Thursday, 16 February 2012

Game Fifty-Nine: Habs v Sabres

So anyone actually feeling pretty good about what happened last night? Yeah, yeah ... the Bruins won, but our Habs were (let's be frank) down and out, played a gutsy and dominate third period unlike any other game we'd see this season. And while the Leafs won (bah), that hard-earned single point still keeps us within shouting distance with 23 games left to go.

Meanwhile, the hacks and fans from Boston-land are all in a tizzy because of the fan response last night to Chara getting a puck in the face, courtesy a clearing attempt by Plekanec late in the third period.

The point being missed, of course, is that only a small minority of fans cheered when Chara hit the ice like a sack of potatoes - the descriptive "Habs fans cheer" headlines are recklessly misleading. The vast majority of those in attendance didn't utter a peep, an entirely commendable reaction when you consider it's been less than a year since Chara's infamous hit on Max Pacioretty. How many Boston writers were then posting articles with the headline "Chara Attempts to Decapitate Habs Forward"? Nope, you see, the hit was simply "unfortunate". No way you should blame Chara! It was just one of those "hockey plays", you know? The kind where the guy's head is nearly torn off his shoulders. Sorry Max ol' chap, best of luck to you, and beside, you were probably totally faking it!!

But you gotta spew nonsense to the faithful to get that traffic! So crank up the sensationalist machine. Habs fans = goons. Bruins players = victims. Done!

MORE ABOUT THOSE DASTARDLY SHOOTOUTS: Yes, YeS, YES to this. They are BAD. They're boring. I HATE them. They appeal only to fans (*cough* Americans *cough*) who find little to enjoy about the game other than that puck going into the net.

No more. Adopt the three point system for wins. Let the games be fought hard in 60 minutes, not with the sideshow shootouts features silly goals that aren't remotely legal.

THE HAMMER COMES DOWN ON MARCHAND: The NHL weighed in on that nasty low hit delivered by Marchand last night on Emelin. He's totally suspended! Ha ha .. just kidding! He's a Boston Bruin! So you know ... free pass, yadda yadda, same old story.

Totally-unbiased-absolutely-neutral-no-way-he-shows-favoritism Brendan Shanahan just tweeted his verdict:

Like all penalties on the ice, not all "clips" rise to the level of supplemental discipline. This check by Marchand was delivered to the upper thigh/hip and not the knee area. We don't like it, but not SD.

There you go! Nothing wrong at all. OH ... but Marchand didn't get off scott free, as you can see. The big wigs in the NHL front office "don't like it." Ouch. Well that will really teach Marchand a lesson or two, won't it?

Just one more thing: Hey, Mr. Shanahan? We aren't idiots. He didn't hit his knee? Well sure, in the freeze frame clip that YOU posted it doesn't show that hip-on-knee contact, but how about this picture?

A suggestion to the NHL. Punish players ... I mean, actually freaking PUNISH players, especially the serial headcases like Marchand, for their ongoing attempts to injure others on the ice.

Until you start doing that, Shanahan and the suits he reports to, simply cannot and will not be taken seriously by the hockey community.

GAMEDAY LINEUP UPDATE: Weber is in, Campoli is out, which should come as surprise to exactly nobody in light of this little gem from Wednesday night.

Price will start. Will Budaj get in a game before season's end?

Post morning practice interviews, featuring Cole 'n' Cunneyworth.

HAL GILL TRADED: To Nashville with a 5th round conditional, in return for a 2nd round pick (2012), and two lower level prospects.

But yeah ... we got a 2nd rounder. Looking at the two young players right now. Will post again shortly.

UPDATE: The players are Geoffrion AND Slaney.

Wow. What a deal!! The 2nd rounder AND one of the Preds' top offensive prospects in Geoffrion.

Just ... wow. Pierre. Excellent trade!

CONDITIONAL PICK UPDATE: The Preds will get '13 5th round pick IF Geoffrion plays 40 games with the big club next year. If he doesn't, no pick.

If Geoffrion sticks for 40 games next year, it means he's worth sticking around for 40 games next year, thereby making the 5th a relative bargain.

VERY good day for Habs Land.

Let's not make this sound like it was a one-sided trade. The Preds did get Gill, who will really help them out. This move was totally Barry Trotz, arguably the smartest coach in the game. Why did they trade for Gill? "Experience. Anybody who's got some size, who won the Cup. ... Penalty killing, especially on a defensive side."

Have to agree. Gill makes the Preds much more competitive for a championship. But ... still ... we got a lot back in return.

