Thursday, 7 November 2013

Game Seventeen: Habs vs. Sens

Really? 'Cause I ain't laughing.

Hot Wet Habs Trade Rumor:

- Normally I don't pass these things on, but it's going around today, so we'd might as well address it - Jordan Eberle for Jarred Tinordi.

Dunno. It's a compelling proposition, but conditional on a couple of aspects - one, that the Habs do whatever possible to extend Markov's stay for another couple of years, and two, this organization's willingness to admit that the moves it's made the past year were mistakes. That means, a willingness to either significantly reduce or cut ties altogether with George Parros, and to sit Daniel Briere in the pressbox if and when he's invariably unable to produce the offensive numbers.

If there is a genuine weak spot on this year's Habs club, it's offensive consistancy. We flagged this earlier in the year while the Eller line was basically carrying the team's goal production. We asked, what will happen to the Habs when they invariably stop producing? The past four games, all losses, are supplying us with the unfortunate answer.

Eberle would undoubtedly give the Canadiens a significant boost at the red line, and the Oilers, who've made some incredibly poor strategic choices from the bounty of top-tier drafts pics, are beyond desperate for young, potentially very talented defensemen.

Tinordi fits that bill.

But it is enough to get Eberle?

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: A couple of people have emailed me pointing out that the Habs don't have the cap space to take on Eberle's $6 million annual salary - which is true. At the moment, the Habs' cap space is just a tad under $2 million, but their available cap space is slightly under $5 million (expanding to $11 million by the trade deadline). So while acquiring Eberle wouldn't be possible at this given moment, it technically could be possible in less than a month (by the way, only six teams are presently cap-able to take Eberle: Buffalo, Ottawa, Calgary, the Islanders, Florida and Colorado).

BUT ... and this is where it gets tricky, freeing up the space beyond this season would present some challenges. Gionta is a goner automatically. Subban is looking at a $7M annual return. So is there space left for Markov? Well, with Emelin recently rewarded with a $16 million deal, the answer is probably not. Unless Andrei is willing to provide the organization with a pretty generous hometown discount - (why should he?).

Soooooo ... in all probability, acquiring Eberle would come with a double-hit. Losing whomever it takes to acquire the Oilers' forward (say, Tinoridi), and losing Markov forever.

So how does the Habs defense look in the future, with no Markov and no Tinordi?

Not as good. Not nearly.

Above, we see Habs General Manager during last night's loss to the Senators, pondering over signing the very unnecessary George Parros, Doug Murray and Daniel Briere to contracts over the summer. He's possibly also thinking about Rene Bourque.


Ottawa 4, Montreal 1

Third Period:

- 2nd period close, Fenwick 51.7%, 53.5% Corsi. Not dominating, but still not reflective of the scoreboard. As per usual against the Sens.

- Subban needs 8:46 this period to crack the 26 minute mark. He'll definitely beat the 24 minute mark, unless Therrien again benches him the final 5 minutes.

- Sens in shut-down mode, Habs are driving the Ottawa net, but Lehner has been very good. Throwing hands in the air.

- Habs had Sens on the ropes trapped in their end, until Bourque was simply pushed off the puck, and Ottawa got their icing. Sigh.

- Suddenly Subban getting buckets of icetime. Therrien forced to play his biggest cards with time running out.

- Rene Bourque is officially in my doghouse. He's got to be entering Therrien's.

- Habs are +13 in shots, -2 in goals. Maddening.

- Another penalty, and that's all she wrote. Another loss, and while the pitchforks aren't yet out, the barn door has been opened.


Second Period:

- Subban on pace for at 21:12 night. Markov 26:00.

- Canadiens have blocked 48 shots the past 4 periods. 

- Ottawa's defense continuously setting the puck on a silver platter from these turnovers. Habs need to start cashing these in.

- Nice shift by Desharnais. That's one.

- That's two in a row for Desharnais. We're on a roll.

- I've often heard many an "expert" assert that Gorges wouldn't qualify for 2nd line defense for most NHL teams, not for a moment understanding the value Josh contributes by blocking all these pucks. The man is a machine.

