Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Game Twenty-Five: Habs v. Ducks

No report tonight as I am traveling to parts distant and remote, with no access to the game. Next report this Thursday.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Game Twenty-Four: Pens v. Habs

A little late arriving to this one, joining the game with 7 minutes gone in the first, game tied at one.

First Period:

- Juicy rebound off a Cole wrist shot leads to Pacioretty's 10th goal of the season. 2-1 Habs.

- Got the feeling would could see 9 or 10 scored tonight. Lots of jump on display by both teams' offense so far.

- Habs really aggressive to the Pens' net, Darche nearly putting his team up by two.

- Really, Pens D being way too lax allowing traffic towards Fleury.

- Price flashes out the glove hand to snag a hard slapper from the line. He's pretty into the game, more so than usual. And why not? Habs need this one to avoid going 1 and 3 this week.

- Neal with a silly slash on Subban, the crowd cheers. For what? To see this hapless PP?

- First line was very sharp. Excellent puck control. Cole very high percentage chance taken away by Fleury. Plekanec has great vision and playmaking abilities which benefit his spot at the line, but that's largely mooted by his easily stopped slapper. Plekanec is a sniper, not a power shooter. Martin simply must end this strategy. It's not working. 23 games and counting is more than ample evidence.

- Pens pressing late in the period. Habs can't afford to give up those killer late goals, especially against a team like Pittsburgh.

- So a one goal lead through 20. Canadiens will certainly be pleased with the result, but they probably felt the same at this point in the game against the Flyers. No more 2nd period bombs, guys, or Crosby will eat you for lunch.

Second Period:

- Hmm. If I was a betting man I'd say that isn't a goal. Let's see what Toronto says. It sure looks like Kunitz directed the puck in off his glove.

- League taking a long look at it. Fans in Bell Centre think it's no goal.

- And it's no goal. Correct decision, in my opinion.

- And for good measure Price stops Kunitz on a break seconds after puck is dropped after terrible turnover by Plekanec. I guess it's just not meant to be for Kunitz. At least on that shift.

- Pacioretty took pretty hard elbow to the head in front of Fleury. Seems like he's okay.

- For the most part, the Habs have done well checking Crosby. Having the last change helps, so Martin happy to send Plekanec out when needed.

- Pacioretty and Cole make a great team. One seems to always know where the other guys is on the ice. Its been creating great chances. These two really ought never be broken up.

- And there we go. Pacioretty finds Cole who goes high glove side, just like Pacioretty's goal in the first. 3-1.

- Made a prediction early in the week the Pens would break the Habs PK streak. Will I be right?

- Nope. At least not yet, thanks to some pretty nifty saves by Price.

- Moen looked a lot like Crosby swooping in from the wing and nearly scoring in spectacular fashion.

- Can't keep that line in check forever, I suppose. Dupuis unstoppable turnaround shot off the crossbar. 3-2.

- Price stones Malkin (from Crosby). He (Price) continues to be a difference maker in making his team very competitive against the League's best.

- Subban tackled on a breakaway. How was that not called?

- Maintaining lead through 40. Habs have been the (slightly) better team, although the Pens outshot 16-5 in the 2nd. The big key has, of course, been Price, but the defense and backcheckers deserve some credit for limiting chances off rebounds. They're giving Price the first shot (mostly unobstructed which is also very nice) and protecting the crease. Should be a most interesting 3rd.

Third Period:

- Kostitsyn's first game back, he's got a lot of rust to shed. More or less totally ineffective tonight.

- Pens aggressive start to the period. They want to tie this up ASAP.

- Dupuos penalized for holding the stick. Everyone in crowd thought it was against the Habs until Dupuis entered the box.

- Wow. Controversial play. Kunitz gets a breakaway courtesy a lazy play by the ref (Hasenfratz) who deflected the puck off his skate to Kunitz. It appears he scored a legit goal but it's waved off ... by the same official. Huh!

- Habs simply cannot sit on this with 13 minutes left, and yet they're doing just that.

- Price save of the game off Malkin courtesy a great setup by Crosby. Gets deserved standing O.

- Habs PP just horrid. Price called on to make two more great glove saves with the man advantage. And now Eller has ended it all with a mindless interference call in the Pens zone.

- Habs now 43 for 43. Just 10 away from tying the record.

- Cole blind behind the back pass behind the Pens net right on the tape of Pacioretty's stick. How he knew Pacioretty was there is beyond me.

- Six and half left. I just can't see Habs holding on to this.

- Huge gaffe by Weber who fails to protect his wing, and the gate is opened wide for Staal who tucks it under the crossbar. Huge gaffe. Game tied.

- Letang bleeding all over the ice after he was hit hard in open ice by Pacioretty. Skate blade maybe? Looks nasty.

- Nope. Looks like it was Pacioretty's elbow. Probably a broken nose. Habs very fortunate they don't have someone serving 5 for Pacioretty.

- Emilin might be able to hit, but he can't stickhandle.

- Well the holding the lead for dear life strategy certainly didn't pan out, what to do about overtime? Shut it down and pray for a shootout?


- Weber has not had a shift since the Pens tied the game.

- And the second I post that, Weber steps on the ice.

- Markov has not had a shift since the Pens tied the game (hey worth a shot).

- Pens score after it appeared that Price had more than secured the puck. Letang the winner but really, the play should have been blown dead. Blah. Bad officiating may have cost the Habs an extra point.

- Gill and Weber were on the ice for the game-ending goal. Have at it with that strategy.

- Post-game report, Letang indeed had had his nose broken, but came back to the bench in overtime, and of course, scored the winner with a pin implanted in his face. Pretty gutsy stuff.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Game Twenty-Three: Habs v. Flyers

First Period:

- So here we go again. The Habs take the most avoidable penalty in the game, too many man, *again*. Why, oh why, oh why does this happen so often? (hint: bench management, but whatever).

- And ... another PK kill. The Habs just keep rollin' along.

- Habs offense really having trouble getting organized. Zero chances so far through 13 minutes. Flyers haven't been much better.

- Flagrant trip on Darche at the blue line that would have resulted in a clean 2-on-1 break. No call.

- Really tight first period for Habs. Playing an excellent road game, keeping home team scoring chances to bear minimum, and taking advantage of our own chances when they present themselves. So far, so good.

- Gorges is a scoring machine. Helping to set up yet another goal with a head's up cross-ice pass from the line to set up Nokelainen. I'd say use him on first line PP, if he wasn't already eating up all the PK shifts. 1-0.

Second Period:

- Plekanec with a brain-cramp slash two seconds after the puck is dropped to open the period. Flyers go to the PP.

