Monday, 24 March 2014

Game Seventy-Three: Habs vs. Bruins


- Budaj's last shootout wasn't textbook. Have to favor Rask here.

- Bergeron. Hah. Came in too slow.

- Vanek...nopes. Telegraphed that.

- Budaj 2/2. Habs in good shape.

- Marchand. NO. Budaj great in OT. Now Briere for the win.

- Nope. Where's Galchenyuk???

- Budaj. 4/4. NOW Galcheyuk.



- Julien runs three fowards, Therrien two. Wonder who scores?

- Briere cruises on his OT shift. Inexcusable. Get him off the ice.

- Therrien plays the Gallagher/Galchenyuk kids, but they're totally overmatched. 

- Subban got one OT shift. Then out for the final 17 seconds. Beats me.

- Well win or lose in the shootout, Habs have played a pretty remarkable road game. Weaver and Gionta were fantastic, Emelin with his best game in weeks/months, and the bodily sacrifices made by many others played a key role in the Habs earning at least one point. Gutsy effort.

Third Period:

- Habs PK saving their bacon tonight. Emelin also having one of his best games in a very long time.

- Terrible holding call on Murray. Just watch Boston score on this. Just watch.

- Even more wretched call for hooking on Gallagher, who made a brilliant backcheck. Just atrocious officiating here.

- Not sure if it's the ice conditions but Bruins can't quite make the killer connection with the man advantage. Habs 5 for on the PK.

- Bruins really pressing here. And another Bruins powerplay. Their sixth of the game. No way the Habs can keep holding on. No way.

- Brian Gionta has played a titanic game tonight, in particular the PK. What a game.

- Yup. Something had to give. And it gave. Game tied.

- 3 minutes left Habs just barely holding on to the tie.

- Lucic spears Emelin from behind in the groin. Not called. Classless play by a classless player.

- Well. A point earned. Very hard fought. And at great expense potentially, depending on Moen and Weise's injury status.

Second Period:

- Habs officially now with just 3 lines. Staying in this game will require a minor miracle.

- Bruins swarming to start the period, Habs far too complacent, and are getting railroaded as a result. Don't see the dike holding much longer.

- Remember how Chara was so deeply feared? Not so much anymore.

- Marchand high sticks Subban. Careless stick work will give Habs at the very least some reprieve from the Bruins onslaught.

- Zombie Habs powerplay. That's being charitable.

- Gallagher steps up on Chara. That is awesome on so many levels.

- Habs last powerplay was a mess, but it's stunted some of Boston's momentum. At least. 

- Not for the first time Bourque takes a lazy hook because he doesn't move his legs. Terrible time to take a penalty.

- Habs with a most excellent PK, one sparkling shoulder save by Budaj.

- Another bad Habs penalty this time Bournival holds a stick. Bruins are gonna cash one of these unless the Habs smarten up quickly.

- Budaj so far looking nothing like the mess he was on that west coast trip. Knock on wood.

- Dumb Bruins penalty. Goaltender interference. Just not smart and it lets the Habs off the hook.

- More Boston lack of discipline. Habs getting this served on a platter, need to convert on the man advantage.

- Boychuk. Brain cramp. Huge chance for Habs here - 44 second 2 man advantage.

- Bruins an incredible job 2 men down blocking the passing lanes.

- Didn't score, that's gonna hurt. 

- Bruins lack of composure and discipline in the 2nd, it's all the more amazing given that this is a team that hasn't lost in a month. Of the 12 straight games won, Boston has only trailed once headed to the 3rd period. Gonna be a fascinating final 20 minutes.

First Period

- Moen vs. Miller. Moen coming to the defense of Weise, and promptly get KO'd. He's done for the night, and now the Habs find themselves in real roster trouble.

- Habs powerplay was going nowhere until Emelin with an inoxuous shot from line redeflects, and Habs take 1-0 lead. It was a difficult but not impossible redeflect to stop.

- Bruins playing very hard very physical but but not very smart. So some advantage of the offering here for the Habs - at least early.

- Budaj flip flopping away with puck around the crease. Not a good sign.

- Habs benefited with two powerplays first half of the period, but since then, Bruins have overtaken possession and are controlling this game. Habs just trying to hold the wall.

