game.

- Gorges with a ridiculous goal saving dive across the goal line. Bruins frustration leads to another silly and undisciplined penalty. 5-3 escaped.

- Superb tic-tac-toe passing, Rask positively robbing Eller, giving his team at least a glimmer of hope. One more Habs goal and it's over.

- Habs in shut-down mode right now. Pretty much on cruise control. Can be a dangerous ploy but Boston really not posing much of a threat.

- PK with a not very smart icing there. The kid needs to think stuff through more often.

- And resultant, Bruins score. 3-2. Ut-oh.

- Plekanec shows Gionta how to properly shoot into an empty net. Habs win again.

- Big six day layoff before the Sens game. To pass time the media shall write much about Markov's pending return.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Game Ten: Habs v. Bruins

First Period:

- Well here we go, one of the most anticipated games early in the season. Habs coming off an emotional win, the Bruins struggling to get out of the gate. Another Habs win may answer the question, has the ship been righted?

- Yikes, Bruins out in full force early, almost all the play in Montreal's zone.

- Gaping goal, Moen couldn't quite reach the drifting puck. Bit of push back against the Bruins.

- Pretty good pace, very few whistles. Such tempo generally favorable to the team with better speed, which would be the Habs. We'll see.

- That may have been the weakest goal ever given up by Price. Let's see if it rattles him.

- Whistle happy officiating so far. The interference call on Plekanec ... sooo marginal. The puck was in their feet, he (correctly) plays the body and still gets called.

- Apart from Price's softy, the Bruins' PP doesn't appear to be any less bad than what fans in Montreal have had to endure this season.

- Even though they trail, Habs have to be pretty happy with that period. They held their own against Boston's early onslaught, and made it a pretty even period. Stacks up to be a close final result.

Second Period:

- Habs largely have controlled play first 4 minutes, eventually Boston gets called.

- Can't convert with the 5-on-3, and for extra salt in the wound Pacioretty takes a silly tripping call. The suckage hasn't stopped.

- Habs really tempting fate with their lack of discipline.

- Cole's hard work finally pays dividends. Only reason Habs are tied is because Boston's PP is arguably playing worse than ours.

- Diaz with a rookie mistake overplaying his shot giving the Bruins an easy breakaway. Price bails him out.

- Bruins will be more than happy to draw Subban into the box for the rest of the night.

- Habs the more aggressive forechecking team, especially in the second period. Putting the Bruins on their heels a bit.

- Marchand could have really hurt Subban after PK missed his first punch and fell flat on his back in a totally vulnerable and exposed position. But he let Subban get back up to his feet for the fight. Bit of class with that.

- Price bailed out Diaz on that breakaway, and the favor is returned.

- Habs the more aggressive team in the second, and fine work on the PK earns them a tie score with 20 minutes left. As close as I thought it might be.

Third Period:

- Subban has played 12 minutes, spent 11 minutes in the box, only 7 minutes sitting on the bench.

- Bruins coming out hard looking to retake the lead.

- Habs responding now, creating some turnovers and generating good scoring chances.

- Lots of bodies flying all over the place, the most physical period yet. Intensity level high, both clubs wanting this one badly. Playoff hockey in October!

- Though sparingly used tonight, Canadiens' fourth line much more effective checking and creating momentum than its predecessor.

- And just like that, next line out Pleks cashes in off the rebound from the d's legs and Habs take the lead.

- RDS posted a compelling stat. Shots blocked at this point: Habs 18, Bruins 6. Who wants this game more?

- Watching Gill in a 150 foot race for the puck is an agonizing slow motion experience.

- Habs have really owned most of the play since the Subban/Marchand fight.

- Price bearing down. Safe to now say that whiff goal didn't rattle his psyche.

- Price a game save with seconds left. The shot more or less hit him rather than he making a great stop.

- Big win tonight, albeit razor-thin. Has the full faith returned to Habs Land?

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Game Nine: Flyers v. Habs

It's never a dull day in Habs land, is it? Pearn gets fired an hour before game time. A strange, strange move which I'll write more about during the intermission. Meantime, Price is back in net to face the feared Flyers. Will fortunes change starting tonight?

