Friday, 15 November 2013

Game Twenty: Habs vs. Blue Jackets


- As usual I prelude these things by reminding readers how much I despise the shootout. So ... I despise these shootouts. 

- Just no Desharnais in the shootout please. PLEASE.

- Good grief. Therrien chooses Desharnais.   /headslap.

- Yeah. Budaj's got this.

- Oh god. The Columbus ice claims Galchenyuk as a victim.

-  Oh Yeah. Budaj's got this.

- Holy crap. Desharnais. Consider my hat eaten.



- Looking forward to seeing Subban's icetime in this overtime. Or will Therrien "punish" him for that holding penalty?

- Pacioretty with big zone interception, great scoring opportunity ... who's free in front? Desharnais ... and ... yeah ... pushed aside, chance eliminated.

- Wow. Habs have played two horrible OTs in a row. You'd figure 10 minutes of 4-on-4 would generate at least one good scoring chance, but nope ...

- Well, Budaj at least giving his team a shot in the shootout. And yeah ... at least he's better at these than Price. So who knows? We might actually win this.

Third Period:

- For the most part, the Habs have played a pretty sound, competent defensive game. Exception being Murray who's been particularly slow tonight. Emelin is back tomorrow, RIGHT?

- Galchenyuk's head was definitely targeted by Foligno elbow. The reply is crystal clear. Fortunately, Galchenyuk was able to move his head at the last possible moment, but that play was a recipe for disaster. Shameful. 

- Columbus' shots have been extraordinarily ordinary, their main difficult has been delivering pucks on Budaj from anywhere but perimeter shooting spots. As long as this continues, Budaj should be fairly assured of keeping them off the board for the rest of the period.

- Bournival has had perhaps his quietest night as a Hab this season.

- Yup. Holding the stick on Subban, although he was getting hooked like crazy from behind. Therrien looks like he's about to meltdown, although I'm not sure if its towards Subban or the official who made that call.

- Replay shows the stick was up in Subban's armpit while he was trying to carry the puck. What else is he supposed to do other than to grab and remove it from his body? Terrible call.

- Very quietly, the Habs PK has become ridiculously efficient. Plus goaltending.

- Man, that woulda been just deserts if Subban could have converted coming out of the box.

- Just two shifts for Prust since his fight. Hrmm ...

- Seriously, if Prust got hurt fighting Boll, I'll be ticked.

- Man ... who's it gonna be off the lineup once Emelin returns to full form? Bouillon or Murray? Both are equally terrible in their own unique manner ...

- Bouillon's shot from the line nearly squeaks through, Bourque running some borderline goaltender interference there.

- Habs couldn't finish it off, even though they pelted 40 shots. If Habs can't come away with two points, then it'll be a tough pill.

Second Period:

- Good news, Eller ties the game. Bad news, they're again the only line producing. We'll take it, but production is required from other places, or this team has some significant long-term challenges ahead.

- Poor Desharnais. Redeflects a shot that goes off the inside of the post. It's just not meant to be.

- What the hell is Prust doing getting into a fight right off the injury list. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

- Opened gate for Habs forwards to attack the Jackets net. They've dominated the period largely because of Columbus' zone indifference.

- Pretty lobsided in the Habs favour, 15-6  second period shot totals. Possession should be an interesting tale told, but since the rocky start that included the someone fluky second Columbus goal, it's been the Habs which have controlled this game.

- 5v5 closed Fenwick through 40%, 53.7% - not dominating, but still with control. So far things look alright for Desharnais, we'll see how it pans out - but if he can somehow produce a point in the 3rd, he might earn himself another start tomorrow night against the Rangers.



First Period:

- That Briere/Pacioretty/Bourque line looks kinda snappy. At least so far.

- Budaj gift wraps one for Umberger. 1-0. Funny how those gift goals can sometimes get a season in gear for a struggling forward.

- Bounces, or in this case, bodies, are decidedly going against the Habs. This could be a very ugly night. 2-0.

- Budaj clearly pretty rattled.

- Why Galchenyuk wasn't used last (and every) shootout, I'll never know. Habs salvage the period.

- Some sparks of life, but they were brief. This is a team that badly lack offensive consistency beyond the Eller line. Another unremarkable period for Desharnais - who's destined for pine time if he doesn't do something very quickly.

Gameday Game Preview:

So. When are we gonna start winning again? We were supposed to have started winning Tuesday night against the ripe-for-the-pickin injury-hobbled Tampa Bay Lightening. Well, that was the plan, anyway. Everything kind of went south, however, when 18 of the 20 people listed on the Habs roster didn't bother showing up to the rink, metaphorically speaking. So it was left up to Carey Price and P.K. Subban to single-handedly draw a point against the Bolts, with Subban more or less doing all the work of the offense, while Price kept 44 of 45 shots out, while 20,000 fans sat around and looked on. Plus 18 other guys wearing a CH shirt and skates. It was not good.

SO TONIGHT THE WINNING STREAK STARTS I TELLS YA. And it starts in the glorious capital of Ohio, Columbus! Home to ... the ... well ... it's the Capital of Ohio!

Okay, so it hasn't been a great start for the Jackets. Just 6 wins in 18 games. Just one single little win over their past 9 games. Net result? Last place in the awfully named Metropolitan Division.

Their offense? An anemic 20th rated. Their defense? A slightly more anemic 22nd rated. Their powerplay? A slightly less anemic 19th rated. Their penalty kill? An even more anemic 23rd rated. Basically, the team that jusssssst barely missed grabbing their first ever franchise playoff birth last season has been going nowhere and fast this year.

What's the prob? Well, Columbus' big summer signing Nathan Horton hasn't actually played a game for his new team, and won't for a couple of more months. At least. R.J. Umberger, who's been healthy, has been a huge disappointment and underperformer since signing a tidy little 5-year contract extension worth over $4 million per year. HABS FANS CAN RELATE.

Current Vezina Trophy winner  Sergei Bobrovsky hasn't maintained his previous season form, his SV% dropping from last year's .932 to this year's .908, while his GAA has gone from 2.00 even to 2.83.

Over in Habsland, the Candiens welcome back Brandon Prust who's finally returning from a shoulder injury sustained it feels like about 305 million years ago because the Habs 4th line has totally gone south since he's been gone, and yeah ... it's good to see him back!! Also getting a start is the much maligned David Desharnais, who'll probably get shift mainly on the 4th line. Or maybe he'll play wing next to Danie Briere. Or maybe he'll just be terrible again. Or maybe he can exchange notes with Umberger.

Peter Budaj will get a start tonight against Bobrovsky. Puck drops at 7:10 EST.



YAY it's FRIDAY! And it's double-plus gameday too! Game 20! We're at the quarter pole already. Where does time go, my oh my stars.

Anywho, a couple of important notes this am/pm:

- Brandon Prust will be starting tonight. Right about on schedule for his return, but still, it's great to see him back. Brandon, stay healthy for awhile, kay?

- So we're healthy again!!! Whoops. Not quite. Brenden Gallagher is out with the flu. Sheesh. That's Travis Moen's bad, I guess. David Desharnais' prayers answered, he'll be in the lineup tonight. I'd reckon he'll get shifted back and forth between 3rd and 4th line duties.

- Peter Budaj will start tonight, Carey Prince tomorrow.

More in a bit, including a gameday preview.

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