Saturday, 21 December 2013

Game Thirty-Eight: Habs vs. Preds

And now, a message from his Worship, Rob Ford: Just put down the crack pipe.

Consider that a Holiday message to anyone and everyone that's circulating the Max-Pacioretty-in-on-the-trading-block rumor mongering.

Just put down that crack pipe. No, you cant take a hit. Not even a little one. Just put it down. Right now.

Merry Christmas.

Montreal 4, Nashville 3


- I don't think it's a stretch to say if Josh Gorges was able to play tonight, the Habs would already be in the showers with 2 points in the bank.

- Markov goes back to the box. He can come out of the box with 1:20 left in overtime, assuming we get that far.

- Desharnais saves the day. Great work in the Preds zone creates the turnover and Ekholm stumbles, and blasts it home with a slapper top of the circle. Heartbreaker for Nashville who fought so hard to get back to even against the Habs. They really deserved the extra point. Oh well.


Third Period:

- For the most part, Habs doing a decent job containing the Preds the first 10 minutes of the period, but they're still in sitting mode. Just awaiting the tying goal here ...

- Subban gets nabbed for a trip ... here we go.

- Weber. Lead. Gone. What a shocker. Markov hit hard along the boards, incensed that it wasn't called,

- Watching the replay, Markov was hit on the numbers from behind by Hornqvist, sending Andrei spiraling dangerously into the boards. Could have been called boarding, but officials let it go. And Nashville scored as a result.

- Preds were 0-14 this season when trailing after two periods. But then again they weren't playing Michel Therrien and the Habs in any of those games.

- Doug Murray on the ice for the final game shift. Therrien is just ASKING for trouble.

- Habs will earn at least one point. No way they should have been in this position, but given how the lead was blown, they really deserve nothing from tonight's game.


Second Period:

- So from what we've seen tonight, who'd you rather have on team Canada? Subban or Weber?

- The Diaz/Murray combo isn't installing me with confidence. Wilson getting way behind them and receiving the breakaway pass, only Prices' heroics are keeping the Preds off the board. Murray looking especially slow tonight.

- Emelin continues to play some petty lousy defense in his own zone. Post-injury Emelin really no better than a 5 or 6 slot blue liner. Emelin fortunate the Habs don't have strong depth at his position, although in the next year or two I can foresee him having competition starting on the second line.

- Plekanec is one of those guys that has less chance of succeeding on a play the more opportunity he has to think about it. It's why he's so lousy on breakaways.

- Doug Murray. Not sure what he was doing or thinking, but it comes with little surprise the Preds' Bourque gets his team on the board courtesy Murray's bumbling. Can't say we weren't warning about this.

 - Now Nashville is pumped. Price might have busy rest of the second.

- Bad high stick by Desharnais, resulting PK, Price hung out to dry. Spaling makes it 3-2. Habs really have been sitting on it, their forecheck has totally disappeared, and Murray's incompetence - potent combination for a big lead blown.

- Wilson very very nearly tied the game in the waining seconds of the period. How much did the Habs sit on that lead? Try 20-6 second period shots, for Nashville, on for size.

At this point I'd be surprised if the Preds don't win this game. Their opponent roundly deserves to lose.

First Period:

- Gorges can't start tonight for the first time in years, which means Murray starts. Ugh.

- Habs first powerplay, dismal.

- Subban strikes, courtesy some nice forechecking by Eller and Briere. Habs actually score a first period goal.

- Brilliant pass by Gallagher to streaking Pacioretty ... Preds defense completely flat footed. 2-0.

- Nashville defense all that cures Habs wretched offense, it seems. Plekanec plays give and go with Gionta, redeflecting the return pass, and it's 3-0. Habs flying, Preds look abysmal.

- With Murray and Bouilllon both in the lineup tonight, this 3-0 lead is by no means "safe".

- Jones takes a direct hit on the face off a near point blank slapper by Markov. Awful.

- Nashville actually came out well to start the game, the Habs as per usual, wasn't generating much of anything, just two shots the first 10 minutes. But then Subban scored, and the floodgates opened up. The Preds defense looked slow, unprepared for Habs attack and speed, none of the three goals was the fault of Mazenec. The next test will be to see if Montreal can maintain the pressure, or will they make the mistake of sitting?

Gameday Game Preview:

Did you know that the Montreal Canadiens haven't scored a goal in the first period since December 4th? That's 9 games ago. Since then, nothing. Not a single goal in the first frame.

This is to say that the Habs, for most of the month of December, have been playing catch-up hockey, which isn't a good thing under any circumstances, especially when you've been as offensively starved as this team has been this month.

So tonight, guess who's back? It's Daniel Briere, and he'll take a spot on the 3rd line, sliding along side Lars Eller and Rene Bourque. This means the Ryan White gets to sit healthy from the pressbox, along side Doug Murray.

Anyway, same old story. This team can't score. The droughts are all over the place. Lars Eller, Thomas Plekanec, Rene Bourque, Lars Eller, Brian Gionta, P.K. Subban, Brandon Prust ... it's been many, many games since any of them as made an kind of meaningful offensive contribution.

After a predictable defeat in St. Louis Thursday night, don't expect the ship to be turning around tonight in Nashville. Michel Therrien doesn't appear to have any answers to the puzzle - beyond, seemingly, tossing names out on the ice at random, hoping that a couple of forwards make some kind of connection. Emphasis on forechecking? Apparently gone. Puck possession? No longer a priority. The team just lists at sea, awaiting some kind of rescue ...

The Preds are a mediocre team in a very tough Conference - in a bit of a rebuild mode, with Barry Trotz in the unfamiliar position of coaching a team that's posting a sub .500 record. The Preds, like the Habs, have struggled offensively, with only David Legwand putting up respectable production this year - 25 points in 35 games.

In other words, don't expect the red light to come on very many times this evening.

Puck drops around 7:10 EST.

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