Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Game Sixteen: Habs vs. Rangers

First Period:

- Habs keeping it very basic early on - being very cautious mindful of the Rangers' offensive advantages. Clearing zone as quickly as possible, not being afraid to ice the puck if nobody is open.

- Really solid shift for Desharnais line, aggressive forechecking creating turnovers in Rangers zone. NY on their heels there.

- Halfway through the 1st, one shot registered by the Rangers. Zip for Habs. Ouch.

- Rangers have nearly twice as many wins as they do powerplay goals. That ain't good.

- If Price sees it, it's going to be stopped. Also, zero rebounds surrendered.

- Habs are seriously in danger of not getting a shot in this period.

- There it is. Habs register their first shot of the game with less than 4 minutes left in the 1st.

- Rangers zone defense is ridiculously disciplined. They suffocate the opposition from setting up for any quality chances. Simply no where to go, no where to pass.

- Habs 4th line has been the most dangerous tonight, grinding out chances. Really, that's the only way the Habs will score tonight - dirty, hard-fought goals.

- 8 total shots in the period, 5 of them by New York. This game isn't much fun to watch, unless you enjoy defensive clinics.

Second Period:

- Big pressure by Desharnais line, Lundqvist quality saves, no juicy rebounds.

- Elite goaltender vs. elite goaltender. Who'll blink first?

- Definitely more free-reeling period compared to the first. Surely a goal is coming soon ...

- Habs can crash Lundvqist all night long, but Rangers blue liners aren't surrendering the slot for any shots or passes. It's an impenetrable shield surrounding that New York net.

- Credit other direction, has anyone yet noted Habs have only surrendered one goal the past 11 periods?

- Nevermind that last point. Subban delayed penalty call, everyone just seemed to disengage and coast, leaving Stralman alone for a routine tip-in past Price. Bad, bad goal. Rangers lead 1-0.

- 8 shots in just under 40 minutes isn't gonna do the job.

- Nevermind that last point as well. Pacioretty one timer from Gorges, Lundqvist knocking himself for letting that past. Tie game. Rangers defense rare surrender of the slot gives Patches the room he needed to pull the trigger.

- Once again Habs find themselves even on the scoreboard after two periods. The team has thrived this season under such a scenario - can they pull out yet another late game win?

Third Period:

- Terrific defensive block by Eller, and the Rangers, so stellar throughout the night, leave Lundqvist out to dry on the ensuing Habs rush. Galchenyuk scores to give the Habs the lead. This hard working line, Eller/Galchenyuk/Prust richly rewarded.

- Therrien throws Eller line right back out there, and Prust nearly makes it a two goal lead.

- Sloppy point giveaway but excellent recovery by Emelin, who's been a rock on the Habs blue line tonight.

- Aside from that atrocious first goal, Habs forwards hustling back hard on every New York rush.

- Markov can't handle the contact behind his net, coughs up the puck and the Rangers nearly score about a half second later. It happens that fast in the NHL.

- Habs three icings in less than 30 seconds. Eller line is exhausted.

- Officials confer and realize icing was incorrectly called. TV timeout arrives. Habs forwards can catch their breath.

- Subban falls behind his net, surrenders the puck, Rangers very nearly score two seconds later. Think Plekanec played some goal there to keep Habs in the lead.

- Habs finally get a powerplay, courtesy a disastrous line change by New York.

- Eller line has been fantastic in the 3rd period. Rangers are fit to be tied.

- Price robs Boyle on shorthanded 2-on-1 Rangers break.

- Habs PP really needs to be a point of concern. A mere shadow of their early season self.

- Playing with fire here, slot coverage wayyyy to soft.

- Bad news, Habs penalized with 3 minutes left. Worse news, it's Plekanec.

- Watched the replay, that was a pretty soft interference call.

- Habs holding on for dear life here.

- Hoping Eller scores on the empty Rangers net - he deserves it.

- It wasn't Eller, but it is Diaz into the net, and the Canadiens win a huge game. I think this one cements what we've been suspecting for weeks - this Habs team is for real.

The Drive for 5 is ALIVE

Wow. Here we are. Gunning for a fifth straight win. When did that last happen for we Habs fans? Who knows - do I look like a statistician?

Tonight, we're in tough. The Rangers, who weren't exactly setting the world on fire the first two weeks of the season, but have since began to settle down a bit, winning 4 of their past five, most recently against the Caps (no big deal) on Sunday night, and also be the Bruins last week, which ain't too shabby.

Rangers also have not lost a single time to anyone playing outside of their Division this season.

So something's gotta give tonight.

Habs will obviously have to keep their eye on the usual Rangers suspects, Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik ... this team does not lack offensive depth. A big break for the Habs came late today when the Ranger announced that Rick Nash will not be in the lineup. Meanwhile Marc Staal is making solid contributions from the blue line, Ryan Mcdonagh remains an agonizing memory amongst Habs fans, but let's not pick that still smarting, still raw wound.

Weaknesses for New York? Their powerplay is kind of a mess, go figure. Clocking in at just over a pathetic 11%, the unit is ranked last in the League. Their PK is significantly better, just a tad over 84%, good for 8th in the League.

Montreal's powerplay, even with the recent winning streak, has also looked pretty shabby of late. So throw that all together, and if one of these two teams can start producing tonight with the man advantage, it would probably go a long way towards earning a victory.

Carey Price, he who was having fluids fed into his body via a tube less than 48 hours ago, will start. Great thanks to Peter Budaj who admirably stepped into the line of fire, and reeled off two sweet wins. Have a seat Peter. We'll talk to you again some time in March.

What else. Same lineup tonight as last night, which means Ryan White is in. That's fine. He played a pretty solid game against the Hurricanes, so more redemptive icetime is clearly in order.

Puck drops at 7:10 EST! Enjoy the game!


Sorry Cam, not this year.

Game preview later today! First place, baby!

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