Friday, 10 May 2013

Habs Post-Season: Year in Review

Marc Bergevin Year-End Presser:

Highlights and thoughts:

- Conference wrapped up - the usual predictable assortment of questions, too many about Carey Price, but Bergevin handled them with ease. Really, really impressed with the responses, and his continued determination for the franchise to build towards a championship utilizing internal resources. And giving the kids a fair chance to prove themselves. That's great to hear.

At face value, you'd think that Bergevin's insistence that the Habs won't look outside for quick fixes means that the summer will be quiet. But there's still much to do - the Kaberle decision, trying to negotiate an extension with Subban (which won't be easy if he picks up that Norris trophy), and pondering over whether to shake up the dynamics of the grinding line. Does he keep Moen? Armstrong? Lots to mull over.

- Bergevin agreeing with assessment that Travis Moen did not have a good season, but that he has confidence that he'll return to form. I guess the question is, will that return be in a Canadiens uniform come October?

- Any questions referencing Michael Ryder, Bergevin turns away quickly as possible. Said earlier he'd still make the trade again, but you know the relationship is over. And really, it was a good trade if only because it cleared up a lot of cap space, that will probably be gobbled up once the Subban extension is hammered out.

- Such a great thing to hear, really runs counter to the general philosophy that hurt this organization so badly for nearly 20 years, but here it is: "We're not afraid to give kids a chance .... what I tell the kids is if there's no room, make me find room. Force me to make a decision, earn your spot."

- Safe to say Bergevin is a massive fan of Gallagher. Who couldn't?

- Radio hacks not satisfied (there's one person in particular whose credentials really should be revoked but he shall remain nameless). Now asking about concerns about Pierre Groulx, Habs goalie coach. Bergevin turns the question away, says he won't point fingers.

- "In hockey it's not how many you win, it's how many you show up for."

- While not stating it outwardly, Bergevin hinting that Markov was probably tired, the compressed schedule too much to handle, I'd reckon.

- Bergevin says he will look to bolster defense via prospects before looking at external possibilities. Wonder which of his current defense crew he's most iffy about? Bouillon? Diaz? Emelin (long-term injury status)? Markov and his aching legs?

- Not pulling punches:

"Marc did Louis Leblanc take a step back this year?"

"Yep. Louis is aware he took a step back this year. He's still part of our plans."

- Crazy number of questions about Price today. Bergevin being very patient, but the volume is just ridiculous. The hacks in Montreal will never be satisfied.

- Stated "100%" and then "150%" confidence in Carey Price. An appropriate and just response - I've counted at least six Price-related questions so far. It's the same old story/curse in Montreal. If you play in goal and you aren't winning a championship by carrying the team on your shoulders, something is dreadfully wrong. Line of the scrum: "I'm not sure how we'll work this out. Maybe I can do his groceries for him?" Great stuff.

- Won't comment on Kaberle buyout, but said operations will be examining the CBA option. The decision to buy out was done lonnnnnnnng time ago.

- Gave his coach full vote of confidence and the rest of the coaching staff in general. Twitter twatter that Therrien wouldn't be back next winter was just that - twatter.

- On extending P.K. Subban's contract: "I don't negotiate in public."

- Restated general philosophy that the franchise will build itself as a winner from within. He won't try to "buy" a championship, won't try to make his team "good for one year", won't trade young players for [assumed] rentals. Excellent.

- On Brenden Gallagher: "Forget about taking a night off, he doesn't take a shift off. He's a building block for us."

- On the greatly disappointing David Desharnais: "He's a young player and I believe he'll be fine, he'll bounce back." I guess there's nothing else he could have or should have said, but you won't convince me that Bergevin hasn't been questioning himself over that four year contract extension.

The Injury List:

The curtain is lifted. What can you say? It's nasty.

-Bouillion: Broken finger. Played through it.
-Eller: Broken face.
-Gionta: Torn bicep. Tried playing through it. Facing surgery.
-Pacioretty: Separated shoulder (game one). Played through it.
-Prust: Dislocated rib, messed up shoulder. Played through it. Possible surgery ahead.
-Price: Sprained MCL, possibly other unspecified injury from season's end. Possible surgery ahead.
-White: Double-punctured lung from game three fight. Played through it. My opinion of White just went through the roof.

No way the Habs had a chance in that series. Not with those injuries. Not. A. Chance.

Media Day:

Ah, media day. It's always melancholy because it represents the REAL-WE-AREN'T-MESSING-AROUND-THIS-IS-THE-END conclusion to the season.  Players have been answering the usual questions with the usual answers - we're now finding out who was injured (none of it a surprise), and how badly they were injured. This team was badly banged up - too many key players had too many serious injuries. More on that in a bit.

Meanwhile, this to chew on. One player didn't bother showing up. Michael Ryder. Habs PR said that Ryder "forgot and left".  Yeah. Right. Well at least we know where that story is headed, so good luck Mr. Ryder, wherever you end up. I'm sure many GMs will be drooling with anticipation given your stellar performance against the Senators. Sorry, did I say stellar? I meant craptacular.
More in a bit.

Friday Update:

Our Habs Game Blog isn't going anywhere over the summer months. We'll be posting here fairly frequently about the season past, as well as current events, including player movements, signings, drafting, and looking forward to the 2013-14 season, which, to be perfectly honest, is shaping up to be very good for the Canadiens.

First up, we'll be doing a little post-season review of the Habs 2013 season, the good and the bad, the strengths, weaknesses and gaps facing Marc Bergevin moving forward.

I'll be working on a post for the next little while, hoping to post the player review this weekend. From time-to-time I'll also be posting some League-related nonsense and videos, just 'cause we're allowed to have fun, dammit!

More later.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Game Five: EC Quarterfinals: Sens vs. Habs

First Period:

- Carey Price's strongest critics seems to be of a collective opinion that Peter Budaj will be the next Jaroslav Halak. Well, those critics fail to realize this isn't 2010, the Habs aren't playing the then dysfunctional Washington Capitals, and Budaj ain't no Halak.

- Craig Anderson robs Bourque, then Blunden on his first shift. Blunden is already more productive in 15 seconds than Desharnais has been in 4+ games.

- Budaj. Hoo boy.

- Budaj's awful first goal in an instant just drained the life out of the Bell Centre.

- Bourque. Wide. Open. Net. Goal. Post. The series is cursed.

- So many incredibly juicy rebounds being surrendered by Anderson, Habs their own worst enemy here, can't cash in on these glorious opportunities.

- Habs 4th line really generating some fine momentum so far. Therrien rewarding them with regular shifts.

- So Habs dominating the Sens, but trail on the scoreboard. #brokenRecord

- Un. Freaking. Believable. I'm speechless. Beyond explanation.

