Saturday, 11 February 2012

Game Fifty-Six: Habs v Leafs

Price starts tonight.

That's all I got. Well, it's a pretty big game, all other considerations withstanding. A win tonight and we can start the preliminary process of flirting with the idea of possibly thinking about an outside remote chance of maybe competing for one of the few remaining barely qualifying 8th place playoff spot.

Now get outside. It's a beautiful day.

First Period:

- Have to admit I've been eagerly anticipating this game all day long, it's the first game in a long time for Habs fans where there's a sense of importance. A win tonight gets us just 7 points of Toronto for that final spot.

- Emelin giving Macarthur a taste of the boards. Very nice.

- Lots of stoppages the first five minutes. Close checking, decently physical.

- Nasty bad turnover by Palushaj and Price is forced to make three consecutive saves on Kessel.

- Cole with his head down got absolutely rocked by Brown.

- Leafs forwards for the most part outmuscling the Habs defense in battles for the pucks. Not good.

- Good start for Toronto, Canadiens having trouble getting out of second gear at both ends of the ice.

- Pacioretty with a golden opportunity side of the net, shot it right at Reimer's pads, and looks skyward after the play is blown dead. Very close.

- Great shift by the Plekanec line, Habs applying lots of pressure in the Leafs zone. Momentum currently with Montreal.

- Campoli/Diaz combo just had an awful shift, neither seemed aware where the other was, many poor giveaways.

- Reimer looking very good so far.

- Not sure if that pass skipped on the ice, but Cole almost always cashes those in. I think he just plain mistimed the (good) pass from Desharnais.

- Brown hard on Subban behind the net. Sure looked like a crosscheck.

- Plekanec 8 for 9 in the faceoff circle.

- Both Price and Reimer on their game. Have the feeling it'll be one of those 2-1 or 3-2 games.

- Poor interference call on Plekanec. He hit his man with the puck beside them. Habs have their most effective PK man in the box.

- Pretty routine kill for Habs.

- Even period. Very close checking. Good chances both sides, this one is going to be very close.

Second Period:

- Tremendous singular effort and awareness by Cole to carry the play into the Leafs zone and release a shot that Reimer probably would want back. Habs score the crucial first goal.

- And moments later, bad giveaway by Leafs and a pretty tic-tac-toe play, Bourque beats Reimer short side, and take a 2-0 lead.

- Leafs fans might bemoan how their team is playing with the man advantage, but credit must go to the Habs' specialty units for their excellent zone play. This team isn't number one in the League by accident.

- Plekanec/Bourque/Darche combo is probably the strongest on the ice so far. This line is really on a roll.

- Cole a bit too cute with that pass to Desharnais.

- Bourque backhander right off the crossbar. Fraction away from 3-0.

- How 'bout that? Pacioretty with his 23rd of the season (again one Reimer should have had), on the PP no less, and the Leafs 17 PK streak comes to an end. 3-0 is a stranglehold lead. Bring this home, boys.

- Habs offense still bringing it on. Refreshing to see.

- Habs 3 goals on 5 shots this period. But yeah, shot totals aside, they have dominated.

- ELLER. OH. MY. GAWD. That was beautiful. Special mention to Phaneuf who did an excellent pylon impersonation.

- Price compounding Leafs misery. Making tough saves look very easy.

- Air Canada Centre officially a dead zone right now. That was a terrific period for Habs Land.

Third Period:

- Reimer, unsurprisingly, gets pulled. Gustavsson in.

- Beautiful pass by Plekanec to spring Darche, who's been playing out of his mind, for the breakaway. Habs making this a laugher.

- Don't know where this team has been all year, but whatever has happened to turn this team around, it's working for me.

- Leafs had 6 guys on the ice for nearly 10 seconds with the man advantage. Officials sleeping.

- Ain't nothing stoppable getting past Price tonight. He's been terrific the past week - probably his strong three game stretch the whole season.

- Habs smacked around the Leafs pretty good tonight, cashing in on opportunities, and Price was excellent. No way Toronto had a chance.

And now the speculation will commence in Montreal about whether this team can salvage the season. The hill remains steep, but the four consecutive wins were a pretty big step towards getting the club back into thinking about making the post-season. The game on Monday against Carolina will be significant.

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