Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Game Forty-Seven: Devils vs. Habs


Do we still suck?

Yeah. We still suck.


New Jersey 4, Montreal 1

Third Period:

- Well, we can take some salvation in that we probably don't have to go through with Brodeur stoning the Habs to defeat. Just one more period to endure.

- On three days rest Habs simply have no legs tonight. So what's their excuse?

- Devils are playing the perfect two goal lead, right now. This is how well coached teams with average rosters can put together an above average performance.

- Devils focused on uptempo checking, puck possession. One shot through 12 minutes, I'm sure they could care less.

- Habs really dreadful with transition tonight - Murray is the usual culprit here. If you can't cleanly break out of your zone, you're not going to score. It's that simple.

- Part and parcel with the terrible transition, Habs have had just two starts in the Devils' zone through 14 minutes of the 3rd. Two.

- Prust careless high stick. Shove a fork in the Habs, they're done. Not like they really had a chance. Not tonight. Not with this effort.

- Bourque is simply incapable of finishing plays. It's that simple. His mantra for playing in this League is to score. He cannot. What's the point? 

- Devils might only register one shot in this period. And win easily. #TherrienHockey

- Devils got two shots on net. One into an empty net.

- That whimper you heard was the Habs collective performance tonight. This team right back to where we thought they were. 

Second Period:

- Gelinas with a howitzer from the line, beats Price on the powerplay. Assist to Doug Murray for perfectly screening his goaltender. 2-1.

- Now 3-1, Clowe runs Price even more so than Gallagher did on Brodeur, but this time the refs look the other way as Henrique jams it home. 3-1.

- Open season on Price, Habs defenders unable to hold their crease, refs unwilling to call interference.

- Great play by Eller who held the puck during Habs line change and feeds Gallager in front. 3-2.

- Did Gallagher kick that in?? Looks close.

- Taken away. Because, the Habs.

- Make-up trip call there? Only matters if Habs score on e powerplay. Oh yeah. The powerplay. Forget it.

- An "okay" man advantage, but Habs really couldn't sustain pressure, which is their biggest issue right now. Team doesn't seem capable of making the necessary adjustments.

- So obvious question, if Bourque is seeming incapable of burying his attempts, how is he any asset to a mightily struggling powerplay? Don't get how he's being utilized.

- Another powerplay, another Bourque shift into nothing. This madness must stop.

- Just dismal. Man advantage has zero organization, zero confidence.

- 2nd period controlled by Devils, Habs Saturday night game looking more like an aborrration. Canadiens back to their old bad habits, offense sputtering, powerplay in the wilderness, defense sloppy clearing their zone. Adds up to the Devils lead. See no reason why they shouldn't have little trouble coasting to victory.

First Period:

- Gallagher goes for goaltender interference. Fans don't like the call, but it was correctly assessed. Nonetheless, it's the kind of infraction I love to see.

- Habs PK off to rock solid start, Plekanec looks again tonight like he's got his wheels motering.

- Pacioretty. From 35 feet. Wrist shot. Beats Brodeur. Cold. Brilliant. 1-0 Habs.

- Prust sprung home all alone, and he passes it back to ... Murray? Big Do'h.

- And then Jagr scores. Because, of course. Habs turnover by Gorges. Eller in la la land, Price totally screened.  An easy goal for the likes of Jaromir.

- Bourque has scored this year, right? I can't remeber the last time.

- This period. Not exactly Josh Gorges at his finest.

- Good road period for the Devils - kept the Habs in check, were patient and took advantage of opportunities. Habs somewhat sloppy in their zone, slight indifference contributed to Jersey's game tying goal. Hard to feel out who's got the advantage headed to the 2nd.

Gameday Game Preview:

Okay, let's see if this thing is FOR REALZ.

We're all feeling pretty fine out here on the El Rancho del Habs ... land ... O ... not sure where I was going with that, but anyway, after a resounding victory of the feared Chicago Black Hawks on Saturday night, a few of the faithful are starting to double-think this whole "WE SUCK BECAUSE COACH THERRIEN IS AWFUL AND WE'LL NEVER SEE THE CUP AGAIN" sentiment.

