Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Game Nineteen: Lightening vs. Habs

Wednesday News 'n' Notes:

- Still plenty o' buzz this morning over Carey Price's remarkable performance last night - observers are recognizing just how magnificent many of his 44 saves were, allowing his team to pick up a roundly undeserved point in the standings. If not for the Habs preposterous inability to win shootouts, the Canadiens could have well finished a point higher in the standings.

But justice won out, and the best team, yes, the woefully undermanned Tampa Bay Lightening, won over the worse team - the relatively healthy Canadiens.

It's yet another feather in the Therrien cap of not having the ability or capacity to prepare his team for regular season games. The Canadiens had massive advantages last night, healthy roster, better players, home ice, and yet they needed a miraculous performance by one guy to salvage a lousy point. The team's early season possession dominance is now just a faint memory of glory days gone past. The Habs struggle mightily these days to come even close to the 50% threshold.

Price's glowing reviews are no slight on P.K. Subban, though. He was outstanding last night as well - when he was on the ice, the Habs outshot the Lightening 17-11. When he wasn't on the ice, the shot totals were, and this is true - 34-12 for Tampa Bay.

Let that settle in for just a moment. Without Subban on the ice, it was 34 shots for Tampa, 12 for Montreal.   - Other happenings. With Alexei Emelin set to return this weekend, the big answered question yet to be settled is, who's gonna get shelved? There really are only two candidates for demotion - Frankie Bouillon and Doug Murray. Earlier in the week, the CW had Murray as a mortal lock for the press box - however, be it skill or just plain dumb luck (or more likely Carey Price), nobody has yet to score on the Canadiens PK with Murray on the ice. That one stat might just be enough to have him avoid the roster guillotine. Which is fine, since Bouillon has, for the most part, been a huge defensive liability. Plus, Emelin will more than amply fill the physicality dimension that Bouillon supposedly would leave behind. 

- Brandon Prust is getting very, very close to a return. At the optional this morning at Brossard, Prust said that he might be able to return this weekend, although at this point, he said he's not 100%. If not this weekend, it's almost certain that he'll be back sometime next week, which means that the Habs 4th line can finally reestablish its early-season self: White/Moen/Prust.

More later.

UPDATE: Habs announced they have sent both Gabriel Dumon and Greg Pateryn back to Hamilton. Which means that it's likely George Parros will get a start Friday night against the Blue Jackets. For some reason.


- Talk today that the League might go to a 10 minute, 3-on-3 overtime, to limit the number of these awful shootouts, made even more awful that either Bishop or Price will end up with an "L" tonight.

- Steve Yzerman in the crowd tonight. If he hasn't yet got Price selected for Team Canada ...

- However, these shootouts aren't exactly his strength ... 1-0 Tampa.

- Briere? Ugh. No no no ...

- Yup. Easy save for Bishop. Sigh.

- Price keeps Habs alive. It's up to Gallagher now. Wait, Gallagher??!?

- Ugh. Price takes the "L". A stellar performance unrewarded.


- Markov was flung/falling to the ice when he tried to fire the puck out, and he's being called for delay of game. What a bad break.

- Can Price save his team's bacon one more time? Heckova challenge coming up here.

- Rare 5-on-4 overtime situation here.

- 41 saves by Price. And counting.

- Habs desperately need a change here. Tampa has the pinned.

- Carey Price, with one of the superb performances of his career. You saw it tonight, folks.

- Sensational overtime period. Even more sensational than sensational was Price's performance tonight. 45 shots, 44 saves - at least 25 of them "difficult" to "very difficult" variety.


Third Period:

- Subban, 20 minutes through two periods. That's just about perfect.

- How do you score in close against someone like Bishop? At his gigantic size all he has to do is just ... be ... and the puck stays out.

- Gallagher/Galchenyuk connection has been buzzing around Bishop all night, but they're snakebit.

- Shouldn't Murray know well enough you don't pass up through the middle from behind your goal? No?? Alright, then. Carry on.

- The NHL just explained the disallowed goal. Control Centre noted the puck crossed the line, but also that incidental contact was made on Price, and instructed the officials the goal should not be allowed. So there you have it.

- Yeah. This is pretty much about right:

- Price keeping his undeserved team in this game.  Astonishing the Habs in theory, might actually win this.

- Habs offense, which has been pretty limp, getting the occasional try on Bishop, but no sustained pressure. With exception to their 2nd powerplay, they've had nothing tonight.

- If this game ends 1-0, it might be the worst I've ever seen this team play while losing by that score. Habs had two full days off, maybe the players thought they could take one more?

- If during the post-game conference Therrien says that the team's compete level was high tonight, I'm going to know for sure he has no idea what he's talking about.

- Tampa's combined Corsi just under 65% right now. It's a minor miracle this is still a one goal game.

- Briere isn't a Desharnais lightweight, but he's not a whole lot better.

- Bishop just totally robbed Plekanec's rocket shot from the slot. And Gionta twice point blank. He will not be beaten tonight.

- I suspect Therrien will heavily rotate Eller and Plekanec lines from here on out.

- Bishop .... not only do I hate the Ottawa Senators, but I hate their ex-players penchant for coming up with great performances against the Canadiens.

- Wow. A garbage goal it is, and it's Briere. Tie game. Unbelievable.

