Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Game One: Leafs vs. Habs

Happy Friday Edition!!

This Just in From TSN ...

TSN Mobile now taking applications. Their waiting to here from you today!

This 'n' That:

A few bits and pieces of Habs news 'n' notes. Here's what we got so far:

- With George Parros out indefinitely, Habs recalled Michael Bournival on Wednesday, and with Max Pacioretty nursing an apparently injured left wrist, many were led to believe Bournival would be starting Saturday against the Flyers. However at the Habs practice this morning, Max Pacioretty was back on the ice, and Ryan White was seen playing along side Moen and Prust. Sooooo ... looks like Bournival will have to wait just a little bit longer before getting his first big-League start.

- UPDATE: In post-practice presser, Therrien indicated that both White and Bournival would likely get starts *if* Max Pacioretty doesn't feel ready to go (if Pacioretty were to take himself out, his injury is probably more serious than anyone is letting on). Likely though, Patches will start, and Bournival will sit.

Therrien also said he'd seen Parros, and that he looked "really good.". Get well soon, George!!!

- Unbelievably, somebody actually publicly defended Patrick Roy for his asinine behavior on Wednesday night which earned him a $10,000 fine. Who's the culprit? None other that Av's center Matt Duchene, who yesterday in a radio interview, called Roy's antics "exciting".

Hmm. Duchene, who's just 22 years old, probably needs a bit of history lesson about his coach. Roy's has quite the record for an inability to maintain rational thought - in recent years whether it's been directing his son to assault other players on the ice, or simply conducting the assaults himself. Or, if you prefer, all the way back to 1995 when the entitled Roy left the Habs in a huff because he didn't receive the "respect"  he felt owed to him from Mario Tremblay, who refused to kiss Roy's butt like Jacque Demers and Pat Burns were frequented to do.

Roy might coach the Avs to respectability this season, but long term, if he's unable to behave like an adult, Colorado may have just saddled themselves with a manager headed towards a personal implosion.

Afternoon Links

- Barry Trotz, who ain't no dummy, not pulling punches about Patrick Roy's abysmal behavior last night in Denver. Roy was slapped with a $10,000 fine by the League today.
- Relatively decent article about George Parros and his academic achievements. Parros ain't no goonfaced dummy, folks.
- Here's some actual cheery news. A few of the Habs players did a visit at Lac Megantic today, where that horrible train derailment happened earlier this year. Check out the crowd who came out to see the players. Wonderful!

- John Barlett, TSN Radio 690

For Your Consideration:

Here we see a 14 year old boy trapped inside the puffy body of a 46 year old man. Patrick Roy. Just. Shut. Up. Habsland is still breathing a sigh of relief that you're not our problem.

(From l-r): Awesome, Solid, THE MAN, Oh god Bergevin, WHY??

Stats Line: Leafs vs. Habs

- Corsi: Habs 70, Leafs 61
- Fenwick: Habs 53, Leafs 46

Not a whole lot to add building from the initial(correct) assessments that Habs were outplaying the Leafs, the bottom line is the Habs defense was pretty sloppy and soft, surrendering far too many high percentage shots. The score could and should have been worse, if it wasn't for some excellent saves made by Price to keep the scoreboard manageable.

Moving forward, adjustments will be necessary. Markov, who struggled, was utilized far too much on the PK - he's simply not adapt to that role given the realities of his rebuild legs. Therrien has two shut-down guys, Subban and Georges, with both eminently capable of putting out close to 30 minutes a night. Whether or not Therrien chooses to use guys like Markov in more adapt roles, 5-on-5 and PP situations, is yet to be seen. But even the casual viewer would have noticed that Andrei was out of his element and over his head, and it was a significant factor in the team's defeat.

About Last Night ...

Not a whole lot to say this morning, but thoughts continue to be on George Parros. And yeah .... it's getting harder and harder to rationalize fighting in the game that we love so much. As Deadspin notes this morning, unless fighting is removed from the sport, eventually somebody will die - and it'll probably happen in an incident much like what happened to Parros.