- Hah. Oh wow. Mad scramble in front of Price, puck loose near the line for a good three or four seconds. Somehow it stayed out. Habs PK streak really grabbing hold to lucky charms.

- 38 for 38. Now seriously flirting with the NHL record of 53.

-  Prince stellar. Laperriere with a clean break, no go. Then Weber awful choking up the puck at the line on the PP, another clean Flyers break (Giroux), another Price Save. How many times must Weber fumble and Price bail before he's given the hook?

- Price is in the zone. Flyers will need to work very hard to beat him today. A fortunate bounce or two will probably be required.

- And there it is. Puck takes a weird bounce behind Price as it's shot in around the boards, Giroux standing in right place, right time, wide open net. 1-1.

- Habs PP utterly muted today. Zip fer six.

- Big-time breakdown in defensive zone. Diaz overplays the puck behind the net. Weber standing around in front of his net (gotta keep those feet moving, kiddo). Pacioretty releases his man (Voracek). Price hung out to dry. Martin is fuming behind the bench. Margin for error is very thin against a team like Philadelphia. Mistakes, especially the big ones, kill you.

- Oy. Price's big mistake. Juicy rebound on routine shot right to Giroux for his second of the period (in another wide open net). With just 6 agonizing seconds left on the clock. Price slams his stick on the boards as he exits for intermission. Disastrous period for Habs, and Flyers pelt Price for 19 shots, most of them second half of the period.

Third Period:

- So tough to get into the game when everything is so seemingly out of reach. Miraculous effort will be required, which includes having the powerplay actually score a goal. It's zero for the last fifteen.

- 12 minutes left in the 3rd. Shots are 23-7 Flyers since start of 2nd period.

- Habs defense has really done an awful job today forwarding the puck. Markov can't come back fast enough.

- Flyers now 5 on 3 for 1:41. Um, goodbye streak. Goodbye.

- Well, managed to survive first 37 seconds. Insane crazy if the Habs can somehow survive this.

-  Gill is just a monster creating a gate in front of Price. You shall not pass. And Price a *brilliant* glove save to keep Philly from scoring. Incredible. Habs kill the penalties. Surely that'll give them some mo'.

- Cole the first good scoring chance for Habs since ... the first period? It really has been that bad today.

- Pierre LeBrun tweet: "Claude Giroux reminding Habs yet again today they might have been better off drafting him at 20th overall in 2006 instead of David Fischer. Giroux, a Habs fan growing up, of course went 22nd overall to Philadelphia that year." Yup. Flyers just haunt this team like crazy.

- Subban/St-Denis can't tell each other's left hand from their right. Goalpost keeps it 3-1.

- Habs offense showing a little life, but way to late to make any difference. Excluding the first period, their clocks were cleaned today.

- Powerplay has reverted to being a mess. The defense is making glaring mistakes and costly turnovers that good teams like the Flyers will often take advantage of. The offense, save the Cole line, was pretty quiet today. Just no spark, no jump, no energy. And it gets even more difficult tomorrow night facing Crosby and the Pens. If today's Habs play the same tomorrow night, it could get ugly fast.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Game Twenty-Two: Habs v. 'Canes

A reprieve tonight? What with two brutal games heading this way, Philadelphia on Friday and Crosby and the Pens on Saturday, the Habs would be well advised to make short work on the same team they easily handled a week ago.

First Period:

- Ha. Oh wow. A routine shoot-in towards Price somehow gets behind him. Price panics, flops, and knocks the puck into the net. Possibly deflected. Matters not, that shouldn't happen in the NHL.

- If it helps, this isn't the first time Price has let in a very weak/freak goal early, but usually he bounces back with a strong game. Perhaps he bears down to make up for his error. He'll need to now.

- Very weak checking behind the net by Subban, Plekanec comes back to "help", leaving his man (Stewart) unchecked in front, 2-0. Price reeling.

- Habs complain that the play should have been blown dead seconds before the 'Canes second goal, as the puck was resting on the top of the net. Not sure if he rulebook specifies that the play should immediately be blown dead. Gotta look that one up.

- Suppose it's all moot. Bottom line Subban, Gorges and Plekanec were standing around, out of position, not doing their job.

- Game has settled down a bit. Cam Ward is giving up some pretty juicy rebounds (as usual), so there is opportunity to be had.

- Gionta/Moen/Gomez line playing strongest so far.

- Would be nice if Habs forwards were a bit bigger and stronger to take advantage of all these Ward rebounds.

- Apart from the two atrocious goals scored by Carolina, pretty even period. 'Canes just 5 measly shots.

Second Period:

- Over/under when the Habs PK streak is finally broken? I'm thinking Saturday night.

- Pacioretty with break down left side, ideal spot for any sharpshooter, Ward routine pad save. Blah.

- Gill VERY routine shot from the line, and Ward surrenders the juiciest of juicy rebounds. No Habs forwards nearby to cash in. Com'on guys.

- Subban looked like Gill skating back to cover a rush, Gorges forced to take a penalty.

- Carolina ALL messed up in their zone on the PP, mass confusion and turnovers eventually lead to easy Eller shorthanded goal (off a juicy rebound!!) ... and it's 2-1.

- Considering that the 2nd goal wasn't his fault, Price has been very steady since giving up that weird first goal. The Habs maintain a very good chance of pulling this one out of the fire if he can maintain the focus.

- Nice tripping call on Skinner who tripped up Emelin to spring a 'Canes break. Kudos to the officials when they do their job well.

- Weber on the left point PP just ain't working for me. Hasn't for close to a month. He's just too careless handling the puck or taking a shot.

- 'Canes PP. Streak end here? Hope not, that would be a dagger through the heart.

- Price incredible toe save off deflected shot from the point. He makes it look so easy.

- Habs win the period, although their defense was rather soft at times covering in front of Price. Game still very winnable.

Third Period:

- And there it is. Just 27 seconds into the period, and Cammalleri tips in a point shot to tie the game up. Yup. Very winnable now.

- Ward really struggling to handle the puck around his crease. 'Canes D also playing the slot very soft. The iron is hot.

- Habs defense AWOL on Brandon Sutter goal deflected off his right skate. Not a banner night for the blue line. 3-2 'Canes.

- Yikes. They're coming fast and furious. Moen with yet another deflected point shot - unstoppable. 3-3.

- Gorges hits the post, his second within the past three minutes of play.

- Gomez has not been seen this period. Speculation is he's injured again.

- RDS guys just mentioned Gomez is done for the night. The obvious question is whether he's aggravated his previous shoulder injury.

- Eller promoted to fill Gomez' spot on the Gionta line.

