Saturday, 25 February 2012

Game Sixty-Three: Habs v. Panthers

GENERAL MANAGER UPDATE: Rumors are swirling tonight that a big change is imminent, and that Pierre Gauthier may be relieved of his duties.

Nothing confirmed as yet, but the timing is .... odd/interesting, just 48 hours before the trading deadline.

If there's something to this (big if), perhaps there's concern among the ownership group that Gauthier might pull a "desperation trade", which could do incalcuable damage to the organization.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Confusion plenty here. Discussion is either revolving that Gauthier is about to be dismissed, or that the ownership has already indirectly removed Gauthier from his responsibility by proxy, whereas Gauthier is acting as a conduit in conversations between the Habs and any other team interested in making a deal.

Who knows? Not like Gauthier or anyone else from the organization would offer comment, given their esteemed record about updating fans the the media about the injury status of any of its players.

LATER UPDATE: Ownership, shockingly, has just tweeted a statement (specifically Geoff Molson):

Les rumeurs du cong├ędiement de Pierre Gauthier sont fausses. Rumours of Pierre Gauthier's firing are false.

Now, I'm not sure how much that clears up the swirling questions. I suppose it answers the main question, has Gauthier been fired? But it doesn't answer the prevailing rumor that the ownership group has taken the reigns, and stripped Gauthier of his decision-making powers.

EVEN LATER UPDATE: Bob McKenzie just tweeted the following:

I asked Molson if hockey decision-making process/protocol with MTL any different now than at beginning of season? His response: "No."

Follow-up: So are you saying there's been no change in power structure? Response: "No change." On Molson being de facto GM: "Not true."

That seems pretty absolute. Nothing has happened, no change was made.

GAME DAY TRADE RUMOURS: Suddenly Tomas Plekanec is trade bait this morning? Huh? Where from which did this come from? The team is planning on promoting ... Gomez to 2nd line centre?

The Montreal Gazette (as terrible as ever) reported today that our best centre has waived his NTC. Plekanec's agent Rick Curran, whom I'm guessing wanted to have some peace and quiet today, had to field a bunch of questions from the trade-story-hungry scribes to confirm that, as usual, the Gazette has no idea what it's talking about, and that Plekanec's NTC was not waived.

More stellar garbage spewing from the Gazette. Keep up the great work, boys.

HAPPY LEAFS UPDATE: Well, as disappointing as this year has been for the Habs collective, things are coming fast undone over in the centre of the hockey universe.

So this year we'll miss the playoffs. It happens.

But 7 straight years of missing the playoffs?

Let us all be thankful for what we've got.

First Period:

- Price will get a rest, Budaj a rare start.

- Habs storming out of the gate, almost all of the first four minutes of play has been in the Florida zone.

- White off the post.

- Eller really motoring his first two shifts. Habs hard work draws a powerplay.

- And within the first two seconds of the powerplay, Pacioretty gets nabbed for a high stick. Sigh.

- It figures. Habs score NOT on the powerplay. Emelin with a great hit to create a turn over, Cole drives the puck to the corner, Desharnais finishes it off with a nice push to the net. 1-0 Habs.

- Hook AND slash on Cole by two Panthers forwards in the span of three seconds, Cole is a man possessed so far, and Florida having trouble keeping pace. Penalties creates a two minutes 5 on 3 for the Habs. Here we go.

- Kaberle with a terrible shot, so Subban shows him how it's done with a beauty top corner. 2-0 Habs.

- Cole no assist on the PP goal, but if it weren't for his intense work, Habs wouldn't have that 5-on-3.

- Canadiens continuing to dominate. A lot of angry guys out there right now and the Panthers are the punching bag.

- Gorges with a soft play in front of his net, Budaj surrendering a rebound from a point shot, and Weiss out-muscles the usually dependable Habs defender to get Florida on the board.

- Bourque trips over the blue line. Nice.

- Period ends with Gomez taking a very weak shot (as usual) that's easily blocked and Panthers gain a breakaway, the clock just running out. However, Subban takes a pretty silly (unnecessary) high stick giving Florida a PP to start the second.

- An okay period. Team got off to a very fast start but gradually faded from the 5 minute mark forward. Kind of a broken record statement on the season.

Second Period:

- Budaj. Looking like the backup to a backup on that goal by Bergenheim, and poof the lead is gone.

- Oh my gosh. An even worse goal, Budaj having a meltdown, this time giving up a juicy rebound off a routine shot, Weiss with another giftwrapped goal, and Florida takes the lead.

- Habs having trouble keeping up with Florida who are at the halfway mark totally outskating and outworking the sad-sack Canadiens.

- Budaj with a couple of sparkling saves during a mad Panthers rush, still will take a lot more to erase the memory of those two weak goals.

- Diaz and Weber two-man PP wrecking crew. These two have rarely played the same shift this season, and it certainly showed there.

- Dismal period for the Habs. Even though Budaj muffed it up, Florida were dominating play at both ends, so their lead is well deserved.

Third Period:

- Weber really struggling out there today. Having trouble moving his feet, and is constantly getting caught out of position. Don't know how many more chances Cunneyworth can take putting him out there. One more Panthers goal and it's over for sure.

- Cole has really been laying the body out there. Not sure how much of that is just pure frustration.

- Another dismally invisible outing for Kostitsyn. If he isn't traded by 3pm tomorrow, at this point I doubt Habs will pursue him anyway.

- There's the killer. Campbell deflecting a point shot, mainly because Weber couldn't clear the traffic. Gosh. Weber was out there. And guess what happened?

- Just won't happen. Diaz exiting the penalty box gets a break and backhands the puck off the post. It's been that kind of year.

- Same old. Habs start strong, grab early lead, make fundamental mistakes, fade, and can't recover. I've lost count.

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