Saturday, 18 January 2014

Game Forty-Nine: Habs vs. Leafs

Third Period:

- Habs better in the second, 61% Fenwick, slight overall edge (52%) as we head to the third.

- Decent start to the 3rd. I remain steadfast the Habs will fade the deeper the period goes.

- Habs pressing, Leafs sitting on this quite a bit. Just one shit halfway through the period (very weak at that). Leafs simply watching the puck. Don't know if they can maintain this, even against the offensively incompetent Habs.

- Question answered. Subban with a wrister that banks off the post. Not sure if there was a deflection. Dirty goal. Tie game.

- Really surprised by how much the Habs have outplayed the Leafs in this period. Toronto just doesn't seem to have the horses to maintain pace. How the heck do they have 53 points? (Yeah yeah shootouts).

- Markov misses his check, and Emelin plays the puck and not the streaking van Reimsdyk. 4-3.

- Officials calling nothing. Leafs commiting countless offenses that are normally always called.

- Habs outperformed Leafs majority of the game, but their slow start did them in. Leafs just find a way of winning these games. Oh well. What goes up must come crashing down. They'll be crashing soon enough.

The Habs, meanwhile, are crashing in slow motion.

Second Period:

- As predicted, Habs indeed had 40% Fenwick (closed), less than 20% 5v5 in the first. That's ... astoundly abysmal.

- Habs attempting to grind this game to a halt in the second. But given how much Therrien is short-shifting his bench, the Habs probably don't have the horsepower to carry this through 60 minutes.

- I'm not afraid to admit it. God I love Brenden Gallagher. 

- Beaulieu with the fatal mistake of dishing instead of passing. The kid will learn for it, we hope. Meanwhile Price with a sensational stop off the resulting Kessel breakaway.

- Parros on the ice. Leafs score. Yup.

- Expect that should be Parros' final shift of the night. Otherwise, Leafs are just gonna keep pounding that chicken.

- Parros 3:00 so far. Nattinen 1:45. Habs are essentially playing just 3 lines tonight. No way they'll be able to compete on a level surface in the 3rd. #outcoached

- Too much open ice on the PK. Leafs open passing lanes, and Raymond buries it top shelf. 3-1 and Toronto are on their way.

- Briere with that sizzling Batum-level wrist shot. 

- A gift. Bernier can't handle a simple 60 footer and Gionta buries the juicy rebound. I guess that was his birthday present.

First Period:

- So Bourque, Diaz and Murray are the scratches. Hmmmm .... 

- Not often you see a guy from outer space sing the national anthem. Just sayin'.

- So obligatory Parros/Orr fight by end of the first? There's little other rational for either being in the lineup tonight.

- Leafs seem inclines to focused on hitting to start. It's helping them to generate some turnovers and early possession advantage.

- Alexei Emelin. It's hard to justify that contact when you're made a fool like that. 1-0 Leafs.

- Habs are getting their clocks cleaned by the woeful possession team that are the Leafs. How low can this team go?

- Well, Eller looks good. That's all I got.

- Game settling down a bit but Leafs are still dominating the neutral zone. Plus, the Habs self-inflicted wound that is their 4th line will invariably have to be played. 

- Habs great PK numbers are pure deception. It's mainly Carey Price.

- Emelin is a disaster on skates tonight. The Leafs are going to feast by sending out their number one line against him.

- Habs PP, Leafs PK was totally exhausted. We'll take it. Tie game.

- The scoreboard might be even but it was a woeful period for the Habs. Leafs will probably have close to 60% Fenwick. This from the second worst possession team in the NHL. Gives you an idea how broken the Canadiens are right now.


YEAH BABY. It's the Habs and Leafs!! Two fierce rivals clash head-to-head in an ongoing battle to make the NHL playoffs. Two teams that have woefully inept offensive units, can't keep possession of the puck to save their lives, besieged by inept coaching which has fans from both sides of the aisle screaming for a coup d'etat. It's a match made in heaven!!

Do the Leafs even have 20 players to ice tonight? I'm looking at their presumed lineup, and it's looking .. uh ... thin?

But the Leafs are hot!! Winners of three in a row. Well, two of them were extra time victories. Which brings up the larger point - Toronto has managed to defy the rules of gravity most of this year. The Leafs have played 16 games requiring either extra time and/or a shootout, and they've won 11 of them. Sheesh. To put this into perspective, if the Leafs had only won a reasonable number of these games, say ... half, they'd be sitting in 13th place in the Conference, instead of their current position of the first wildcard position.

The Leafs have been incredibly fortunate. They have the 2nd worst fenwick percentage in the League, a pathetic 42%. The sheer fact they've been able to muscle out 24 wins this far, even though they've only had 4 regulation time wins over the past 33 games, is a pretty remarkable acheivement.

The Leafs received a bit of bad (I guess?) news recently with an elbow injury to David Clarkson, serious enough to place him on injured reserve. So with him out, expect the Leafs to serve up the following line combos:

Line 1: van Riemsdyk-Bozak-Kessel
Line 2: Raymond-Kadri-Lupul
Line 3: Kulemin-Holland-Ashton
Line 4: McClement-Orr-Bodie

Meanwhile over in Habsland, the picture isn't a whole lot different or brighter. Continuing to struggle offensively, suffocated by an ineptly over-conservative zone system that has an obsessive emphasis on goal clearance instead of transition, the Habs have some gaps to fill following the injury to Alex Galchenyuk and Ryan White, and a recent team battle with the flu bug which cause David Desharnais to miss a start, and apparently has laid claim to Raphael Diaz. Ergo, the Habs yesterday called up Nathan Beaulieu and Joonas Nattinen from the Bulldogs - expect the later to get 4th line spot duty (you know Therrien won't play him more than 6 minutes, tops), and the former to get paired with (I guess?) Doug Murray. Poor Nathan. He never stood a chance.

So there you have it. Two teams with mightily struggling offenses, playing over their heads for most of the year. So expect the unexpected, I suppose. Two points on the line - two fairly significant points as the Habs try to provide themselves with a bit of distance from "the rest of the pack", while the Leafs try to improve their slender hold on that wildcard spot.

Puck drops at 7:15 EST.

Oh!! By the way, tt's Hockey Day In Canada!

Yeah, me too. Who cares.

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