Saturday, 16 November 2013

Game Twenty-One: Rangers vs. Habs

New York 1, Montreal 0

Last night, the Rangers took 34 shots on Carey Price. He stopped 33 of them. Over the past five games, Price has posted a 2.12 GAA, and .930 SV%. He has one win to show for it.

That's all you need to know about last night.

Oh yeah. Briere was awful. And also Bourque. But then you already knew that.

Third Period:

- Stats line is gonna be ugly tonight. Assuming we can, while watching this terrible game, stay awake long enough to read it. 

- Richards cunningly guides Prust into the crease, Talbot flops, and Chris Lee takes the bait.

- Two minutes later Brassard flops on Price, Lee looks the other way. Seems about right.

- Not sure if all the boos in the Bell Centre are so much directed at the officials as they are in frustration over shelling out $200 for two-and-a-half hours of nothing.

- Bournival and Pacioretty in deep funks. Briere looks totally lost as well. Plekanec totally invisible. Gallagher probably shouldn't have even played. Gionta and Eller are it tonight, really. And Price.

- Habs might set an icing record this period, and it's not because they're protecting a lead, or something. It's because they're so awful.

Daniel Briere accounts so far for 100% of the Habs shots this period - one.

- The drills for tomorrow's practice in Brossard are gonna be ugly. Real ugly.

- Habs first sustained chances, swarming Talbot but can't finish. Too little too late.

- Good teams find a way of scoring. The Habs, at least from what we've seen tonight, aren't one.

- Carey Price robs Richards with the glove. He does everything you could ask for and then more. Another outstanding effort by Price frittered away by his team.

- Atrocious, simply atrocious effort tonight. One of the worst I've ever seen by any Habs team with this level of talent. I don't even know where to begin with how awful the team collectively played tonight, but whatever the explanation, Bergevin can't ignore the huge red flags. This team simply isn't trying.


Second Period:

- Pretty quiet night, at least so far, for Richards.

- Rangers picking up where they left off, hemming Habs in their zone first 3 minutes of the 2nd period.

- Prust did a pretty impressive impersonation of Travis Moen with that big juicy rebound off Gionta's shorthanded shot.

- Rangers capitalize off the 5-on-3 powerplay, and beat Price for the first time in 12 periods of hockey. 1-0.

- So before the game started did Therrien tell his players "remember how we played against Tampa the other night?? I want exactly the same thing tonight". Because that's what he's gotten.

- Feeling sorry for the paying Bell Centre customers tonight. This game has been a total dog.

- Habs not going with a grinding 4th line tonight has turned into a big mistake, team has no energy, no sustained pressure in the Rangers zone. Prust simply not fitting in next to Plekanec. White/Moen/Prust combo makes things happen.

- Rangers not adverse to playing their best defenseman, Mcdonagh, on the PK. Novel concept, eh?

- Bouillon consistently being used on the powerplay. This madness must stop.

- Dismal period dismal 40 minutes dismal night for the Habs. Most everyone going through the motions. Rangers defense not playing particularly effectively, but then again they don't need to. Canadiens calling this one in and like earlier in the week against Tampa, fully deserve a loss tonight.

First period:

- So White is the scratch tonight, meaning that Therrien wants to come at the Rangers with a 1a 1b, 2a 2b attack. No real checking line tonight.

- Desharnais goes straight at Talbot, nearly pays off with an early goal. But does draw a Habs powerplay.
- Emelin just sent flying backwards 10 feet after getting buried by Krieder. Looks fine on the bench post-hit, but still, collective breath was held.

- Price whiffs at a Krieder shot off the wing. Post saved the day. This time.

- Paciorety no goals one assist in the six games since coming back from injury. At what point do we start getting really concerned?

- McDonagh 3rd in points for Rangers. Can't even begin to imagine how great the Habs blue line would be right now if you-know-what wouldn't have happened.

- Briere completely adverse to going anywhere near the Rangers crease until well after the whistle. Does he think Therrien won't notice?

- On the other hand, Desharnais driving the Rangers crease hard - seems pretty determined to score his official first tonight. Therrien can just as easily scratch Briere as he has Desharnais.

- Briere is the centre, but just played his last shift as though he was on the wing. Can somebody wake this guy up, please?

- Kreider looking awfully dangerous this period. Price picking up where he left off against Tampa. 

- Not a particularly encouraging period - generally a lacklustre performance, Habs could only muster one shot the last half of the period. Habs will need to be much, much better than this.

Gameday Game Preview

WOW. What a difference 24 hours makes, eh? David Desharnais? HERO. He got that valuable point, albeit a shootout goal (which doesn't really count as a point and the shootout system is monstrosity that must be destroyed) BUT STILL. DESHARNAIS. HERO!

So anyway. Last night. The winning streak began! It was a pretty decent effort all-around by the Habs, aside from Desharnais' heroics, the Eller line was, as usual, performing its usual goal-scoring chores (can somebody else pitch in, please?), the Briere line, while held pointless, still looked pretty good, with Max Pacioretty getting 8 shots on goal - keep 'em coming Max, eventually they'll start going in for you.

Defensively, also pretty impressive, except for (as usual) the Habs 5/6 combo. The competition of who would suck more, Bouillon or Murray, was pretty stiff. At the end of the night, the Corsi differential between the two was pretty awful. Just to give you perspective, it was Markov +15, Subban +14, Gorges +12, Diaz +4 ... and here we go ... Bouillon -9, Murray -9. Equal suckituge!!

Man, tough decisions. They're both just ... so ... awful. I'm leaning towards banishing Murray to the netherworld in light of his penchant for constantly pushing opposing forwards into his own goaltender. He did it last night on Budaj, directly contributing to the Jackets' second goal.

But Bouillon ... is also so much bad. He's received an absurd number of powerplay minutes this season, god only knows why, and the Habs have produced exactly one goal while he was on the ice during a PP.

Anyway, Emelin returns tonight!! With this being his first game back in the lineup in nearly a year, his limited icetime means it's almost certain Therrien will go with 7 defensemen tonight, which means that either Ryan White or ... Desharnais will have to sit. I'm guessing the later. We'll see.

The opponents, the New York Rangers, aren't as horrible a team as they were the last meeting, when the Habs manhandled the blueshirts 2-0 at MSG.  Hampered by a schedule that subjected them to playing their first 9 games on the road, the Rangers stumbled out of the gate with 3-6 record. Since finally arriving at home, the Rangers have posted a more respectable six wins in nine games, which was a good enough run to get them back into the playoff picture within the Metropolitan Division.

The Rangers' big issue this year? It's pretty much been their lack of offense, currently 24th ranked in the League. New York has had to work through not having Rick Nash, who's been dealing with concussion from a dirty hit delivered by the Sharks' Brad Stuart on October 8th. Anyway, Nash started skating with his team in practice this week, and his hoping to make his return in 10-14 days.

Tonight also marks the return of ex-Hab Dominic Moore to the Bell Centre. Habs fans fondly remember Moore, who was picked up for nothing, did an excellent job as a 3rd/4th line scrubber, and then mysteriously, was simply let go by the team. After floating around for awhile, Moore found employment again with the Rangers, and has done a pretty good job filling the gaps for New York.

Back in Habsland, there are still questions about whether Brendan Gallagher will play tonight - he sat out last night due to the flu. Still, even with his absence, the Eller line delivered, and with Prust back in the fold, the Habs should be alright tonight.

Puck drops at 7:15 EST. The winning streak continues!!

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