Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Game Thirty-Nine: Caps vs. Habs

First Period:

- Lots of buzz in the Bell Centre tonight. This game has suddenly become one of the hottest tickets of the season.

- Bad news comes early. Chris Lee tonight. Sorry Habs fans.

- World class saves by Price out of the gate. Caps' offense looks really good.

- The Bouillon-Beaulieu combo is making me mighty nervous. Caps trying to get Ovechkin out there when they're on.

- Pretty sure the word "quit" is not part of Gallagher's vocabulary.

- First five minutes was all Caps. Since then it's been mostly Habs. Working the puck out of the D zone with relative ease.

- Caps seem to be taking the "E" word to heart tonight.

- Eller opens the scoring, Caps offense way too flippant and fancy on the rush, and took way too much time hustling back to cover their man. Eller was all alone.

- Ovechkin gets called for a slash as time expires.

- Price with one of his best periods of the season, Caps had many fine chances. Big picture though, Habs were miles ahead on the fundamentals, especially transitioning out of their zone. For the most part, Canadiens did a very good job containing #8, who appeared more interested in hovering around centre ice for a break pass. Ovie wanting it all himself, I guess.

Second Period:

- Excellent first powerplay, should generate some additional momentum.

- Once again the Eller line is setting the tone for the game. They're the 3rd line but they're playing like the 1st.

- Since Caps went up 9-0 in shot total to start the game, it's been 15-3 Habs.

- Was at Jets game when Bell Centre scoreboard was hit. Just happened again. I swear it's not me.

- Ovechkin. You just know Price wants that back. Simply whiffed on what looked like a harmless wrister.

- Caps with all the mo now. Habs not moving their feet in their zone.

- And there it is. 2-1. Game turned on its head just like that.

- Pushback by Habs here. Lots of buzz around Caps net.

- Credit where credit due, Neuvirth has been very solid.

- Odd duck period, Habs were arguably the better team except for 1:46 when the Caps potted two iffy goals off a mysteriously and suddenly shakey Carey Price. Now the Habs enter some pretty unfamiliar territory. Trailing on the scoreboard after 40 minutes.

Third Period:

- Habs have one hit tonight from their defense. One. In 40 minutes. Alexei Emelin, where are you?

- If nobody else will bother maybe Tinordi is due a chance. At the very least you know he's good for a bodycheck or four.

- While we're at it should also mention Habs defense guilty of lobbing far too many long passes that have no chance of being received, many resulting in turnovers and quality chances for the Caps.

- Caps forwards have been ALL over Subban tonight, barely giving him room to breath and absolutely no lanes to shoot. Kudos there.

- At least Price couldn't see that shot. Not much consolation. 3-1.

- Habs have got nothin going here. Absolutely nothin.

- Chris Lee will require his usual escort out of the building. Just brutal.

- Caps have had a stick or a leg in front of anything resembling a dangerous shot or pass this period. Frustrating.

- Eller! We might do this yet.

- Frantic finish. Not sure how that puck didn't go in, but it didn't.

Pregame Game Preview

Bonjour! It's yet another night of live blogging from the Bell Centre, the seats at centre ice (yay) and the opposition none other than the very hot Washington Capitals and the even hotter Alex Ovechkin. This one won't be easy.

Just how hot are both the Caps and their captain? Well, last time we faced Washington they were firmly in control over 15th and last place in the Eastern Conference. Mr. Ovechkin was getting plenty of criticism not only for his lack of offensive production, but his lacklustre on ice effort. Some were speculating that the Caps would be scraping their season and dangling out Ovechkin for picks and prospects.

Fast forward a few weeks and the Caps suddenly find themselves in 3rd place in the East, granted that being a benefit from playing in the terrible South East Division, where there's an outside possibility that this year's division winner might end up with fewer points than the Conferences' 9th place finisher.

Still, Ovie has been on fire - scoring 15 goals the past 11 games, for a grand total of 25 for the season, tying him for the League lead. That ain't bad, turnaround-wise.

So tonight, keep number 8 under wraps, and you've got a good shot at victory. The Habs will almost certainly look to their number one centre, Thomas Plekanec, do to most of the Ovie shadowing, although keep an eye on Rene Bourque, who's making his return tonight after many weeks missed from concussion. Bourque will play on the Habs 4th line, so don't be surprised to see Michel Therrien send Rene out for a few shifts to cover Ovechkin in order to free Plekanec up for some powerplay shifts.

By now you've heard about the season-ending injury to Alexei Emelin, which is a very significant blow to the Habs physicality on its blue line, PLUS it means the Habs will have to lean more heavily on Frankie Bouillon, who to be frank, has been terrible the past three weeks, and now finds himself slotted as the #4 defenseman in a League where he ought be no higher than #6. What can ya do??

Carey Price will start tonight, while Michal Neuvirth, who's been pretty iffy this season, gets the nod for the Caps.

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