Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Game Three: Habs vs. Flames

Post-Game Update:

As has been pointed out by many since the final buzzer rang, Josh Gorges played just 20 seconds of the third period. No official word out tonight whether Gorges sustained an injury early in the period, earlier in the game, or even if he's injured at all. But clearly something is wrong. Hopefully will receive some kind of status report soon.

Player Line:

Let's check it out. A few pleasant surprises tonight.

Fenwick (5v5):
Daniel Briere +15
David Desharnais: +9
Max Pacioretty: +9
Alex Galchenyuk: +5
Brian Gionta: -3

Defensively, Markov lead with a +9, Tinordi a -2.

Corsi (5v5):
Daniel Briere: 73.5%
David Desharnais: 66.7%
Max Pacioretty: 66.7%
Alex Galchenyuk: 59.3
Brian Gionta: 31.6%

Defensively, Markov 62.9, Tinordi 40.7%

Josh Georges, for those who may be speculating that he got benched in the third, had solid numbers. I certainly didn't see anything glaringly wrong with his performance. A solid night for the Desharnais line, but they didn't put any pucks in the net, and that's the bottom line. Still, the trend is positive, so one should assume that sooner, rather than later, they'll start to generate actual points.

Third Period:

- If Habs do lose tonight, finger can't be pointed at Price. Habs horrendously sloppy in their own zone tonight.

- Carey Price keeping his team in this, sparkling saves in the 3rd.

- Therrin line juggling here, Bourque dropped to the 4th line.

- At this point, Habs winning Corsi and Fenwick battle, 41-29 and 28-19 respectively.

- Habs nice PK so far here, Flames seem to be settling in maybe a little too comfortably.

- Tremendous shift by Habs hemming Flames in their zone, Calgary line exhausted out, and Eller cashes in off a Subban shot. We got ourselves a game here.

- Price really doing quite a job here in the third. If the Habs pull this one out, it'll largely be because of Price's outstanding play.

- Calgary really needs to work on line shifting - they've been burned twice tonight because they didn't change fast enough.

- Holy moly, Habs are stormin' here. Flames holding on for dear life.

- One of these nights Subban is going to score after carrying that puck all the way from west to east, and it's going to be a thing of beauty.

- Habs really need to make huge push right now - Flames are still well on their heels, and may break if there's enough sustained pressure.

- Flames getting hemmed in their zone again.

- Where was this Habs mojo the first 30 minutes?

- Oh, P.K. Oh ... oh ... P.K. Dagger through the heart with that penalty.

- And that's 11 years and counting since Habs have won in Calgary. Habs dug their own hole way too deep, and 15 minutes of dominating hockey isn't going to cut it. Edmonton now, a tougher test than tonight's. These western swings are hockey hell.

Second Period:

- Why possession doesn't always matter. As noted previously the Flames are a lousy possession team, and they got stomped in the first 13-5, 72.2%. The only score that mattersugn though is 2-0.

- Desharnais line generating chances, but pretty sloppy coming to protect their zone.

- Yup. That was a Briere flop if I'd ever seen one. Surprised the refs didn't call a dive.

- McDonald. Highway robbery of Markov on the PP. Therrien giving Deshairnas line plenty of opportunity here to produce.

- Eller with third *least* amount of icetime for Habs at this point. Huh??

- Ain't gonna happen tonight. Glencross tips home a wrister on the Flames first PP (on a dumb Boullion boarding penalty), and the game now getting out of reach.

- Three Flames couldn't make a change on their PK, and exhausted can't prevent the feed to Subban at the line who fires an absolute cannon past McDonald. What a shot. 3-1.

- Have to say Briere is playing much more inspired tonight, creating some nice chances.

- Habs PP looked competent, but their zone play simply too lackadaisical tonight, the younger, seemingly more energetic Flames are making them pay. Two goal lead isn't insurmountable against a team who's knocked for their inability to protect a lead, but I just don't see the Habs with the legs and inspiration tonight to pull this one out of the fire.

First Period:

- Calgary is a lousy possession team. Let's see if that has an impact tonight.

- Flames play a decent, aggressive game along the boards, perhaps a bit too aggressive. Might be some open ice for the Habs offense to take advantage of.

- Flames have been fairly disciplined checking, but you can see the offensive challenges they face. A real hodge-podge of youth that as individuals, are trying to prove their mettle, but as a team, aren't particularly coordinated. Still, they're decent. Solid potential for growth.

- Couple of mistakes here - Subban goes for the body on a pinch and gets caught, then Moen with a poor turnover at centre gives the Flames odd man rush. Cant afford to be sloppy like this. 1-0.