- By the way, Palushaj is in the lineup tonight, he played one shift, seemingly did something awful, and has been benched since. How bad could it have been to shorten your bench so early in a game?

- Really, with Gomez done, and the Palushaj benching, you have Nokelainen sitting unable to be paired with anyone. Ergo, you've cornered yourself down to three lines. It doesn't need to be that way.

- Wayyyyyyy too early writing this, but if this goes to a shootout, do you want Price in net?

- Ut-oh. Moen draws an interference. Can we please wait 48 hours for the streak to end? Please?

- Nokelainnen gets a shift .. on the PK.

- Subban with lots of stumbles, slow skating, poor passes, soft coverage tonight. Best this just be filed under 'O' for 'off night'.

- Habs count is now 36-for-36. Getting ridiculous.

- 3:27 from grinding at least a point out of this one. Gladly will take that.

- Gorges/Subban running around in their zone *again*. Price bails them out.

- Gorges sent out, but this time paired with Gill.

- Last minute Martin sends out Emelin/Diaz. That's giving the kids a nice vote of confidence.

- We'll take the point. Coming away with two would be major bonus.


- Reminder: Price hasn't stopped a shot in the shootout this season. Ergo, Habs have 5 minutes to win this.

- Subban zero confidence with his shot. Been set up on a tee three times tonight and each time he hesitated and coughed up the puck.

- Heckova pace in OT. And Ward absolutely saved the game robbing Gionta on beauty pass from Cole with 20 seconds left.

- Oh dear. Shootout. Pull Price. Pull Price. Ahhh. Who am I kidding, it'd never happen.

- On the whole, Price has been pretty solid tonight. Surely he'll do better this time.

- Price: 1-for-1. Whew.

- Price: 2-for- 2. Barely.

- Gionta!!!!!!

- Price: 3-for-3! Attaboy.

- We'll take the win, thank you. Less than 48 hours for a tough Friday afternoon game in Philly. Now I have to figure out how to slip away from the office. Hmmmm.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Game Twenty-One: Bruins v. Habs

Well, hrumph. If it wasn't for the return of a certain centre who plays for a certain team from Pittsburgh, most eyes would be on Montreal tonight for the clash between two of the best playing teams in the League. Oh well, I'm staying focused on this one ... Oooh Crosby scores! Wow second shift, you see that!?!

Oh right. Anyway, What's not to like about tonight? Bruins have won 8 in a row, against the Habs who've won 8 of their last 11. Habs are 2-0-0 against the Bruuns, with Price now holding a shutout streak now past 132 minutes. Not to mention the Habs PK which is 31 for it's past 31, and hasn't surrendered a 5 on 4 goal since October 24 against the Penguins.

Oh yeah. The Penguins. Must. Not. Switch. Over.

With the Leafs coming back to earth (as expected), it's shaping up more and more to it being a three team race for first in the Division. Sabres, Bruins and Habs. It should be a great one tonight!

First Period:

- Chara pelted with boos. I've never understood the rationale behind this - what are the fans hoping for? That Chara's feelings will get hurt and he'll go home?

- Emelin with thunderous check on Lucic. Very nice.

- Plekanec brilliant deflection on point shot, puck floats over Thomas' right shoulder and just past the post.

- Bruins early PP opportunity. Habs streak put to the early test.

- Best chance to score on Bruins PP was by ... Moen, on lovely pass from Plekanec, just missed. Otherwise, another routine PK.

- Weber stick shattered into many pieces on that attempted shot from the line. Needs to look into another brand or model or something, this is happening too often.

- Habs far quicker, more aggressive team through first 12 minutes. Thomas keeping the fort up, but for how long?

- Passing amongst Habs forwards very sharp, tape to tape. Will be difficult to defend if they can maintain this accuracy.

- Gomez strong start, Martin has moved him up with Patioretty/Cole.

- Price overplays a shot by Ference from near the point, and poof goes the shutout streak. 1-0 Bruuuuns.

- Gomez doing everything you're supposed to do to score a goal - any goal - even a dirty goal, but it just ain't happening.

- Habs outplayed Boston in the period, but trail on the board. It happens.

Second Period:

- Cammalleri with a partial break, cupped the puck and was in the motion of releasing one of his usual dangerous wristers, from nowhere Chara flicks his stick and takes the puck away. He's not just big - he's good.

- Bit surprised with the speed advantage that the Habs forwards have failed to draw a penalty this far into the game.

- Gotta say the Eller/Gomez combo is working for me. But can either actually score?

- Officials steadfastly refusing to call interference tonight, even though there's been plenty around the Boston net.

- Price gonna give me cardiac arrest handling pucks with Bruins forwards literally 3 feet away.

- Habs PP. Finally. Martin sends Gomez out first line.

- Oh my. Gomez robbed deflecting shot by Cammalleri.

- No goals but plenty of quality chances. Lots of open nets hampered by bouncing puck. Luck not on Habs side yet.

- Bruins taking a couple of goon-esque penalties this period, the latest a cross check on Subban by Pouliot. Remember him?

- Oh man, Thomas unbeatable tonight, stoning Cammalleri point-blank. Are the Habs going to get Ryan Millered again?

Third Period:

- Is it irony or coincidence? Price's shutout streak ended at 132 minutes. If Thomas secures a shutout this period, his streak will stand at 133 minutes.

- Habs can't score on the 5 minute PP. At this point they need to just garbage one in. Don't think Thomas can be beaten any other way.

- Habs offense overthinking this one - Thomas getting in their heads. Beautiful cross ice pass spring Pacioretty all alone on Thomas. He doesn't pull the trigger looking to make one more pass.

- Thomas is inclined to give up rebounds. Just take the shots when you're presented opportunity, guys. Something's gotta give.

- Somebody's listening. Offense now taking their jabs at Thomas, no more pretty passes or perfect plays. The time for that has long passed.

- Emelin with an atrocious turnover at the Boston line leading to a Bruins breakaway. Still think he may be the odd guy out upon Markov's return.

- It hasn't been the fiercest Bruins/Habs battle ever, but losing this one will still be a bitter pill for Canadiens. They really have dominated, but Thomas just unbeatable.

- High drama. Bruins penalized with 1:39 left in 3rd.

- Thomas. Wow. Just. Wow.

- Habs end with a whimper. 6 on 4 PP totally disorganized.

- Shots on goal Habs 32, Bruins 18. The better team lost, but the winning team had Tim Thomas at the top of his game. Habs got Millered tonight.

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.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Game Nineteen: Habs v. Islanders

- Are we getting healthy yet? Budaj gets the logical start tonight to set up Price for Saturday's much tougher matchup against the Rangers. I've been more or less satisfied with Budaj's work so far. Nothing stellar, but about what one could reasonably expect from a backup. Hoping for a bit less of the flip flopping tonight.

