Friday, 13 January 2012

Game Forty-Four: Sens v Habs

Let me off the crazy train, 'cause I think I'm going insane. Has this not been the weirdest year in recent memory for this hockey team and its fans? It certainly took a turn towards the surreal last night with Cammalleri's trade right in the middle of a hockey game (I cannot recall that ever happening in the history of this hockey club, or for that matter, in the history of the NHL - at least for a premier player).

Post-trade analysis on the air and around the internet is fairly mixed. From a Canadiens' perspective, those who approve (or tolerate) the deal like the size and toughness that Borque brings, and aren't particularly offended by the tradeoff in futures, while those from the cringe-community have voiced concern about how the trade went down (it clearly was rushed), the returns (which are questionable for someone of Cammalleri's pedigree) and whether the club traded one inconsistent winger for another even more inconsistent winger.

I was very unimpressed with Gauthier's post-trade comments where he said that the trade was definitely not rushed (which few of us bought, and has since emerged as a bald-faced lie as Calgary G.M. Jay Feaster said this morning that talks between he and Gauthier had broken off following Borque's recent 5-game suspension, but he got a call Wednesday night to go ahead with the deal), and had been in the works for a month (possibly true, but irrelevant).

The timing of the trade was inexcusable. The Habs were battling hard against an undermatched elite Bruins team, trailing by just one goal heading to the third - the one time when you want to have all offensive weapons at your disposal. But for whatever inexplicable reason, the deal was sealed mid-game, Cammalleri was yanked, and the team was down a pretty important forward for the final 20 minutes.

I know I write it too often, but there's never a dull moment in Habs Land. Well, could we have a little quiet - just for awhile? The drama on and off the ice is giving myself, and I'm sure many loyal team followers a bad case of sensory overload.

And are you ready for even more bad news? It's been announced that Gionta is done for the season with a muscle tear. I guess there's room for Scott Gomez after all.

So what's going to happen next? I don't think I want to know. Let me off the train.

GAME DAY UPDATE: Gomez will indeed start tonight.

First Period:

- Emelin is healthy scratch. Dunno. I don't call the shots, and I certainly don't try to figure out the rationale for these decisions.

- Gill paired with Campoli. Wonder which Sens line will be sent out when those two hit the ice?

- Gomez just about scored on his very first shift. How wild would that have been?

- Very, very quiet Bell Centre. A polite audience, but not particularly enthused.

- Habs put one in the net, but it's disallowed for goaltender interference, and Habs end up with no goal and a penalty to show for their efforts. Somewhat debatable call - Kostitsyn did interfere with Anderson's ability to cover the shot, but was Andre unable to move because the Senators defense was pushing him into the goal mouth? You could argue both sides.

- Plekanec yet another shorthanded breakaway, yet another stop by opposition goalie.

- Senators PK this season has been nearly as bad as the Habs PP.

- Weber *again* unable to maintain simple puck position at the line. Is quickly removed from the PP for Subban.

- Sens get called again just as their penalty expires, which would normally be a bad thing, but not against tonight's opponent.

- And Weber with a careless high stick that draws 4 minutes. Meanwhile, Emelin sits in the press box above the ice and watches [shrugs].

- Pretty listless, low temp period, both team's power plays were largely ineffective, one of those games where you hate forking out $150 for a seat. Not much entertainment value.

Second Period:

- Habs nice puck possession and passing on their first PP of the frame, Gomez, dare I say, looking involved and really pushing hard in front of Anderson.

- Would it be sacrilegious if I said that Gomez is probably our best playing forward tonight?

- Much like its game against the Blues, Canadiens really struggling to get shoots on goal. Lot of blocks and missed attempts tonight.

- Fans starting to boo, I suppose it's the powerplay they're venting over, or maybe that they'll never get their money back from having to endure this yawner.

- Anderson save of the game on Kostitsyn, who's also put out a decent effort for the Habs.

- Seven minutes left in the second. Total game shots for Alfredsson, Spezza and Michalek: Zero.

- It's somewhat heartening to see someone else's powerplay that looks worse than ours.

- Outplaying and outshooting the opposition. But the story remains the same - Habs unable to bury their chances or even hold a lead.

- Habs zone coverage really has been strong tonight, maybe there's method to the seven defense madness, but on the flipside, the offense has not able to generate much rhythm.

- Sens' Daugavins just blew a 65 footer past Price, but nailed the crossbar. It was a rocket, but no way anyone should be scoring that far out in this League.

- Phantom tripping call on Pacioretty.

- Habs controlled the second, but didn't dominate. They really should be in the lead, but as we've seen all year, the forwards were unable to score in the clutch.

Third Period:

- Plekanec 15:27 of time through 40 minutes, only Subban has more.

- And Plekanec scores ... heaven for fend, short handed on a breakaway?? The sheer volume dictated that it had to happen eventually. 1-0 Habs.

- Habs holding a lead for the first time in seven days, or four games.

- Note to Habs forwards with wide open shots - Anderson simply cannot be beat on his glove hand.

- Weber with some nice hustle to prevent a Sens breakaway.

- Habs now sitting on this lead a bit, and the Sens are generating some quality chances.

- And just like that, Gonchar's shot from the line is deflected past Price by Turris for only his second of the season. Game tied.

- After all they've been through this year, did the Habs really think they could hold a 1-0 lead for 16 minutes? How many times must this lesson be taught?

- Sens offense dictating play now. Their second goal is seemingly inevitable.

- I really ought just keep it to myself. The moment I posted how well Gomez was playing, he's since gone invisible.

- Habs doing a lot of running around in their own zone, Price doing his best to keep them in this, but it's not looking good.

- Anderson has, very quietly, played brilliantly tonight, just now stealing one from Pacioretty courtesy a perfect setup by Cole.

- Habs outhitting, out-chancing, out-blocking, winning more face-offs, outshooting, but not outscoring. A loss tonight would be exceptionally frustrating.

- Oh dear. Plekanec with a very ill-timed high stick, quite accidental but definitely careless, and it draws four minutes. Now thee PK must save the game.

- Spezza with a bomb from the line, another deflection past Price (pretty sure it was). Sens score than second goal, take the lead. And it's a tomb in the Bell Centre.

- Wow. They come through. Campoli with the shot from the line, and finally, finally, somebody is there to bury the rebound chance. This time it's Pacioretty. With 39 second left. Game tied.

- Ho boy. You can't make this stuff up. Gorges, totally unforced, for some reason, shoots the puck from his zone over the glass and into the 15th row, and the Habs will go into OT one man short.


- Normally Gorges would be out there trying to kill this penalty. It's Plekanec, Subban and Gill who will have to do it.

- Subban blows a clearance by shooting into the Habs bench. He's down on one knee almost certainly thinking "why the heck did I just do that?"

- Habs survive, thanks in large part to the great work by Plekanec, Subban and Gill.

- Would it also be sacrilege to also point out that Campoli has been pretty good tonight?

- The dreaded shutout. How I've not missed watching you. But here we go.

- Both Anderson and Price have not been stellar in the shootout this season, but Price's work is decidedly worse. Just 8 saves on 17 shots.

- Kaberle?? Huh? Yeah, me either.

- Habs tries in shootout have been pretty dismal. Still trying to figure out the choice of Kaberle.

- Alfredsson wins it. And yeah ... one more time. Kaberle??

- It's been pointed out to me that Kaberle was 5 for 12 in career shootout attempts, but still, that's not the guy you pick among your first 3 in a shootout. Meh.

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