Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Game Thirty-Two: 'Canes vs. Habs


- Habs get a powerplay, looking for game killer goal, proceed to just shoot puck around harmlessly in Canes zone, not play Subban for a single second, not record a SOG. That could haunt us later.

- That's the problem with having almost nothing to do for 50 minutes if you're the goaltender. You let a softie in, this time a relatively harmless shot by Rask that totally handcuffs Price. It ain't over. 2-1.

- Canes finding legs here, Habs defense far too indifferent about slot protection. Time to get really nervous.

- Subban was beaten to the pucks a couple of times tonight, leading to nothing. Therrien however, has seen fit to bench him. Net effect? Canes score, gain momentum, Habs on their heels. Just brilliant.

- Now Price bailing out his team, robbing Hainsey from point blank. Crazy that the Habs are now hanging on for dear life.

- Carolina narrowing in for the tie. Habs really need to call a timeout. Stop the momentum bleed.

- Terrible neutral zone turnover by the 'Canes. Galchenyuk on a break. It's almost automatic when he's alone. 3-1. We breath. Relief.

- Galchenyuk with his first career hat trick. Pacioretty, who we spent weeks begging to be taken off the Desharnais line to play next to Galley, has 3 assists tonight. 

- Habs found a way of making a game that shouldn't have been close, really close. At least until the Galchenyuk show began. The Canes were easy pickings. Thursday night will be a whole different story.


- Two kinda very really borderline penalties called 20 seconds apart. By the same official, of course.

- Hoo boy. Even worse tripping call on Gallagher. Amateur hour here.

- Habs may have been led to believe that only one period was needs to be played. Just about the entire lineup going through the motions right now. Better be careful, boys. No way your opponent should even be sniffing at a win tonight.

- As pretty as they come. Markov, Pacioretty to Galchenyuk. 2-0. Canes defense on a swivel not knowing which way is left or right.


- Can't say I've ever seen a barbershop quarter sing the athems before. Let us never see or speak of this again.

- Weiss with Plekanec. There goes playing the same lineup. Red hot Andrighetto gets slapped down to 4th line duties.

- Beaulieu's command of the puck is so much better than even the 40 year old guy that sits down the bench from him. Really shouldn't be third string defenseman.

- 4 on 2, bare minimum you gotta get a shot on goal. Habs find a way not to.

- Pretty terrible defending by the Canes, Desharanis once again doesn't shoot and hooks Ward way out of his crease, leaving Prust with a wide open net. That's a last place goal given up by Carolina. 1-0.

- Not sure if it's just this period or just who they normally are, but this Carolina offense is totally without flow or coherence. Price hasn't had anything resembling a challenging shot so far.

- Decent Powerplay, the Habs allowed to move the puck and shoot from s variety of directions, still can put it past someone like Ward. Nonetheless it was a pretty awful period for the visitors who should count their blessings they're only down 1-0.


So about Friday night. Not pretty. Except for the winning part. And that the other goalie had trouble stopping, you know, the puck. Otherwise, it was the same old same old that we've had for the past two years. Toss together four lines, send them out there, and let Carey Price do all the work = profit!

So we stole one against the defending champs. These things happen sometimes. When I mean sometimes, I mean, hardly ever. But it's two points, and it keeps the Habs within comfortable distance from not being in the playoffs. Which I think they probably will end up anyway, at least as long as they continue with this insane "system" of just having the goaltender make all of the difference.

So tonight, the Carolina Hurricanes roll into town. Remember how last week how our collective tongues were slobbering in anticipation of two weekend games against the lowly Buffalo Sabres, and then we went out and lost not one, but both games to those lowly Buffalo Sabres?? Good times, good times. Tonight, we're once again salivating at the chops in anticipation of Carolina, because they're last in the NHL with a meager 19 points, which is - and this is true, no better than Edmonton. So ... that's bad.

Carolina has another similarity to Edmonton - they've really messed things up behind the bench. Last year the 'Caines turfed (incorrectly) Kirk Muller because, I guess, upper upper management  figured they were a playoff team. Well, like the Oilers, who recently (incorrectly) ash-canned their bench boss, they weren't and they aren't.

So what's the deal with Carolina? Well, if you look at their offense, it's pretty yuck. Rated 3rd worst in the League. But even teams with lowly offenses can muster together a reasonably competitive team, as long as they have a good defense. In that department, Carolina is actually pretty decent. They've surrendered an average of 27.7 shots/game this season, which is 5th best in the NHL. Yet, they're stuck on just 8 piddly wins in 29 games.

What gives? Well, it's pretty much their goaltending. It's been ... uh ... not good.  The netminding duties have been a 2/1 split between Cam Ward and backup Anton Khudobin, with the former mustering just a .909 SV%, the later an .892. So Ward is their main guy, and in case you're wondering, his stats among goalies who've played 20+ games ranks him 6th worst in the League, while Khudobin's .896 ranks him 43/48th among goaltenders who've played a minimum 9 games.

So while the 'Canes do a reasonable job limiting the number of pucks directed towards their goaltedners, the guys in charge of making the saves simply haven't delivered. That's not exactly good news for a team that's going to face somebody like Carey Price, who'll start for the Habs tonight.

Lineup wise, here's how it breaks down. For Carolina:

Line 1: Gerbe/E. Stall/Dwyer
Line 2: Skinner/Rask/Lindholm
Line 3: Malone/J. Stall/Shugg
Line 4: Boychuck/Nash/Terry

For the Habs, it's the same lineup tonight as Friday, including defense. Mike Weaver, by the way, was added to the injury reserve list today, which means he's out for an indefinite period of time.

If the Habs have any shame, this shouldn't be a particularly difficult game to win tonight. Not against the 'Canes, not on four days rest.

Puck drops at 7:40 EST.

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.)