- For those who hadn't heard, Hal Gill is in the hospital, and won't be back in the lineup until next week. That's gotta be one very bad case of the flu.

First Period:

- There must be at least 5,000 in attendance tonight, but no more. Sad.

- Nice shorthanded rush by Plekanec draws a holding call. Will get a short peek at what appears to be a somewhat revitalized PP.

- Rolston with a 55 footer that easily beat Budaj stick side, but not the post. A minute later Tavares on a break tries a wrister, same location, Budaj makes a very nice save. The great goal scorers notice stuff like that.

- Bad break for Islanders, as starter Nabokov is injured and Dipietro is brought in cold. First shot beats him badly but rings off the post.

- Given his chronic record of fragility, what happens if Dipietro goes down as well?

- Habs ought to be dominating this game, but it's mainly been a pretty even contest of both teams taking relatively harmless jabs at each other.

- Ho hum. Quite possibly the most forgettable period of hockey I've seen this season, let's hope things pick up a little over the next 40 minutes, or my posts may be interrupted by an involuntary nap.

Second Period:

- Budaj muffs up a simple shoot in by failing to stop the puck behind his net, Islanders more than happy to take the gift goal. 1-0.

- Cracks appearing in Habs inexperienced D, Diaz and Emelin fail to communicate and coordinate the Islanders rush, and it's 2-0.

- Islanders inexplicably with twice the legs in the second period, winning all the races and battles. Where was this in the first?

- Clearly the 'Canes made a big impression last night, as the Habs are playing just like them tonight.

- Since coming in, the Habs' offense has applied virtually no pressure on Dipietro. It's really been that bad.

- Getting embarrassing now, total mixup in zone, defense (Emelin/Diaz) no where in sight, Budaj overplays the puck and goes down too early, Isles lead 3-0.

- Outstanding shift by the Habs fourth line, keeping Isles hemmed in their zone for nearly two minutes. At least somebody is still trying.

- Patioretty courtesy a pretty pass from Eller gives Habs a little life.

- As terrible as Emelin/Diaz has been tonight, St-Denis/Weber have been impressively steady.

- Comeback kids on the march, as Cole deposits the puck over a totally sprawled Dipietro. 3-2.

- And just like that, Islanders respond with a pretty deflection by Rolston. Budaj can't be faulted (for that one).

- All in all, terrible period by the Canadiens. Yet still, they could still eek a win out of this mess, but they'll have to sort out their defensive confusions in the dressing room quickly.

Third Period:

- Pretty much a repeat of the first period, no real scoring chances either side. Islanders are just fine with that, thank you.

- Habs with one brief flurry on PP, otherwise not quite able to gain control of the puck and set up in the Isles zone. Time running out.

- Big rebounds given up by Dipietro, forwards simply haven't been there to cash in.

- And as I type that last post, Gionta wide open side of the net on the PP, and it's a one goal game.

- Eek. Cole from 15 feet wires one, somehow Dipietro keeps it out.

- Budaj comes out, it's now or never.

- Pretty frantic action in the Isles zone, somehow the puck stays out. Golden opportunity to move up the standings goes past the board, and now the Habs face the hottest team in the League Saturday night. Ick.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Game Eighteen: Canes v. Habs

- So Spacek out, Gill still sick (and out). This leaves Gorges as the elder statesman on defense tonight (gulp) and the only starting D with more than 100 games of NHL experience (double gulp).

On the bright side, Cammalleri is reportedly back in, continuing his pattern of ying-yang starts so far this season.

First Period:

- Fourth line continues to do a fine job being a pain in the butt in the opposition's zone, determined checking and creating turnovers, but finishing ... just terrible.

- Nearly perfect PK. Eller leaves the box and joins the rush leading to Cammalleri unloading a rocket past Ward. 1-0.

- Can't underestimate Cammalleri's value to this team's offense. They take on a whole different dangerous dimension with him in the lineup.

- Welcome to the NHL Fred St-Denis. You'll need to adjust to NHL speed or this won't be the last time you find yourself in the box for being out of position.

- Looking at that blue line ... Subban, St-Denis, Emelin, Diaz, Weber, none have played over 100 NHL games, most of them have played under 50. Could this be their least experienced starting defense in Habs history? It's gotta rank up there.

- Gomez just got robbed by Ward, deflecting a shot by Gorges in a designed play. When he finally does put one in the net I'll have to go through the trouble of finding out when the last one happened.

- There's that fourth line again, working hard, causing trouble, and drawing the first PP of the game.

- And now the 5th-worst League PP goes to work!!

- HAH. And it scores!! Weber depositing a shot into a gaping net courtesy a beaut cross-ice pass from Cole. 2-0.

- Men vs. Boys right now. 'Canes totally overmatched in just about every aspect.

- St-Denis looking very nervous, very unsure. Who can blame him, really? First NHL game of his life in the Mecca of hockey. I'd have trouble merely standing up.

- Through 20, can't ask for much more. Totally dominated by the home team. Carolina looked sluggish, disorganized, disinterested. SOG 16-4 Canadiens.

Second Period:

- Not particularly surprising that Gorges checked in with 10 minutes total icetime in the first.

- Ward giving up some pretty juicy rebounds tonight. Fortunate his team isn't trailing by 3 or 4.

- Big reaction to harmless incidental contact on Ward after the whistle. Clearly teams are on high alert as an aftereffect from the Miller incident.

- When they're clicking, Plekanec/Gionta/Cammalleri line is about as dangerous as they come.

- Scott Gomez' shot is about the same as last year, which is to say it's as terrible as it is weak. You're simply never going to ever score on any NHL goaltender if your shot can't crack 65 on the radar gun.

- Subban *finally* scores, his first of the season. Overjoyed is his reaction. He knows he's been noticed for lack of offensive production, so some of the burden is lifted.

- Habs may have been the victims of highway robbery in their game against Miller and the Sabres early in the season, but Cam Ward is making up for it tonight.

- Wonder if Gomez is thinking "geez the way Ward is playing, if I don't score tonight, I might never get the chance to again"?

- Shots are 23-6. That's pretty reflective on what we've seen so far.

- Before he scored, Subban was 0-51 with shots/goals this season, which was worst in the League. Blake Wheeler now "leads", he's currently 0-42.

- Did I say that the 'Canes were getting beat on all aspects? Was wrong. they're 24-37 in the faceoff circle, a grotesque domination.

- Make that 25-38. Sheeeesh.