First Period:

- An early power play and lo and behold, two defense at the point! Makes you wonder if Pearn was behind that futile strategy?

- Speaking of futile, not much to show for that two minutes. One weak shot reached target, and now Philadelphia goes to the man advantage.

- Flyers hit two posts during their PP. Habs very lucky to escape unscathed.

- How Pacioretty is out there playing with a torn up wrist is beyond me. The reports (totally incorrect?) I'd read is 90% ligament tear. How can he even hold a stick?

- Very, very cautious start by Habs defense, almost playing not to lose. Inevitably the Flyers take advantage courtesy some sloppy back checking, and score the game's first. Molson Arena dead silent.

- If Pacioretty can't shoot a puck he has no business playing tonight.

- Habs simply lacking energy. Getting beat to the puck, getting out hit, getting out muscled. Fans are booing and we've not even finished the first. This is bad, bad, bad.

- The way everything is going, Price will have to be superhuman tonight if the Habs are to have a ghost of a chance.

- Hah. Habs score! On the PP! With two seconds on the clock. The game makes no sense. Totally did not deserve to come out of that period tied.

- Now, about the Pearn firing. About an hour ago, Gauthier gave a short Q&A in which he said the dismissal was part of an attempt by management to "think outside the box", which one could interpret as a decision was made to do something that didn't make a whole lot of sense.

Pearn, by all accounts, was a very competent assistant. His record certainly backs that up - the Habs have had one of the League's better power plays since he began in 2009. In 15 straight years, he's never been behind the bench of a team that's missed the playoffs. This pretty much speaks for itself.

And yet, he's gone. Maybe PG is trying to send out a message that the season isn't what he was hoping for, and that no one's job is safe.

If matters become even worse, in so much as the loses piling up, if Pearn is next, who might be the next a go? A key player, or another coach further up the ladder?

Second Period:

- A spirited start for Habs offense, that late goal clearly gave the team a huge boost. Philly (smartly) calls a time out in a quest to take the momentum out of Montreal's sails.

- If Eller converted more of his close chances, he might be leading the League in scoring.

- Wow. Flyers hit another post. Are the luck gods favoring the Habs tonight?

- Aside from all these posts, Price doing everything he can (and needs to) keeping his team in the game.

- Mad scramble and Kostitsyn scores! Flyers looked very chaotic (Hab-like) in collapsing around their net.

- How was Jagr not called for hauling down Cole in front of the Flyers net?

- With torn wrist Pacioretty scores! Amazing. Habs have not lead by two since Winnipeg.

- Price looking as solid as any start this season #Maybeitwasthepinkpads

- How the heck did Eller miss that wide open net courtesy Cole's beauty pass?

- Bad strategies never die. Plekanec still playing the point, Darche fruitlessly on the ice.

- Maybe it was the pink pads? Price frustrating the Flyers jamming the crease.

Third Period:

- Habs holding their own well so far.

- Crazy. Pacioretty, he of the gimpy wrist, scores another. Much courtesy the Flyers defense which has seemingly gone on vacation from the second period forward, but we'll take it.

- Flyers very frustrated, starting to get really rough. Habs would be wise to play safe and not get trolled by the trolls.

- Pretty boring period. Safe to say nobody in the stands minds one bit.

- Flyers just standing around. Cammi with icing on the cake (and great efforts by Cole).

- Halfway through the first if you had bet me the Habs would be up by four with three minutes left in the third, I would have placed the wife and kid on the lot. Good thing I'm not a gambling man.

- And there you have it. Canadiens pick up their first home win on October 26th. All is well again. Matin can breath a sigh of relief. Start planning the parade.

- Oh I nearly forgot. Bruins in less than 24 hours. In Boston. Gulp.

- Grats to Price for finally picking up his 100th NHL win, one of the youngest ever to do so.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Game Eight: Panthers v. Habs

- Well, here we go. A revised (reconstituted?) fourth line. Will it help this team to return to the win column? Or are we headed towards panic territory with one win in 1/10th of the season played? You'd hate to speculate about "must" wins so early in the campaign, but this one is pushing its elbows into such territory.