- My hands are in the air, thrown up. If the Habs' great regular season was aided by some good fortune, it's all turned against them in the series.

- No margin for error, Habs must score the next goal or it's over. And even at that ...

- To borrow a bit from an Orwellion term, David Desharnais is double plus negative to his team. Bergevin must be eyes wide open at night wondering why on earth he offered that long term contract.

- Drinking game. Take a shot every time you hear the words "Ryder lost the puck." Repeat for 60 minutes of hockey. See if you're still alive.

- For the first time seemingly ever, the Sens get tossed in the circle, giving Plekanec an easy win. Subban the rocket off the post and in. WE SCORE, DAMMIT.

- That last second goal was so very, very important. It gives the Habs a glimmer of hope. Budaj must find a way of keeping the Sens at bay. He can't afford to surrender these softies. Anyway, we have hope.

Second Period:

- If the Habs score on this second powerplay the roof might come off the building.

- Not sure if its illusionary, but it feels like Habs are starting to gel here. Budaj must stay focused, no more bad goals.

- The gelling process is not aided very much by too many men numbskull penalties. Le sigh.

- Could be wrong by Karlsson looks about a full step slower tonight. I wonder ...

- Armstrong. That close. The Gods hath spoken. Just isn't happening.

- "Desharnais falls to the ice." Annnnnnnd ... drink.

- Budaj clearly interfered. Just wow. They're going to count this.

- Bah. Never mind. Plekanec pushed his man. Habs just can't buy a break.

- CBC crew missing the controversy. Therrien isn't questioning the goal, he's questioning Turris being five feet offside as the play was carried in. ANOTHER blown call by an NHL linesman.

- Looking at the goal again from the play carried in. Yup. Terris was way, way offside. Unbelievable incompetence by League officiating. No excuse for this.

- Okay, I've looked at freeze frame of the play carried in, and Turris was ONside. So apologies to the incompetent officiating.

- Atmstrong's shot enters, this game is completely different. Probably favours Habs to win. Maddening.

- Sigh. And now, the end is near ...

Third Period:

- Not sure if Ryder will be pursued by Habs at season's end, but whatever happens, this series could have a devastating effect on his pocketbook. Wouldn't be surprised if his performance has cost him at least a million a season on whatever contract he's offered this summer.

- Michael Ryder, deep in Sens zone, hooks in front of the official. Can we have Erik Cole back?

- Galchenyuk hasn't played 10 minutes tonight. Yeah I don't get it, either.

- Alfredsson with a routine wrister puts stake through the heart of the Habs' season. 4 goals on 22 shots. Zoink.

- Hopefully Budaj's performance tonight will at least take some of the heat off Price. Who am I kidding? The haters are just gonna keep hating.

- Final note before signing off for the season. Nothing to be ashamed of. A year ago the Habs complete a 15th place finish. This year they finished 2nd. First round a disappointment, but so much promise for very bright days and huge successes ahead, in the very near future.

Take care, folks. I'll be posting more goo through the spring and summer, so please come back!

Gameday Preview:

We have a Slovak guy in net. So here's the deal. We need some of that 2010 magic, or tonight's the final game of the season. 

Habs win tonight, and we've got ourselves a series again.

Puck drops at 7:10 EST, in friendly territory.


Gameday Notes:

- UPDATE: Max Pacioretty will play tonight. Bournival ... close but no cigar.

- Habs confirmed that Carey Price will be out for the rest of the series. It's now Peter Budaj or broke. Oh yeah, Budaj has played once against Ottawa this season. January 30th. He lost. Badly. 5-1.
- Lars Eller did another morning skate today in Brossard. He ain't playing, but it's still great to see.
- Steve Kozari, Chris Rooney will referee tonight.  Lonnie Cameron, Jay Sharrers will work the lines. Hopefully they'll be able to recognize what an icing is.
- With the injuries mounting like crazy, Mike Blunden will probably get a start tonight. Nothing against Mike, but wow ... we're reaching here. UPDATE: Blunden is confirmed starter.
- Left winger Hamilton Bulldog Michael Bournival has been told by the club he may play tonight if either Max Pacioretty or Rene Bourque can't go.

Take heart Habs fans, the Washington Capitals, who might still advance to the next round, will have to do so with Alex Ovechkin as a passenger. Watch the video below and see if you can spot Ovechkin. It's a thing of beauty.

So yeah. It could be worse.

Therrien Presser: 

Oh man. This one is rough. Really, really rough.

Let's go over the wounded list. Brandon Prust, out for game 5. Ryan White again. Carey Price is a maybe.

And Therrien on Gionta, when he learned of the bicep tear:

"When he heard the news, our captain was crying in my arms. He's got a lot of courage. It's demanding, it's tough."

Sweet jesus. Gut-wrenching.

Oh GOD, Those Awful, Awful Icing Calls

That's one brutally tough video to watch. Ugh.

Oh, Rob Ford Don't You EVER Stop Being You:

Go Leafs Nation Go! Toronto STRONGER! Blah blah yadda whatevs ...

Injury Update:

It's Gionta, and as originally reported on our Twitter feed @habsgameblog on May 3rd, it was that bicep. It was retorn his right bicep, his left tore last year. Incredible.  So he's done for the year. Surgery Friday. He might not even be ready for October.

Yup. So ... yup.

The Day After

Go away. Leave me alone. I don't want to talk about it. No really. Just shut the door. Leave the lights off. Thanks.


Okay, tomorrow is another day. I guess that's today. Whatever.

BUT ...

Lars Eller skated this morning in Brossard. So hell, even if Thursday is the last game of the year, isn't that something to be cheery about?

We heart Lars Eller.

We heart Alex Galchenyuk. And Brandon Prust. And Branden Gallagher. And P.K. Subban. And Thomas Plekanec. And HELL yeah ... we heart Carey Price. Enough railing against Price already people. He was excellent last night, and now it looks like he's done for the year.

We ... Raphael Diaz. Okay never mind.

Butter up Habs faithful, there's been darker days than this.

Therrien will be holding a presser later today, so we'll have more later.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Game Four: EC Quarterfinals: Habs vs. Sens

First Period:

Here's the Habs lines:

Line 1: Bourque/Plekanec/Ryder
Line 2: Pacioretty/Desharnais/Gallagher
Line 3: Galchenyuk/Halpern/Prust
Line 4: Moen/Dumont/Armstrong

So Therrien puts Gallagher next to the mightily struggling Desharnais and Plekanec. I understand the rationale - Desharnais is seemingly incapable of winning pucks, so let Gallager do the dirty work. Who knows? Desharnais might actually register a shot tonight.


Same as usual there.

- And there it is. First shift, and Desharnais registers his first shot of the series. Gallagher doing the hard-nosed work.

