Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Game Fifty-Four: Pens v Habs

Happy Tuesday! We have hockey tonight! It's Pittsburgh. YAH! So let's see how have we done against the Pens this year. Woah. Really? That bad?? So the Pens have sucked recently though, right? Oh .. they've won the last 9 of 10. Okay, so can we just skip tonight and go to Long Island instead for Thursday's game?

Anyway, Travis Moen is likely to be back tonight, as long as he gets medical clearance this afternoon (which he should). Ryan White was assigned to Hamilton to get his legs into game shape, and last night scored two goals in the first 10 minutes of the game. PUT HIM ON THE POWERPLAY. So ... maybeeee ... he'll be back with the big club in a week?

Markov. Eh ... moving on.

WHAT YOU PAY FOR YOU GET. WELL, NOT REALLY: So ... yeah. Who's got the most expensive blue line in hockey? It's the Philadelphia Flyers, who at a cool $25 million, are 12th in the Conference in goals against, and 24th in the League! It's amazing what money can do! The Habs, with the 7th most expensive payroll for forwards in the League are 10th in the East for goals scored, and 17th overall. Stats are fun! If not slightly depressing.

EVERYTHING GONE UPSIDE DOWN. Remember a couple of years ago when the Habs were like .. the WORST team in the League scoring while even strength, and people in the blogosphere were all wringing their hands 'cause the team was probably going nowhere and stuff because they couldn't score 5 on 5?

Remember those awful days when the team was making the playoffs, and playing in the Conference Finals?

Well those bad days are gone!! This year, the team is ranked a pretty healthy 9th in the League for scoring on even strength. Look what it's done for us! With less than 30 games left, we're NUMERO UNO IN THE EAST. YAH BABY. IN YOUR FACE.

Sorry, what?? We're ... what? We're ... 14th in the East?

What. The. Hell? So yeah ... two years ago we had pretty much the best powerplay in the League. This year ... uh ... no-so-much. Are we sensing any statistical patterns correlating the importance of scoring even-strength with winning games yet?

- As predicted, Moen will indeed start tonight.




Campoli is a healthy scratch. Price will start.

First Period:

- And Campoli is given the start. My source won't be used again!!

- Not surprisingly, Pens come out fast, getting very good chances first three minutes.

- Leblanc fills the early mandatory Habs checkmark for "missing the empty net".

- Eller with his usual (and highly underrated) strong two-way play.

- Refs letting both teams play. So far.

- I'm beginning to think Subban's wrist shot is far better and more dangerous than his slapper, which he over-utilizes at the point (and is frequently and easily blocked by the opposition).

- Cole effortlessly takes the body and strips the puck. If more Habs forwards were able to replicate his style and ethic, who knows how high up the standings we'd be?

- Leblanc anticipates the play and utilizes his speed to break into the open, but is neatly stopped by Fleury. He (Leblanc) seemingly gets better every game. Lots, lots of upside with this kid.

- Good news for Habs - playing again with good jump, passes are crisp, shots are hard. Bad news: looks like Fleury has brought his "A" game to the Bell Centre tonight.

- Habs competing tonight. Cunneyworth has to be pleased. Still two periods to go, but I think we've got a good shot against a hot team.

Second Period:

- Weber shifted from 4th line to defense. Cunneyworth stretching the bench, I assume to limit Campoli and Gill's time.

- Meh. First penalty is lame. Eller called for goaltender interference on Fleury who fell after very minimal incidental contact was made.

- Habs get crazy 3-on-1 break shorthanded, but muff up getting a quality shot. This team continues it's bizarre pattern of being a far bigger offensive threat shorthanded than with a powerplay.

- And Fleury with a superb save on Plekanec, *again* with Habs shorthanded.

- And AGAIN Fleury is forced to make a quality save. Keep taking these penalties, guys.

- Gomez coming close again. It's gonna happen. I predict sooner rather than later.

- Habs definitely the faster, harder working team.

- Plekanec with a bad high stick far away from the play.

- Price in his usual quiet way, solid as a rock tonight. Both netminders look excellent.

- Hah. Irony. Subban with the best save of the game.

- Plekanec working really hard and getting crazy good chances in the period. Just can't bury it.

- Gomez/Cole/Kostitsyn best Habs shift of the night. Habs really pressing here.

- And Leblanc converts!! Sweet wrister that Fleury cant find on his glove side. 1-0 Habs.

- Gomez with a lazy hold. Right in front of the ref. Easy call.

- Emelin stoned by Fleury while Habs killing PK. AGAIN WHY can't we be this dangerous while on the PP??

- Cole ... wow. Really would be nice to have a two goal cushion.

Third Period:

- Habs PP, Pens score. Yup. What more can you say? #declinethepenalty

- Fluery. What the heck?? I mean, we'll take it, but after two periods of brilliance, you give us that? #justshootthepuck

- Did Gomez get benched after taking that silly penalty? Hasn't had a shift since.

- Floodgates opening here. Don't think the Habs can withstand a barnburning finish against a team like the Pens.

- Gomez gets a shift. Habs on their heels. Pens narrowing in on the kill.

- Desharnais absurdly interfered with behind the Pens net. Directly in front of the referee.

- Pace very fast. Both teams want this badly.

- Pens are just a bit faster, a bit more skilled. Habs are gonna need to steal this.

- Ut-oh. Neal gets called for a high stick. Habs head to the dreaded powerplay. I'm cringing.

- And right off the bat Adams nearly scores for the Pens.

- Completely uncoordinated man advantage. At least Pittsburgh didn't score.

- Habs clearly playing for the point. We know what's happened this season when this team tries to hang on in the third.

- 43 very, very long seconds left on the clock.

- Well. We get a point. At least. I figure might as well release the hounds and go all in for the OT. Price v Fleury in a shootout is not particularly appealing.

- Oh yes. Another third period lead blown. Anyone know how many that's been this season?


- Habs survive the first Malkin OT shift.

- Habs survive second Malkin OT shift.

- Kunitz check on Weber at first looked like legal hip, but he may have stuck his leg out to bring Weber down.

- Habs survive 3rd Malkin OT shift, but now must win via the shootout. Oy.

- Gotta love what Subban just did to Malkin. Letang with a blindsided tackle on P.K. in response. Com'on guys, win this thing.


- Fleury 21/25 in shootout shot saves this year. Price 10/20. Eeek.

- Bourque!!

- Price!

- Pacioretty :(

- Malkin. How is that legal???!!

- Desharnais :((

- Price!!

- Cole. Beats Fluery 5 hole but puck goes wide :((

- Price!!!

- Eller!!!!!

- Price :((((

- Leblanc :(((

- Price!!!!

- Kostitsyn :((((((

- Price!!!! Goalpost!!!!!

- Plekanec!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- PRICE!!!!! VICTORY in the 9th round!! Crazy, crazy shootout.

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