Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Game Seventeen: Islanders vs. Habs

First Period

- Excellent start, Islanders caught off guard by aggressive forechecking by Habs 4th line, Moen with a nice snapper off the post. 1-0.

- Habs really taking it to the Islanders, transition game looking sharp as a tack. New York struggling to react and adapt.

- Subban, Desharnais, Pacioretty. Tic. Tac. Toe. As pretty as they come, Habs lead 2-0. Islanders reacting in slow motion. This game could spin out of control quickly.

- Pacioretty's PP goal first team man advantage score in five games. Yeah, it's been bad lately.

- All Habs first. 14-3 were the shots on goal. Canadiens continue to impress defensively.

Second Period

- There's that Islanders powerplay, Streit the point shot, Moulson with a pretty tip. New York back in it.

- Islanders transition game miles better this period. Looking dangerous.

- Prust trying to score gets hauled down, really should have been a tripping call. NHL officials seemingly will never call anyone who hauls Prust to the ice.

- Pacioretty is all cylinders right now - like all excellent goal scorers, his positioning has been perfect. Receive the pass, fire it home. 3-1 Habs.

- Joe Finley boards Eller, Prust drops the gloves in response. Finley is 6'8"' 250 pounds. That's why they love Prust in Montreal. Fearless, borderline insane.

- Montreal stopped moving their legs, Desharnais called, and a good test here for Habs PK, Islanders chance to get back in this.

- Habs fail the test. Moulson again, left untouched in the slot, no chance for Price. Islanders man advantage very impressive. 3-2.

- Habs with mental letdowns, Islanders able to draw penalties and convert. Habs have to be very careful and disciplined in the 3rd, or this one could slip away.

- Habs seem to have rediscovered some momentum.

Third Period

- After going nearly 70% in the faceoff circle on Tuesday night, Lars Eller just 20% tonight. Their line not nearly as dangerous as they were against the Rangers.

- Tavares line comes out storming to start the period. Islanders revving, Habs totally flat footed.

- Ryan White pushed in Nabokov, gets called for interference. Killer Islanders powerplay goes to work.

- Plekanec with a lazy and terrible hook in the neutral zone. Left the ice shaking his head. I suspect at himself.

- Taking a page out of the previous game playbook, Habs icing every opportunity. Attempting to slow the pace of the game.

- Another icing. Islanders totally outskating and outhustling in the 3rd. Habs have to find a way of turning the tide very quickly, or this game will soon be tied.

- Surely by now the Canadiens lead the League in icings. Surely.

- Bourque doesn't hustle back to check his man, and as we saw it coming, Islanders' Nielson ties it up. Be tempted to call for time because right now the Habs are skating in quicksand.

- Solid shift for the Eller line, trying to inject some momentum and energy into a pretty sluggish Canadiens roster.

- Pacioretty won't get an easier chance for a hat trick than that.


- Islanders don't score that winning goal if Taveres doesn't make an unbelievable pass while flat on his stomach. Islanders fully deserved victory. Winning streak over.

Gameday Preview:

Let's make it short and sweet. The Habs are gunning for their 6th straight. They've got Carey Price in net, whom, if the vote were held today, would be the Vezina winner.

But right now, that doesn't matter. What matters is that the Habs just keep winning, and keep padding their lead in the Conference/Division. They'll have to handle the Isles John Tavares, who's averaging 1.25 ppg. The Islanders also come in with a pretty decent powerplay, 7th in the League. So they can be dangerous.

On the other hand, they can also be horrible, as witness to the 7-0 shellacking they took at the hands of the Flyers a few days ago.

Habs meanwhile, have some powerplay concerns - it's been pretty wretched the past two weeks or so, even with the team's terrific winning run of late. So keep an eye on any progress for that unit.

Brandan Gallagher continues to rest from his recent concussion, coach Therrien has hinted he might return Saturday night against the Rangers. Meanwhile, as per last game, it's the same lineup for the Canadiens. Keep an eye on the Eller/Galchenyuk/Prust line, they might get some powerplay time tonight as a reward for their excellent performance Tuesday against the Rangers.

Puck drop is at 7:40 EST. ENJOY THE GAME!

Gameday Updates:

Happy Thursday! It's gameday in Habsland. The Canadiens are hoping to maintain (still pinching myself) first place in the Eastern Conference with a win tonight against the Islanders, which would be their 6th in a row. Sweet.

Meanwhile, last night in hockeyland:

- Flyers edged the Pens in one of the wildest games played since these two met last spring in the playoffs. While I'm perfectly fine with Philadelphia never making the playoffs again for eternity, I'd be willing to watch these two teams duke it out in a 7 game set in April.

- In another titanic offensive showdown, the Avs beat the Blues 1-0 ... in OT. Yawn.

- Watch out for those Kings. They won another one last night on their western Canadian road trip, 3-1 over the Flames. You don't fluke Stanley Cup championships, I suppose.


First Place in the Eastern Conference.

Doesn't that feel good? Go on, say it aloud. First. Place. In. The. Eastern. Conference.

Now, let's hope it lasts.

Sweet, sweet victory last night in one one of the most forgettable games I've ever seen. What was the score, anyway? Doesn't matter. A win, however boring, is still a win.

Some odds and ends around the League from last night's action:

- So what the heck is going on with the Edmonton Oilers? Weren't they supposed to be routing the League with their studly soon-to-be-superstart countless top-ranked first-round forwards? The Oil lost another one, their offense only managing to score one piddly goal.

Mewonders at what point Edmonton's bench boss Ralph Krueger needs to start looking over his shoulder?

- The San Jose Sharks WON ... finally, breaking a seven game winless streak beating the Blues 2-1. Now I'm all embarrassed for poking fun at the Sharks organization for signing and playing Scott Gomez, and for losing every single game with Gomez in the lineup. Well that streak is over, thank goodness.

What's that? Gomez wasn't in the lineup last night? Ooops.

- Leafs lost in Tampa, as Ben Scrivens' defiance of gravity came to an abrupt end. Oh well.

- Sabres looked horrid losing to the equally horrid Jets at home. Whispers mounting over Lindy Ruff's near-term future. UPDATE: Ruff has been fired. Who'll snap him up?

- Hawks set an NHL record, 16 games to start the season without a regulation loss. When will Chicago lose? 4-3 last night in a shootout against Vancouver. Unlike the Habs/Rangers contest, this one was a very entertaining game.

- I'm going to stick my neck out and predict for the first time in about 459 years, the Red Wings won't be in the playoffs. Nonetheless, one must take great delight from this absurdly wonderful goal by the great Pavel Datsyuk, which I think we can safely say, will probably end up the goal of the year. Enjoy!

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