Monday, 19 December 2011

Game Thirty-Four: Habs v. Bruins

Well, heaven for fend that feathers are ruffled because the Montreal Canadiens Hockey Club, a privately owned organization, has the audacity of going off half-cocked and hiring somebody who only speaks english to tell his english speaking players what to do. Heaven for fend.

Well, that's apparently the big deal in (mainly) Quebec circles today - the audacity of Habs management in appointing Cunneyworth as head coach. The separatist and language-obsessed neophytes are having a field day fueling fires of controversy (where none should exist) that has even gotten members of the Quebec government calling on ownership to change its mind about Cunneyworth.

It was nice to see (finally) a statement by ownership today defending its decision to move Martin out and Cunneyworth in, if only because it's their business, not anyone else's. If anything, the Habs would have been well served decades ago if it did not have this absurd informal bilingual policy in place. It may have prevented the organization from making terrible decision to hire individuals who were ill-suited in decision-making positions, such as Rejan Houle as General Manager, or Michel Therrien, Mario Tremblay, or Jean Perron, as disastrously inept head coaches.

Let us Habs fans hope that in the future, the franchise will choose the individuals best qualified to be their head coach first and foremost on their ability and suitability for the position, and not their language.

Anyway, here we go in Boston. What a heckova test coming off Saturday's debacle. Moen is reportedly back, Diaz is reportedly over the flu, but Subban is a game-time decision. Some "good" news for the Habs will be the absence of Milan Lucic, who was given a one game suspension by the League this afternoon for his hit on Philadelphia's Zac Rinaldo.

Still, the Habs are just plain hurting across the board, literally and psychologically. How they are able to adapt and rebound tonight should give us a pretty keen glimpse into how the team will probably perform in the season's make-or-break three week period ahead.

First Period:

- Anyone else nervous about the Kaberle/Campoli pairing?

- Given how low key his season has been to date, I'm surprised that Subban still draws the boos and jeers.

- Not much to show for offense so far, but Habs defense and forwards doing good job in defensive zone, keeping Bruins chances to a minimum. Habs gameplan seems to be one emphasizing patience.

- Game might have a lot of icings which means faceoffs could be crucial.

- Good grief. As I hit enter, Bruins win faceoff following Habs icing and one pass later, take a 1-0 lead.

- Oooh nice work by the Plekanec line, with Cammalleri making a nice feed to Pleks who scores on Thomas using the only shot that'll apparently work on the Bruins' netminder - an unstoppable one.

- Nokelainen doing some fine work creating headaches for the Bruins in their zone.

- Oy, Kaberle and Campoli hanging on for dear life, Julien ain't no dummy, sending out his top guns to exploit the Habs biggest defensive weakness.

- Pierre Houde just mentioned to his surprise (and now mine) that there have been no penalties so far. It really has been a pretty tame contest. Go figure.

- Bruins goal was disappointing, but still a good period for Habs, protecting their zone fairly effectively, not taking any dumb penalties, and staying even on the scoreboard.

Second Period:

- A very lazy and ill-advised unforced turnover by Subban and within a second, two at the most, Krecji slips one past Price. It's the unnecessary stuff like that which drives coaches crazy. 2-1.

- Habs get the first PP of the game and it's the Bruins with all of the chances to score. Not a good sign.

- Boston really getting physical. Habs on their heels. Also not a good sign.

- Blunden attempting to agitate some Bruins forwards. At least somebody is willing to get their nose dirty.

- And Bluden's hard work creates a turnover and a shot that beats Thomas but not the post.

- Bruins are just too strong along the boards tonight, winning nearly every battle for the puck. The strength advantage is nearly impossible to overcome.

- Not sure if this is good or just sad, but the Nokelainen line has been the most consistently dangerous one for the Habs tonight.

- Noted difference between Cunneyworth and Martin's style is that the former is not hesitant in verbally expressing his displeasure about a call to the officials, while the later almost always did and said nothing.

- Habs speedy wingers are mainly being kept to the perimeter, thereby nullifying the team's greatest offensive asset. No wonder our best line tonight is the 4th, to win you simply must overcome this Bruins team via determined forechecking.

- 3 on 1 break and Plekanec elects to take a slap shot. Hate to second guess, but one good pass beats Thomas and ties the game.

- That first period discipline has left the building as Leblanc takes a 4 minute high sticking penalty.

- Basically this game is riding on whether the Habs can kill these penalties.

- Excellent PK to end the period. Hope that'll give the boys some mo' for the third.

Third Period:

- Stat of the night: Bruins have never lost a game in which Pouliot scores. Why couldn't that have been the same while he played here? Oh yeah that's right. He never scored.

- Pacioretty two hard, quality shots on Thomas. Unobstructed both of them, which means for Thomas they were both routine.

- Habs Plekanec line has had fits keeping Bruins top line at bay all night. Yeah, they scored the only Habs goal so far, but that goal has pretty much been it.

- Nokelainen line creates best chance to score so far in the third, just like they did in the second period.

- Really good looking powerplay for Habs, did pretty much everything right but score.

- I guess this is what makes teams like Boston elite, and the rest, like Montreal, so different. Their ability to protect a lead.

- Kostitsyn not one of his better nights, after a strong showing against New Jersey. Isn't this par for the course?

- Price superb the past couple of minutes, giving his team at the very least, a chance.

- Moen. Moen. Moen.

And goodnight.

- Cunneyworth puts Moen right back out there on his next shift, which I'm sure the players (and especially he) appreciates. Still, that game-killing turnover was just brutal.

- Cole gives Habs thin sliver of life with 74 seconds left.

- Campoli with a glorious chance with Thomas down and out. Can't find the net. And it's another loss.

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