Saturday, 10 May 2014

Game Five - EC Semi Finals: Habs vs. Bruins


- Habs really need to somehow score whitin first five minutes of this period to cause concern for Boston. Otherwise, this thing ain't happening tonight.

- Shortsift Murray. Play Subban 10 minutes. Desperate times. Desperate measures.

- Plekanec is just totally lost tonight. Can't skate, can't pass, even struggling to receive the puck.

- Instead if seeing if they can recapture their magic, Therrien moves Bourque up with Plekanec and Vamek. He stubbornly won't play DD/Max/Vanek. For whatever reason.

- And of course, Bourque goes offside off a neutral zone turnover. Because he's not used to playing with either. Maddening.

- Habs running out of time. They must shorten their bench to three lines - maybe even run just four D.

- Man, where the heck did Tampa Bay Rene Bourque disappear to?

- Eriksson. And goodnight.


- Fully prepared for the to be an incredibly ugly period for the Habs.

- And we're off. Smith. 2-0.

- Plekanec draws another penalty. Iginla scores another goal. The route is on.

- Just horrid play by the Canadiens tonight, not helped a total miscalculation by their coach in his decision to add muscle while sacrificing speed. The net result is the Habs were run into the ice. The lesson is obvious. You play the strengths upon what your team is built on, not try to be more like your opponent. Therrien's fundamental failings as a coach and decision maker on full display tonight.

- Nightmare series for Pacioretty. Misses wide open net, easy goal off Rask rebound. Unbelievable.

- Gallagher? We think. 3-1. We think. 

- If the Habs can add one more before this frame then we have reason to hope. Until then? Nope. Not the way the Bruins are playing tonight.


- So Murray starts. On the road. What a magnicent mistake.

- Agressive start for the Habs but it fails to produce any good scoring chances. Boston meanwhile, shooting every chance they get. One post hit.

- Bartkowski with a clear dive, referee is fooled.

- Bruins with two fruitless powerplays so far, not helped much by what appears to be wretched ice conditions.

- Bruins strike. What was Murray doing behind the net? No idea.

- Anyway, that goal was mostly Murray's fault - he went chasing the wrong man, and left the slot completely exposed. That's one already. Probably more to come.

- Habs with a pretty meek powerplay tonight, this team is clearly feeling the pressure to produce, and is rushing their passing. Team does not look relaxed or confident. This could be a very very long night in Boston.

- Habs have nothing going this period. Absolutely nothing.


What else is there to talk about that hasn't already been talked about to death?

Let's cover the familiar territory, I suppose. The series is square, momentum seemingly on the side of the Bruins coming off a hard fought Game 4 OT win, and with it, the retention of home ice advantage.

What else is familiar? Well, the same ol' same ol' - the Habs continue to obsess over size and toughness in a series that's had relatively few penalties, although that's more a condition reflecting the unwillingness of the officials to make calls. In any case, this physicality focus has resulted in the Canadiens inserting Doug Murray, probably the League's worst defensemen, into the lineup the pastor  two games, the net result some pretty horrible zone stats (16% Corsi), and slow play - which was, as you see the .gif above, a DIRECT result of the Bruins OT winner. Murray is and has been a DISASTER, but he still gets the mind-boggling benefit of the doubt. Will he play tonight? Probably. Will the Habs be a lesser team because of it? Absolutely certainly.


No point in dwelling on these monumental roster mistakes, I suppose. It is what it is. Meanwhile, the heat has been picking up on the players who are supposed to be delivering offense - most notably Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais and Thomas Vanek.  Perhaps the greatest amount of criticism is now being levied on Pacioretty, who's scored just one goal in the 8 post-season games played so far. There's also Desharnais, who's failed to produce, although his effort level has unquestionably been high, so to a great extent, he's dodged a lot of the arrows.

Tonight, Therrien will send out Deshairnas and Pacioretty, although without the luxury of last change, both will almost certainly have to dead with Zdeno Chara, who, according to Max at least, has contained the Habs biggest scoring threats so far in the series. Meanwhile, Thomas Vanek remains a bit of a puzzle - does Therrien continue to divide his assets, and play Vanek next to Thomas Plekanec again, or does he reunite him with Desharnais?

With the officials seemingly unwilling to call penalties, specialty units, which played a big role in games 1 and 2, have suddenly become non-factors, which suits the Bruins just fine. Therefore, the keys to tonight's game will be the Canadiens' ability to generate some offense amongst the players who are supposed to deliver, be in 5v5 or with the man advantage. If the producers can't produce, then the Habs chances of taking the next 2 out of 3 won't be very good.

Puck drops at 7:10 EST.


Sweet jeebuz. Nearly 48 hours on, are people actually questioning the usage of Doug Murray? Are people still defending his insertion into the lineup?

LORD AND Hockey Gods alike, help us all.


- Bruins practice this morning, same defensive line sets as Game 4 - so more Bartkowski, et al.

- Lucic did not attend practice. It was optional anyway. I'm sure he's spending the spare time sharping up his stick blade.

- Speaking of skipping optionals, Rene Bourque did that as well this morning.

- Post-practice, Max Pacioretty spoke to the media for 10 minutes, mostly about his lack of series production. Pacioretty's explanation? Chara. I'm not buying it. Max was matched away from Chara for most of Game 3 and 4, and he still failed to produce. The issue with Pacioretty is simple - he's not burying scoring opportunities, mainly because he's failing to hit the net with shots.

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