- Bit of a gamble tonight, Martin calling on Budaj to start instead of Price. If a couple of weak ones get past Budaj, might we see a quick hook, given how much is riding on a getting a win?

First Period:

- Moen robbed only seconds into the game, and Habs go to the PP early. Ut-oh. Will the horrorshow start early?

- Plekanec STILL playing the point. This ISN'T working. Sigh.

- Do my eyes deceive me? A power play goal? The first five on four man advantage goal of the year, and it only took 22 periods. Of note, that goal came as a direct result of traffic in front of the Florida net. See? It really isn't that complicated.

- There are reputedly scores of scouts at the game. The vultures are sensing opportunity?

- Budaj looks solid ... so far. Aggressive and seemingly confident in covering the Panthers' shots.

- The almost-Hab Jagr just scored his first goal as a Flyer. Welcome back to the NHL, still glad we didn't get you.

- Two Habs with broken sticks at the same time, giving the Panthers a poor-man's 5-on-3. Never seen that before. Habs survive the bad luck unscathed.

- Wow. Cammi wacking an airborne puck point blank and just barely denied. The hand-eye is dazzling. PP vastly better ... so far.

- The definition of a clunky goal scored by Florida on the PP, courtesy defensive confusion. All that momentum and hard work set back to square one.

Second Period:

- Erik Cole officially awarded credit for Habs goal, his first of the season and in this uniform. Finally.

- Subban a brilliant rush, Darche robbed on the rebound by Markstrom, who's keeping his team right in the game with tremendously athletic saves.

- Is it just me or does Markstrom look huge in the net? He seemingly covers just about everything just standing there.

- Gionta with a goal-saving backcheck. This stuff is never measured, barely recognized, but plays like that are often the difference between victory and defeat.

- Game settling in a bit. Subban draws a somewhat silly holding penalty.

- Habs defenders blowing wayyy to many clearances. This will inevitably come back to hurt.

- Budaj has made some fine stops, but the flip-flop antics are reckless.

- Straight from the land of wtf? Pacioretty given a high sticking penalty for going after a juicy Markstrom rebound?

- The Habs PK not nearly as effective this season compared to last. Main reason must be all the squandered opportunities, especially by defense, to clear pucks out of the zone.

- Pacioretty hurt? Went into the corner awkwardly, perhaps caught a skate blade in a rut?

Third Period:

- Florida shutting everything down, looking to pounce on a Habs mistake.

- And there it is. Diaz with an unforced giveaway in his zone, Panthers lead 2-1.

- Pacioretty is apparently done for the night. What else could go wrong?

- Habs offense in the deepfreeze. Fans in the seats are getting restless.

- Markstrom has been very good. But he's also had big trouble with rebound control. Lack of Habs finish unable to take advantage.

- More juicy Markstrom rebounds. Habs need to show some desperation. Another loss would be devastating.

- Habs defenders cheating a bit. Might as well toss the dice at this point.

- Another factor that's really hurting the team - dismal faceoff percentages. It seems as though Habs have lost 2 out of every 3 dropped. The little things add up to become big things. Like winning only 1 out of your first 8.

- Goalpost rung, massive goalmouth scramble. Nobody able to bury. The team is snakebit.

- Critical faceoff deep on PP. Will it be won? It is, but Habs still can't bury the chances. Wow.

- Situation now critical. Does Martin now worry about his employment? Never a dull moment in Habs land.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Game Seven: Leafs v. Habs

- Well, anyone have a good feeling about this? Surely the club will win one at home sooner than later. Surely the Leafs are playing over their heads, not to mention the thumping they took at the hands of the Bruins two nights ago. I'm fully expecting the Habs to come out storming tonight.

- Nice little pre-game ceremony for Hal Gill. Doubt many who watched him skate 15 years ago would have thought he'd play 1,000+ NHL games.

- Out of respect for my sanity, I'm watching the game on RDS. No way cam I handle the CBC for 150 minutes.

First Period:

- Both teams coming out fast. Leafs draw early PP.

- Moen!! Shorthanded. And on the breakaway! Who'd have figured he'd be gold all alone?

