Saturday, 19 November 2011

Game Twenty: Rangers v. Habs

So the red-hot Rangers are starting their number two Martin Biron between the pipes tonight, a slightly curious decision considering how New York have struggled in recent years just winning a game in Montreal, and given how brilliantly Henrik Lundqvist performed when these two clubs clashed earlier in the year.

Meanwhile, more attention that usual is being paid to the Scott Gomez situation, not only because the last time he scored (February 5th) was against his old Rangers team, but in light of the excellent season that New York's young start defenseman Ryan McDonagh has had, twisting the knife into the deflated hearts of Habs fans who have endured the aftereffects of what the worst trade in Canadiens' history since Serge Savard traded John LeClair and Eric Desjardins for Mark Recchi.

To add a little more salt to Gomez' humiliation wounds, since his February 5 goal, he has posted more than 100 shots without finding the back of the net, an indicator of his offense absurd futility.

First Period:

- Hard to estimate the value of someone like Price when he makes saves like the one just made on Gaborik. The rationale being you're scoring every time your netminders makes a save that most others can't.

- Good grief. What a ridiculous shot by Erik Cole. He's worth every penny plus change.

- Habs storming out of the gate, Rangers in survival mode right now.

- Strange interference call on St-Denis, who played the body with the puck at his feet. Can't figure that one out.

- Habs PK really has been excellent for the past month. Combination of strong netminding and positional play/shot blocking biggest factors.

- Rangers forwards are so strong, they basically carry the puck to the net at will. Tough team to defend.

- Habs haven't surrendered a PP goal since November 5th.

- Smattering of boos as Gomez controls the puck. Patience is running out amongst the flock.

- Weber provided two high percentage setups at the point on the PP, fans on both.

- While he's struggled to score this year, really think Subban should get first shift instead of Webber. His shot is certainly harder, and he rarely wiffs at the plate.

Second Period:

- Rangers defense quite nimble in adjusting to play around their net. Frustrating many good chances for the Habs with blocked and deflected shots.

- Richards with an absolute cannon on a 4-on-1 New York break. Price ducking to prevent decapitation.

- Biron gives Gionta and the Habs an early Xmas gift. Believe it or not, Gomez picks up an assist. 2-0.

- 30 seconds later, Gionta tries the same shot from the same spot. Biron easily turns it away. Worth a shot, I guess.

- Habs with excellent puck control on the PP (they've really improved on this since Pearns' dismissal), but no challenging shots or aggressive traffic in front of Biron.

- Rangers have had the occasional tough chance on Price, but really, it's been a pretty quiet night in the Habs' side of the sheet. Young defense continues to impress.

- Second period nearly complete, Rangers may not have 10 registered shots before the buzzer. They have a PP now, though.

- Having your best PK player in the box (Gorges) hurts.

- St-Denis a lazy trip, but the Rangers called for a dive. Wash out.

- St-Denis has filled in admirably since his callup, but he's taken far too many careless minors in his zone.

- Habs now 30 for last 30 short handed. Wow.

- How many minutes since Price surrendered a goal? It's starting to pile up.

- Rangers did reach the 10 mark for SOG through 40 minutes. So that's a positive ... I guess?

Third Period:

- Erik Cole, who's had another excellent night, reminds me of a faster version of Vincent Damphousse.

- Scott Gomez, who may never score again, can't beat Biron on a clear cut breakaway. Can't even remember when he's had a breakaway, never mind an actual goal.

- All the criticism aside, really do feel bad for Gomez, in the way you feel bad about driving past a starving, homeless dog. You know their end is near, and you wish you could do something, but it's best to just look the other way.

- Canadiens with the puck on a string, and Plekanec finally scores. The PP continues to look better and better.

- Linemates doing everything possible to set up Gomez for a goal. Just ain't gonna happen.

- Habs with a masterful checking performance tonight. Rangers still stuck on 10 shots.

- Total lack of discipline by Rangers - march to the box indicates they've given up on this one.

- Again, I just don't think Weber's one-timers are nearly as dangerous as Subban's, but Weber continues to get the lion's share of time.

- Subban with a lazy (failed) attempt to keep the puck in - isn't going to earn more PP time with that effort.

- Gionta with a bullet and Gomez (!!) his second assist of the the game. Will he be named one of the game's three stars? Methinks he will.

- This is easily the Habs most impressive win so far this season. Rangers who (were) the League's hottest team were made to look pretty ordinary.

- 31 for 31. Heckuva streak.

- Habs giant killers. Get big well-deserved standing-o from those at the Bell. Now have to face the newest hottest team in the NHL, the Bruins, on Monday night at home. Methinks that'll be a humdinger.

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