- More tenacious forechecking by Galllagher. The kid simply cannot be stopped.

- That Eller shift has given the Habs a little spring in their step. See if this produces anything.

- Same old song, Eller line with hard working, grinding shifts producing quality chances.

- Apart from Lars' line, Habs struggling to find their legs - mysterious given the four day layoff.

- If Pacioretty's sprain is significant enough where he can't muster an effective shot, he's no doing his team any favours playing.
- Quite possibly best shift of the season right there for Desharnais line.

- Tinordi careless and sloppy play behind his net costs the Habs another goal. Game so far is reminiscent of the Leafs game for its general sloppiness.

- Pretty uninspiring first period by the Habs, the Flames burning their opponet's mistakes. Team will need to make some numerous corrections and come out much more aggressively in the 2nd, or this game might get out of hand.

Latest From George Parros:

He's in good hands. We all hope to see you back soon, George!!

Gameday Game Preview: 

Okay, I've done enough complaining about the huge day gaps between games. Two games played in 9 days is simply not enough game action to keep this Habs fan from chasing down his hockey dragons.

Well that all changes tonight, as the Habs take on the Flames, kicking off a four game western road trip. Three games in four nights in cities that have not been kind to the Canadiens in years previous. The last 30 games played in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver have resulted in just 8 wins. Ouch.

So tonight, the Habs take on which one can reasonably presume will be the easiest hurdle to jump in the Calgary Flames, who are but in the early stages of a completely organizational rebuild. You probably know the story - the Flames lost three big-name players last year, shipping out Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester for a cluster of prospects and picks which may, or may not go anywhere. Plus Miikka Kiprusoff, who'd been Calgary's only qualified goaltender for 10 seasons, rode off into the hockey sunset. This is a organization with some pretty significant holes to fill, short and long-term.

 Leading into this season, the Flames brought in hockey braintrust Brian Burke as "Vice President of Hockey Operations", which is essentially de facto General Manager, since "current" Flames GM Jay Feaster seemingly threw his overwhelmed hands up after attempting to piecemeal his organization into a playoff spot. That approach has failed miserably, and depending on how badly things go for Calgary this year, you'd have to believe that the leash is short for Feaster's tenure, with Burke waiting in the wings to take full official command.

The big-name trades and rebuilding process has left Calgary with some significant voids - no more so than at center, where the Flames are led by Matt Stajan and Mikael Backlund. Yikes. Calgary seems to be pinning many of its rebuilding hopes on winger Sven Baertschi, Calgary's first round pick in the 2011 draft. Baertschi brings skill but not a lot of size to his position, and was criticized a couple of weeks ago by Burke for not addressing his weaknesses, whatever they are. Burke didn't go into detail. Compounding the Flame's challenges is the loss of one of the few quality veteran assets still around in Mike Cammalleri, who suffered a hand injury during training camp, and is out indefinitely. Cammalleri's future in cowtown is also uncertain, since he's got a sizable $6M per contract, and may become a sought commodity this winter as the trade deadline approaches. Anyway. You get the point.

The Flames are neck deep in rebuilding mode, they're especially thin on offense, and they'll be in tough not to finish near or at the bottom of the standings after the season is done.

Over in Habsland, things are looking considerably brighter, since we're no longer in "rebuilding" mode, and we head into tonight's game in relatively decent shape. Max Pacioretty, who suffered a wrist injury opening night and missed Saturday's start, is still unconfirmed for play tonight as I type. Nonetheless, the Habs enjoy a pretty deep roster, so I wouldn't be terribly surprised if Therrien rests him for one more game for tomorrow night's contest against the far better Edmonton Oilers.

Otherwise, the storyline is the same. Lars Eller and his line are tearing up the scoresheet, the Habs offense, with exception to the Desharnais/Briere combination, seem to be coming along fine. Carey Price looked very good against the Flyers. The Habs defense rebounded strongly Saturday night after putting in a shabby performance against the Leafs last Tuesday. The PK seems to have come around - I think it's got something to do with more P.K. Subban, and less Raphael Diaz. The powerplay has looked "meh" so far, but I think it's more indicative of the team currently experimenting with adapting the currently trendy 1-3-1 format.

Game time is 8:05 eastern, 6:05 local time - I guess the folks in Calgary like to go to bed early on weeknights? Carey Price will start tonight - with Peter Budaj supposedly starting tomorrow night in Edmonton. Hmmm. I'm inclined to think it should have been the other way around. Oh well. For the Flames, their starter has yet to be disclosed. Not sure it'll matter much. The Flames are in tough tonight.

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