- I know the Leafs' special teams have been awful for four years, but can't keep giving them these powerplays from careless penalties.

- And just like that, Toronto scores on the man advantage. Given the shot came from 60 feet unscreened, Price would want that back.

- One major factor for helping the Habs get their powerplay on track would be improving faceoff percentages. This year, they've been awful.

- They can't score 5 on 4. So here we go 5 on 3 for 60 seconds.

- That. Was. Awful. And to add insult to injury, a too many men penalty.

- Oh that's new. Apparently it's okay to tackle the other guy's goaltender and lay on top while the play is going on around the net? Have to remember that.

- Pretty even period. Leafs playing a solid road game in a difficult rink, which means they're aiming for a close win. Habs offense better than Pittsburgh, but clearly still not yet firing on all cylinders.

Second Period:

- Pretty active start, with Kostytsin wristing one off the post and Gorges with a brutal giveaway before barely a minute clicks off. 2-2.

- Leafs seem to correcting their specialty team issues, at the Canadiens' expense. And now yet another too many players penalty. What is going on??

- Pretty intense game. Lots of hits, lots of feisty physical exchanges along the boards and in the slot. These two clubs clearly do not like each other.

- When shorthanded the Leafs play the puck very aggressively, leaving many opposing players uncovered. It's a pretty high risk approach, but the Habs simply haven't found a way to score 5 on 4. Something's gotta give.

- Real push by the Habs since the 15 minute mark, and now have yet one more PP opportunity.

- Snakeyes again. Habs outshooting Leafs 12-6 in period but Leafs lead 3-2. Another frustrating loss on the way?

Third Period:

- Eric Cole hasn't yet scored in a Habs' uniform, but it isn't from lack of effort, especially tonight.

- That shot by Cammi shoulda been stopped but it was still a top corner beaut. Tie game.

- Leafs definitely the more physical team tonight, especially amongst their defense. Ergo if I were a betting man on who's more like to come away with the 2 points, there's your advantage.

- Terrible call on Moen. Just terrible.

- That was one heck of a dodged bullet. Perhaps the gods were stepping in to even up the terrible call. Price with a magnificent save at the end of the PP.

- And Gorges with a seemingly harmless wrister to take the lead!!

- Huge blown call by the official failing to stop the play after the puck hit the netting behind Price. No way the game should be tied.

- The same official (Mccauley) made the incorrect penalty call on Moen. This isn't supposed to happen in the bigs.

- Fans in attendance got their money's worth tonight. OT only seems fitting.


- Grabovski with beautiful goal to win the game. More heartbreak in Habsland.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Game Six: Habs v. Pens

- One of the challenges of living on the western side of the continent are these 7 pm starts, which is 5 pm my time. Getting from the office to the tv before the puck is dropped is often impossible. I hope I've not missed too much.

- Great scramble save by Price 8 minutes in. He's really looked much more confident since the very forgettable game against Tampa.

- Shouldn't have made that last post. Some flailing defense by Gorges/Subban and a weak-ish shot eludes Price, 1-0 Pens.

- Gomez injured? Equipment problem? RDS showing him leaving bench for dressing room.

- Habs attack can only be properly described as listless so far. Pens can cruise if this is all Montreal has to offer.

- Pacioretty is taken off the Desharnais line and paired with Cole. One assumes Martin is doing this to get Cole off his slow start. But to break up what was by far the Habs most productive and dangerous line seems rather foolish. The Habs so far not nearly as dangerous offensively as they have been the past week.

- Pens really circulate the puck nicely on the PP. Price with a desperation save to keep the game close.

- Pens fairly dominative in the first. Habs just 8 shots, none particularly difficult for Fleury to handle. Pacioretty/Cole pairing didn't seem to click, will see if Martin does some switchbacks in the 2nd.

Second Period:

- Nope. Martin starts the period with Pleks/Patches/Cole combo.

- Gomez done for the night. Wonder if it's anything to do with his pre-season injury reaggreivated?

- Emilin with a *horrible* clearance, Pens lead 2-0. The sloppy defensive issues emerging again. How long till Markov and Spacek are back??

- Pacioretty took a thunderous hit along the boards. Very slow to get up.

