Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Game Thirty-One: Islanders v. Habs

There is a sense within the community of individuals who follow and analyze the Canadiens that the team is turning the proverbial corner. The recent acquisition of Kaberle from the Caines (at virtually no cost) and resultant immediate benefits to the powerplay, which has by far been the Habs most glaring deficiency this season, has given the faithful some reason for optimism.

And the team, despite recent reports that Andrei Markov's return has been delayed until late January, is getting one more broken body back into the lineup with the return of Chris Campoli, who was injured in the season opener against the Leafs.

And yet, through it all, the Habs are maintaining a competitive presence in their Division, now sitting just two points back from those Leafs, the team, if indeed on the verge of turning things around for the better, is poised to make a move up the Eastern Conference standings. Tonight it faces a team it should beat, and must beat, if it's to make a move upwards (although that all said, the Islanders are a young upstart team that's lost just one game in regulation over its past seven).

First Period:

- Eller takes yet another penalty in the offensive zone. This happens way too often, has it been driven into his head to play a bit smarter?

- Emelin gets the pressbox tonight to make way for Campoli, which makes sense because Diaz is more apt to check New York's fast, skilled forwards. This won't/shouldn't be a physical contest.

- No goal, but Habs PP continues to look miles more dangerous with Kaberle at the point. He was on for nearly the entire two minutes #shockingbuttrue

- Does Subban not know the folly of passing the puck up the middle from his own zone?? I think they teach that in Pee Wee. 1-0 Islanders.

- Welcome back Chris Campoli who picks up an assist on a marvelous goal by Kostitsyn, who basically one-manned a goal through sheer will, muscle and determination. Game tied.

- Habs really need to put someone on Matt Moulson, who's been tearing up the League lately.

- Speaking of tearing it up, Eric Cole is playing like a man possessed in the period. All over the ice generating great chances.

- Darche gets a gift goal on a shot that should never beat an NHL netminder. 2-1.

- FYI Kaberle did NOT get a point on the Darche goal, the first goal scored by Habs that he did not assist on since joining the club.

- Desharnais/Pacioretty/Cole line by far the best on the ice so far.

- Campoli's got a lot of rust on those wheels. Martin may want to scale back the minutes as the game advances.

Second Period:

- Oh fer two, but Habs PP definitely has some swagger going on. Quality chances being generated as opposed to previous versions that had almost nothing happening.

- Islanders with the Hab-esque too many men.

- Habs got seven shots on that powerplay, again coming close numerous times. Apart from not scoring, very pleased with the continuing improvements.

- Eller nearly with the goal of the year stickhandling through the Islanders defense, deaking the pants off Montoya, but somehow missing tucking the puck in the open net.

- Dunno what's gotten into Eller tonight but he's putting on quite a show with some nifty razzle dazzle puck handling.

- Dangerous/dirty hit by Martin on Subban, throwing him into the boards behind the net. PK is OK.

- Habs really dominating the game through two periods but have a lousy one goal lead to show for it. Sigh.

Third Period:

- Perfect execution, Subban to Desharnais to Cole. 3-1. Yup. The powerplay is back.

- Don't think Cole hasn't put the dregs of last season with Carolina behind him yet? He now has more goals on the man advantage at the 31 game mark this year as he did at the 82 mark last year.

- Don't think the Islanders are an up-and-coming team? Then you should watch Josh Bailey's 3rd goal of the season. 3-2

- Habs defense suddenly getting very sloppy at the worst possible time.

- The Bailey goal has created a spark as Islanders really cranking up the offense here, Habs are on their heels.

- Cole hauled down going wide on Staios, slides hard into goal post. Somehow call for tripping not made.

- Cole definitely irked, shoots puck into Islanders net after the whistle. Islanders defense responds with the expected gloves to the face.

- Habs making a push (at least) for an insurance goal, but one gets the feeling we're about to enter the "hold on for dear life" phase of the 3rd period.

- Yup. Sadly saw that coming. Islanders push and Habs break, Campoli gets caught behind his net and New York jams it past Price. Game tied #herewegoagain

- If Isles come away with a 'W' lots of questions will be sent Matrin's way about sending out the rusty Campoli with the defensively challenged Kaberle.

- The second-guessing may be rendered moot as Montoya gifts one more, this time to Nokelinen, 4-3 Habs.

- Kostitsyn has been really strong tonight, where has this been all year?

- Well, it's hang on for dear life time.

- Hall Gill!! With his first and possibly last goal of the season. We'll take it.

- A W is a W, I suppose, but Habs will need to get this third period funk figured out in a hurry, with the Flyers, Bruins and Hawks looming on the horizon.

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