- Been awhile since I'd seen the Habs so thoroughly dominate their opposition the way they have so far tonight against Carolina. Could easily be 5 or 6 to 0.

- Ward totally out of position, Moen scores from behind the 'Canes net. He'll get the yank for the third, I'm sure. 4-0.

- 2nd period shot totals, 33-12. That's all you need to know.

Third Period:

- Okay, thank you TSN crack research for coming to my rescue. Gomez has four shots tonight, now exactly 100 since his last goal scored on February 6. The Scott Gomez legend of ineptitude and futility grows.

- Not to take away from what has been a pretty good Canadiens effort, but really, Carolina has been so terrible tonight, if this is all they have, this team is headed nowhere but 15th place in the Conference this season.

- Well, Ward is still in net, I suppose Paul Maurice is (rightfully) telling his lineup that tonight's disaster wasn't because of the goaltending.

- So who will be the frontrunners in the Eric Staal sweepstakes?

- Habs called for too many men, even though they actually had too *few* men on the ice. Mind-numbingly poor officiating.

- Assuming Staal is put on the trading block, who'd want to take on his salary, never mind his -17 rating?

- Darche with a minor league cross ice pass from his own zone that's easily intercepted giving Carolina their best odd man scoring chance of the night.

- Even with limited shifts, St-Denis takes second penalty of the night, not endearing himself to the coach.

- 'Canes going through the motions on their PP, team has collectively thrown in the towel.

- Patioretty ain't no fighter. Officials in quickly to break up his tussle with Tim Brent.

- Price collects his first SO of the year, really didn't have to do an awful lot to earn it. Habs return to bottom feeder action tomorrow night in Uniondale.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Game Seventeen: Sabres v. Habs

Sooo ... I guess sweet revenge on Miller will have to wait another day, in light of his concussion from Saturday night, courtesy the (very) illegal contact made by Milan Lucic, who somehow managed to escape disciplinary action from the League. Bruins and suspensions. Anyone notice a trend of inactivity?

Cammalleri is reportedly scratched from the lineup - clearly whatever injury he's got is of the nagging variety, as this is the second sitout since his knee was cut. Engqvist will get a start, although let us all hope that part of his responsibilities tonight don't incur taking faceoffs.

Speaking of centres, following a pretty strong return, should be interesting to see if Martin rotates Gomez into more top line shifts, or if he keeps him on mainly fourth line duty. I suppose Gomez is at least due a chance to prove his worthy by getting some 2nd line opportunities, although he did seem to adjust nicely to a checking role, and even helped the fourth to create a few offensive chances against Nashville.

- Par Arpon Basu's tweet, official starting lines tonight are Moen-Pleks-Gionta; Pacioretty-DD-Cole; Gomez-Eller-Palushaj; Nokelainen-Enqvist-Darche.

First Period:

- Scary slash by Regehr on Cole, obviously aiming to break his stick in two. Viciously hard, those are the slashes that break wrists and arms.

- In the first five minutes three Habs tossed out of faceoff circle. Pretty danged sure we're dubiously leading the League for that.

- Quite certain Diaz kept that puck inside the Sabres zone, yet the linesman, standing no more than 12 feet away, blows the call.

- If Enroth does tonight what Miller did to us a month ago, I'm gonna scream.

- When was the last time the Habs started 6 centers like they are tonight? Was it in my lifetime? Ever?

- Erik Cole robbed by Enroth point blank, after the faceoff that followed a 2-on-1 break where Enroth made a fine save on ... Cole.

- Moen threading a perfect pass to a streaking Gionta, who somehow failed to make contact with the puck.

- Somewhat uneventful period, slight edge to Habs who outshoot Buffalo 10-6. Enroth being the difference.

Second Period:

- Utter chaos in Sabres zone after Weber makes nice play to keep the puck in at the line, and Cole one-time rips the puck into the Buffalo net, no chance for Enroth.

- Lots of offensive pressure generated last shift by Habs fourth line, Darche gets a clear-cut breakaway. Darche being, of course, the last guy you want on a breakaway. Routine save for Enroth.

- Sabres lots of gusto after the whistle, looking for a fight where none exists. Where were they after Lucic's head shot on Miller Saturday night? Oh, that's right. Hiding.

- Price tremendous on the two minute 4-on-3 Sabres PP. Several sparkling saves and terrific positioning.

- Spacek getting fair amount of attention from training staff at the bench. Not sure what the injury is or when it occurred.

- Sabres just one effective PP so far, rest have been easily muted by Habs PK.

- Pacioretty piling up the points, Sabres defense way too passive on that rush. 2-0.

- Ruff has seen enough to conclude the game is on the cusp of getting out hand. Calls a time out.

- Habs fourth line buzzing again, they just can't finish the play.

- Clumsy turnover at the blue line gives Sabers easy 2 on 1 break, Gorges with great shot block to possibly save a goal. That's why they pay him the big bucks.

- Although Buffalo outshot Habs 13-9 in the period, Canadiens largely controlled the play, with Price facing little challenge except during the two minute 4-on-3.

Third Period:

- Diaz a clumsy turnover behind his net, quick pass to Pominville with an unstoppable one-timer high slot, 2-1.

- Sabres smelling some blood, Price could have a very busy third period.

- Habs ice the puck. Don't fear the icing, especially if you want to stutter the other guy's momentum.

- Almost all Buffalo so far. Not sure how much longer the lead can be maintained.

- Spacek officially gone for the night, unknown injury. Same for Engqvist. Ouch.

- With Engqvist done, Gomez has been moved back to the fourth line.

- Casual dump in by Plekanec and another passive reaction by Sabres defense frees Gionta all alone in front of Enroth who makes game-saving poke check. Ruff can't be pleased about this.

- Gomez on first line PP. When was the last time he scored a regular season goal? February?

- Absolute confusion in Habs zone following a wretched line change, Roy ties the game.

- Given how much the game was in control after 40 minutes, anything less than two points from this one will come as a bitter disappointment.

- Sabres mauling Habs in Montreal's zone, but Gaustad just took a very foolish cross checking penalty.

- It took nearly 15 minutes, but Habs just registered their first shot of the period.

- Habs way too cute on that PP, and Subban's shot very Spacek-like in accuracy.

- Without Cammalleri, and Gill, and Spacek, and Cammalleri's replacement Engqvist, I suppose the Habs have held up pretty well. Just didn't have the horses for the third period.

- Lock down and play for the point and OT. Salvage something from this.

- Buffalo owned that period, will feel very good about their chances in OT. Habs have to be kicking themselves for letting this one slip away, in large part due to sloppiness in their own zone.


- 3-peat! And will PK finally get one????