- Habs PP looks lost. Again I question the wisdom of positioning Plekanec at the line. It's effectively neutralizing one of your better (if not your best) playmakers.

- Canadiens completely laking intensity with the man advantage. Almost four straight minutes, Fleury had no difficult shots to handle. Traffic in front of the Pens net is virtually zero.

- No shifts for Patches since taking that hit. Another Habs injury??

- Just took a shift so he seems to be okay (relieved).

- Habs getting plenty of PP opportunities, but they look so awful with the man advantage, does it really matter. Team really needs to get some traffic in the crease.

- Not counting the OT, Habs have played 18 periods this year and have two PP goals to show for their efforts. Terrible.

- Subban with a (probably) illegal hit on Matt Cooke's face. How nice was that to see?

- Boarding call on Gionta. Huh??

- Pens showing Habs how to do a PP. Good traffic in front, creating quality chances on Price.

- Habs actually outshot Pens in the second. Coulda fooled me.

Third Period:

- Game can still be won, but this team will have to come out with a totally different game plan based on its forwards aggressively pushing the Pens' net.

- Pacioretty driving the Pens net, getting a scoring chance. More, please.

- Really? That's a goal? Stick looked well above what's legal.

- Ruled good. Wow. Well that's it. Goodnight and have a safe drive home.

- Not quite ready to push the panic button, but two disturbing trends. Habs have failed to score first in every game (except the Jets'), and on 5-4 powerplay, team has zero goals in 18 periods. Specialty teams are rather, well, terrible. The Kirk Muller factor?

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Game Five: Sabres v. Habs

- After a very rough start against the Avs, Carey Price looks to regain some of last year's form. We'll know pretty soon after the puck whether he's fighting the puck like he did three nights ago.

- Martin reportedly put the boys though a fairly intense practice on Monday to "send a message." The coach is clearly unhappy with what he's seen thus far and there may be a resultant short leash used tonight.

- Quite the applause for a quarterback. Now can we play some hockey?

First Period:

- Desharnais starts, almost instantly creates a good chance. Easily the Habs best line right now.

- Just got this feeling that Eller is on the cusp of breaking out. The effort is there, just need some follow through.

- Relatively cautious period, each team refusing to surrender high percentage chances. Got the feeling this could be one of those 2-1 type of games.

- Habs D certainly looks more focused and disciplined tonight. Zone coverage appears more inclined toward protecting Price and reducing turnovers. Much more the Martin style of hockey.

- Pacioretty ... so many chances this period. If he converted on more he'd be leading the League in scoring.

Period Two:

- Miller keeping the Habs off the board. Goals are going to be few and far between, methinks.

Relentless pressure leads finally to a Habs goal, Diaz with nice patience via a pretty pass from Pacioretty. How long will it hold?

- The answer is a resounding "not long." Following an unnecessary icing with 7 seconds left in the period, the Sabres score with 2 seconds left on the clock. These are game killers. Be interesting to see how the team responds in the third.

Third Period:

- Habs not with the same jump as they had in the first and second period. The late goals, as I wrote, just kill the life out of you.

- Miller just so square to the shoots and shooters. Appears nearly unbeatable.

- 11 minutes left, d line being more aggressive playing the puck. Either they score soon or Price will be facing some difficult chances.

- Gomez has been a one-man turnover machine. Killing precious PP momentum.

- Don't see Miller being beaten again tonight. Just too good.

- Canadiens have really dominated, outshooting Buffalo 41-19 with 7 minutes left in the third. This will be a bitter defeat if the score holds.

- No "great" chances for Habs in the period, really. Sabres in shut down mode right now, hoping to hold out for a steal road win.

- And there you have it. A 3-1 loss in a game where the Habs outshot their opponent 41-23. The team continues to struggle finishing its scoring chances.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Game Four: Avs vs. Habs

- Well it can't get any worse than the debacle against Calgary, can it? While the defense took a lot of criticism for their lackluster support around Price, it's the offense that appears to be what's really sputtering. Gionta and Cole have zero points in the first three games, and Gomez looks just as bad now as he did last season. Something's gotta give.