Full disclosure here, I was thrilled by what happened over the weekend, but it hasn't changed my stance about how this team is (or isn't) being coached. I still think that Michel Therrien has turned out to be the guy we thought he was - intemperate, rash and strategically incompetent man incapable of guiding this team to loftier heights. Realistically, his dismissal won't be happening anytime soon - unless the Habs suffer a collapse of Fidenae Amphitheater proportions (I'LL BET YOU HAD TO LOOK THAT UP).

So tonight, last game for Marty Brodeur in Montreal? Sure looking that way. Not that Habs fans will have deep regrets if they never see is face in town again, at least while he's in full gear and standing between goalposts. A career 1.81 GAA against Montreal, Brodeur has eaten us alive over the past 20 or so years. Thanks Marty, but we surrender. Happy trails. Don't come back again, like ... ever ... ya hear?

Bordeur's Devils aren't exactly setting the hockey world on fire. They've only won 2 of their past six games, including Sunday's extra time loss to the Leafs. How embarrassing!!  While New Jersey continues to play its usual defense-first boring tempo, which has given them a 6th overall League rating, their offense, or lack of, has dragged them down badly. With just the 27th rated offense, the Devils have fallen victim to a number of narrow losses this season - 19 of their 28 losses so far have been by one goal margins. That's a sure-fire formula for missing the playoffs.

You'd have to wonder where this team would be had it not signed Jaromir Jagr over the summer (it should have been US ... bah!). He leads New Jersey with 36 points, way ahead of Patrik Elias who's 2nd with (just) 25 points. This team can't score. But then New Jersey has always been that way, haven't they?

The difference this season is that the team is just not as strong defensively as in past years - this is a club in transition, but it's making the right steps, acquiring Cory Schnedier, who'll become the unabashed starter for the organization once Brodeur finally retires - likely at the end of this season.

Over in Habsland, the formula should be simple. Play like you did on Saturday. Coach Therrien is going with basically the same lineup and lines, except that George Parros won't play, and seven defense will be dressed. Now I'm all fine with Parros getting the scratch, but the 7 d is a bit puzzling given they're facing one of the weakest offensive teams in the League.

But that's the coach's decision, I guess. So I'll just shrug my shoulders and hope for the best.

Puck drops at 7:40 EST. It's Brodeur vs. Price.


It's game day. Let's get right into some news.

UPDATE: Therrien has changed his mind. Parros will be a healthy scratch tonight. Martin Brodeur has been confirmed as the Devils' starter.

- Habs will be playing same lineup tonight as they did Saturday. That means more Parros and no Bouillon.

- The Montreal Gazette is reporting that Andrei Markov has started negotiations with Marc Bergevin for a contract restriction. Markov, who'll be a UFA at season's end, is representing himself in the talks, after turfing agent Don Meehan in October. At a discount rate, the Habs would be foolish to let Markov walk.

- Marc Bergevin gave a little Q&A yesterday. It was ... shall we say ... not encouraging. To paraphrase the esteemed Habs G.M.:

1. Bergevin is totally happy with Brian Gionta this season, and would gladly welcome him back next year, at the right price. Ugh.

2. Bergevin isn't displeased with Daniel Briere's performance so far, because Briere is an "historically slow starter". Except that Briere isn't. The past four season's, he's averaged a tad under 1 ppg over the first half of the season. This year, he's averaging 0.4 ppg. A significant drop-off. I know Marc was attempting to tie a ribbon around a turd, but who's silly enough to eat such nonsense up?

Okay, enough about Habs management, or lackthereof.

- Speaking of Briere, here's a take from a New Jersey perspective, on why the Devils might be interested in trading for the underachieving Habs forward. DO IT MARC ... oh wait. They want us to take Anton Volchenkov in return? UHHH ... that doesn't help.

- In light of Thomas Plekanec's brilliant performance Saturday night against the Hawks, there's increasing speculation that finally, Pleks might be gathering serious consideration for a Selke Trophy.

- Tonight: Marty Bordeur's final start in Montreal? Odds are, if he is played ... that this will be his final curtain call.

More later.

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