- Oh gawd. What was Cole doing with the hit on Enroth?? Glorious opportunity for Sabres, Price will have to flip a few cartwheels to save this.

- Wow. What a kill. And Patioretty draws a Sabres penalty!! Crazy!!

- Last time there were two two minute penalty kills in an OT? Has there ever been such a thing?

- Price looking to make his first *save* in a shootout this season.

- Price beaten under the bar. But Patioretty responds to even it up.

- Oh wow. Price looked bad on second shot. Still hasn't made a save in a shootout this season, and the Habs lose a tough one.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Game Sixteen: Habs v. Preds

- So Scott Gomez makes his grand return to the lineup after a couple of weeks on the DL. The record with Gomez playing: 1-4-1. Without, 5-3-1. No comment.

- Cammalleri also back tonight, the team managing to eek out a win sans his services, but clearly the team loses a dimension when he can't start. Very useful tonight given that this Nashville team ought to play much tougher than Phoenix.

- Andre Markov is with the club in Tennessee, albeit (and of course) not dressed. But getting close ... one reckons.

- Have to wonder where the Predators would be as a franchise if they didn't have the best coach in hockey. Probably not too much further ahead than the disaster in Columbus.

- Speaking of the Blue Jackets, the CBC game tonight is Winnipeg against Columbus. What a humdinger that'll be.

- Budaj gets the start, thereby dashing Price's hopes of starting 81 games this season.

First Period:

- Gomez inked to start on the fourth line, thereby fulfilling last year's dreams of many Habs fans.

- Gomez comes storming out on his first shift makes a nice setup in the slot.

- Habs with plenty of jump early.

- Cole sacrifices his body to save an icing. Not sure if taking that hit was worth avoiding a faceoff.

- That fast start earns an early PP. Nashville a top rated PK. Let's see how good they really are.

- Unlike places such as Boston, Philadelphia, Toronto, etc., no boos when PK carries the puck, probably a reflection on the (lack of) hockey culture in a place like Nashville.

- Last chance Pulashaj? He's playing along side Cammalleri and Eller, and with Kostitsyn waiting in the wings, if Pulashaj doesn't produce given this opportunity, he may find himself the odd guy out when Andrei returns.

- Strong shift by Pulashaj, he's certainly trying.

- Another strong road game (so far), determined checking and Preds can't get set, Budaj yet to be tested.

- Superb fake by Cole one a two-on-one sets up Desharnais who puts a nice move around Rinne. 1-0 Habs.

- Just 5 minutes left in the period, only 3 shots registered by Nashville. That's how good Habs have been.

- Pulashaj great awareness setting up Cammalleri who's all alone in the slot. Cammi fumbles the pass and misses the net with his shot.

- Budaj great point blank save on Suter. First big test passed.

- Habs collapsing effectively around their net on the PK. No juicy rebounds in sight.

- Gomez getting limited shifts, but looking not half-bad. Accurate passing, actually doing more chasing after the puck instead and less of his usual passivity. Perhaps he thinks he has to earn a spot on the second or third line?

Second Period:

- Gomez gets the promotion, centering line between Cammalleri and Pulashaj, the later drawing a penalty via hard work in Preds' zone.

- Oh Budaj, softy shorthanded goal for Weber on a 55 footer. Cammalleri and Gomez all messed up on covering the point after the faceoff. Lots of blame to go around on that one. Game tied.

- Game all going to pot since the PP. In retrospect, perhaps the Habs should have declined.

- Now Spacek takes a head slapping hold. Smelling blood, Trotz calls a timeout to send out his best troops fresh on the 5 on 3. That's why he's the best.

- Gill and Plekanec with world class play along the boards winning the battle and killing the two man advantage.

- He might not be the biggest guy out there, but no one can say Desharnais doesn't battle hard for the puck.

- After being partly responsible for the Preds first goal, Gomez hasn't seen a shift.

- Weber with two wretchedly bad giveaways in front of his net in the span of seven seconds. That'll get you benches off the PP right quickly.

- Last two Habs PPs, Preds have scored once and had three or four high quality scoring chances. Like I said, decline the penalty.

- Remember David Aebischer? Not many do, and those who do probably would prefer to forget. Budaj reminds me a lot of Aebischer with the flip-flop routine. Not impressed.

- Nice bounce-back period for the Preds. Habs will need to bounce back from the bounce back if they hope to come out with two points.

Third Period:

- Two minutes of 4-on-4 to start period, Habs looked like they were a man short for much of it.

- Habs simply unable to keep pace right now, Preds are pulling away. Awaiting the inevitable Nashville go-ahead goal.

- If I were Martin I'd toy with using a timeout, if only to stem some of the steam off Nashville's charge.

- Good shift by Plekanec line, giving the Preds an excuse to skate in their own zone.

- Shea Weber is everywhere. Wonder what the over/under is on him playing more than 30 minutes tonight?

- Pulashaj with nice blocked shot and thunderous hit on last shift.

- Game has evened out. Hurtling towards extra time.

- I gotta admit, I like he way Gomez has played on the fourth line tonight. Other lines ... not so much.

- Eller with very careless unforced giveaway in his own zone. It's not the first time he's done that this season.

- Cole pretty much robbed of what would have been the winning goal with just 12 seconds left on the clock. And it's off to overtime.


- If Martin were offered 3 out of 4 points on this tough mini road trip, he'd take it in a heartbeat. So no big pressure on Habs.

- Will THIS be Subban's night to crack that scoresheet?

- Pacioretty!! What a shot off the crossbar! Subban the assist, and Habs complete the road trip sweep. Next up, revenge on Miller and the Sabres.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Game Fifteen: Habs v. Coyotes

- If the Habs were hoping to get a break from facing "hot" netminders, tonight is probably not the matchup they were hoping for. Mike Smith has a .943 save percentage in his last five starts. Ut-oh.

First Period:

- Both teams' offense struggling to get out of first gear early on.

- First Phoenix chance, first goal. The "checking" line fails to cover its assignment, and Price is left high and dry.

- No Cammilleri, no Kostytsin, and perish that I dare mention, no Gomez, and the offense simply doesn't have enoughhorsepower tonight. Gonna need some big breaks and bounces to stay in this game.

- Pretty good kill there, Habs actually had better chances.

- Ugh, Plekanec with nasty tumble into the boards. The Habs can ill afford to lose their best forward. Been down on the ice for two minutes. Now struggling to get up. Ugh.

- Plekanec helped off the ice. Hate to admit it but sure would have been nice if Gomez had returned tonight.

- Trigger fast whistle by ref costs Habs a goal. Did I mention something about breaks needing to go our way?

- Habs really working shot from point looking for deflection or juicy rebound.

