Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Game Twelve: Habs vs. Lightening


Wow. Are we already a quarter way through the season? It seemed like just two or three weeks ago the whole thing start ... oh yeah. It was two or three weeks ago when it started. Man. Time flies.

So let's figure this out. Win tonight, we have 15 points, on pace for 60, which would easily be enough to clinch a playoff spot. So no problemo, right?

Oh yeah. Saturday night. That happened? Gotta hand it to those Leafs, they really took a BITE out of our season. Har har. Sigh. As per usual, the NHL head office went to the tape, saw the bite, got the medical report indicating said bite on Pacioretty's arm, and did ... nothing. But we're used to that in Habsland, aren't we?

So tonight, that Habs fresh off the stench that still exhumes from the weekend, are taking a nice little trip through southern Florida, and tonight the first stop is in Tampa to face the Bolts, aka "Habs South". Nevermind the fact that the stands are half full of snowbirding Habs fans, but Tampa has (as usual) a ton of ex-Canadiens on its roster ... thankfully none of them named John LeClair.

Anyway, early in the year Tampa was cooking up a storm, shooting right to the top of the Eastern Conference standings. But somewhere along the line, Tampa went off the cliff, and have lost their past four in a row. So something's gotta give tonight.

As per usual, Steven Stamkos is running up the points, 17 in 11 games. But the Bolts have problems, problems, problems beyond the 4-game losing skid. Their goaltending is bit of a mess right now with both Anders Lindback and Mathieu Garon struggling to find the .900 SP mark, which is definitely not good. Tampa's netminding problems might have something to do with the number of shots they're giving up per game (6th worst in the League), or their wretched fades in the 3rd period (19 goals surrendered this season, worst in the League).

This isn't to say that the Habs are walking on easy street. We still have a few players MIA. Eric Cole is in the middle of his usual slow season start, Max Pacioretty is still searching for his first goal of the season, Lars Eller is ... who knows what Lars Eller is doing anymore these days, and Colby Armstrong ... why exactly is Colby Armstrong in the lineup? I'm trying to recall why he was picked up in the first place because for the most part, he's been flying way below the radar. I guess he's supposed to be the PK specialist, and he's supposed to be physical? Colby, could we see some of that physical stuff at least? Brandon Prust can't do it all, ya know.

In light of some of these seemingly offensively oriented issues, coach Therrien has moved Pacrioretty down to the kid line. The thinking, I'd reckon, is that Pacioretty will cash in some of those sweet sweet passes from wunderkid Alex Galchenyuk, because Brenden Gallagher is far too busy crashing into everything in sight (which is a very good thing).

Ryan White won't play (we assume), although if Armstrong continues to slumber and Eller continues to look disinterested, he may get another shot very, very soon.

Carey Price, he being the Habs goaltender that knows how to cover up a loose puck, will start.

Enjoy the game, we'll be following along 7:30 EST!

First Period:

- Solid first shift for the Galchenyuk line. Gallagher crashing as usual, creating turnovers.

- Habs definitely with early game initiative here. Delivering solid hits on Tampa's defenders.

- Habs Emelin continues to struggle with these odd man rushes. Really don't like his pairing with Markov, who's obviously slowed because of those severe injuries.

- Armstrong and especially Prust really should have buried that PK chance.

- Horseshoes around the Tampa goal right now.

- Another line combo I'm not crazy about - Gorges/Diaz. Their styles don't complement each other.

- Wow. How'd Markov not finish that chance?

- Not to take anything away from Lindback, but Habs not finishing these easy chances. That bodes poorly because you just know Stamkos is going to get something going sooner or later.

- Do believe Tampa has yet to register a chance on Price yet. 7 minutes left in the period. Whoops, there's the first.

- Habs with dreadful PP, unable to even gain the puck in the Tampa zone. This also bodes poorly.

- Habs out working Tampa by a considerable amount, getting lots of PPs as a result. Now if they could only finish ...

- Habs inability to win Faceoffs is really hurting the PP big time.

- Gianta. Finally. 1-0.

- Habs dominated the period, outworking and outskating Tampa, drawing lots of penalties, and finally taking advantage late in the frame. Much, much better than Saturday night.

Second Period:

- Tampa appears to be skating in some of that Florida sand - surprising given how "fast" this team was to play against.

- Terribe passing both directions, costing both clubs glorious chances. Sloppy period so far.

- Figures that Subban with a harmless shot finds its way in. Sloppy play results in sloppy scoring. 2-0.

- 34 minutes into this game, Price really hasn't hade much more than routine chances to handle. He's almost getting the night off, Tampa has been so offensively ineffective. So far.

- Emelin paired with Bouillon. Much better matching. Now if we could only get Subban back with Gorges ...

- Habs forwards really coming back and protecting their zone when the Bolts send their big guns out. So far Stamkos and St.Louis stymied.

- Finally finishing off the scramble, Moen with some 4th line offense. 3-0. Luck ran out for the flopping Lindback.

- Tampa's been pretty terrible tonight, they look spent. Somewhat rested Habs simply running away with this. 20 minutes of smart hockey should sew up the 2 points.

Third Period:

- Desharnais/Prust/Cole line with an outstanding forechecking shift.

- Therrien trying to match with Gorges whenever Stamkos steps on the ice.

- Tampa forwards seem insistent on going high on Price, keep missing. Emelin with another sloppy game around his crease. Otherwise, everything still in cruise mode.

- Stamkos line getting better every shift, pushing harder. Still not breaking through.

- Love Boucher's incredulous look as Tampa is nabbed for clear-cut too many men.

- If Subban hustles to pick up the puck he bobbles, Tampa doesn't score. 3-1.

- Be surprised if that counts. Look like shot was deflected in by Hedman's glove.

- Oh well. Head office rules against the Habs for the 14 zillionth time.

- Dominated this game ... if this lead is blown ...

- Plekanec takes a tripping call. Hoo boy.

- Wow. Just wow.

- Habs have to get this faceoff thing figured out in a hurry.

- Many post game fingers are going to be pointed in Subban's direction for that soft goal which got the Bolts on the board ... and you know the rest of the story.


- Brewer with a terrible trip, Habs to PP.

- Tampa had four out while on the PK. Unbelievably not caught by the officials.

- On to the shootout. Or as it's better known in Habsland, death.


- Subban escapes the coach's wrath. Thank goodness for that. Thank goodness we get the two.

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