- While he tended to be the poster boy of furor and venom amongst Habs fans for most of last year, I've really liked how Kostytsin has looked so far this year (including the pre season). He definitely has a stronger stride, and looks more willing to fight for points around the net. My early candidate for turnaround player of the year.

- Three French Canadian officials tonight. You'd think that be a good thing, but sometimes refs officiating in their backyard overcompensate for the other guys to look "more" unbiased.

Period One:

- Spectacular save by Price to start the night. More chaotic Habs defense.

- eek. Price shoulda had that one. 1-0 Avs.

- Was about to post how good the Patches line was looking tonight when the aforementioned gets the Habs on the board with a nice wrister top shelf. 1-1.

- Moen. A for positioning around opposition net. F for his ability to finish.

- Like the season opener against the Leafs, Habs are dominating the first period but aren't cashing in as many as they should.

- First period shots on goal 19-9 Habs, but they fail to lead on the scoreboard. Good news, Patches line is really humming. Bad news, only the Patches line is really humming.

Period Two:

- Plekanec cashes in on the 5 on 3 with a bullet. PP puck control very impressive, it's surprising the Habs have just two goals on the man advantage to date.

- Weber wayyyy too aggressive playing the puck leaving his net and slot completely undefended. 2-2 game.

- Oh PK. When you muff it up you do it in spectacular fashion. 3-2

- Moen!! Well eventually one of them had to go in, but that's two breakaways and two goals for 32 this season.

- Price playing very tight. 4-3

Period Three:

- Habs had complete puck control for almost all of that PP but couldn't quite muster a quality shot.

- Speaking of, I think it's safe to say Gonez has the least dangerous shot in the League. Certainly one of the least.

- Shots are 8-0 Habs so far in the third. Can't finish. Can't keep up this pressure either.

- Kostytsin robbed point blank. Avs still haven't gotten a shot on Price.

- 9:35 into the third Price makes his first save. And Subban takes a sloppy penalty.

- Pressure and puck control finally pay off with Gionta finally scoring. Tie game.

- Seconds later Desharnais! Deflects a beautiful pass from Pacioretty. 5-4!

- Price really fighting the puck. Nearly let in a rather ordinary shot from the line.

- Tripping call on Diaz weak at best. Avs cash in quickly. Tie game once more!

- Habs record 5 goals on 41 shots. Normally that ought to be more than enough to claim a win ... but ...


- So far Habs with edge with puck control. Refs have put whistles in their pockets.

- Meh. If the Habs lose this in the shootout they can (again) look back on a second period sag.

- Just occurred, Price looked terrible on the one goal the Avs scored on the breakaway. That bodes poorly.

- Price was indeed *terrible* in the shootout. One of his more forgettable games in a very long time. Le sigh.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Game Number 1: Habs v Leafs

- The opening ceremony. What a drag. Can't the creative powers that be at Maple Leaf Inc. do better than this?

Period One:

- Very uptempo start for the Canadiens, very good puck control and forwards digging for the crease.

- Kostitsyn stoned on partial break. Looks vastly more engaged. But this is but game one ...

- Speed between both clubs are night and day. If the Habs maintain this pace it'll be very difficult for the Leafs to compete.

- AK43 again! robbed in the crease. Very impressive.

- And Kostitsyn robbed by the goal post on the PP. He'll have little trouble getting icetime if this pace is maintained. Just needs to finish.

- An excellent first period for the Habs. Dominated from virtually any angle, but failed to score. Will that come back to haunt?

Period Two:

- And there you have it. Habs fail to take advantage in the first and give up a maddening shorthanded goal to start the second.

- listless play by Gomez in his own zone, much like last season. This does not bode well for the Canadiens.

- Terrible late period phantom call on Kostitsyn. Centre ice ref was in no way in position to make that call.

- Really?? Very marginal too many men call ... now it's a 5 on 3.

- Great PK to end the 2nd. Surely that will give the boys some mo' going into the third.

Third Period:

- Oy. Gomez fails to move his feet in his own zone and draws a lazy penalty. I can hear the fan gnashing of teeth already.

- Another solid PK aided by excellent netminding by Price.