- Plekanec has not returned to the bench. One assumes he's done for the night.

-Good news: since Phoenix' goal, Habs have largely controlled play. Bad news: they trail on the board and now have four top line forwards out from injury.

Second Period:

- Plekanec back on the bench. What a huge relief that is.

- Gionta steps up to the plate and tucks one behind Smith. Given how much the Canadiens have controlled the game since Phoenix' first goal, something had to give.

- Am I the only one who thinks that Emelin has a terribly weak shot?

- Scramble in front of the net, Spacek makes some amens by playing the man and preventing a goal.

- Eller called for holding. Watched the reply, don't see anything. Weak. Very weak.

- If Darche wasn't a sub-par skater he probably has a clear-cut shorthanded breakaway. Not that he'd have the slightest clue what to do with it.

- Habs 2 fer on the PK. Solid. Very solid. Coyotes unable to maintain any pressure on special teams ... so far.

- Subban nearly scores on a 75 foot slapper. While I wouldn't recommend this strategy to get him scoring, he does need to shoot more often. Preferably from 30 feet.

- Lotsa Snowbirds from Quebec in the crowd tonight. Same as usual for any Habs game in Phoenix. Or Tampa. Or Miami.

- Win or lose, Habs are really playing an excellent road game. Hard to see how they lose this as long as they stick to the gameplan.

- Price with two consecutive excellent reaction saves off deflected shots from the point. Not sure how he (or anyone) does that.

- Coyotes have been rope-a-doping since the third minute of the first period. Now finally seemingly awakening from their slumber.

- Moen! On a beautiful cross-ice pass from Gionta. Habs (deservedly) have the lead.

- Solid period. Habs really playing a near perfect road game. One more period of the same should bring them home safely.

Third Period:

- Fourth line blues strike again. All five collapse around Price thereby allowing howitzer shot from Yandle from the point and resultant rebound is easily batted into the net. Stuff like that will drive coaches crazy.

- Phoenix have easily been the faster, harder working, harder checking team this period. Habs might be lucky to escape with a point.

- Nice shift by the Plekanec line, generating some chances and momentum. 4 minutes left.

- How much would I be aging myself by disclosing that I watched Dave Tippet play many a game in Junior hockey?

- Meh. A point (at least), but slightly disappointed that it's come to OT. Really had control over the game but failed to respond to Phoenix' third period charge.


- The extra period has not been kind this season. Will it continue?

- Still think Subban is wayyyy overdue for a big goal.

- Oh Weber. Clank off the crossbar from a prime spot in the slot. Agonizing.

- Not Subban but his partner Gorges with a bullet just under the crossbar! We'll take the two thank you, and see you Saturday night against what promises to be a tough opponent in Nashville.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Game Fourteen: Oilers v. Habs

First Period:

- Kostytsin is out. Gomez still out. Weber moves to fourth line, although on the whole he's been playing a much stronger game on defense.

- Oilers are just so talent rich, but they had to spend three years in the wilderness to arrive at this point. Montreal fans could and would never tolerate that kind of pain.

- Darche might have hands of stone but he does a nice job in his own zone. Diving backcheck on Ryan Smyth after a sloppy giveaway by Gill might have saved a goal.

- Fans didn't like it, but Gill correctly called for interference.

- Martin has Darche back on the PP unit. Why, oh why?

- Cammy with a goalpost ringer to end all goalpost ringers. Habs PP looking pretty good on its second go round.

- Odd that no shots were registered on that powerplay although there were two pretty clear-cut shots/saves on Khabibulin.

- Oilers doing a nice job setting up their forwards for point blank slot shots. So far Habs have dodged the bullets although eventually, one will elude Price.

- Emelin with a beaut hip check breaking up the Edmonton rush.

- Patioretty doesn't get nearly enough recognition for his sometimes brilliant playmaking.

- Decent period of hockey, Oilers defense looked very good, keeping Habs shots and chances to a minimum. Just 10 shots registered in total for the period, not sure if it was the defense or the scorekeeper that was being stingy.

Second Period:

- Nice neutral zone pressure creates turnover and nice setup Cole to Cammilleri, who somehow can't get it past Khabibulin.

- Habs 4 on 2 break, Subban set up nicely near the slot but decides to pass it off. Last year he's all over that with a shot.

- Sloppy breakout pass by Plekanec and the Oilers score shorthanded. Seems like we saw this three weeks ago where the Habs PP was simply unable to figure out its left hand from its right, and the offense ground to a halt.

- Oilers taking some silly penalties tonight. Fortunately for then the Habs PP looks utterly lost.

- Diaz just awful out there, and nearly gives the Oilers their second shorthanded goal of the period. What a mess.

- Lots of lavish praise and attention is paid to Oilers young gun offense, but it's their defense that impresses me. Bending a little but never breaking.

- Diaz all messed up in his zone, Price brilliant save to keep it a one goal game. Diaz better be careful or he'll play himself into the press box once Markov returns.

- Eller a relatively harmless 60 footer that Khabibulin nearly muffed up, the puck hitting his pad and then the side of the post. Might take a gift to get the Habs on the board tonight.

- When your PP is sputtering why play Darche on the first line? Don't get it.

- Oilers taking all sorts of terrible penalties, now two men down. Nothing to worry about.

- Puck lay behind Khabibulin on the line for at least two seconds, and he had no clue it was there. Never seen that before.

- Habs oh fer seven. Gulp.

- Correction. Puck was in the mesh of net beside Khabibulin, not on the line. In the last two PPs, including the brief 5 on 3, just one shot registered. Got that they ain't scoring tonight feeling.

Third Period:

- Oilers defense is pretty mobile, really been isolating the Canadiens speed on the wing, angling them into dead ends on rushes.

- Cole with all day from about 10 feet to pick his spot and fire away. Still can't beat Khabibulin.

- Diaz with careless bank shot clearance creates easy turnover, lead to shot off the crossbar.

- So many posts hit and silver platter chances missed by both teams I'm losing count.

- Oilers in shoot it in and shut it down mode. Might as well go for a one goal shutout win, Habs just don't have it together.

- Gilbert with a 60 foot screen shot, and it's goodnight, folks.

- Oops, not so fast, Patioretty with a weak backhander to pull the Habs back to within one.

- Subban is totally overdue for SOMEthing.

- And Subban with a blast off the faceoff that just misses. Oh well. Back to grumping about specialty teams, I guess.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Game Thirteen: Habs v. Rangers

- When was the last time we were playing for a fifth straight win? Don't think we had this scenario once last year. Same lineup as last night, which means no Gomez. If it ain't broken, don't bring in the guy hardly anyone wants to see play.

