Monday, 28 October 2013

Game Twelve: Habs vs. Rangers

Third Period:

- Leblanc drives the crease, draws his team a powerplay. Coaches love that stuff.

- Doug Murray with a Subban like open ice thumping on Kreider. That alone was worth the interference penalty. 

- Kreider called for a clear pick - fans are going nuts but that was a designed play and the Rangers got caught.

- Is there a better backup in the NHL other than Budaj? He certainly ranks up there in my biased opinion. Another quietly solid night.

- Just need one more to nail this home, but Habs red lines are playing very passively.

- Line matching, Rangers pin the Habs 4th line in their zone along with Murray, but Budaj comes up big with a couple of nice saves.

- Supurb work by Gallagher. When he wants that puck he simply goes and takes it. Sets up snakebitten Eller in front of Lindqvist. Eller once again can't finish. 

- Leblanc's got a good excuse tonight: look at who you saddled me with at centre!

- Rangers on late powerplay, looking for some urgency here.

- Habs PK doing nice job keeping the shots confined to the perimeter. Budaj can handle those easily.

- Bouillon leaves his feet to make a check that really wasn't urgent. Generates great scoring chance for Pouliot. Just say no to Francois on the PK.

- Desharnais/Leblanc two on one break. Leblanc had great position but Desharnais is so fixated on scoring that he takes a selfish shot. And misses the target.

- And there you have it. Rangers defense forced to pinch, Gallagher and Eller with a 2-on-1, and Gallagher makes the right play dishing to Eller, the puck eventually hitting Galchenyuk's skate and in. Reviewing it for intent.

- No way Gallagher intentionally kicked that in. Wasn't even a kicking motion. Right decision there.

- Budaj was excellent tonight, Habs are truly blessed in net this year. An impressive victory to spoil the Rangers' and MSG's grand opening. New York's offense is a total mess right now. Can easily see why this team has just 3 wins in 10 games.

Second Period:

- Intersting 1st period time stats. Leblanc got 3:18, which by Therrien young forward standards, isn't half bad. Markov with crazy 10:18, three minutes more than Subban. Murray clocked in just over 4 minutes.

- Both clubs' shooting accuracy has been pretty dim tonight. Point shots are generally going nowhere near the net.

- Well, I thought Anaheim's powerplay was pretty bad, but the Rangers are even worse. Game is almost torturous to watch.

- Eller line shift, three quality chances. Draw a powerplay. They're the only line out there with moving parts.

- Guess who now has the least amount of playing time so far tonight? Desharnais. 

- Rangers' combined Corsi is 57.8%, but not a single legitimately dangerous chance on Budaj yet.

- Nouillon has to do a far better job going back to retrieve the puck from behind his net. Budaj bails him out.

- Effort is still there for the Eller line, just seem a little snakebit. As long as they maintain zone pressure and generate quality chances, something will give. Eventually.

- Bournival with an absolutely beautiful play. Carries the zone, drops it back to Plekanec, then picks Mark Staal, which opens everything up for Plekanec to carry to the net, sweet move on Lindqvist, and Habs take 1-0 lead. 

- Pretty sorry period of hockey. This game has nothing to do with well performing defenses, and everything to do with two teams whose offenses are badly under performing. Just 20 more minutes left to endure .

First Period:

- Habs first PP, nothing. Hasn't looked particularly dangerous since the Winnipeg game.

- So great to see Domanic Moore out there. Gauthier's decision to let him walk I'd always believed was a significant mistake and loss that's never really been replaced since.

- Decent argument to be made that Bournival does a better job forechecking than either Plekanec or Gionta. Certainly is more tenacious.

- Habs second powerplay, Therrien elects to start the Desharnais over the Eller line.

- Two unwise penalties by Gionta this period. Habs powerplay looks as disorganized as I've seen it all season. No flow, passing is a mess.

- Pretty sloppy and uninspired opening 20 for both teams. Rangers controlled the tempo much of the first half, Habs responded well the second half. We have two teams whose offences are badly struggling, first goal wins?

Gameday Game Preview:

What an honor! I guess. The Habs are the very first guests to the newly renovated Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, as they take on the ne'er-do-well Rangers.

First. Travis Moen. He's out for a while with a facial fracture (which is probably 92 times more painful than it sounds), so here we go again with the call-ups. Pretty soon Hamilton is going to have trouble icing even just three offensive lines. So Moen goes down, and up comes Louis Leblanc, who's been tearing it up for the Bulldogs this season.

ALSO ... we have an injury return! Doug Murray's rehab came in nicely ahead of schedule, so he'll be starting his first ever game in a Habs uniform.

So those Rangers. What a start. Did you know that there were actual living, breathing hockey "experts" who picked the Rangers to finish near the top of their Division this season? It's true!

Funny stuff. Let's cut New York a bit of slack. With all of those renos happening at the Garden, the Rangers were forced to open their season with a nine game road trip. With 3 wins in those 9 games, New York finds themselves buried fairly deep in the eastern standings. The 29th rated offense. The 29th rated defense. 17th rated powerplay. 18th rated penalty kill. 27th rated Corsi. 23rd rated Fenwick. October has not been kind.

Another excuse for the Rangers - injuries. They've had quite a few to important guys. Rick Nash is indefinite with concussion. Carl Hagelin is indefinite with a shoulder injury. Ryan Callahan is gone until December. On the bright side, after losing Henrik Lundqvist to injury last week, he's supposedly been okay'd for return tonight.

The Habs. Well, Saturday night, what can you say? They played well enough against the powerhouse Sharks, more-or-less staying in the game until early in the 3rd, when San Jose took total command. Still, it was one of those "encouraging" losses, when you consider the depth of the Habs injury list, and how they still managed to play a competitive game.

With Moen out, we'll probably see Leblanc get a few 4th line shifts alongside David Desharnais and Rene Bourque on the 3rd line. The other two top Habs line remain the same, the EGG and Pleks/Bournical/Gionta.

With Murray starting tonight, it's likely Nathan Beaulieu will sit, although in this writer's opinion, the Habs true 6th man out should be Francios Bullion, who's had a string of brutal defensive performances the past two weeks.

Puck drop is ... I guess 7:40 EST? Not sure if MSG will have some kind of opening night ceremony. Yeah. They probably will. 7:50 puck drop then, in all probability.

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