Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Game Seven: Wings vs. Habs


- Dry scrape picks - Datsyuk and Pacioretty.

- Well I was close. Pacioretty with the shot, Desharnais buries the rebound. This team just finds a way. Another night, another crazy win.

Third Period:

- Welp, just not happening. Habs have the kitchen sink but Howard won't let one past.

- #AlmostBourque again. Actually it's been #AlmostHabs all night.

- Wings now in grind mode. They're still functionally better than the Habs, so it's looking more and more the Habs will put up a goosegg tonight.

- Eller gets high sticked again, his cut from a high stick he took in the second period opens up. Both, shockingly, aren't called.

- Methinks Habs could have used Sekac tonight. Also Bournival. Moen and Prust have amounted to little.

- Galchenyuk. Brilliant. So fast that even horseshoe Howard can stop it from going in. Tie game with three minutes left.

- Habs are swarming here. They want to end this before regulation.

- Habs at least clinch a point - the better third period team again. But the Wings still play a far more structured attack, which gives them a pretty good edge in overtime. Also, Habs extra time luck has to come to an end eventually.

Second Period:

- Price repeatedly fails to cover a loose puck leading to a penalty. Eller and Pacioretty also go to he dressing room with injuries. On the same shift. Ouch.

- Calls by officials have been pretty questionable (including non-calls), and have almost all broken against the Habs.

- Fascinating to see how each team attacks so differently. Habs mainly dump, Wings mainly carry. Detroit has the best coach in the NHL. You do the math.

- Officials determined to call nothing, Wings saying thanks guys, we'll hook and hold everything in sight. 

- And there you go. Wings carry the zone and score the evening's first goal. Deserved I suppose - they've dominated this second period and to be honest, most of the game.

- Wings get nasty dirty after the whistle with Parenteau robbed by Howard. Butt ends, head punches and ... and go figure, Habs get a PP.

- One good reason why the Wings are perfect this year on the PK, always blocking the shooting lanes.

- Parenteau can't finish. No matter how glorious the chances. Still better than Briere.

- Well, Habs are great in the 3rd. Right? That's all I got.

First Period:

- Well, the start hasn't been great, but not as awful as any of the first six games. So I guess that's improvement?

- Desharnais with a lazy holding the stick call. The usual.

- Carey Price two excellent saves on the PK - the Wings powerplay looks a lot better than their current 9% rating.

- Yup. Price appears to be on "dialed" mode tonight.

- Tinordi, still raw with plenty to learn, inexplicably playing on the Habs 2nd D line. 

- Man, you can tell which of these two teams are better coached, and it ain't the guys wearing a C and an H. Detroit with a much more structured attack, while the Habs are continuously dependant on dump and hope.

- Kind of fascinating how similar these two teams are in roster, but how differently they play the game. The first was a washout, which given how poorly it's gone this young season, is a victory for Montreal. Still, Detroit was the better playing team in that period.


Gameday Game Preview:

24 years. 23 consecutive times.

That figure is the number of times, over the number of years, the Detroit Red Wings have made the NHL playoffs. Think about that for a moment. That, for a good number of people, is nearly half a lifetime. A quarter of a century. It's testament to an brilliantly run organization that's managed to avoid the ebb and flow of contention to somehow generate a consistently competitive team year in, year out.

However, like all good things, even one as admirable as the Wings' streak, it must come to an end. That end may be this season, at least as far as Detroit making the post-season for a 24th straight time.

Actually, making the playoffs for a 23rd time was a bit of a task last year. The Wings had to deal with a slew of injuries to many important parts of its roster, while also dealing with players who weren't living up to expectation. Perhaps foremost in the Wings' problem areas was in goaltending, as long-time starter Jimmy Howard had one of his worst years ever as a full-time NHL netminder.

The Wings had a pretty quiet off-season, and had almost no action in the free agent market, signing only center Riley Sheahan, winger Kevin Porter, and ... that's pretty much it. The Wings are steadfast determined (or resigned) to work with the assets they already retain, focusing on the same program that's worked so well for them over the years - building within, drafting wisely, identifying key assets and retaining them for long terms, and hiring (and keeping) an excellent coaching staff.

This is a transition year for the Wings, and as such, it'll be full of ups and downs, probably more pain than gain, and an odd-on likelihood that they won't make the post season. But that's all part of the plan in Detroit - always keep your eyes focused on the long term.

So tonight, the Wings come to Montreal to take on their divisional rivals. Both the Wings and Habs are off to strong starts, the Wings with three wins in their first five games, the Habs with five W's in their first six. Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen are, to no one's surprise, off to excellent season starts, while Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson constitute the backbone of the Detroit defense.

Even with the strong win starts, both clubs haven't posted sparking specialty team starts - the Habs powerplay ranked 17th in the League, is still better than the Wing's 24th ranked man advantage, scoring at a meager 9.5% efficiency. The penalty kill, however, tells a more significant story. The Habs PK of 80% efficiency is only good for 18th in the League. Detroit? Well, they haven't actually surrendered a shorthanded goal this year. So they're ... um ... pretty good there.

Lineup tonight. Dale Weise will get a start (finally) for the Habs, at the expense of Jiri Sekac. Carey Price will get the start in goal, Jimmy Howard for the Wings.

Puck drops at 5:40 EST.

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