- Betcha Therrien does something crazy and benches Subban for OT.
- P.K. gets a shift. So forget that speculation.
- Most boring overtime ever.
- Parenteau makes up for a lousy game in the shootout. Habs steal yet another point.
- Emelin has been a turnover machine extradinaire tonight. He can't be moved somewhere else soon enough.
- Might as well mention that Emelin has been played just as much as Beaulieu tonight, for some inexplicable reason.
- Tokarski looks wayyyyy more confident and stable tonight than his last start two weeks ago.
- Smart play by Beaulieu to ignore the official's orders and sit on the puck. Another fundamental difference between him and Emelin - smarts.
- Panthers are hanging around - being patient, waiting to capitalize on a Habs mistake. Who can blame them? Montreal has been coughing up the puck left and right this period.
- Parenteau tonight. So that's why the Avs were so eager to unload him. Silly tripping penalty opens the door for Florida.
- And there you have it. Subban fails to cover the slot, Plekanec doesn't hustle back to check his man, and Bjugstad ties it up with just over a minute left. Panthers capitalize on sloppy Habs zone coverage.
- Serves Habs right for a third period that was constantly tempting fate. Probably will cost them a point as a result.
- Emelin, even though he's way too slow to keep up with most everybody, gets nailed for a phantom hook. Tim Peel strikes again.
- P.K. shoots the puck into Markov's head, sending him down injured. When I said these two were out of synchronicity I didn't mean it was quite that bad.
- Habs completely flub a three-on-one, and to make matters worse, Gallagher gets nailed for a hold chasing the loose puck. Utterly disasterous rush.
- We mentioned in our preview that the Panthers play good defensive hockey, and they've lived up to that tonight, doing a very good job blocking the passing zones near the slot. Habs continue to try to feed the middle instead of doing some net crashing and it's largely produced offensive snake eyes tonight.
- Finally, Habs generate good powerplay pressure, but Luongo very solid covering up rebounds. Speaking of, he's giving quite a few up.
- Andrighetto and Bournival with a very nice energy shift here. Game has become a contest of attrition. Kind of painful to watch.
- Luongo putting on a show this period. Stealing the game. Now the Habs are getting a good dose of their own medicine.
- Roberto, Roberto. Here we were heaping all that praise on you, and then you go and do that. Relatively straightforward snapper by Gallagher somehow squeaks through Luongo. 1-0.
- Welp, Habs controlled most of that period and skate off with the lead. Habs have 28 shots?? Shot clock guy has an itchy finger methinks. Anyway, Habs playing pretty good defensive game giving Tokarski plenty of protection. All good so far.
- Bournival starts!! He'll get a pathetic 6 minutes of playing time, but he's starting!
- So Tokarski gets the start, which of course makes no sense (better to have played him last night and Price tonight). This will undoubtedly come as a huge disappointment to the 10,000+ Habs fans in attendance tonight.
- Subban and Markov are certainly the right number one line combo, but they just don't seem to be quite in synchronicity with each other this season. It's important that Therrien start solidifying the defensive pairings as we move further into the season.
- Halfway through the period and it's been a yawner. Habs get the first powerplay. Hoping that'll generate some excitement.
- Habs are the Nickleback of powerplays. Same old song, and progressively unbearable to watch.
- This horse was dead weeks ago but I'll just keep on kicking it. What in heavens does Therrien see in having Desharnais play even one second on the powerplay, nevermind putting him out on the first unit? Maddening.
- Andrighetto with Eller and Sekac. Would that kill anyone to do the obvious?
- Markov again way out of position, bailed out (again) by Subban. It's been happening too many times this year.
- Tokarski has yet to make anything close to a difficult save in this game. Luongo - maybe one. It's been that kind of period.
- Not exactly a classic tonight. Both teams with listless efforts in the opening period. Florida really shouldn't be that tired, a day's rest coming off playing the Leafs. Not exactly strenuous. Regardless, given they're playing back to back, Habs are probably genrally satisfied with the less-than-mediocre result.
GAMEDAY GAME PREVIEW:
Ahhh .... finally, a return to home. It's been awhile since the Habs played in front of a hometown crowd - it's been since December 20th. That's a pretty long stretch!
At this point, you're probably rolling your eyes at me for making yet another stupid and completely ruminate statement. But AH HA! Tonight's game is in Sunrise, Florida, SUCKER! And that means the Habs will be playing to a sold out rink dominated by fans wearing red sweaters not emblazoned with some goofy panther, but with a brilliant crisp C et H!
Seriously, these Florida swings are like mini home trips for the Habs. A good chunk of the crowd is composed of winter vacationers from Quebec, or people who simply fly or drive down to take in a Habs game because it's cheaper than seeing one at the Bell Centre WHICH IS INSANITY.
Anyway, the Habs, in usual fashion, stole another game last night, thanks in large part to one Carey Roy Price, who as usual backstopped his, as usual, badly under performing teammates directed by, as usual, a terribly misguided and incompetent coach. Well - let's not be too harsh on monsieur Therrien - who finally, blissfully, and mercifully played Alexei Emelin less than any other defender. MORE PLEASE. Or better yet, can we just have a total intervention? Marc, surely there's another team that will take him off our hands. Surely?
So Price. Man, has this guy been good, not just this season, but in particular, this month. Since December 3rd, Price has a sub 2.00 GAA and a .940 SV%. The past week? His GAA is 1. That's one. His SV% - .967.
Basically the Habs are a team that just needs to toss guys on the ice, and let Carey Price do all the work. It's a crazy formula for winning, and it's all, eventually, going to come to a full and complete end.
But until then? Therrien has no motivation to change his terrible ways, the exception of course tossing us a bone by limiting Emelin's ice time. He'll just keep putting out silly line combination, keep scratching better 4th line options like Bournival, keep burying competent hard-working forwards like Andrighetto, and just let Carey make him look far better than he actually is.
But Price is human, and eventually, maybe even tonight, he won't be able to carry everything on his shoulders.
There's good reason to think the Habs will be in trouble tonight - they're about to play one of the hottest teams in the NHL, the (can you believe it?) Florida Panthers, who have leapfrogged themselves from assumed bottom-feeding oblivion in the Eastern Conference, to within two lousy points away from an actual playoff spot (with a ton of games in hand over two teams in front, the Bruins and the Leafs).
What the heck? How can a team whose leading scorer, Nick Bjugstad, who has just 20 points, have 7 more regulation wins than losses? Well, you'd probably have to look at the fine job the Panthers have done defensively, starting with Roberto Luongo, who has, very quietly, put together one of his best seasons in recent memory. His .921 SV%, while not quite elite, is the best he's had since 2011, when he helped lead the Canucks all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
This isn't to say the Panthers are a championship contending team - they clearly aren't of that mettle. But they certainly aren't pushovers, and they certainly will give teams who woefully under perform - teams like the Montreal Canadiens, all they can handle.
The puck drops tonight at 7:40 EST.