First Period:

- With Gill traded, Campoli makes it into he lineup. Every trade has its big downside I suppose.

- This might be a tough game given that the Sabres are a pretty desperate team, and they got spanked last night by the Flyers. You just know Ruff read them the riot act, so there are probably more than a few Sabres that will come out if that gate angry and flying. First ten minutes expect a Buffalo blitz.

- White skating well, picking up where he left off Wednesday night.

- And like Wednesday, opposition strikes first with a shot from the line that seemingly is deflected. Maybe this one was just plain misplayed by Price? 1-0 Sabres.

- Nope. Official scoring no deflection. I guess Price overplayed the shot.

- Regehr credited with the goal, just his first of the year. If there was a prime candidate for most disappointing acquisition made in the off-season, Regehr would probably win hands down.

- Subban's slapper is a shadow of it's former self.

- Wow. Outstanding puck control and movement by the Habs PP, finished by pretty pass from Desharnais to Kaberle who snuck in from the point a la Markov. Game tied.

- Habs PP now 5 for it's last 12.

- Ryan White had a tough shift. Positionally lost in the Sabres zone when the Habs had a good cycle going, then outmuscled for the puck in the defensive zone allowing Myers to snap a beauty over Price's shoulder. Gomez with the initial giveaway to create the scoring chance/goal for Buffalo.

- Stand corrected on Habs first goal, scored one second after PP expired. So PP is actually 4 for last 12.

- Gomez!! And this one before the PP expires! Habs man advantage definitely clicking now.

Second Period:

- Habs go to the PK for the first time in the post-Gill era.

- Habs penned in their own zone most of that penalty (bad), but don't surrender a goal (good).

- After an iffy defensive display in the first, both clubs settling down, a lot of players cluttering the neutral zone. Things more or less grinding to a halt.

- Leblanc providing a really good demonstration on how not to take a breakaway. What the heck was that?

- And Subban with a demonstration on how to exactly play the defender facing a 3-on-1.

- Campoli making me look bad bemoaning his place in the lineup, snapping one past a flopping Miller. Gomez a nice job creating a screen. Habs take the lead.

- Cole getting shadowed pretty hard tonight, so he's been kept pretty quiet.

- Pacioretty leading all skaters with huge 14 minutes of time, 4 minutes left in the 2nd.

- Darche also getting plenty of time, getting rewarded handsomely for playing some of the best hockey of his career of late.

- They may not have scored the most points, but I'm thinking the Gomez/White/Kostitsyn line is the best of the week for this team.

- Price save of the game right there. Maybe one of his best all year.

- Well here we go. One more time. Habs in lead going to the 3rd. For some reason, I'm feeling a bit more comfortable about it tonight. Let's see what happens.

Third Period:

- Have to assume that Ruff reminded his team that a loss tonight would pretty much extinguish the Sabres' hopes of getting back into the playoffs race. So expect plenty of bodies to be crashing Price until (if) the Sabres can score to tie the game.

- Defense (more or less) doing a good clearing the zone so far.

- Keep chippin' it out. Just keep chippin' it out.

- Sabres unable to get anything going so far. Fans getting restless.

- Huge Gill-less PK here.

- Plekanec with a blocked shot that sends him smarting to the bench.

- Habs blocking shots and passes like crazy. Anything to win tonight.

- Emelin another standout performance tonight. Can't believe how far he's adapted to the NHL and progressed this year.

- Gomez wide open net on the 3-on-2, pass hopped over his stick as he attempted the shot.

- Halfway home. Can they hold on?

- Derek Roy with a World Cup-style collapse in front of the official, looking for a call.

- Campoli/Kaberle combo at this stage of the game? What the heck is Cunneyworth thinking??


- Madness must end. Campoli wildly out of position, Sabres missed an open net. Game really should be over.

- Habs shell game in 3rd cost them the two points. That and questionable bench management by the coach.

- Darche is playing great, but you don't want him out there in OT.

- Pacioretty with a terrible penalty with a minute left. And why is Campoli out there again?

- Habs hopes of winning rest on surviving this Sabres PP and winning the shootout. In other words, it's fading fast.

- Sabres really should have finished the game off. The chances certainly were there, just couldn't convert.

- Shootout. The dreaded shootout. Price has to be dreading this.


- Season stats: Price 13g/17s, Miller 4g/8s. Yeah, I like Buffalo's odds.

- Pacrioretty (okay), Desharnais (um ... okay) and Kostitsyn.

- Price with very nice first save.

- Pacrioretty!!!

- Price on Pominville! Habs Desharnais can end it right here.


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