- Bruins very aggressive in the neutral zone, basically breaking up any semblance of a Habs transition. It's been very effective since the 8 minute mark.

- Habs clinging. Just barely clinging here. Budaj muffs a Bergeron bankhander but it hits the post.

- Aside from the scoreboard, pretty tough period for the Habs - essentially losing their 4th line for the night (and beyond?), and basically getting manhandled by a constant Bruins attack. Bruising period, very intense, and significantly in Boston's favor. Habs will need to figure out getting their transition game on track, or Boston will take control in the 2nd.


- Tinordi out, Bouillon in, Murray in. And of course, Budaj starts.



So what else is there to really say, other than let's lay it out on the table. The Bruins are playing ridiculously good hockey right now, resting a good chunk of their lineup, and yet, since the start of this month, winning games with ease. Their 12 game winning streak has propelled them from a mild battle for top spot in their Division, to the best record in the National Hockey League. If you're a Boston Bruins fan, life is good.

The facts don't lie. Matched up tonight, the Bruins dominate the Habs like crazy in most major statistical areas. So as mentioned, let's put it on the table.

Fenwick For %:
4. Boston: 52.9%
21. Montreal: 48.7%

Corsi For %:
3. Boston: 54.7%
25. Montreal: 47.6%

2. Boston: 103.
11. Montreal: 100.3

2. Boston: 3.2
20. Montreal: 2.51

Goals Against/Game:
2. Boston: 2.08
11. Montreal: 2.5

6. Boston: 20.4%
13. Montreal: 18.8%

Penalty Kill:
4. Montreal: 85.5%
9. Boston: 83.7%

5. Boston: 32.0
24. Montreal: 28.8

12. Boston: 29.0
21. Montreal: 30.7

Save the PK, a relatively minor indicator, the Bruins dominate across the board. They are (easily) arguably the East's only elite hockey team. They are deservedly going to finish first in the Conference.

That said, there's a very small dent in Boston's armor. It's that PDO. At 103, it's high. Way too high, I'm certain, for Claude Julien's liking. It's an indicator that the Bruins, while putting up some pretty good numbers against, granted, some pretty weak Conference competition, has also been assisted by the element of luck. And as other teams, in particular in Toronto Maple Leafs, you can't hold out on luck indefinitely. For most of the year, Toronto has been putting up horrendous possession numbers, and yet managed to win enough to keep them very playoff spot competitive, largely because their goaltending has been excellent. Well, that's all coming undone - the Leafs luck string has officially run out, and they now find themselves in a complete free-fall.

Are the Bruins facing a readjustment? That 103 PDO might suggest so, but the team's core numbers, possession, offense and defense, are so strong, that an end to the shooting luck streak probably won't be significant enough to result in a dramatic win/loss decline.

In other words, the Habs have their hands totally full tonight, so Therrien's decision to go with Budaj, who's had a pretty terrible month of March, just doesn't make sense.

You go to to a gunfight with a gun. Tonight, Therrien's roster strategy is essentially arming his team with a shiv.

Puck drops at 7:40 EST.


Happy Monday! Happy game day! Tonight the Habs head in Boston to take on the hottest team in hockey, the Bruins riding a 12 game winning streak. So this is BIG. We gotta bring out THE BIG GUNS.

So with that in mind, let's see what's happening today:

- With his team facing a critical game against one of the toughest opponents seen all season, Michel Therrien announced that start netminder Carey Pr ... uh ... he ... sorry what's that? (checks earpiece) ... I'm sorry, he's announced Peter Budaj will start tonight.

Uh. K?? Anyway, when challenged this morning about making this seemingly insane decision, Therrien said he's starting Budaj to avoid Price playing back to back games. So ... I'm guessing by this rationale, Therrien is assuming a loss tonight, instead hoping to play his big chips against the 30th placed Buffalo tomorrow night. Call me crazy, but if the Habs can't beat the lowly Sabres with Budaj in goal, they probably don't even deserve to finish the season with a playoff spot.

Anyway, Michel Therrien hockey, folks.

- Doug Murray will probably, amazingly, be playing tonight, possibly paired with Subban. Michel Therrien hockey, folks.

More in a bit.

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.)