Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Game Thirty-Six: Coyotes vs. Habs

Third Period:

- A Christmas miracle as Markov scores off the powerplay (no less) on a shot that Smith would tell you he'd like another shot at. Gallagher nice work in front causing distraction. The fundamentals. Game tied

- Another post for Pacioretty. He only scores in bunches. Posts too, it would seem.

- Habs started coming to life last two minutes of the second and have carried that over to the third. Coyotes in retreat mode now trying to ride out the storm.

- Eller's not going to get many more gifts like that as Smith falls flat face down as Lars carries the puck to the net. Only needed to flip it over the Phoenix goaltender. He didn't. Playing with just a sliver of the confidence he had a month ago.

- Welcome back from the dead, Montreal Canadiens' powerplay. Pretty feed by Desharnais. This time Pacioretty didn't hit iron. 2-1.

- Sometimes these things just inexplicably happen, as Habs offense comes to life. It's all fine they've scored and taken the lead, but fundamentals haven't changed. This is a team still not playing with any kind of competence or coordination, in particular at even strength. 

- Brain cramp by Subban creates a four-on-one break for Phoenix, Josh Gorges with game saving check. Might have also saved Subban's Olympic hopes as well. Habs earn a very rare come from behind 3rd period victory, but are now faced with a difficult mini swing out west. St. Louis, even with tonight's win, looks like an improbable obstacle.

Second Period:

- Habs powerplay percentage over the past 7 games now officially at 5% efficiency. That is a rate so poor it defies description. One point for consideration - Subban and Markov are both struggling to get their point shots on goal. It's resulting in missed opportunities and plenty of zone losses.

- Dismal play leads to frustration and lack of discipline. Prust gets two extra minutes for mouthing off. 

- If Riberio scores we'll know we've reached rock bottom.

- Phoenix' offense ain't exactly rocking either. Even with the 4 minute powerplay they have two shots in the second period. Watching these games are torturous.

- Emelin has almost no mobilty skating backwards to defend the attack. Wingers are simply skating around him, and all Emelin can do is reach out and grab. Borderline penalties.

- Habs PP simply throwing punches in the dark. Pacioretty hits iron. Nothing is going right.

- Now Therrien is tossing the defense into the blender. Georges matched with Subban for reasons that I can't contemplate.e storm

- Habs finally come to life the final minute and Smith robs Galchenyuk. Nothing is still going right.

- Habs registered into the double digits for shots in the period, so I guess that's something? Still, this team is like a Ford on the side of the road. Completely broken with nowhere to go.

First Period:

- Boedker. Once again the Habs don't score first. Already the omens are bad.

- Pacioretty taps Smith who goes down as though he was shot. Officials get suckered into calling a penalty. Amateur hour.

- Habs forechecking abilities have simply vanished. I'm not sure if this is a result in a change of philosophy via Therrien to dump and chase instead of leveraging team speed, but it's not working.

- Habs have 2 shots with six minutes left in the period.

- Habs defensive doing a decent job protecting the shooting lanes, dogs are tossing the puck into legs looking for a crazy bounce or redeflection.

- I didn't think it could be possible for the Canadiens' offense to play any worse than it has the past week, but here we are. 3 total shots for the period, and no relief in site. 

Gameday Game Preview:

 Who hasn't got a feeling of dread about this one? 2 lousy regulation goals scored over the past 13 periods, a team powerplay that hasn't scored in its last 19 attempts.Three straight Eastern Conference bottom feeder games played, and two lousy points to show for it.

And up against a Western Conference team, which unless their names happen to either be the Calgary Flames or Edmonton Oilers, is a daunting prospect for success.

At this time I'm not sure what's going right, except goaltending. Team offense has basically totally dried up. Team defense, except for the starting first line, is more or less swiss cheese - in particular the Habs 3rd line paring of Doug Murry with (insert name here) ... I guess Raphael Diaz?

Anyway, the Coyotes have nearly as many points as the Habs, but if the season were to end today, would be 5 points removed from a playoff spot. Which is kind of insane.

Phoenix has no big-named stars, but they do an excellent job of playing as a collective unit, relaying on a balanced attack to generate offense, which is pretty damn good - 4th rated in the League. The one weak spot for the dogs is their defense, 6th worst in the NHL. So if there's an opportunity for the Habs to rediscover their offensive mojo, tonight is as good an opportunity as ever. Because it's not going to get any easier for the Canadiens after tonight's game - St. Louis looms on the horizon Thursday night - a matchup that you'd reckon the Habs would be lucky to score, period.

Rene Bourque returns to the Habs lineup tonight after coming back from one of his never-ending injuries. Mike Smith, who's been very solid in net, despite Phoenix' blue line challenges, will start, against the only thing going very, very right for the Habs this year - Carey Price.

Puck drops at 7:40 EST.


So .... let's see what Michel Therrien's blender has produced for tonight's lines.

Line 1: Galchenyuk/Plekanec/Gionta

I guess because ... Galchenyuk is one of two guys on the roster that's scored since forever?

Line 2: Pacioretty/Desharnais/Gallagher

I guess because ... Eller hasn't been getting Gallagher scoring since forever, so Desharnais is the next best option?

Line 3: Bournival/Eller/Brière

I guess because ... Bournivan can't do anything right, so it's up to Eller, who hasn't scored in forever, to make it all better? Oh yeah ... and Briere. Gotta shove him somewhere, I suppose.

Line 4: Bourque/Prust/Moen

I guess because ... oh yeah. Bourque. I'd forgotten he played for us. Funny, I often have the same realization when he's actually on the ice. Ryan White gets the screwdriver again, even though he's one of our better playing forwards.

Okay. So that's the latest. After tonight's inevitable loss, can't wait to see what the blender shoots out for Thursday night when the Habs take on the ... oh crap .. St. Louis Blues.

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