Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Game Forty: Jets v. Habs

Ahhh ... home sweet home. It seems like it's been forever, but now that the semi-disastrous longest road trip of the season is passed, there's nowhere to look but up, right? Right?

Anyway, what's news. Oh yeah ... Josh Gorges reward for stellar play, a big-time six year contract, working out to $3.9M per season. I think this is a wonderful signing - sealed on the first day possible - January 1st, which will keep Josh a Hab right through his very best years as a player. The price tag is a bit higher than it could have been, had this deal been done last summer, but it's still an excellent move, and it sets the table nicely for the future, with Markov, Subban, Gorges, Elemin, Diaz, and Kaberle (I guess?). Weber - we'll see.

So tonight. Lineups aren't set yet as I write this, but it's a good question whether Price will get another start, in light of what I think are issues regarding the usual wear and tear on any goaltender who's designated to start 9 out of every 10 games. Will post as soon as it's announced, assuming I get the chance.

3:25 p.m. EST: Still no releases for tonight's rosters, but here's a story that might warm the frustrated hearts of Habs fans wondering when Markov will ever return. Seems as though Rick DePietro somehow managed to get injured yesterday while he was on injury reserve. Takes some pretty heady talent to pull that off.

- And Price will get the start.

First Period:

-Eeek. Not sure what happened there, but on a Jets shoot in, Diaz took a tumble (tripped?) and a wide open Stapleton slides one past Price (another squeaker that somehow finds its way through between his legs). 1-0 Jets.

- Desharnais is a keeper, but he tends to hesitate in the offensive zone - maybe overthinking, more likely because of his lacking NHL experience. Once he becomes a bit more confident, a bit more commanding with the puck, he'll easily be a 50-60 point producer. But not now.

- Jets aren't talent deep, but they certainly are plucky. Hate playing teams like this because you expect to win, but they don't come easy.

- Habs offense doing it right, working the puck in front, but just can't find the handle to knock it home.

- Eller and Kostitsyn getting extra shifts early. Eller really coming out of the gate hard.

- Shots from the point never hurt - and the $24 million man puts one through the screen. Game tied.

- Habs have changed their goal song. I guess whatever it takes to change directions!

- Eller's strong start tonight pays off early. Jets cough up the puck near the point, and Eller with another of his impressive wristers that Pavelec can't pick up. Habs lead 2-1.

- Cammalleri's season summed up by that play. All alone in the high slot his first shot is blocked, and his second shot is muffed. He looked great last week against Tampa, but has done a revert since the 2nd period of that game. Hard to figure out.

- Emelin receives a sucker punch to the face courtesy of Andrew Ladd, who gets caught by the official. Habs go on PP.

- Cole with a beautiful move around the Jets defense to set up Plekanec perfectly for a slam dunk score. Plecks misses the net.

- Shaky start, but pretty solid first period all around. More or less like what we've seen the whole season. Once again we'll have to see how this team can handle holding a lead.

Second Period:

- Moen does all the good work, Kaberle with the finish for his first as a Montreal Canadien. Habs take big positive step forward padding their lead. 3-1.

- For the most part, Habs playing pretty sound defensively in the period, keeping Jets forwards confined to the perimeter. Price getting clear views of most of the shots. So far, so good.

- Jets score on the powerplay on a shot from the line by Bogosian, deflected neatly by red-hot Wheeler. Price had no chance. Nobody at fault, just one of those goals. 3-2 Habs.

- Jets offense really coming on strong, Diaz gets nabbed for interference. It's unraveling quickly.

- We've been here before, seemingly countless times. Habs hold slender lead heading to the 3rd period, and then the nightmare begins.

Third Period:

- Gill really getting reeled back for icetime. Barely 7 minutes through two periods.

- Cole and Desharnais have been giving the Jets' defense fits all night long, Pavelec doing his best to keep Winnipeg in this thing.

- Oh that was a thing of beauty. Eller, from Moen from Kostitsyn, tic-tac-toe, Jets defense not knowing up from down, and Pavelec left hung to dry. Huge goal. 4-2 Habs.

- Plekanec joins the fun seconds later taking a blind feed from Cammalleri, Jets in total chaos. Habs pulling away 5-2.

- Holy cow. Seconds after Plekanec, Jets just all over the place. Kostitsyn with some highlight stickhandling, and Eller gets a hat trick! Goal of the night. Habs blowing 'em away. 6-2.

- Eller getting a huge standing ovation from an incredibly noisy Bell Centre. He came out hard tonight, and he's earned every single one of his three goals. Just terrific.

- Eller awarded a penalty shot! A chance to score 4!!

- Oh wow. What a move!! What a goal!!! What an incredible night for Lars Eller. Spectacular!

- Night to remember. Gauthier looking like a genius. Halak who?

- Ladd puts a damper on what is turning into a big party in the Bell Centre. 7-3 Habs.

- What if Eller scores 5? When was the last time any Canadiens player did that?

- And here's your answer. The last Habs player to score 5 in a game was Bobby Rousseau, on February 1, 1964.

- Correction: It was Yvan Cournoyer on February 15, 1975. In other words, a long time ago.

- Gill in a rare fight, he's probably got the energy to do it since he's only played 12 minutes tonight.

- Canadiens get late 3rd period powerplay. Will Eller get a shot for 5? He's on the bench.

- Cunneyworth keeps him on the bench, but it doesn't matter. A resounding win for the Habs tonight. Their most impressive this season.

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