- Good matchup tonight Price vs. Lunqvist, who's arguably been the best goaltender so far this season. Odds are we won't see more than 4 or 5 scored.

First Period:

- Rangers draw a penalty and almost score on their own empty net. How crazy would that have been?

- Blunden with a devastating (and perfectly legal hit) sending the Rangers into a fury. Who says the Canadiens don't have toughness on their 4th line?

- How the Rangers end up with a two man advantage from a brawl they started is baffling. The original hit was totally clean.

- Two minute 5 on 3 you're almost certain to score. 1-0 Rangers.

- Confusion around the net leads to another Rangers powerplay goal, and now Diaz takes a silly tripping call. It's all coming unravelled early.

- Correction, Rangers' second goal scored on even strength. New York: 1 for 5. Montreal 0 for 0.

- 14 minutes have been played. 10 of them the Habs were shorthanded.

- Officials have played far too much a role in the score. Crazy thing is we're just one shot from getting right back into this game. Even strength, Habs have been very competitive, arguably the better team.

- My teeth actually hurt every time they show McDonagh in that Rangers uniform. Gainey won't ever be forgiven for that transgression.

- Now it's getting out of hand. Cammalleri failed to hustle back leaving the Rangers attack free reign on Price. One more and I suspect Martin will give his number one a rest.

Second Period:

- Well that's one way of crawling back into contention. Score in the first minute.

- Now Plekanec gets called. For those losing track it's now 6-0 Rangers in the black stripes category.

- Any time a Ranger player falls, the fans scream for a penalty. Such is the tone that's been set.

- Brilliant thread the needle pass from Plekanec to Gionta. Missed by a fraction of an inch from making this a one goal game.

- Habs really controlling play in the second and wow ... another Rangers powerplay. Getting absurd now.

- In all fairness, Gionta totally deserved the call via a very careless high stick. Still doesn't forgive the ridiculous 5 on 3 advantage the Rangers shouldn't have had back in the first.

- Worm is turning. Habs now with a 5 on 3 opportunity.

- Rangers play super aggressive on the PK. And it costs them with Kostytsin left wide open for a routine goal. We got ourselves a game!

- Hmmm not even sure if Weber's stick even made contact and he still gets called. Very poorly officiated game.

- Richards with a wicked wrister, Suban and Weber were playing him way too soft.

- Considering how many penalties were called, Habs really had the edge of play in the period. Another similar effort in the 3rd should provide us with a fighting chance.

Third Period:

- Moen with second poorly timed offside eliminating a promising rush. He's cooled off considerably from his big scoring start of the season.

- Win or lose, Canadiens have been the better offensive team tonight even strength. The first 24 minutes of the game Habs were short a man 1/2 that time. Basically zaps your ability to create momentum, in addition to enduring the exhausting process of killing penalties. Game has largely been fought with one arm tied.

- Lots of pressure applied in the Rangers' zone and referee gets his skate in the way of a pass by Plekanec to the point. Seems only fitting.

- Subban gets two for spraying Lunqvist. Officials scoring 9-2 Rangers.

- Blast from the point eludes Linqvist, giving the Habs a glimmer of hope.

- Referee makes incorrect call on Gionta high stick. Resulting faceoff Rangers score in the open net.

- One of those write-off losses. The better team lost largely because of some ridiculously poor officiating. I guess that's part of the game, but it's still very disappointing and discouraging.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Game Twelve: Habs v. Senators

- Crazy long layoff between games, there was speculation this week that Gomez might return tonight, however that's apparently not going to happen until next week. Whenever it happens, Martin will have a bit of a puzzling situation on how to juggle the lineup. Too many bodies, not enough spots (a scenario that no coach would refuse, but nonetheless it is problematic if only because the team really hasn't missed his absence).

First Period:

- 38 seconds played, three whistles. This game had better improve.

- Excellent penalty kill. The Sens got nada on Price.

- Really strong presence of Habs fans in the stands tonight. Wonder how many of them are comprised of individuals who normally can't afford the outlandish cost of a ticket to the Bell Centre?

- Pretty cautious start. Habs with the edge on tempo and puck control. Basically the kind of game that pleases Martin.

- Finally a great chance for Montreal, Desharnais line rush creates scramble and resultant

- No goals scored, but good consistent and lengthy pressure applied. Coach will like that.

- Dependable Gorges with a great checking dive to prevent point blank chance for Spezza.

- Anyone enduring a hard day at work might have had a tough time staying awake during that very uneventful period. But that's the Jacques Martin game. Habs have set the table, can they convert over the next 40 minutes?

Second Period:

- Shots on goal currently 14-5 Habs, if this continues Ottawa can only hope to steal 2 points.

- Habs doing an excellent job bottling up the neutral zone, totally befuddling the Ottawa transition. All Canadiens (at the moment).

- Spacek may have done a stellar job shot blocking since his return, but he's soooo slow chasing the puck. Much slower than I recall.

- Sens have held the fort. Invariably the pendulum will swing their direction.

- Cole finishes, but that goal was ALL Cammalleri. Brilliant forechecking and dogged determination. Just brilliant.

- Oh my. Wretched turnover by Ottawa defense and brilliant setup by Eller to AK46. Two-zip.

- PK Subban in 2010 probably would get the bench for that silly slash.

- Ridiculous save by Price backswatting a floating puck in midair. Wouldn't have counted because there was a delayed call on Ottawa, but still impressive.

- Sens actually outshot Canadiens 14-10 in that frame, but the Habs still dominated tempo, checking and puck possession. Net two goal lead is an accurate reflection of how the game has gone so far.

Third Period:

- It only takes a momentary lapse, doesn't it? Diaz with a completely unnecessary pinch creates an odd man break and goal for Ottawa. The lead is one.

- Senators definitely turning the tables in the third. Winning races for pucks, outhitting, outchecking. Price will be tested to maintain this lead.

- Habs seem to be flirting with just sitting on the lead. Big mistake IMO.

- Pushback by Habs, here. Need to stifle Ottawa's momentum.

- Great awareness and pass by Gill to Eller all alone in front of Anderson (Ottawa defense in siesta mode). In Eller-style, he misses the net.

- Just 8 minutes left, the temptation to sit on the lead must be tantalizing (but shouldn't be taken!).

- Spacek caught in no man's land creates great chance for Ottawa. Habs on their heals as Sens push for tie.

- Habs definitely in hold-on-for-dear-life mode right now.

- Holding call on Gorges. Really? Wow. Just, wow.

- Heart stopping finish via that preposterous penalty, but a win nonetheless. The drive for five continues tomorrow night in Manhattan.