Saturday, 14 December 2013

Game Thirty-Four: Habs vs. Islanders


- Desharnais win brilliant determination battles for puck, feeds Pacioretty for the winner. That was all Desharnais.

- Pacioretty with the holster move after potting the game. Nice touch. 

Third Period:

-Eller with thunderous hit on Tavares who didn't have his head up. The contact looked clean but Eller is being given an extra two for head contact.

- Without Price how many wins would the Habs have at this point? I'd reckon no more than 12.

- Tavares looking dangerous out there since that hit. Watch out.

- With Parros gone before he even really began, and Bournival nailed to the bench most of the night, Habs have essentially been running just three offensive lines tonight. Look at the scoreboard. Tells you all you need to know.

- Plekanec with Habs best scoring chance of the night, courtesy a sweet feed by Galchenyuk. Nabokov with brilliant save. 6 minutes left.

- And Navokov flashes the glove off a Markov blast. Just ain't happening.

- So Price tosses a goosegg tonight and he still might (probably) lose. 

- What the hell is Briere doing out there with 90 seconds left??

- A point in the standings. At least. Habs have one goal in last 3 and 1/2 games of hockey played. 

Second Period:

- Parros, one shift, 30 seconds, and he's done for the night. So the Habs have a shortened bench, because Therrien for whatever reason, believes that starting Parros instead of Ryan White makes the Habs a better team. 

Now they have to play the rest of the game without a 4th line.

- Still hard to understand why the Habs' powerplay, which looked so good two weeks ago, looks so flat now. Team seems adverse to dumping and winning the puck.

- Bournival given two minutes for phantom trip. 

- Horrible and foolish pinch by Markov creates a 4-on-2 Islanders break -  they should have converted. Markov ought know better.

- Habs powerplay is oozing zero confidence, or for that matter, coherence. Atrocious.

- So many producers, so much power outages. Eller, Gallagher, Pacioretty, Plekanec. Habs one goal in last 190 minutes. And counting.

- Eller is a mess, and a headcase. Playing with almost no confidence, it's bizarre how things have gone so sour for him this month.

- When two teams utterly incapable of scoring clash. This is what you get. Two periods of frustrating hockey. 

First Period:

Couldn't make it to see the first. What did I miss? It would appear not much. Nobody scored, Habs marginally outshot the Islanders by two, but Habs did appear to return to something resembling early season form with their puck possession - 58%, which isn't too bad.

And Geroge Parros started tonight, for some ridiculous reason. And he got into a fight. And he got concussed.

And so it goes ...

On Danie Briere

Alright, let's get the big news this morning out of the way. Word is spreading around Montreal like wildfire today that Daniel Briere has demanded a trade because he doesn't like the way Michel Therrien has been playing him. The source of this speculation comes via Luc Chenier, play-by-play guy for the Gatineau Olympiques.

Nobody has a solid idea about the validity of these rumors, but if they're even remotely true, well Danny - all I can say to you is join the line.

You think you've been short-shifted this season? Ask Ryan White, who's been very solid centering the Habs 4th line this year, but has on more than frequent occasions, been a healthy scratch to make way for the utterly useless George Parros. Go ask Michael Bournival how he feels about his ice time -  after cracking a lineup spot in training camp, and starting the year strong playing along side Thomas Plekanec, Bournival had two ... TWO less-than-average outings in November, and found himself relegated to marginal 4th line duty, and a healthy scratch in Thursday night's loss for ... yeah you guessed it - George Parros.

The point is - SHUT UP. Yeah, you've strung together 10 points this year, roughly the point pace of what you were doing last year in Philly (not many Flyers fans pine over you leaving, by the way), but you are one of the biggest defensively liabilities in the National Flippin' Hockey League. Your season Fenwick is a not-exactly-stellar -23. Your Corsi is -25.

But then Marc Bergevin knew this about you - he knew that you can't play hockey in your own zone - he knew that the Flyers were desperate to unload you while you played there. Or at least, he should have, when he tendered you that very - some might say, overly generous two year contract that most General Managers wouldn't offer to a player who's on the very backend of a slightly better than mediocre career. You and I and everybody else in this room knows why you got that contract offer, and it's got just as much to do with your place of birth as it does your supposed offensive hockey abilities.

So fine - bid yourself farewell, waive that NTC, and give your employer a way out of a mistake that ought not have been made in the first place.

Anyway. Game Preview shortly.

Gameday Game Preview:

Let's get this out of the way. The Islanders are a disaster. Here's a team coming off a hard fought playoff appearance last year, brimming with youth and enthusiasm and a future that looked bright instead of dark, as it has been (1993 removed) for nearly 30 years.

Losers of the past 11 out of 12, there's plenty of reason to believe that unless a total reverse in fortunes happens between now at the end of this calender year, the Uniondale front office will be swept away. The season we've had wasn't supposed to happen like this - the Islanders were pegged to claim a playoff spot. Instead, they're staring at a high draft pick next summer.

9 wins in 33 games, the Islanders can be found near the bottom in most important categories. Offense, 22nd overall. Defense, 30th overall (yes, worse than Buffalo). Powerplay, which last year was 11th ranked, is now 22nd ranked. Perhaps what's hurt New York most of all is their penalty killing unit. At barely more than 70% efficiency, opponents are killing the Islanders whenever they're sent to the box - New York is constantly playing catchup because of their woeful short handed specialty team, and it's turned their season of promise into a pretty big mess.

Not that matters are much better over in Habsland. Losers of two straight, a thumping courtesy the Kings, and then losing rather badly to the completely under-talented Flyers Thursday night, has started the drumbeat of criticism against Michel Therrien again - seemingly unable to figure out a way of getting his team back on track, other than constructing his lines during the game by drawing names out of a hat.

Did you know that a month into the season, the Habs were a top 5 possession team? They're now ranked 18th, and falling fast. Instead of controlling the puck and tempo, the Habs are now a team constantly on the defensive, reacting instead of imposing. The defense, once top-rated, is in free-fall, largely because of the incomprehensibly terrible play by Alexei Emelin, who seemingly dropped off the face of the hockey planet the *instant* he signed a four year contract extension with the team. Good grief.

The Islanders are horrible, but they're up against a Habs team in chaos. Don't be surprised if Montreal loses their third straight tonight, which ought to be good enough to send the city into a full flurry of hockey panic.

Puck drops at 7:10 EST from some rink in the middle of nowhere that will be abandoned next year. I'll be joining in a bit late - about the halfway mark of the 1st period.

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