Parros, who spent the night in hospital, has been diagnosed with concussion, and is out indefinitely. His playing status is highly irrelevant. That ought not be our focus. Fighting in hockey though ... the debate must change its focus away from the silly rules brought in to reduce its prevelence (the helmet removing rule is pointless), towards eliminating its existence.

How you go about banning fighting is pretty significant challenge with inherently complex solutions, which you'd assume, would have to be pretty draconion.

But the clock is ticking. Something must be done to eliminate the brawling because eventually, sooner or later, somebody will die. If that happens, the game itself will be irrevocably damaged.

More later today. In the meantime, send your good thoughts for a speedy recovery towards George.

Third Period:

- Parros. Good grief. Orr sent to the dressing room. Building is like a funeral.

- Watching replay. Orr not to blame in any way.

- Game has turned dark. Doesn't seem like so much fun any more.

- Tinordi, who hasn't seen much action since making the mistake leading to the Leafs tying goal, sits in the box.

- Habs look disheartened, and the Leafs picking up the breaks. 4-2.

- Zip in Habs legs that looked so great in the first is gone. Team really hasn't recovered since Markov's big mistake.

- Therrien needs a spark. The Eller line seems the obvious solution. It certainly hasn't been the Desharnais line.

- Eller shift. Suddenly things happen. It ain't rocket science.

- No word on Parros. Assuming he's in hospital.

- Prust/Moen/Pacioretty. Therrien looking to grind out some offense. Habs are getting some mo' going here.

- Leafs having good time eating shifts here. Looking pretty disciplined.

- Desharnais' problems are pretty fundamental. He's not strong enough. Any lose pucks at his feet, he's simply pushed away. Long-term, I don't see how the Habs can carry this through. If he can't play centre, he's got a pretty limited NHL future.

- Officials can't count to six. At least this crew can't. Insanely, the Leafs get the powerplay.

- Guess what? Lars Eller. Shorthanded. Habs have hope.

- Leafs clinging to life, mugging anything in red that moves. Officials take a nap.

- Okay, Desharnais line to close it out? That one requires an explanation. 4-3 final.

- Eller line looked fantastic. Price made some huge saves to keep his team in the game. For the most part, Markov looked wretched. Desharnais line was a total zero - Briere included. On the bright side, Habs had lots of zip, pretty good puck control, but Leafs took advantage of mistakes, and that's how you win closely contested hockey games, Fenwick be dammed.

All of this, positive and negative, completely marred, of course, by what happened to Parros. Not a good opening night in Habsland.

Second Period:

- Max Pacioretty still hasn't come back after taking a hard hit midway through the first period. No reports on his status, yet.

- First period Habs fenwick 14-12, so there ya go. They did have the possession edge. Eller, who was the best player, got less than 5 minutes ice. Gallagher under 3 (ut-oh ... some things never change, do they?). Gorges almost *9* minutes, good chunk accumulated on the PKs.

- Patches back on the bench.

- Carey Price has made as many tough saves as you'd expect to get in 60 minutes, in the first 23 minutes. Stellar so far.

- Leafs defense having a lot of trouble adjusting to Habs zone passing. Creating a lot of quality chances.

- Parros with the response to Orr for his first period hit on Pacioretty, who's still yet to play a shift after getting injured.

- Pacioretty with a tentative shift. Took a (weakish) wrist shot. 

- Tinordi gets caught up ice. In the big leagues, they make you pay for those mistakes. Game tied.

- Borderline hook/hold call on Pacioretty. And that's being generous. Don't like the inconsistency of tonight's officiating, but that's old news.

- I know the early season is the time for experimenting, but still can't figure out deploying Diaz on the PK.

- Is there a reason why Therrien is severely limiting using the league Norris trophy winner on the PK? What am I missing here?

- Com'on, Markov doesn't have a diving rep. Silly silly silly call. 

- Picking up directly from last year, another quiet, uninspired night for Desharnais. 

- Speaking of, pretty impressed with Bourque tonight, really moving his feet well, driving the crease effectively.

- This new helmet penalty is silly. Not a deterrence, the coordinated synchronic removal also looks ridiculous.

- Markov with a night to forget. Yikes.

