Saturday, 9 February 2013

Game Eleven: Leafs vs. Habs

Alright, so it's been a couple of days since Ryan White got a cramp in the cranial, and for the 2nd major time this year, took a double-minor penalty that contributed towards losing a game. Not surprisingly, there were plenty of calls for White's butt to be shipped off to Siberia or Winnipeg (I suppose there's little difference), because, as coach Therrien and everyone else who makes decisions in the Habs organization had readily proclaimed, there are "NO EXCUSES" if you play for the Montreal Canadiens.


Of course, unloading White as just desserts (I assume) serves the purposes of sending a clear message that the Habs mean business now when it comes to winning, and there are few, if any, margins for error  or forgiveness.

Problem is, punishing White beyond the expected forthcoming scratches would be a terribly counterproductive move by the Canadiens, because White has significant value, and plays an important specific role on his team. He's the classic 4th line grinder, willing to stick his nose in places most players aren't willing to go. He's prepared to dish out hits and (we hope appropriately) drop the gloves to defend his mates. He's even got some offensive ability to boot - he is capable of leading a line searching for grubby goals to propel his team over the top in those hard-fought, competitive contests.

So it makes little sense for Therrien to admonish White to permanent obscurity for these errors in judgement. Yes, they were significant errors, but they are correctable.

I'm pretty certain at this point, White knows he's got a problem, he's identified it, and he'll work on making sure it doesn't happen any more, when he's given the chance to prove himself.

And I'm very sure Therrien will give him another chance. Not tonight, probably not this week, but eventually.

TONIGHT: We gots yer Leafs and we gots yer Habs for the 700th and 65st time or whatever it is, in history. The Habs will try to put an end to this mini winless streak against a Leafs team that we're still trying to figure out. Are they good? Are they bad? Are they great? Are they horrible?

The Leafs, with their mediocre .500-esque record, haven't been helped much by the guys who are supposed to produce, namely Phil Kessel, who finally scored his first goal of the year in the last game, but is nonetheless the centre of much trade speculation. Meanwhile the Leafs defense hasn't exactly been turning heads, Dion Phaneuf has looked pretty awful on a few occasions this season. So opportunity's aplenty for the speedy Habs forwards to take full advantage on the supposed 1st line Toronto defense. Look for many drives to the Leafs net tonight.

Oh yeah. Toronto's PK? Still terrible. How many years in a row will this continue? Looking forward to the Markov/Subban duo setting off cannons from the line on the PP. Gonna be fun.

Habs, even with the mini winless streak, still looked pretty solid in defeats. P.K. Subban seems to be settling in - he hasn't played a game yet without scoring at least one point. The Desharnais line continues to be plagued with inconsistency, but you just know that once Max Pacioretty starts to get his wheels back that they'll start to produce - even considering Erik Cole's usual slow season starts.

Carey Price, he amongst the Habs netminders who is capable of covering up a loose puck, will start. James Reimer, who I guess is now for sure the Leafs #1 guy for the rest of the year(?) ... will start for Toronto.

Travis Moen will also return from his mini-injury. And yeah, Ryan White will sit.

First Period:

- Markov gets caught, can't get back, Emelin fails to cover the crease, and Leafs Kamarov scores on the Leafs' first shot of the game. Yuck.

- Eller with a ridiculously sloppy and lazy giveaway in his zone nearly costs the Habs another goal.

- Leafs gameplan pretty transparent. Forecheck like crazy. Habs should adjust accordingly, and benefit by generating odd man rushes.

- Habs 4th line with some good work keeping puck in Leafs zone. Trying to generate some much needed momentum.

- Price looks hmmm ... shaky?

- Habs are letting Leafs walk all over them in the slot, and Toronto is killing them. 2-0 and counting.

- You'd never know the Habs were a "rested" team by what we've seen the first 10 minutes. Slow and sloppy.

- Quite possibly the worst played period of the season to date right here. Boos peppering down from the seats.

- Habs haven't registered one good chance on Reimer so far. First nearly over.

- Can we just play the Galchenyuk line for the rest of the night?

- Outhustled, outhit, outchanced, outshot, outplayed. Fully deserving to be down by two after one.

Second Period:

- Habs come out strong. Clearly a message was delivered in the dressing room.

- Subban attempting to carry the puck deep, which is fine - but he tends to stick handle himself into a position where he's forced to make a pass, often blind pass.

- Not a great night for Emelin, Gallagher misses his check, and it's 3-zip. Leafs are simply cashing their opportunities.

- Need big momentum changing event here, like a short-handed goal.

- Canadiens' passing simply not clicking. Can someone explain playing the Leafs on a Saturday night this season? #maddening

- Leafs passing like a top-flight NHL team tonight. Why us?

- Cole taken off first line, Gallagher has his spot now.

- Wow. Crazy call on Gallagher. Grabbed and tossed to the ice, he's called for a dive. Wrong call.

- Why is Tim Peel an NHL referee? Too many bad calls being made by this singular official.

- 5 on 3 opportunity coming up. Chance to get back into this. Markov and Subban warming up at the line. Let's do this.

- Bourque turns the puck over with the two man advantage. Goodbye two man advantage.

- Faceoffs are 30 Leafs, 15 Montreal. Need we say more?

- Habs are only going to beat Reimer with garbage tonight. Nothing getting past.

- 16-5 SOG Habs 2nd period. Ain't happening.

- 4 minutes left, Habs simply must score before period ends to have any hope.

- Bourque gets mugged, gets called for the penalty. More officiating wow. Leafs, of course, score on the PP. That's all she wrote.

- Seen way too many poor penalties being called this year - far more than I can ever recall. There must be some explanation.

- Habs register 20 shots in the 2nd, Leafs register 7. Leafs score 2, Habs score zip. Yeah, me either.

Third Period:

- Subban in lala land, Price simply hasn't been himself, 5-0, Habs determined to be humiliated tonight. They already have been. What's the excuse going to be for this sorry demonstration?

- Price's elite GAA and SP League standing going to take a huge tumble tonight. Hasn't been the same since Eller hit him you-know-where in warmups.

- Pacioretty livid, claiming Grabovski bit his hand in a scrum. Refs, at least these two, of course, missed it. League may review this, however.

- Signing off for the night, the reverberations from tonight's shellacking are going to be interesting. Ryan White might be back a lot sooner than we thought.

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