Thursday, 5 December 2013

Game Thirty: Bruins vs. Habs

Third Period:

- Bruins come out hard to start the 3rd. Habs hemmed in their own zone.

- Diaz with a shot on net, that actually was a shot on net.

- Reports now that Boychuck sustained a lower back injury, but he's moving. So he should be okay.

- Even though he scored a big goal Monday, Galchenyuk still in a funk ... for the first time since getting to the bigs, he looks like he's struggling to maintain his confidence.

- Outstanding, perhaps goal-saving block by Emelin on Lucic slot shot.

- Bruins buzzing, coming really close now. Sensing a tie.

- Shots are 10-1 Boston through first 9 minutes of the 3rd. Habs have to stop the bleed, and fast.

- Boston forecheck too much for Habs to handle. It's creating numerous offensive zone opportunities for the Bruins - Price will have to dig very, very deep to keep this game in control. 

- Whatever legs Habs had in the 2nd are gone. This team is limping towards the finish line, seemingly exhausted.

- Short shifts. 30 seconds. Sprints to the finish. I dunno what else can be done to save this game.

- Two least played Habs, Parros and Briere, also happen to be the two weakest players, defensively. What can ya do?

- 5 minutes left. 5 agonizingly long 5 minutes left. Bruins with 15 shots in the 3rd.

- Price doing everything and more.

- Great energy shift by the Desharnais line there.

- 90 long seconds left.

- Bad decision by Subban who overplays the puck and draws an icing. 38 seconds left. Faceoff deep next to Price. Hold on, folks.

- That was NOT an icing. Good grief.

- Subban single handedly killed the clock hugging the puck behind his net.

- Carey freakin' Price. First place. That is all.

Second Period:

- Bruins had shade under 80% Fenwick (closed) in the first. That's really, really bad from the Habs perspective. They really were taken to the shed.

- In the span of 48 hours the Habs powerplay has entered an abyss. Rask virtually untested so far.

- Iginla sprung free, Markov blowing his coverage. Again. Methinks Andre's legs and mind are too weary.

- Eller levels Campbell. If we can't beat em, might as well hit em.

- Boychuk in the hospital. Reportedly his arms and legs are moving.

- Eller line actually generated actual offensive pressure in the actual Bruins zone. No, really.

- Plekanec! From nearly behind the nearly behind the net, finds a way. Tie game.

- Right in front of the official, Hamilton boards Prust, who luckily is not injured, but could very easily have been. Tim Peel, one of the League's worst, didn't make the obvious call.

- Funny this game. Since that Eller shift, Habs have suddenly discovered they have legs. Are actually using them.

- Habs powerplay suddenly waking up as well, Bruins continue to be very aggressive with puck pursuit.

- Massive defensive breakdown by reeling Bruins defense creates loose pucks a plenty, Pacioretty cashing in, and the Habs, who have dominated the final 2/3rds of the period, take the lead.

- Weird, weird game. Two periods, each total opposites of each other. Boston dominated the first, looked to be cruising to an easy win 6 minutes into the 2nd, and then the wheels fell off. Habs totally controlling the play from that point out, outshooting Boston 14-3, and taking the lead 2-1. Claude Julien won't be pleased - the Bruins can't possibly use exhaustion for an excuse. 

First Period:

- Very physical start to the game, as expected. Habs delivering the bulk of the blows, unexpected.

- Pacioretty with a board on Boychuk who's appears to have sustained a significant injury. Not a dirty hit, but still might get a League review. The loss of Boychuk will create some defensive problems for Boston, especially since it's so early in the game.

- Full medical staff looking at Boychuk. Being taken off on a stretcher. 

- Watching reply it wasn't a check from directly behind, it appears that Boychuk lost his footing just before going into the boards. Don't think it's a suspendable infraction.

- Habs PK looking good as usual, even though Smith missed an open net off the rebound.

- Marginal tripping call on Desharnais. Brooons back to the PP, which like the Habs', didn't look too hot first time out.

- Boston sloppy, sloppy puck control so far.

- Habs outdrawing Boston so far by a factor of 2 to 1, but Bruins outshooting Habs by a factor of 3 to 1.

- Habs haven't a lot this period, but now get a second powerplay. Would like to see some sustained pressure, at the very least.

- Bruins with extremely aggressive puck pursuit on the PK, works great if the other guys can't gain consistent puck control, but is still a high risk strategy.

- Lucic with a pretty and perfect feed to Campbell in full stride, Price with no chance. Play happened as a result of Markov with a bad pass in the neutral zone. Bruins have been nearly unbeatable this season when they score the first goal. 

- It wasn't a route, but the Bruins slowly took over the period as it progressed. Habs legs might not have enough in the tank to compete tonight. All first period signals point towards a fairly routine Bruins win tonight.

Gameday Game Preview:

Alright, it's the game that we've had circled for weeks. You just knew this game was gonna be worth the wait - and lo and behold, it's a showdown for first place.

Logic would reckon that the Habs have a few factors working against them tonight. First, they've just come off two consecutive wins where they were either matched or badly outplayed by a supposedly inferior opponent (specifically, sub 50 percentile possession numbers). Secondly, its the last half of  back-to-back games. Thirdly, their hated opponent, the Boston Bruins, haven't played in five days - so you just know they're bursting with energy.

And yet ... logic seems to be taking a backseat to intangibles, which have worked greatly to the Habs advantage this week. Timely scoring, outstanding netminding, fortunate bounces, missed penalties (specifically Subban's trip on Elias last night which allowed the Desharnais tying goal to happen). For whatever reason, the hockey gods are smiling down on the Canadiens. At least this week.

But the stats are daunting. The Bruins have posted superior numbers in key categories. Overall offense, defense, fenwick and corsi percentages - really the only area where the Habs have better numbers are specialty units.

The Bruins feature strong goaltending - Tuukka Rask has had another solid campaign so far - not Carey Price good, but still enough to be on the first page for many leading netminding stats. As usual, the Bruins feature three reasonably balcned lines, with no one player dominating the scoresheet - David Krejci leads the team with 21 points, decent but by no means anywhere close to the elite league point getters. Meanwhile the Bruins' star off season free agent signing, Jarome Iginla, has been an occasional contributor, but he's nowhere close to the player he once was - he certainly doesn't seem to be aging nearly as well as the recently departed Jaromir Jagr.

On the Habs page, Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais still have the hottest hands, although it appears that the recently goal slumping Lars Eller seems to be turning the page a bit - he's due for a big night sooner rather than later.

Puck drops at 7:40 EST.

Habs lineup tonight:

1. Brière/Pleks/Gionta
2. Patches/Desharnais/Gallagher
3. Galchenyuk/Eller/Prust
4. Moen/Bournival/Parros



Price, duh.

More gameday preview stuff in a bit.


P.K. Subban Watch

Pierre Houde said in Montreal radio this morning that P.K. Subban is "close" to signing a long-term contract with the team in the neighborhood of 8M per for 6-7 seasons.

Given what the Rangers were dishing out yesterday for a goaltender that hasn't won anything important, 8M seems fair and reasonable to me.


 The Day After the Night Before

Well, it's everything we could have possibly hoped it would be. A showdown for first place in the Division, two rivals who hate each others guts fully and completely. It'll be fun, fun, fun!!

Still, if you're a Habs fan, even with the team at a lofty 17 wins, the last two games haven't been particularly encouraging. A stolen game on Monday night, and then a crazy victory last night that was also not particularly deserved, and you're looking at a team, although fully healthy, is probably playing over their heads right now.

I'm a nervous fan. I haven't liked what I've seen this week - and I most certainly don't like what lays ahead.

More today.

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