Monday, 2 December 2013

Game Twenty-Eight: Devils vs. Habs

Third Period:

- Yeesh. 40 minutes advanced, all situations 67% Corsi, 68% Fenwick, New Jersey. Habs definately beating the bell curve, I am unconvinced they can hold out for 20 more minutes.

- Price had no clue. How'd that not go in?

- Answer: P.K. doing his best impersonation of Malcolm tonight.
- Old Habs coming back to haunt again. This time Ryder uses Murray as a screen and ties the game. Doug Murray now -2 and counting, Bouillon probably now thinking he's a good bet for a Wednesday start.

- Habs just can't get it in gear - they haven't all night. Just hoping to draw at least a point. That itself will be a minor miracle given how they've been outplayed.

- Crazy. Galchenyuk with the deflection. Some redemption, but more improbably, the Habs take the lead again.

- Habs have finally discovered a little mojo, and the fans start singing Ole in response.

Second Period:

- Habs first powerplay. Dismal.

- Why Gorges shouldn't be on the powerplay. Glorious setup as he pinched the line. Open net. Missed it by two feet.

- Typical Devils game. Insufferably boring. They are THE franchise that nearly ruined the game of hockey.

- Desharnais with brilliant behind the back pass to spring Rene Bourque who's been snakebitten of late, this time the puck finds the back of the net. Brodeur would want that back. Game tied.

- I've lost count the number of times Lars Eller has been flippantly careless with his stick. Add another one to the collection.

- Pacioretty just keeps putting them in. Pretty cross ice pass Gallagher to Patches for the one timer, while Desharnais does fine work distracting Brodeur. Rare defensive breakdown by Devils resulting in passing lanes being exposed. Habs lead 2-1.

- Habs just 4 scoring chances generated through 40 minutes, but somehow they score two and lead by one. Strange game, Devils outshooting Montreal by 13 and counting.

- Still not convinced Habs will hold this, even though just 6 minutes left.

- And Emelin puts the puck over the glass. Oy. Devils to the powerplay.

- Brodeur, first Pacioretty on a break, then Eller on a break, in the span of two seconds.

- Even though he's -2, Therrien sticking with Murray through thick and thin.

- Habs have Devils pinned in their zone with just over a minute left. Very aggressive play here. 

- Easy empty net missed there. Hope that doesn't come back to haunt.

- Subban tries for the long bomb, misses. Doesn't matter, Habs hang on. Out-played, out-skated, out-shot, out-possessed, and yet they win. Page from the Leafs' book, I guess.

First Period:

- So the Devils go with Brodeur - petty hard to argue with the rationale given Martin's monsterously good career stats against the Habs.

- Jagr should have had his 23rd point of the season, but Markov with a ridiculously good save with his stick blade on the goal line with wide open net.

- Wow. Prust's skate hitting Sestito in the face - the blade could have easily gone right through it. That was incredibly lucky.

- Watching for Galchenyuk to have a nice rebound game tonight, in light of his benching Saturday. First shift looked pretty good.

- Bernier right place right time in redeflecting a nothing shot from Volchenyuk at the line. Nobody really around Bernier in the slot so somebody missed their assignment (Murray?). 1-0.

- Rene Bourque on the bench nursing his shoulder, didn't see what happened.

- Devils are definately the faster, more aggressive team so far, has out Habs mainly on the defensive for most of the period - New Jersey also dominating possession. 

- Bournival not hustling back gets caught a step behind his assignment and is forced to hook. Not good.

- If Brodeur once again wins against the Habs tonight it won't be because of Martin Brodeur, it'll be e Habs meek offensive effort. Not a single tough chance registered in the first period. Habs effort will need to be much much better, or they won't have a chance.

Gameday Game Preview:

HABS ARE HOT. Last 10 games, 7-2-1, which is the best run of any team in the Eastern Conference. The recent tidy little streak of victories coincides largely with the club returning to full health, thereby allowing coach Therrien to make a variety of roster adjustments, resulting in players who've been largely ineffective for much of the season to watch from the press box (excluding Ryan White, who's actually been very good centring the 4th line, but has been the victim of numbers).

So tonight, the Habs take on the New Jersey Devils, who's had a great old time playing the Canadiens in the Bell Centre in recent years past - as noted on this blog earlier in the day. New Jersey hasn't lost a regulation game in Montreal the last nine that were played here between the two teams. A good part of that has been, of course, Martin Brodeur, who's had the Habs number for about ... oh ... 20 years or so.

Tonight though, it won't be Brodeur in net - it'll be the Devils new number one guy, Cory Schneider who'll get the start for New Jersey. Kind of strange to write that, given how long Brodeur has been around. But time ... you know ...

This season, the Devils, who are in the middle of a reasonably extensive rebuild, are off to a half-decent start - 11 wins so far, which is good enough to put them close to a playoff spot in the East. So good for them!

The Devils haven't been helped much offensively, with just an average of 2.18 GPG, the Devils currently have the 27th ranked offense. Defensively though, they've been solid, just 2.22 GAA, 6th best in the NHL.

The big story for the Devils this story has been the play of the amazingly ageless Jaromir Jagr, who's strung up 22 points, which puts him in the top 40 for League scoring, which at age 41, is kind of crazy good. Patrik Elias follows behind in 2nd place at just 14 points, which at this point of the season, isn't very good. Compare the Devils with Habs scoring, with 6 players with more than 14 points, and you get a sense that New Jersey really struggles to put the puck in the net.

But then it's always been that way, hasn't it? It's the New Jersey style - play boring defensive hockey, and string together lots of 2-1, 3-2, 2-0 ... blah blah victories. This year being no different.

Over in Habsland, things are looking mighty fine. Mad Max Pacioretty has been scoring a ton the past 10 days, Thomas Plekanec continues to play like a number one centre, and the Canadiens have been further bolstered by fine performances from two formally chronic underachievers - Daniel Briere and David Desharnais. Plus P.K. Subban has been magnificent heading towards another Norris trophy, along with Andre Markov, and of course, there's Carey Price. Times are good in Montreal, the sky, seemingly, the limit.

Ergo, there's no reason to believe that the Habs shouldn't handle New Jersey with relative simplicity tonight, and finally put a W up on the board against the Devils for the first time since .. seemingly forever.

Puck drops 7:40 EST.

BLAH Monday News 'n' Notes: 

Yeah, it's Monday. BUT ... it's gameday Monday, so at least we've got something to look forward to later tonight.

- ALL WORSHIP THE GREAT DOUG MURRAY. So yeah ... Doug Murray had quite the night Saturday, shutting down the Leafs powerplay, which was just about the only thing that (was) going right for Toronto before Saturday. So now it appears that Murray has earned himself a little edge against the 6th spot competition, Frankie Bouillon. Word has it this a.m. that Michel Therrien has already penciled Murray in as a starter, thereby breaking his formally consistent pattern of rotating Murray/Bouillon. 

- Practice lines this morning were the same as Saturday's game - with one exception. Michael Bournival was working the 4th, which means it's nearly certain George Parros (and Ryan White) won't play tonight.

- Shockingly, Carey Price will start.

- Gameday preview later, but here's something to keep in mind. The Devils, which aren't having a particularly robust season, haven't lost a regulation game at the Bell Centre more than 4 years. 8-0-1 the last 9. Eeeks.

LUNCH TIME UPDATE: Confirmation - Murray will start tonight, Bouillon will sit!!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are welcome, even anonymously. All I ask is that you behave, and in support of good taste, avoid the use of course language, or express opinions that are just plain silly (racist, sexist, etc.)