- Gorges with desperation dive to intercept a cross ice pass that would have probably ended with a Sens goal. Good play.

- Lots of early energy by the Habs to start this. 144 seconds, 5 shots registered by the Canadiens.

- Halpren chokes on the empty net rebound. Habs blitzing.

- And Desharnais muffs up all that tempo and takes a lazy hook. Oy.

- Calm cool collected PK there. Zero shots. Now let's see if the Habs can reclaim that mo'.

- Atmosphere seems not nearly as intense in Ottawa tonight as it was Sunday. Dunno. Just my read the crowd is tentative, nervous even.

- Wonder if Habs will break the record for faceoff tossings in a series, assuming such a thing is tracked.

- Half done the first period. If this is how the rest of the game is played, the Habs will be pleased and greatly favoured.

- Plekanec with worst 3-on-1 pass ever.

- Gallagher speared and hurt in front of the official. No call.

- Good energy shift by Habs 4th line. See if that leads to something.

- If P.K. insist on delivering those mammoth hits, he'd better make sure, because when he misses it usually results in defensive zone chaos. Prust ends up taking a penalty as the Habs were totally on their heels.

- Habs 2/2 on excellently executed PKs tonight.

- Habs were firing all cylinders the first 8 minutes, killed by Desharnais' dumb hook. After that, Sens more or less controlled the game, although Habs did fine job protecting Price, and an even better job shorthanded. The period was a wash, which if you offered to the Habs in advance, they'd readily take in front of a hostile crowd. Second period has been a bit of an issue for the Sens, so the Canadiens will hope to strike the board.

Second Period:

- P.K. Subban welcome to the scoresheet. Brilliant shot, but Plekanec an equally brilliant pass out of great awareness. Habs score that critical first goal.

- And Galchenyuk! Outstanding determined work by Halpern to fight for that puck to set up the rookie. 2-0.

- Habs' charged start to the second period much like the start to the first, except this period pucks are entering the net.

- Habs are dominating, even with body. Sens losing all the puck battles, Habs nearly made it 3-0. Keep the foot on the peddle, boys.

- Armstong must be more diligent in clearing the zone. These sloppy turnovers are killers.

- Sens pressing here, fierce forechecking.

- Habs forwards getting way too tentative in their zone, Ottawa realizing they simply must score the next goal or it's over, so the Sens are throwing everything they've got. Canadiens need to slow this thing down right now.

- Ice conditions look really terrible. That makes goal scoring extra difficult (for both sides).

- I hate making comments about the goaltending because it invariably hexes, but Price looks very calm tonight.

- By the way, that Craig Anderson looks unbeatable. I'll bet nothing gets past him the rest of the night.

- Second period pattern not unlike the first - Habs storm out of the gate, Sens push back last half. Ottawa really needs a goal before this period expires.

- Lost count the number of times Habs forwards have aimed high on Anderson tonight. Subban's already beat him there once.

- If Price sees it, he's gonna stop it tonight. Just my feeling.

- Wow, that's a rough? Weak.

- Subban. Where to start? Sens PK was totally spent, Subban with a terrible turnover to kill the game-killer opportunity, and then takes an interference on the skate back. Therrien totally indignant on the bench.

- Nonetheless, excellent period result for the Habs, finally cashing in on their hard work. The Sens are going to come out in the third unbelievably hard, so the Habs better rest up for the gathering storm that's about to hit their shores.

Third Period:

- However temping it might be, Habs can't afford to play not to lose. The Sens will overtake them down the stretch.

- Tonordi's ultra-long reach back probably saved a goal. He's been as usual, silently solid.

- Sens as expected starting out really strong. If the Habs can just ride out the next three or four minutes ...

- Brandon Prust. How does he take these insane body beatings and still be able to stand up?

- Habs really laying back on the Sens transition. This isn't playing with fire, it's jumping into the pit and rolling around.

- Bullets being dodged here. Having hard time not averting eyes.

- That might have been Ryder's best shift in a month.

- Refs calling nothing. Interferences, holdings, high stickings. Nothing.

- Can we have a little pushback please? Just something?

- Oh man. Here we go. Sit back, and you pay the price. Time to hide.

- Two goals. The most dangerous lead. Habs being outshot 8-1 in the third.

- Finally the pushback. Habs needed to do this 5 minutes ago.

- Longest 5 minutes of the season now underway.

- An heroic shift by Prust and Moen. 1:48 left.

- Anderson out. Hold on to your hats.

- OMG. No way that should have been called icing. Are you serious?

- Wow. Just. Wow. What was Diaz doing??

- That goal came as a result of an absolutely ridiculous icing call against the Canadiens with but a few seconds left. Toss in the kicking motion 1st goal, and you have lots of fodder for controversy.


I'm not going to pile on, but given how much he's struggled this series, why oh why oh why did Therrien play Diaz that last critical minute? His chase behind the net was a critical error that led to the goal. Not counting the blown calls by the linesmen, that is.

- Price injured. Budaj in net. Oh, boy.

- Prust to the dressing room. Nightmare continues.

- And the nightmare is complete. Goodnight Gracie.

The Troglodytes Are Out in Full Force Tonight

Oy. Vey.

Lineup Update:

Habs just announcing that Jeff Halpern and Garbriel Dumont will suit up for the Habs, replacing Gionta and White.

Game Four Preview:

So here we go again. Here we are facing a must-win situation versus an Ottawa Senators opponent that went from being badly outplayed over the first 120 minutes of this series, to finding a place firmly planted in the heads of the Montreal Canadiens the past 60 minutes.

From a Habs perspective, the future does not look promising. The bad is currently outweighing the good, and there's little reason to believe that after having their behinds firmly paddled in Game Three, that the team will somehow flip the direction of their sinking ship towards a winning port.

There's a lot of mediocre-running-into-bad to mull over. Much of it can be found on the team's forward lines, where David Desharnais, Max Patioretty and Michael Ryder have posted three consecutive games where their names have been difficult to spot on the ice - Desharnais probably being the greatest invisible culprit. David has been a total non-factor, struggling to win a single battle for the puck along the boards, struggling to make passes, and struggling to create offense. Through 180 series minutes, Desharnais, who was at one time this team's unquestioned #2 centreman, has registered zero shots on goal.

At the other end of the ice, Carey Price continues to struggle to find his game. His Game Three 3rd period performance, albeit with a totally defeated and dispirited team in front of him, resembled that of the infamous 3 goals on 4 shots game against the Leafs a few weeks ago. Surrendering 4 goals on just 9 shots, the real back-breaker was Price's whiff on Jean-Gabriel Pageau's soft shot from the circle that gave the Sens an unassailable 4-1 lead. You could just see the Habs give up the collective ghost following Pageau's second goal of the night.

