Monday, 27 October 2014

Game Nine: Habs vs. Oilers

Third Period:

- I realize it isn't particularly original to harp on the officiating, but Emelin gets two minutes for simply delivering a hard body check. I can't fathom what the official was thinking, but it once again puts the Habs a man down.

- Pretty lame Oilers powerplay all night - the Oilers with a meager 13 shots on goal, and the Habs still not rewarded for their efforts. A strange game.

- Habs pushing here, Oikers can ill afford to sit on this lead.

- Habs now regressing, playing as though they have a 2-0 lead. Game rapidly going. Nowhere fast.

- Eberle dives, ref gets suckered. Desharnais to the box.

- Schultz with blatant goaltender interference on Tokarski, no call. Abysmal.

- Wonder how different the result might be if Gallagher doesn't interfere, costing the Habs the Pacioretty no-goal? I'm figuring completely different.

- Boyd Gordon must be insane, throwing his limbs point blank in front of a Subban slapper.

- Oilers blocking everything in sight, suffocating the Habs to death tonight.

- Kind of embarrassing to get shut out by the worst defensive team in hockey, but here we are.

- The Pat Roy three minute pull. Desperate times. Desperate times.

- Okay, so let's see if Calgary works out better. It sure looks like the lucky charms that fed the Habs 7-1 start were eaten up tonight.

Second Period:

- Galchenyuk has amazing speed, he seems to actually get faster each game.

- Oilers defense looking ragged and vulnerable, there an awful lot of open ice in the slot while Habs are attacking. Can't foresee the score staying at zero much longer.

- Annnnnmd Yakopov scores. The guys that can't score contributing. Against us, of course. Beaulieu totally out of position, that's all part of the learning curve, I suppose. 2-0.

First Period:

- Really marginal hooking call on Markov, sets the tone for a micro managed game.

- Oy. Call on Prust truly preposterous. Here we go.

- Pacioretty doesn't get nearly enough credit for the contribution he makes to the PK. Positionally he's just so solid.

- Tokarski with some fine work so far - he's very well set in his crease, helps him to make easier saves.

- Don't know what Desharnais was thinking but that high stick kills a Habs powerplay before it even gets started.

- I still think Prust is this lineup's weakest link, and when Sekac returns he ought be the odd forward out.

- I love Gallagher to death but this isn't the first time his aggressive push to the net has resulted in a waved off goal. Sigh.

- incredibly hard hit by Yakopov on Emelin. I felt that through my TV set. Well if he can't score I suppose he has other good uses.

- Questionable call on Subban. Therrien is fuming. 

- And Poiliot buries. Blah. Tokarski probably would like that one back. 1-0 Edmonton.

- Good news for Edmonton. They lead after one. Bad news for Edmonton. They lead after one against the Habs.

Gameday Game Preview

Read it and weep Habs haters. READ IT AND WEEP. Number one in the League! PLAN THE PARADE.

Okay, so these moments are fleeting, so might as well milk it for all it's worth. Indeed, our beloved Montreal Canadiens stand atop not just Division or Conference standings, but on top of the whole damn League. The Habs are off to their best season start in 53 years, which is actually before I was born, which means it's been a LONG time.

What's the reason for all this success? The heck if I know. The offensive ranking is a mediocre 12th. The defensive ranking is very mediocre 17th. The powerplay ranking is not even good enough to be called mediocre. Rated 23rd currently. The PK? Eh. Not bad. 11th.

But really, if you examine the major metrics that influence the bottom line, it doesn't add up, does it? All those sub-par figures, and yet, seven wins in eight games. The big elephant in the room question is, how much of this is fluke? It's pretty hard to not deduce that the Habs have gotten off to an incredible start - in the luck department.

So now, the Habs have left the comforting confines of the Bell Centre, for a western Canadian road trip that as history will indicate, has not been kind to Montreal. The last time the Habs swept all three pegs of the Edmonton/Calgary/Vancouver hop was back in 1998. For the arithmetically challenged, that's 16 years ago. Since then, the Habs have played 30 combined games in those cities, winning just 8 times. Two of the eight wins came last season.

So maybe the trend is shifting back in the Habs direction? Maybe we're slowly returning to western feasts, rather than famines? Is it too much to ask?

Tonight, hop number one in the journey begins in Edmonton, against the (wouldyabelieve?) streaking Oilers. Three straight wins for Edmonton. It should be noted that two of the three wins came against less than stellar opponents, the Caps last Wednesday, and the Hurricanes last Friday. But one did come against the Lightening, and we all remember what happened a couple of weeks ago when the Habs visited Tampa, right? Or have we mercifully forgotten?

SO TONIGHT. With both teams riding nice little winning streaks, the Oilers will send out their usual lineup of "young guns" against Dustin Tokarski. The Oilers' scoring sheet is led, unsurprisingly, by Taylor Hall (7 pts) and Jordan Eberle (6 pts). Of concern to Edmonton is the continuing production (or lack of) Nail Yakupov, who's netting just one goal in eight games, and has generated a -6 +/-. It's been more or less the same ol' story for Nail, the sure-fire, can't-miss first overall draft choice, underwhelming viewers and paid customers with listless performances.

 Even though they're self-proclaimed guns, the Oilers offense isn't off to much of a start, winning streaks considered. 14th ranked offense,  12th rated powerplay. The big albatross, as usual, is their defense and suspect goaltending. At 3.88 goals surrendered per game average, the Oilers find themselves ranked dead last in the League. Much like last year. And the year before that. And the year before that. You know what? You gotta go back to 2008-09 as the last time Edmonton's defense wasn't at or near the bottom. That season, they finished a stellar 21st in the League. Oilers hockey. Be there!

Nathan Beaulieu will get a start tonight for the Habs. Jarad Tokarski will enjoy a few drinks up in the press box.

Puck drops at 9:40 EST.

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