- Even though it might be a shocker, I won't be surprised if Desharnais pots one tonight. Really pushing for the Sens goal tonight.

- Price surrenders a juicy rebound off a Spezza shot, and Methot cashes in. 

- Oy, the hell? Therrien sends out the 4th line after the Methot goal, and Borowiecki gets his NHL first. 

- Nothing's changed since the playoffs against the Sens, has it? Habs dominate scoring chances and puck possession, and trail by two goals.

- That's a good call?? What's Gallagher supposed to do when he's being herded into the Sens' net?

- Sigh. Frustrating period against a team we consistently outplay, but always seem to end up on the wrong side of the scoreboard. Only area where the Habs are being trounced is in the faceoff circle. Just 11 wins in 38 tries. Otherwise, I'm really starting to hate this Ottawa Senators team.


First Period:

- Has there been a game where so much attention is being paid to one player's total icetime? None in my recent memory.

- Wow Sens really are a turnover machine - specifically their defense. Habs have been pelting Lehner like crazy, but nothing in yet.

- Doug Murray comes with an eyelash of scoring ... on his own goal.

- Pacioretty has been hooked and mugged by the Sens defense. No calls. 

- Paciorety has his nose in most of the Habs chances so far. He's looked really good since his return, but hasn't been rewarded. At least yet.

- So Gallager gets nailed for the marginal dive? That's NHL officiating consistency for ya.

- Habs 13 for their last 13 PKs.

- Tremendous puck movement by the Habs powerplay. Markov with the shot, but the Sens defenders simply couldn't catch up with the play. Dazzling goal.

- Bouillion went chasing after the puck, abandoning his defensive partner, giving Bobby Ryan a very clear shooting lane to blast one past Price. Habs lead lasted 28 seconds.

- Habs one significant defensive mistake costing them a deserved lead. Penalties hurting the team's ability to maintain early period momentum. Still, a pretty impressive road period.

Gameday Preview:

A few considerations.

- Erik Karlsson, vs. P.K. Subban. Karlsson is off to yet another great start, even though the Senators as a complete unit, have struggled. 17 points so far. Meanwhile, the whole Therrien/Subban drama continues, with the mainstream writers finally taking note of how Subban has, or more importantly, hasn't been utilized this season. On any other team, Subban would be an icetime stud, easily racking up the icetime he's imminently capable of delivering. That is, 30+ minutes a night. Instead, he's been reigned in at just over 24 minutes on average, and perhaps even more preposterously, has been subjected to late game benchings when his team is either tied, or trailing by just a goal to the opposition.

Will the "treatment" continue tonight?

- Ottawa has so far, been an early season disappointment in the League, posting a sub .500 record to date. This from a team that many had figured would be finishing very high in the Conference. It's a long season, of course, so the Sens might reach those lofty heights after the 82nd game is played, but there's no question the team right now is in a spot of trouble, what with Craig Anderson back on the injury list after suffering a neck injury last night. Robin Lehner is no Anderson.

- This will be Lars Eller's first game against the Sens since taking that brutal broadside check in last spring's playoff series against the Sens, courtesy Eric Gryba. Maybe a little revenge is in the offering, is Lars can produce some offense tonight.

- Carey Price continues to perform ridiculously well, with the League's 9th best GAA and 6th best SV% - a terrific .933. So the Habs, if this season is any indication, have a significant advantage between the pipes.

Gametime is 7:10 EST.


News 'n' Notes:

- We've covered this already, but it bears restating - Travis Moen returns to the lineup tonight, which is great news. Since his facial injury, the Habs 4th line has been nothing short of atrocious - with plugs like Mike Blunden, Patrick Holland, Louis Leblanc, and Martin St-Pierre failing to stem the bleeding.

- Habs announced this morning that Brandon Prust won't likely see any game action until late November, slightly longer than was originally projected. So, blah on that.

- Sens will start Robin Lehner, whom since the neck injury to Craig Anderson, has been suddenly become the Sens defacto number one. Lehner has had four starts this year, and has posted one win.

More later.

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