The formula is simple - the Habs must find a way of repeating themselves from Friday night. They must dig down deep and come out hard, being fully prepared to send the Senators a message that they aren't giving up, and they won't be pushed around. This means the Habs must be physical, and they must be ferocious on the forecheck. It also means that Price must find a way to regain his game. Time is just about up for Price, whose form has been riding an up-and-down rollercoaster since early April.

So once again, keep the eyes out for the non-producers like Desharnais, Pacioretty, and Ryder. One, or all of them must start contributing in some fashion. Their passenger status simply cannot be tolerated a minute longer.

Also keep eyes out on Raphael Diaz, who's really struggled throughout much of the series, ranging from problems handling the puck, making effective passes to his forwards, getting into correct zone position, and handling slot traffic.

The Sens smell blood. They'll be looking for the kill. The winner of this game will largely be determined by how the tone is set in the first period. That first goal, it should be emphasized, has suddenly become a crucial factor. Drawing first blood has, indeed, been a key to victory so far in this series.

Puck drops at 7:10 EST.

That, my friends, was a thing of beauty. And so is this.

Lineup Update:

- Brian Gionta and Ryan White will not play tonight. Reasons for the scratches unstated, although one suspects it's due to nagging injuries for the former. White's scratch is a little more interesting, I don't think it's health-related - more likely, Therrien wants his team to play a very disciplined game tonight, and he considers White too much of a risk to do something foolish, especially in light of Gryba's return.

UPDATE: Therrien just said White was "unavailable" for play, which strongly suggests he's been injured.

LATER UPDATE: Yup, White is out with an "upper body injury". I'd guess it was sustained during the 3rd period goon melee. No indication of return.

- Pacioretty and Bourque are expected to play tonight. I'd also expect Travis Moen and Jeff Halpern to come in off the healthy scratch list.

Gameday Notes:

Happy Game Day!! We'll have a little game preview in a bit, but first a few scraps of Habs-related news this morning:

- Optional practice is happening as I type - everyone on the ice for the Canadiens except for Pacioretty, Gionta, Bourque and White. Make of that as you will.

- Not actually Habs news, but MacLean says Gryba will start tonight. He's probably hoping that the Canadiens will go after the Sens 3rd line defenseman. But there's no way the Habs are that stupid, right? Uh, right??

- Brian Gionta just joined the morning skate. Still no Patches, Bourque or White.

Therrien Presser

Just wrapped up a few minutes ago:

- Asked whether he'll put Budaj in tomorrow night, Therrien replied without hesitation: "are you serious? Carey Price is playing."  Good on him. That's about exactly right.

- Attempting to maybe gain an edge (?), Therrien is saying that the Sens have been targeting Subban and Gallagher ... i.e. the Condra crosscheck.

- Carey Price, unlike game one, spoke to the media after the optional practice. He owned up that he played poorly on Sunday night. So can he have another response game like Friday night?

About Last Night ...

Putting together this Game Three respective is akin to slowly tearing off a three foot bandage wrapped around my hairy leg, but we gotta do what we gotta do. So here goes.

There's plenty of talk today about last night's goon festival. The chatter is basically divided into two camps. In camp one, we have the life-long Habs haters, who've been very busy wringing their hands with indignant falsetto. "Habs are an embarrassment!" they've cried out. "Anyone who's a fan of THAT team ought to be ashamed of themselves!!". "Here's hoping the League suspends [insert Habs player name here] for the rest of the playoffs!!". Oh Ms. Scarlet, I do declare!

In the other camp, we have the faithful, most of who are heeding the hated taunts, reeling into their own little dark abyss in shame, engaged in shock and disbelief that their beloved Habs could be responsible for such reprehensible behavior.

Okay, whatever. The haters are leaping on the bandwagon of opportunity to spew their vitriol. Meanwhile, Habs fans cower in their corner in shame. They're natural, if not expected reactions to such an unusual event.

Here's the deal. Last night's ridiculous sideshow of a hockey goonery was, like any ballistic argument, requisite of two parties. The fisticuffs, the slashing, the elbowing, the high sticking, and for all we know, the gouging was being perpetrated by both teams. Yeah, you heard me right. The Senators were just as guilty as the Canadiens for the debacle.

As we mentioned on our Twitter feed, a mere 19 seconds into the game, the Sens Erik Condra delivered a brutal crosscheck to the head of P.K. Subban. The officials, for reasons only they could possibly explain, looked the other way. That dirty play, unpunished, set the tone for the rest of the game. With that one blown call, the delegation of justice was taken away from the hands of the officials, and placed firmly in the hands of the players. It was only a matter of time for the game to completely spiral out of control.

That Condra crosscheck infuriated the Habs bench, but it also seemed to energize the Sens, who a mere 12 minutes into the first period, were outhitting the Habs 25-12. That's about two recorded hits per minute. That's insane.

The Habs never really recovered. Trying to find some ground, they started taking bad penalties, eventually digging themselves into a 5-on-3 shorthanded hole, where Daniel Alfredsson opened the scoring. While the Habs did tie the game after a terrific shot by Rene Bourque (one of only a handful of Habs players who can legitimately claim he's shown up for every game of this series), it was too late. The Senators still held onto firm control of the game's tempo and mode. They're a team built on hitting their opponent into submission, and the Habs foolishly got lured into trying to outhit the hitters.

The second period was all Ottawa. They continued to pound the Habs, continued to force the play in their favor, continued to foil any semblance of a Habs attack. When Jean-Gabriel Pageau, whom the Habs very nearly drafted in 2011, split the sleepy Habs defense and beat Carey Price over his glove, there was no looking back.

Price, after sparkling Friday night, reverted to mediocre form. A second much weaker goal surrendered to Pageau early in the third put the game on ice, and at that point, the Habs simply lost all control, taking a series of penalties, which generated more Ottawa scoring, which generated fury, which eventually led to the climatic full-ice brawl in the faceoff after the Sens' 5th goal - also a powerplay marker.

The Habs simply went mental. They collectively lost their cool derived from massive frustration, towards their opponent but also just as much, towards themselves for playing so terribly in a critical game. There are no excuses for such bad behavior, but there was a rationale. The Sens got away with questionable hits and hacks early in the game, and suckered the Habs into retaliation. When the Habs started hacking back, the officials, who were desperately trying to get the game back under control, were calling everything -  and the vengeful Habs were getting the bulk of the penalties. Punished, suckered and then punished once again. It was a nightmare evening for anyone wearing a C and an H.

