Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Game Twenty: Habs vs. Leafs

First Period:

- Really like the uptempo start by the Habs, taking a much different tact than the game they lost 6-0.

- Outshooting your opponent by a ratio of 4 to 1, hurts to be down 1-0. Subban the defensive error reacting the wrong direction, allowing Mclaren free path to the net and a fluky backhander that somehow eludes Price. 1-0.

- Always sweet to have your 4th line produce. Emelin first of the year off a Leafs leg in front. Game quickly tied, important to maintain pace if you're the better playing team.

- Kaberle, I must admit, has brought his A game tonight. Impressively sturdy and physical so far.

- Brown with a terrible blind hit on Gorges who went into the corner awkwardly. Case could be made that Brown should be given 5.

- It is, indeed, a 5 minute major and game for Brown.

- Habs clearly the better team, dominated puck possession, outshot Leafs 10-4. Take that every time.

- Pacioretty might not be able to hit empty nets, but a fluky bounce will do nicely, thank you. Habs take 2-1 lead.

Second Period:

- The Toronto scribes are up in arms over the Brown call. Not a surprise there. Mike Milbury called it a clean check, which automatically tells you the Brown hit is suspension-worthy.

- Huge PP opportunity here. Be sweet to score at least one from this.

- Puck was rolling a bit, but still, Pacioretty's gotta bury that into the empty net.

- Such a huge drop-off when Bouillon and Kaberle work the PP line.

- Prust has to be smarter than that on the PP. Drawing a fight isn't worth it.

- 5 minute major added, Habs really running up the shot clock.

- Shots 9-0 Habs at the 7 minute mark of the period.

- I'd wager 8 of the 10 minutes of this period, the puck has been in the Leafs' zone. It really has been that one-sided in favour of the Canadiens.

- 25 to 5 the shots on goal. Habs should be running away on the scoreboard. But they aren't burying.

- Grabovsky isn't a speedster, but Emelin looked like molasses. Grabovsky draws a penalty shot.

- Pathetic attempt by Grabovsky. Score remains 2-1.

- McCarthur off the rebound seconds after Leafs carried the puck in blown offside call. Leafs taking advantage of their opportunities. 2-2.

- Emelin rings one off the inside of the goalpost. Karma not going Habs way.

- Habs have simply dominated 36 of the 40 minutes played do far. But the score is tied. This game might be headed with the same fate as Monday's game in Ottawa. Canadiens simply not burying enough chances, Price not his stellar usual self.

Third Period:

- Much more evenly played period, both teams with cautious offensive jabs, but defenses being very protective of their slots. Almost as though each is waiting for the other to make the first big mistake.

- Ryder with a pretty quiet first night, to be expected given he's playing with new teammates and an entirely different system.

- Right off a sloppily dropped faceoff, Gorges with a harmless wrist shot tipped by Gallagher. Habs lead 3-2.

- Habs just barely surviving post-goal letdown here.

- Leafs continue to spout venom from the bench over how that faceoff was dropped. Like they're gonna actually take the goal off the board, guys?

- Btw the poorly dropped puck made by the same official who blew an offside call on Toronto's tying goal in the 2nd period. So it all evens out.

- Toronto scribes STILL fretting over the the Bozak faceoff drop. Sharpening up the excuses for a loss, I suppose.

- BEAUTIFUL forecheck and an even more brilliant shot by Pacioretty. One of the best goal shots I've seen anywhere this season. Habs have insurance.

- Habs in lock-down mode. Doing nice job so far clearing the zone.

- Scrivens needs to wait until the puck crosses centre red line before leaving his net. Gionta with icing on the cake.

- Scribes are now silent. Habs took the Leafs out to the shed tonight.

- Nine wins for the month of February, tonight a brilliant performance to cap an outstanding month for the Canadiens. This team just keeps impressing more and more with each start, one starts to wonder when the sky is the limit.

Pregame Preview:

I know we're a little late to the trade party, but the big news out of Habsland yesterday was the deal between the Canadiens and Stars, with Erik Cole headed to the Big D, and Michael Ryder coming back for another stint with the team that originally drafted him.

A disclaimer. First, I really, really approved of the original Cole singing. He's a tremendous puck controlling winger with feast or famine offensive output. Unfortunately, it's been more famine that feast for Cole this season, and with two years left on a fairly large sized contract, I can fully understand the rationale in Bergevin's mind. Let's cut some salary, and if Ryder really continues to produce well, maybe offer him a nice little deal at season's end. Even if Ryder goes elsewhere, the Habs are still looking at about 16+m left floating on their cap space, which is ENORMOUS.  So there's lot of flexibility heading into the offseason. 

Tonight, Ryder's in uniform as the Habs will try to FINALLY beat the Leafs, whom as we all remember, and can't forget as hard as we try, pretty much handed the Habs their butt on a plate the last time the two met two weeks ago. Ryder will play along side Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk. Hopefullly Ryder will continue his +1 PPG pace.

We have injury problems creeping up, though. Rene Bourque apparentlyuky didn't have the flu, but was suffering from concussion symptoms. So he's a scratch for who hurt knows how long. And late this afternoon there's news that Raphael Diaz will sit out tonight because of, you guessed it, concussion symptoms. Yikes.

So in Diaz' place, Tomas Kaberle will get his first start since February 2nd. Double yikes.

Carey Price will start for the Habs, Ben Scrivens for the Leafs.


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