Monday, 12 March 2012

Game Seventy: Habs v Sabres

Happy Monday! Happy game day! Still feeling the afterglow from Saturday night's glorious win over the headed-for-an-early-playoff-exit Canucks? Me too! Or are you one of those half-glass empty types bemoaning the suddenly diminishing hopes of having a top 3 draft pick? Well boo on you. A win, especially this season, is like a fine wine - an experience to be cherished and embraced. Or something like that. Whatever. We gladly take W's wherever and whenever they come.

So tonight! It looks like Peter Budaj will get the start, and there's even speculation that Desharnais will get clearance to play. We'll see. I'm just looking forward to another game with Andrei Markov in the lineup - he (and by consequence the team as a whole) looked pretty good 48 hours ago. Tonight we face the victory-desperate Buffalo Sabres, who are treading just barely above water in their faint hopes for that 8th and final playoff spot. This could actually be a good game!

And congratulations SAKU KOIVU, who will play in his 1,000 regular season NHL game tonight! The heart of a lion, one of the finest centres to proudly wear the C and H. We continue to mourn your departure Saku, but we celebrate your achievement.

First Period:

- The Desharnais effect is immediate. Cole with a sneaky shot that catches Miller by surprise. Nice start.

- Budaj looking pretty good. It's the basics that sometimes elude him leading to the iffy goals. Needs to limit that as much as possible.

- Markov is clearly gun shy about taking any hits in the corner. Can't say I blame him.

- Myers with a strange injury after colliding with Eller. Looks like something gave (Eller did nothing wrong).

- Staubitz with Cole? That's an odd pairing.

- Budaj's got the horseshoes working OT so far.

- 11 SOG for the Sabres through 14 minutes. Budaj holdin' 'em in.

- Paciotretty streaking down the wing clangs one off the post. Miller again in la-la land.

- Markov getting dialed back tonight? Just three shifts, around 4 minutes for the period.

- Habs tightening up zone coverage significantly, Sabres' chances not nearly as frequent or dangerous as first 10 minutes of the period.

- Sabres very Habs-esque in the first - creating many good scoring chances, but failing to capitalize. Habs playing classic rope-a-dope road game.

Second Period:

- Ouch Pacioretty taking a shot off the inside of his right skate. Gone to the dressing room. That ain't good.

- Eller came about two inches from scoring - in his own net.

- Geoffrion taking Pacioretty's spot on the Desharnais line.

- Second string Budaj with a first string glove save on Roy. That was a beaut.

- Markov scared the heck out of me as he collapses in front of Budaj. But it was a Roy high stick.

- Kaberle set up perfectly by Plekanec. If it's Markov receiving, Habs lead 2-0.

- Hah. Plekanec sets up Markov perfectly ... and he fans on the puck. Guess I'll shuddup now.

- Credit where credit is due - Weber with two nice shot blocks.

- Eek. Some rust remains. Andrei just got his clock cleaned courtesy some dazzling moves by Ennis. Game tied.

- Miller hasn't been tested since Habs PP very early in the period. That's how dry it's been for the offense.

- Sabres really struggling with the finish tonight. If it were on, might be a blowout already.

- Excellent transition game by Subban tonight. He gives us a fighting chance.

- Sad sack frame for the Habs - Sabres really controlled much of the tempo, not to mention puck possession. We're extremely lucky to be tied with 20 minutes left.

Third Period:

- Pacaioretty back on the bench. Exhale.

- Eek. Eek. Really bad pinch by Markov creates odd-man break for the Sabres Emelin redirects cross-ice pass past Budaj and Sabres take the lead.

- Habs really struggling to keep their legs moving, Sabres all over looking for the insurance goal.

- Habs really slowing down here - maybe it's a side effect from that western road trip, maybe it's symptomatic of a larger issue of conditioning that's dogged this team all season long. Sabres third goal looking like a matter of time.

- Ooch. Cole won't get many better chances than that. Mike Weber saved a goal there.

- Myers with a nasty blindside hit on Gomez. Habs get a PP chance.

- Well that lasted 14 seconds. Pretty marginal hooking call on Pacioretty. Eager beaver officiating there.

- Markov pinches to get a quality try on Miller, which is cool. But then Weber rushes up leaving Plekanec the only guy back, which is very bad. Sabres nearly salt it away.

- Habs can't string two consecutive passes together here, making it rather difficult to generate some offense.

- Bourque was particularly invisible tonight. Even more so than his usual invisible self. #whentradesgohorriblywrong

- Markov with a fabulous play to keep the Sabres from scoring into the empty net, and he generates a great scoring chance. Welcome back.

- AND DESHARNAIS SCORES with 3 left!! How big is that Markov play now?? Fantastic!!


- Weber pinches to take a shot, I think he actually hit the post, but as a result gets caught up ice. Myers scores and the Sabres grab that precious extra point. Still, to get that one point is another indicator that this team is entirely different with Markov in the lineup.

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