The little incident at the end of the game was classic Paul MacLean head gamesmanship. His timeout, with just 14 seconds left on the clock, was nothing other than a twist of the knife. Michel Therrien immediately identified the timeout for what it was, and had his own little meltdown with the officials by fruitlessly complaining about the tactic. Afterward, MacLean indignantly explained the timeout as a measure designed to protect his players. Bullocks. It was a passive-aggressive tactic to drive the Habs crazy. He knows it, and anyone with two cents worth of brain knows it.

So to the haters and the faithful, stop with the hand-wringing. The Habs ended up taking the brunt of the blame for what happened because they were losing so badly on the scoreboard. The conventional perception was that the Habs were merely seeking some kind of revenge for the thrashing, and therefore, were the ones to blame.

The reality is, it takes two to dance just as much as it takes two to fight. Sunday night in the nation's capital, there were no innocent parties.

More later.


Game Three Fallout:

The League just announced that there will be no investigation/suspensions from the numerous brawls, crosschecks, slashes and who-know-what-else happened on Sunday night.

Fair enough. There was plenty of nonsense and generally embarrassing behavior (on BOTH sides), but I didn't see anything that caught my eye as suspension worthy. So ... play on.

The Day After the Night Before the Morning of Great Regrets


Okay, never mind.

Actually, it is a happy Monday for Brendon Gallagher, who's not only celebrating his 21st birthday, but as well was announced this morning as a finalist for the Calder Trophy. Grats Brendon!!

Okay. Last night. Hoo boy. Last night.

Still collecting thoughts about this one. Will be posting shortly.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Game Three: EC Quarterfinals: Habs vs. Sens

First Period:

- Pacioretty AND Gionta are in for the Habs. How much will this change the gameplay? Do Habs play Thursday style game, or Friday style game??

- Gionta streaking down the wing around Sens dedense for quality chance on Anderson. Showing no ill effects of  any injury.

- Pacioretty with an undisciplined penalty.  Habs need to stay out of the box whenever pissible. You just know the Sens powerplay will eventually strike.

- And strike it does, Karlsson point shot hits backboards, Alfredsson slips rebound past Price.  Semi lucky bounce there.

- Sens hitting hard tonight. Trying to out Hab the Habs Friday game.

- If it wasnt for Price this game could easily be 3-00
- Brutish game out there, you couldnt pay me enough to step into that minezone of flying bodies and punches.

- Good grief. We haven't played a period and there are nearly as many hits so far as there was for the entire Friday night game.

- Bourque on the powerplay to tie it up, Anderson continues to look mortal.

- Sens taking bad penalties here. Their physical enthusiam a bit out of control.

- Its gonna take all night for Subban to count the bruises. He's been the Sens main target.

- One of the hardest hitting 20 minutes of Playoff hockey I've seen in awhile.  Price did an excellent job handling the early Ottawa barrage, and the Habs were, as the period progressed,  able to handle their own. Habs should have a greater edge as the game settles down.

Second Period:

- Subban and Markov go for a Sunday stroll, Pageau says thanks, and gives Sens the lead. Even worse, Subban gets a high stick after the goal.

- Habs PK hanging on for dear life here.

- Price keeping his team in this game.

- Hits and noise might be getting to P.K. That was an unwise trip, in fairness started by a terrible pass by Markov. Sens back to the man advantage. Last time they looked very dangerous.

- Sens PP passing around at will. You have to figure they'll score soon enough.

- Price making himself big for these point blasts. Not surrendering the rebounds. That's been key.

- Good news for Habs is the game has settled down. Bad news the Sens are still pretty much dominating.

- Markov looks pretty much spent out there. Looks like the tank is almost on E, will Therrien start scaling his icetime?

- Galchenyuk line totally exhausted pinned in their zone, Habs were extremely lucky to escape without any further damage.

- All Sens second. They came to play, they hit the Habs brutally hard for much of the first, and the Habs look desperate just trying to keep up. They have 15 minutes to rest and reflect, but this team will have to muster together the period of the season if they hope to pull this one out.

Third Period:

- Ryan White left for team dressing room late in the second fuelling speculation that he was hurt. He did, however, return to the bench before period's end.

- Pageau. Weak. Price overplayed the angle.

- That big hill to climb just became a mountain.

- Sens going for blood now. Can't blame 'em with the two goal lead.

- Tripping call on Bourque. Who knows? Terrible, terrible call.

- If I'm given my pick for breakaway carrier, Gionta would be pretty much automatically at the bottom of my list.

- Lights. Out.

- Diaz, no idea what he was thinking there.

- Game decided, the bloodbath is on. Four fights at once now.

- Habs taken to the woodshed tonight. Just accept that, and don't do anything stupid that might result in injuries.

- More Diaz folly off the draw. Sens would be wise not to run up the score. But run up the score, they are.

- Both teams down to two lines. Literally.

- Sens playing this smart, not really gunning hard for a 6th. No point in giving Habs something to feed off of for game 4.

- Partisan fingers will be pointed both ways after tonight's debacle, but one thing is pretty clear - both teams have embarrassed themselves.

- Habs out of defenseman. Plekanec now playing the blue line.

- Accordingly Ottawa adds one more.

- Looking forward to the post-game comments. Actually I'm hoping it'll be a post-game explanation for this inexcusable demonstration.

- Paul MacLean calls a timeout, looking to score more. Habs will remember that.

- Habs' wonderful effort Friday night earned them the opportunity to take back home ice tonight. That was frittered away - badly. Ottawa came out hard from the first second of the first, and the Habs almost looked like they were going through the motions through much of the game. Now the Habs must regroup and must win on Tuesday night, or this series is over.

Game 3 Pregame Preview:

So there's still no word out about the game status for both Pacioretty and Gionta - if the decision really does come down to the last minute, it's a very good bet that not both will play. If one of them do play, likely Gabriel Dumont will sit. Dumont played admirably in Game Two, but given his age and inexperience, he was largely overmatched for most of the game.

If both Patches and the captain can't go, then it'll be the same lineup as Friday (Dumont included), which means the same gameplan - hit the Senators, hit them hard with each and every opportunity, play a strong forechecking game, and be patient for created opportunities.

There are several keys to Game Three for the Habs. First, Carey Price must continue to play the same as he did on Friday. When he's on, the Canadiens are arguably unbeatable. Secondly, the Habs, with the first change, must be conscious and aware of Paul MacLean's matchups - which means there will be added defensive pressures on both Subban and Markov. Third, the Habs must continue to get strong performances from its character group - Prust, White, Armstrong and Bourque must continue their good play. Travis Moen, who's struggled a bit to find a groove the first two games, must elevate himself. If he can't produce offense, he must use the body.

The Canadiens must also help that Craig Anderson turns in an "average" performance, such as he did for Game Two. We got a pretty good idea that when Anderson isn't superman, the Sens are pretty vulnerable group.