- They're gonna review this. Puck went in off Briere's body, but was it intentional? I don't think so.

- Well, we called it. Garbage goals were the only way that Bishop was to be beaten tonight. Man, if I'm a Lightening fan, I'm ticked.

- Oh wow. Carey Price with the save of the night. Glove snag. How'd he do that?

- If it's gonna be one guy with a clumsy stick, you know it's Rene Bourque. At the worst possible time.

- Good grief, Carey Price. What a third period. I'm not cheering for the Habs as much as I am for Price's gutsy performance.

- Silly Bourque high stick penalty killed by Habs ... WHAT am I saying? ... by Carey Price.

- We got ourselves quite the game going right now, don't we?

- Wow. Eller called two minutes for passing the puck with his glove off the faceoff. I've never seen that call before.

- Gorges is a robotic shot blocking machine.

- First, second and third star tonight is Price. I can count on one hand the number of times I've seen him play better than this.

- Habs will get at least a point out of this. TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN.

Second Period:

- Habs continue to outskate Tampa, and are pulling down Hans left and right, but officials aren't calling them.

- The high PK ranking is largely illusionary. The main reason for the Habs success this year can be boiled down to one guy - Carey Price.

- Bishop is very solid. It's not helping matters much that only 3 shots have been registered this period. Eller line has more or less been kept in check. Plekanec line hasn't faired much better. Again, the Habs will need to score dirty if they want to erase that goosegg.

- 3-on-1 break, Gallagher has to make that pass to Galchenyuk not drop it back to the already in check Eller. Pretty sure it would have been a routine follow through for Galcheyuk and a tie game. The pretty plays simply will not work tonight.

- Eller line far too cute tonight, looking for a highlight goal. Bishop has gotten into their heads.

- Oy. Briere. If you're gonna play centre you have to at least look before passing.

- Two posts in the period for Tampa.

- Gallagher making poor decisions tonight, costing his team excellent scoring chances.

- Oy. That wasn't a post. Tampa had scored. Nobody noticed. 2-0.

- Bouillon/Murray now -4 tonight. And counting.

- Holy moly. The puck went in but it's waved because Price was bumped. Crazy play. Score remains 1-0. That's a weird call because while there was contact on Price, it made little difference on whether he would have stopped the shot. Nonetheless, that's the ruling and the Habs catch a huge break.

- 13-5 shots on goal in that period for Tampa. Bishop who was tested a couple of times while the Lightening were on the PK, it's been a snoozer. Good news? The Habs only one goal down. They really don't deserve any wins or points tonight, given their anemic effort. 

First Period:

- Bouillon/Murray combo strike again, soft in front of Price, Malone gives Tampa the early lead.

- Habs on pace to register 12 shots on Bishop tonight.

- Some things never change. When Bishop played in Ottawa it seemed like he had our number. He's has it again tonight in particular the Habs' second man advantage.

- Habs have been outskating their opponent so far, and it's drawn them 3 powerplays in the period.

- Cannot possibly convey how much better that 4th line looks with Parros out and Moen in. Miles ahead.

- Bishop getting clear views of Subban's PP point shots tonight, Habs forwards need to jam the crease more aggressively. 

- Basically Bishop is so large that your most realistic chance for a goal is via the rebound.
- Good news, Habs got 5:59 seconds of 5-on-4 ice. Bad news, they still got outshot and trail on the scoresheet. This will have to be a garbage goal night.

Gameday Game Preview:

Okay, I'm sorry, I will forever be sorry. There is only one person to blame for this and that is myself. I can't explain how difficult this was to do. I hope, I hope, that nobody, nobody has to go through what I have gone through. I would do anything, absolutely anything to change the past. But the past is the past, and we must move forward. I want to be clear. I want to be crystal clear to every single person: I will not miss another Habs game blog, and it will never, ever, ever happen again.

Until the next time, of course.

SO THAT ISLANDERS GAME? What did I miss? Looks like it was another night of EGG line dominance. Looks like it was another night of Carey Price being excellent. Looks like it was another night when David Desharnais had some nappy-nap time, even with reduced shifts! Sheesh. That guy! He'd better be careful, or he might lose his spot in the lineup!

Anyway, we got news, lotsa news today. Daniel Briere will return tonight. He'll be playing centre!  This means, no Desharnais tonight! Alexei Emelin will be returning this weekend. That means, no Doug Murray! I tells ya, things are looking up at the addition via subtraction department.

Meanwhile, over in Tampaland, the Lightening, who were already dealing with the loss of Sami Salo who suffered a leg injury during Monday's game against the Bruins, and then lost another defenseman in Keith Aulie, took a monstrous hit when they lost start centre Steven Stamkos, who broke his leg sliding into the Boston net, an injury so serious that he probably won't return until next season. Ouch. The Lightening today called up forward J.T. Brown, who was a late-camp cut, and defenseman Dmitry Korobov, as roster tourniquets. This is one big-time hurtin' Lightening roster.

So one team's pain is the Habs game, we'd reckon. With the Habs very nearly back to full health, one hopes, if not expects, this team to start delivering wins again on a regular basis.

Carey Price will start tonight, versus Ben Bishop, who's been pretty darned good for Tampa this year.

Puck drops at 7:40 EST.

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