- Period to forget - Habs weren't badly outplayed persay, but got into some penalty trouble. And then Markov's huge mistake. Still, the Habs have overall been the better team, so there's nothing to suggest they shouldn't be capable of coming back in the 3rd.

First Period:

- Okay, the player intros are taking forever, but just looking at Parros sans the helmet is frightening. Hate to be the first guy who faces him in fisticuffs.

- So, so, so good to see Eller on that ice in full uniform. He is the future (and if you don't mind the cheesiness of this statement, the future is now).

- Never really understood the point of national anthems at the start of sporting events, but let's do it this way forever - only the crowd sings. Hell yeah!

- Glen Healy noting that Price was having problems handling a shot that went four feet wide. Penetrating analysis, Glen.

- The Eller line by far the best out of the gate.

- Parros is gonna make every precious minute of icetime count.

- Contrary to Healy's inane observations, Price had made two word-class saves. Leafs to the PP.

- That's three sparklers for Price, and counting.

- 5 on 3, whatareyagonnado? Wonder if that shot might have stayed out with last year's pads?

- Can just imagine the braintrust right now wearing the blue and white crying foul that Prust faked that boarding.

- Eller! Welcome back. And as noted previously, the best playing line is quickly rewarded. Excellent dish by Diaz, by the way - keep that out and I might change my position of having you as he 7th D.

- CBC good grief, who's in charge in the control room? A flock of monkeys?

- Carey Price making saves on shots that really ought to be goals. Therrien won't be pleased.

- Gallagher gives Habs the lead (same line strikes again), Leafs claiming the play was offside. Toronto defense, however, looked miserable adjusting to the transition. Habs speed is killing them.

- How does Gionta, 15 feet out, miss the net by three feet?

- Eller is a monster tonight. This is an All-Star in the making, folks.

- Healy keeps talking about how shaky Price is playing. What am I missing here?

- Excellent period for the Habs, clearly the faster, more organized playing team. Had clear edge on possession, and even though the "book" on the Habs is they can be outhit and outmuscled, they were the stronger team, especially along the boards.


Okay, remember how like ... five months ago I said I'd be posting throughout the summer about the Habs, being a good little blogger, doing all the analysis that earns you blogging "street cred." Remember that?? WELL SCREW THAT I LIKE SUMMER AND I SPENT IT OUTSIDE NOT INSIDE ALL DAY IN FRONT OF A COMPUTER.

Plus, I admit it ... I'm lazy.

So Sunday afternoon, I'm watching the Toronto Sports Network's little "pre-season" show about the upcoming season, really only caring about what they have to say about the only team that really matters - THE TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (kidding), and so, excuse me if I get this wrong - their "analysis" of the Habs this year went something like this:

1) Habs finished in 1st place last year, despite Carey Price not really playing very well.
2) We TOTALLY expect Price to have a big rebound season.
3) Ergo, the Habs will finish out of the playoffs!

Did that compute? I didn't think so. But then again, the TSN panel thought the Leafs will grab one of these wild card playoff spots, so hah ... you ... I .. they ... ugh. Why bother??

THIS SEASON. So Marc Bergevei loses his collective mind for a week (the last time being when he signed Desharnais to a four year extension), and gobbles up Dannie Briere who NOBODY would have been interested in. So now we're stuck with this non-productive, undersized winger for two more years, under the guise of some absurd expectation that he's going to help make Desharnais score actual points.

Le sigh. I suppose there's no point in bemoaning the acquisition, but your veritable Habs Game Blogger thinks Bergevin it's a dreadful mistake that could significantly bog down the Habs offense when, inevitably, Therrien starts moving Briere from line to line when, inevitably, Briere fails to produce the necessary numbers.

SO TONIGHT. GAME ONE! A NEW SEASON. LIFE CAN BEGIN AGAIN. And ... it's against the Leafs. Har, har. Piece of cake, right? Just like last year when ... okay. So maybe not that easy, but com'on ... the Leafs made a series of moves during the summer with the (I guess?) expectation that if you move sideways hard enough, you'll eventually move forward. I dunno. We'll see, but I don't see the Leafs landing any higher than 11th, *maybe* 10th in the East this season.

Puck drops at 7:10-ish EST. The Bell Centre is gonna be rockin' tonight.

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