Keep an eye out for the continually struggling David Desharnais. While he had a strong game to close out the season against the Leafs, he's been an invisible producer for at least a month. Desharnais is getting pushed around like a rag doll along the boards, he must find a way of staying on his feet.

Lots of variables, a few things that can go wrong, but from a bigger perspective, there are more things that can go right for the Habs tonight.

Puck drops at 7:10 EST.


Game 2 Reflections:

So we got ourselves quite a series, eh? Not that we weren't expecting this one to be closely fought, but after posting a pretty disappointing loss to open the series, the Habs played an exceptionally well-balanced and hard hitting game Friday night to even the series up.

Now let's stick the neck out a bit.  After a couple of days and night's sleep to ponder, the series, while on the surface looks like a nail biter, has been in my opinion, one sided. Very one sided for the Canadiens.

The obvious retort to such a proclamation would be "if it's so one-sided, why isn't the series 2-0 Habs?".  That's an easy one - the Habs loss on Thursday night was half-stolen by Craig Anderson's insane performance, half given away by Carey Price's mediocre start. I mean, 27 shots in the second period by the Canadien - that's an all-time NHL playoff record. If a mere mortal is between the pipes for the Sens, the Habs win that game by two or three goals.

Friday night it was little different - the Habs dominated the Sens again, albeit in a different manner. Instead of pounding their opposition into the ground with possession and shots, the Habs focused their efforts on using the body to pound Ottawa into submission. The Habs out-hit the Sens 37-26, most of that physical contact coming the first 40 minutes. By the time the 3rd rolled around, Ottawa was pretty much out of gas, affording the Habs the glorious luxury of cruising home with the two goal lead.

Another benefit from playing the body is the net effect it had on creating turnovers. Opponents become more wary of the body, and abnormal plays and mistakes are made - an example none better than Karlsson's 2nd period flub in his own zone to set up Ryan White for the game's first goal. The Sens' start defenseman was a big target for hits the entire night, his error was almost certainly a result of the continuous pounding he took. After the final siren, the Habs managed to tally 6 takeaways. The Sens? Absolutely none.

Drilling down a bit, the Habs possession dominance took a step back on Friday, but that's to be expected. The team's gameplan was to surrender the Senators with greater puck control, which would allow the Habs better quality opportunities to use the body. Known grinders like Ryan White, Brandon Prust, and Colby Anderson thrived immediately, collectively posting 15 hits, while Jarred Tinordi, who's been an inconspicuous rock on the Habs defense, tallied four more. Rene Bourque, who thankfully doesn't appear to be hurt after colliding with Colby Armstrong, put together 3 hits, 2 of them of the thundering variety. I can't possibly state how highly I've thought of Bourque's class-A effort he's' brought to the playoffs. He's emerging as quite possibly the best move made by Pierre Gauthier during his brief tenure as General Manager.

I've been pretty harsh on the Habs Gorges/Diaz pairing - both had, by their standards, an awful outing Game One, where their collective Corsi was a wretched -22. That improved significantly on Friday night, the number moving up to -14, much of the improvement made by Gorges (-3). However, Diaz is still struggling, and if I'm Therrien, I'd like to see Tinordi promoted up to play along side Josh, and Diaz demoted next to Bouillon for 3rd line duty.

That said, out of a degree of fairness, Therrien was doing lots of line matching the first two games, seemingly focused on putting Subban/Markov out against the Sens' slower 3rd and 4th lines. Ergo, we saw plenty of open ice for P.K. to put together some flash-and-dash rushes from his own zone. With the series now shifting back to Ottawa, Therrien no longer has the luxury of line matching after the whistle, so expect MacLean to match more of his 1st and 2nd lines against the Subban/Markov pairing, which in turn, will probably artificially bolster Gorges and Diaz' Corsi numbers.

Otherwise, from a Habs perspective, game two went a long way to settling fears that the series might spiral out of control towards a four-game Sens sweep. The reality is, the Canadiens were the better of the two teams not just Friday, but Thursday night as well. If the Habs continue to receive the goaltending that Carey Price is imminently capable of delivering, then I think Ottawa is in tough from here on out.

Injuries Update:

Therrien Update: The coach says Gionta AND Pacioretty are game-time decisions, which confirms one early report as false (including made by Kevin Weeks on HNIC last night), that Gionta's injury isn't season-ending, and therefore, probably doesn't involve his bicep.

Plenty of eyes on the Habs' morning skate today, and in light of reports yesterday that Pacioretty's upper body injury was day-to-day while Gionta's was season ending, a curveball was thrown this morning when Gionta skated while Pacioretty was no where to be seen.

Rene Bourque is also out there as I type, which lend more relieving evidence that he's okay after that huge collision with Colby Armstrong on Friday night.

Game 2 reflections and game 3 preview coming up shortly.

Quick Snip Saturday:

Will be posting some game 2 analysis later today, but some good news this morning, both Pacioretty and Gionta were on practice ice this morning for Black Aces. Hoping there's a team update with respect to their game status.

More later.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Game Two: EC Quarterfinals: Sens vs. Habs

First Period:

Confirmation from our earlier lineup report early today, TSN's John Lu all over this, so hat tip for first out with official Habs lineup:

Bourque - Plekanec - Ryder
Prust - Galchenyuk - Gallagher
Moen - Desharnais - Dumont
White - Halpern - Armstrong

- Fascinating to see that even in light of all the injuries, that Desharnais still managed to essentially get himself demoted. Prust boosted to the 2nd line, which means plenty of icetime for him tonight. It's very, very clear that Therrien wants this team to come at the Sens hard. Really hard. Only the fearless bother apply to play tonight.

- Refs Pollock and McCauley know the story leading into this game. Look for them to crack down when there's an opportunity.

- More linesmen folly. Blown icing call. Com'on guys get it right.

- Ryder continues his soft play, he's doing his best to not present a case for resigning this summer.

- Officials really struggling here - Sens snuck players off after an icing.

- Goodness, Habs Prust line full body force shift there. Messages being sent.

- Diaz ... Diaz ... Diaz. Almost redemption, awesome feed by Markov.

- Habs with exceptional start, very physical, Sens holding on. It'll be impossible though, for the Habs to sustain this tempo.

- Rene Bourque joins the hitting crew. He's getting close to his early season form - that's very good news for Habs fans.

- Wow. The call on Prust for interference on Anderson totally ridiculous. Never touched him. Anderson should have been called for embellishment.

- Marov sent flying by a trip. Looks hurt. Hoo boy.

- Okay the Moen call - explanation please, that one baffled me.

- Fine, the refs want to crack down to make sure the game doesn't spiral out of control, but the calls must be accurate. So far they've been off the mark.

- Habs have plenty of gusto tonight, but their exuberance is resulting in too many penalties. The PK can't hold the Sens off forever.