- Wow. Just wow. How was the push hard into the boards on Gomez not called? Consistency, please?

- Not sure if that was a pick on Plekanec at centre ice but sloppy turnover by Subban, 2-0 Leafs.

- Beautiful puck control and passing by Habs on PP, but still no finish.

- Gomez' shot is still as terrible as it was last year. I doubt the velocity is north of 70, which is baaaaad.

- I usually never watch CBC broadcasts. Is the colour commentary usually this one-sided?

- Diaz has been very solid deep in his zone. Winning puck battles and making smart clearances. He had to fight awfully hard to earn his spot on the roster, and he's following through on the hard work.

- Leafs have simply outworked the Habs tonight. I anticipate Martin will punish the crew next practice.

- Did Erik Cole forget that he was supposed to like ... play tonight?

- Leafs basically standing on the red line and suffocating the Habs to defeat.

- Oh well. Last year it was the same result opening night, we know how each team ended up in the playoff race.


Price: bears no responsibility for this loss.
Diaz: Solid defensive defenseman coverage.
Kostytsin excellent first, but like much of the rest of the Habs, faded in the 2nd and 3rd.


Cole: virtually invisible all night.
Gomez: looked like last year's Gomez.
Plecanec: poor positional play, largely ineffective most of his shifts.

Some Introductions

I figured it was about time.

For 35-some years, I've been an ardent follower of the only hockey team that really matters, the Montreal Canadiens. Now, I know such a statement is ardently egocentric, but it seems only befitting given we're talking about a club so entrenched in history, that reach well beyond the simple metrics of the game itself.

I'm not exactly sure when I became a fanatic of this franchise. My earliest memories are of a tall, gangly defenseman named Larry Robinson, whose stature of height and grace entranced and thrilled me. I think it was 1974, or 1975. I do know when I became an outright fanatic of the team - during their four consecutive glorious championship years, starting with a four game sweep of the hated Boston Bruins in 1976, and ending with a 5 game victory over the New York Rangers in 1979, due in large to the brilliant playoff performance of another personal favorite player of mine, Bob Gainey.

Choosing a favorite player back then was actually quite difficult. The favorite was the wondrous Guy Lafleur. To be Guy, to skate like Guy, to look like Guy, was a fantasy of countless children at the time. Guy, speeding down the right side of the rink, his hair flowing from the sheer velocity of his skating, enhanced the mystique of the team, and being a fan of the team. But there were so many others. There was Ken Dryden, whose cool mannerisms and thoughtful introspection between the pipes made him the finest netminder of his era.

There was, as mentioned, Gainey, quite possibly the greatest two-way forward to have ever played the game. There was Serge Savard, big, burly, and immensely talented. With Robinson, and Guy Lapointe (another Hall of Famer), and Rod Langway (yet another Hall of Famer), the Canadiens had assembled what was, and probably still is, the deepest and most talented blue line in hockey history.

This, and I haven't even arrived with Steve Shutt, or Yvan Cournoyer, or Yvan Lambert, or Doug Risbrough, or Pierre Mondou. But perhaps we can save that for another day.

So ... the blog. It's something I've been toying with for quite a few years, actually. Some (although admittedly not many) may be familiar with my public rantings on the Canadiens' usenet discussion board,, for which I've been a regular contributor since 1996.

In other words, I've written about this team during it's longest championship drought in team history. How fortunate for me!

But now, through this blog, I'd like to make the record a little more official. So here's the plan. From this point forward, to the best of my own ability, I will attempt to live game blog every Canadiens game, regular season, and playoffs. And ... well, that's it, really. My intention is to keep the blog relatively simple, focusing on game analysis. No more, no less.

I suppose I may indulge in a rant or two (or a cheer or three, depending on the current fortunes of the team). But the plan is to make such diversions the rare exception, and never a rule.

So here we go. Just a few hours before the start of the 2011-12 season, which by my own estimation, is shaping up to be a very competitive season for my beloved Canadiens. Sorry, our beloved Canadiens.

I'll post (hopefully if time permits) a relatively small post later today about my optimism for the upcoming here.

In any case, it's nice to be on board. Finally. It's about time.