Saturday, 23 February 2013

Game Eighteen: Rangers vs. Habs

First Period:

- So Prust and Gallagher are in, Bourque is out with the flu, otherwise White would have been odd-man out.

- Beautiful pass by Gallagher right on Desharnais' tape for the break. I think Halpern coming back knocked the puck away from going into the net.

- Del Zotto's scratch tonight gives Habs a bit more opportunity to crash the net. Watch for that as game progresses.

- Ryan White, soft hands you have not.

- Boullion with an excellent blind backhand clearance right up the middle. Please stop.

- Habs forwards doing a good job bottling up the neutral zone, Rangers having a tough time organizing much of an effective transition.

- Not sure if its a bad case of snakebite, but Cole needs to start producing from these opportunities.

- Prust on the Plekanec line has definitely provided an aggressive punch. Creating quality chances on Biron.

- Just 2 shots on the clock for Habs with 4 minutes left. That can't be right, can it?

- Game has a more energized pace compared to the Tuesday night snoozer in New York, but not by much. Both teams do excellent man-to-man defensive coverage, nobody buckling yet. Garbage goals will likely decide this one.

- Best bodycheck of the game thrown by referee Brad Miere. Awesome.

- There's the Plekanec line again, giving the Rangers headaches. Habs to the PP.

- First Period summary: Glad I'm not a paying customer tonight. Zzzzz.

- The RDS guys just flashed a graphic - Biron has 3rd most wins among active NHL goaltenders.

Second Period:

- I don't want to look too far ahead, but if there are two teams that I do not want to see face each other in the playoffs, it's these two.

- Erik Cole. There we go, flippin' finally he scores. Courtesy massive Rangers defensive lapse. Torts is furious. 1-0.

- Pacioretty took blindside hit right in front of his bench. In considerable pain.

- Mcdonagh hit Pacioretty and then a shift later delivered a high stick to Prust's face, neither called.

- Correction, Mcdonagh elbowed Prust. Was still a very obvious penalty not called.

- Pacioretty kindly provides Mcdonagh a taste of his own medicine, and is assessed a boarding penalty. Resisting snarky officiating comment here.

- Mcdonagh gone to the dressing room. I think a couple of his teeth are still somewhere on the ice.

- Rangers powerplay looks terrible. They gotta somehow get that fixed. By the way, it was also broken when Nash was in the lineup.

- No love loss between these two. Hits are brutal out there. Hope there aren't too many injuries after this one is finished.

- Biron goes wandering and gets caught. Plekanec left with a totally wide open net from 25 feet. Fires a shot seven feet wide and high. Maybe he thought it was a soccer net?

- Love icings? Habs and Rangers are here to satisfy your cravings.

- Don't know if that will count but that was a beautiful goal by Galchenyuk.

- If Eller swiped that in with a high stick it was completely unnecessary. The puck was already well on its way to going in.

- Ruled a good goal. Eller might be breathing a sigh of relief. Therrien doesn't like stupid and/or selfish plays. He might have been benched for the violation.

- Prust is a body crashing monster out there, but his odd man rush executions are ummm ... not so great.

- My mind is boggled by the thought of how good Galchenyuk will be once he gets better.

- Habs demonstrate how not to execute a 3-on-1 break.

- Markov not nearly as dangerous or commanding on the man advantage as he was the start of the year. It's a mystery.

- Don't wanna hex this, but given how this Rangers offense is playing right now, I can't see how they could possibly come back down 3-0.

- All Habs in the 2nd. Rangers look like a non-playoff team tonight. Cruise mode should easily bring this one home.

Third Period:

- Mcdonagh hasn't come back since the Paciiretty hit. His head was crunched against the unforgiving Bell Centre boards, so start making your own assumptions.

- Okay, the Rangers absolutely have to score on this powerplay. Zero shots their last one.

- Eller shorthanded rush. More reason why the Habs organization would be crazy to give up on him.

- I didn't think it possible, but that Rangers man advantage was worse than its last one.

- I know NHL players make a ton of money but I'll being going to bed tonight glad I'm not on the Rangers' roster. I'd hate to think what drills Torts will put them through in response to tonight's dreadful performance.

- Habs get a nice little test Monday in Ottawa against the banged up Sens. At least tonight's win keeps first place in tact.

Game Preview:

Okay, so blowing a game against the overmatched Islanders wasn't very much fun, but this stuff happens. The Habs either wouldn't or couldn't keep pace with the Islanders' , and much like we endured numerous times last season, the Canadiens faded the final 20 minutes, and let reasonably comfortable leads turn into defeats. While the bottom line totals are very impressive, 11 wins in 17 games, the loss to New York, and a previous loss two weeks ago to Buffalo where a 3-goal 3rd period lead was blow (not to mention the blow 3 goal lead to Tampa 10 days ago) must remain an ongoing concern.

Anyway this still doesn't take away from a pretty impressive string of victories, most recently against the Rangers in Manhattan. Tonight, the Habs have a few banged up bodies which may or may not play. Brendan Gallagher is almost certain to return tonight, although there are questions surrounding the health of Brendon Prust, who is an "upper body" injury is gametime decision, according to coach Therrien.

As per the previous game, the Rangers' powerplay is a mess - so like Tuesday night, if they can finally start producing with the man advantage, their chances of winning will improve dramatically. That said, New York will once again be without the services of Rick Nash, who will miss his third straight start. The Bell Centre hasn't also been a very friendly place for the blue shirts, 6 losses the past 6 games in Montreal, in three of those games, New York was shut out.

Martin Biron, who's played will in the past, will start for the Rangers, and as usual, Carey Price will start for the Habs.

Puck drops at 7:15 EST!

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