- Habs PK has been stellar so far.

- With consideration to the Sens powerplays, very strong opening 20 minutes for the Habs outshooting their opponent, but more importantly, greatly outfitting Ottawa, even though puck possession was roughly even. Actually feeling better tonight after 20 minutes than I was last night after the conclusion of the first period.

Second Period:

- Here's the paradox. Habs missing the net far too many times from high percentage areas, having little difficulty from far out. Tells me that Anderson is getting in the heads of Habs forwards.

- Dumont with an ill-advises cross ice pass in the neutral zone is easily picked off resulting in good scoring chance for Sens on the transition. Habs can't afford to make these mistakes.

- Oh wow. Speaking of mistakes, Karlsson??? Who woulda thunk?? And of all the guys to get the Habs on the board it's Ryan White!!

- And Gallagher!!! After a sensational save by Price, Habs score on the transition. 2-0!!!

- Tinordi with a skate to Price's face, who's sent reeling. Price has had three hard hits to the head this game alone.

- Report is Price lost teeth from the Timordi skate bash. Ouch. Bravado performance by Price.

- On a penalty delay call, Prust is stripped of his stick by Latendresse, and Sens score on the 6-on-5. It was pretty much a 6-on-4.

- Since making that poor pass which nearly resulted in a goal, Dumont hasn't seen a shift.

- Bourque levelling Alfredsson, he's been a significant impact player for Habs tonight.

- David Copperfield would have a hard time competing with Ryder and Desharnais' disappearing act in this series.

- Unbelievable call on Prust, who was clearly shoved head forward into the boards. Habs bench is furious at Pollock for not calling boarding.

- Ryan White demonstrating Karlsson CAN be hit.

- Four absolutely superb saves by Price on that Ottawa powerplay.

- If Habs win this game, and indeed this series, we may look back at their revived PK as a major reason.

- Ryder emerges from the darkness!! And it all started from hard work by Bourque. To have those two produce is HUGE for this team. 3-1.

- Excellent result for the Habs in that period - their hard hitting ways is clearly having the desired effect. Also, Anderson not having the same stellar game as he did last night, while Carey Price, at least through 40 minutes, has risen to the challenge.

Third Period:

- Critical that the Habs not play to lose in this period.

- Not a good shift for Plekanec line, too tentative, Habs got pinned into their zone.

- Galchenyuk can light up a game in a moment's notice unlike few others on the ice tonight.

- This might be Bourque's best game of the year. It's up there, that's for sure.

- Prust is fearless, putting his body in front of any and every slapshot.

- Do my eyes deceive me? An actual penalty call against Ottawa??

- Dismal powerplay but then a tremendous shift by the forth line where four thundering hits were delivered by the Habs White and company. Great stuff.

- Ryan White is on a big road to redemption if he keeps this play up.

- Armstrong and Bourque with a huge accidental mid-ice collision, Bourque, who was out for so long with concussion, got the worst of it. Hoo boy.

- Dumont thundering hit on Karlsson. That's the formula boys. Keep it up.

- Habs sitting a bit. Don't do it guys, keep pressing, or it'll soon be a one goal game.

- Bourque has gone to the room. That's not a good sign.

- Anderson, it should be noted, has struggled with rebound control tonight, more so than usual.

- Bourque back on the bench. Sigh of relief breathed.

- 184 monumentally long seconds left. This game still doesn't quite feel safe.

- 76 seconds left. I think it's safe to start some singing.

- Carey. Freakin. Price. You have heeded the call. A wonderful, emotional, gutsy effort by this Canadiens team. They beat the Sens at their own game, and much of that effort came by some outstanding work by Prust, Bourque, White, Armstrong, et al.

And now it's 90 minutes down the road for game number three.

Gryba Suspension Video:

It's interesting to note that the League goes out of its way to point out that Diaz' pass to Eller was irrelevant - the contact made by Gryba was reckless, illegal, and thus, he has been suspended.

So Mr. MacLean can stick that in his pipe. Speaking of which:

Lineup Update:

It appears that Therrien will indeed be going with Dumont, Armstrong and Halpern as replacements for Eller, Pacioretty and Gionta. Official confirmation in two hours.

Crazy Traffic

I guess it's testament to the intense interest in the Habs, but traffic is heavy here today, as many visits the past 24 hours as we had for the entire month of March!  Thanks to all who have stopped by, we'll do our best to keep on top of all things Habs as this series unfolds.

Gryba Suspended

Wowzers. NHL with (surprising?) suspension of Gryba for two games. Will post Shanahan video as soon as it's available.

Game Two Pregame Game Preview

What a crazy day it has been in Habsland. With Prust's comments, Therrien's presser, and the annoucement of Gryba's two game suspension, it's almost as though game 2 has become an afterthought.

Everybody who pays attention to hockey has either heard about, or seen the Eller hit. It's been the talk of hockey for the past 18 hours, and it's propelled this series in a totally different and very dark direction. There is a sinister atmosphere looming over the Bell Centre tonight in anticipation of a battle royale, where scores will be settled, and bodies sacrificed.

The Habs, for all the bemoaning enveloping the city of Montreal today, played a pretty good game last night, but were let down in three significant ways that made a huge difference in the outcome. First, Carey Price was not able to match the stellar performance exhibited by Craig Anderson (not nearly), the Habs failed to take advantage of huge opportunities in the 2nd period, including a near two minute long 5-on-3 advantage, and the Habs second line defenders Josh Gorges and Raphael Diaz struggled badly, on the ice for 3 of the Sens 4 goals.

Even worse for the Habs, news came this morning of injuries sustained to Max Pacioretty and Brian Gionta - bad enough to keep them out of the lineup tonight. It was a stunning announcement by the club, if only because both Pacioretty and Gionta played right through the 3rd period. Not a single person covering the Canadiens had any idea that either was injured until this morning.

So from a Habs perspective, the situation looks pretty dire. Missing not only Eller, but also your other two top forwards - it's difficult, if not impossible to overcome that scenario. But overcome the Habs must, for if they are to lose the first two games at home to start this series, recovery will be almost impossible.

With those key forwards out tonight, I fully expect Therrien to call on Colby Armstrong and Jeff Halpern to fill the gaps, although how his line combinations will eventually pan out will be interesting to see. In light of all that happened in game one, Therrien will probably try to match some of the Sens physicality - in other words, beat them at their own game. It's a huge gamble, but with all these injuries, I cannot see any other path to victory.

Also key for tonight's hopes is Carey Price. If there was ever a time when Price needed to bring his A-1 game, this is it. Craig Anderson provided a wonderful example of how a goaltender can steal a game in a playoff series, and now it will be up to Price to match. If he cannot deliver, then the Habs have almost no chance of competing.

And that's that. It will be a fascinating 60 minutes. How the Canadiens react will be a testament to their inner fortitude. They must come out strong, they must be physical, and they must send a message to the Ottawa Senators that they won't be pushed around.  This game will be rough, and it could be nasty. Very, very nasty.

Puck drops at 7:10 EST. Hold on to your hats.

About Brandon Prust (Full Audio):

Key transcript snips:

“It’s a dirty hit. I’ve watched it over and over. He has the choice to hit him on his front shoulder but he chooses to go to his far shoulder. If you’re going to go across the body like that, because you don’t want that full contact, then you’re going to hit him right in the face.

“Look at all the blood all over the ice. It’s a dirty hit. He’s got a broken face, so, it’s a dirty hit.”

And then Prust with the quote to end all quotes about Paul MacLean:

“Yeah, he already showed enough disrespect over there. So we don’t really care about what that bug-eyed fat walrus has to say.”

Injury Woes Update:

Word just out that Pacioretty's injury is shoulder related, while Gionta's injury relates to his bicep - the same one that underwent season-ending surgery last year.

If true, then one could rule Pacioretty as day-to-day. Gionta, however ... that's most definitely NOT good news.

Bad News Just Gets Worse

Here's a stunner. Therrien just announced that Paciretty and Gionta are out tonight because of upper body injuries. We knew the Senators were going to bring physicality to this series, but this is ridiculous. Absolutely disastrous news for the Habs.

- Lars Eller was released from hospital this morning, and is back home recovering. I guess that's good news, but there's word on his possible return. Likely not for quite awhile.

- Brandon Prust on Sens' Paul MacLean's "blame the passer" response to the Eller hit: "We don't really care about what that big eyed fat walrus has to say." Well played, Mr. Prust. Well played.

- Prust doubled-down this morning, saying that he hoped the League didn't suspend Gryba for his hit. You can easily read between the lines what Prust will be (hoping) to do later tonight.

- Michel Therrien just now speaking to the scribes, is also furious at MacLean: "No respect for player on the ice, bleeding. No respect to Eller and his family in stands."

- Therrien again on Eller: "It hurts. It hurts so much. He is a good kid and he worked so hard."

Gut-wrenching. And sad. 


Keep it Classy, Ottawa Sun

Good grief. People actually subscribe to this publication? We hate to paint with broad strokes over stuff like this, but what in heaven's earth were the folks from the Ottawa Citizen thinking when they green lighted this cover? Is this their idea of victorious bravado? Do they think this will inspire their hockey team to even greater heights of gore? Do they believe that the hit and its grotesque aftermath will create an atmosphere of intimidation within the Montreal Canadiens' dressing room?

We like to think the answer to those questions are all firmly "no", and that Sun's cover represents nothing other than a cynical attempt to sell copy. But even that as an explanation goes well beyond the pale. It's a complete disgrace, and if there's any justice in the world, the players wearing the C and H will use that cover as motivation to propel their team to victory.

That's a just response in a just world. However, we all know the world and life isn't fair. The Canadiens find themselves down a game in the series in part because of the Eller hit, and the Canadiens' reaction to it. In part because the Senators specialty teams were better than the Habs in game one, and in large part because Craig Anderson played out of his mind last night, while his counterpart Carey Price muddled his way to another disappointing post-season loss.

Since fairness is the theme for this post-game analysis, let's be as fair as we are honest about Price's performance in game one. It was by "fair" standards not an awful performance. It was a routine performance, four goals scored, two unstoppable, one borderline, one that he most certainly should have blocked. Not great, but not disasterous.

The big problem for Price is one of contrast. Anderson, on the other end of the sheet, had elevated his game, as one must do for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Anderson wasn't just his usual good - he was ridiculously good, keeping his team in the game while the Canadiens posted a mind-boggling 27 shots in the 2nd period alone, an NHL playoff record.

Price was just ... well ... Price. He showed up, but he did not elevate, and as a result, the Senators overtook the Habs down the stretch. Michel Therrien's post-game comments were about as close to finger pointing a single player as you'll get. He voiced happiness with his team's efforts, which is entirely fair - the Habs dominated the Sens offensively - when you fire 51 shots on the opposition, you're almost certainly going to win that game. Assuming, of course, that your goaltender is doing his job, which Price wasn't. When asked directly about what he thought of Price's performance, Therrien responded "I thought Anderson was better than he was."

That eight word response was unquestionably Therrien's very kind and gentle manner of calling out his goaltender to elevate. I'm sure the message was received by Price, and the eyes of his coach, and every other fan of the Canadiens, will be on Price tonight to see if he's able to take that next step. If Price can't, then the Habs lose. It might not be fair, but that's the reality.

Number Crunching

Your friendly Habs blogger was voicing a lot of frustration last night at the Gorges/Diaz pairing, and the numbers today don't paint a pretty picture. There's no other way of describing it - both were *awful*.

Let the Corsi give you the full picture of just how bad it was:

Galchenyuk: 16
Eller: 13
Gallagher: 11
Moen: 8
Bouillon: 7
Tinordi: 6
Prust: 6
Markov: 6
Subban: 5

Okay, those guys get the pass - you can see just how important Eller and his line was to the Habs offense.  Up to that injury, Eller had been playing spectacularly for the Canadiens - he'd finally emerged as the player that so many were hoping for after his acquisition from St. Louis.  You cannot replace someone who's playing that well. It is not possible.

Now for borderline results:

Desharnais: -1
White: -3
Pacioretty: -6
Bourque: -6

Any Corsi around or near the 0 mark is acceptable. So while there's room for improvement here, the Desharnais line isn't hurting the team more than it's helping.

But now to the bad stuff:

Diaz: -10
Gionta: -10
Ryder: -11
Gorges: -12
Plekanec: -14

What to say? The supposed number one line was a collective -35, which is horrendous. As mentioned, the Gorges/Diaz pairing were visibly wretched, the -22 Corsi merely confirms the observations.

Therrien voiced displeasure towards Ryder, which was totally fair considering how Ryder was largely uninvolved as a point producer. I also saw more than a few instances of him bagging it back to his own zone during Ottawa transitions (most glaringly the Karlsson goal). Not acceptable. Especially in the playoffs.

Diaz and Gorges? I thought Diaz, even though he had a slightly better Corsi, played far worse than Gorges. His passing was meek and ill-advised (he fed Eller the "suicide" pass), and there were three instances where he let the puck go through his legs at the line during Habs' powerplays, which killed zone possession, and conversely, might have cost his team a speciality unit goal. Not acceptable.

Adjustments? I'd move Diaz to third line duties and icetime, limit his specialty unit time, and promote Tinordi to play beside either Markov or Subban. 

Game preview later today.