Saturday, 29 November 2014

Game Twenty-Five: Sabres vs. Habs


- And there you have it. Allen had a good step on Stewart as a loose puck drifted back into the Habs zone. Between centre ice and Habs blue line, Stewart was a step ahead of Allen. 2-1. And yeah, Michel Therrien, that's why you damn well don't scratched Gilbert over Allen. 

- Eller responds. The pain and anger of Allen playing is subdued slightly. Still think the Habs will find a way of losing this.

- New look powerplay reverts to the dump and chase. Two shots. That's about it.

- Sekac so fast, so willing to drive the net.

- Mr Gummy Max Pacioretty once again,right place, right time, to punch in the rebound off a Weise shot. It's 3-2.

- That didn't last long. Another post goal breakdown, and Emelin leaves his crease unprotected. Tie game. The awful-est of the awful defenseman really hurting the Habs tonight.


- Enroth with a crazy great save to start the second. Habs in a funk and snakebit at the same time, apparently.

- It's the Enroth show - at least the second period so far. Still, he's giving up some pretty sizeable rebounds which means the Habs will likely hit pay dirt - if their forwards are willing to don't he hard and dirty work.

- Gallagher hits the last, deflects towards going into the net, hits the top knub of Enroth's stick, and unbelievably, misses crossing the line by about 2 millimetres. That's crazy bad luck for Habs, incredible luck for Enroth. Just wow snakebit.

- Whoop. Wow. It's a goal. That's incredible.

- Sabres with some pretty shoddy defense this period, and it's giving the Habs numerous scoring opportunities, a lot of odd man breaks. Which they aren't, save Gallagher, taking advantage of. This could bite the Canadiens big time in the 3rd.

- Predictably, the Habs offensive motor starts to sputter out halfway through the second period. No killer instinct, no burying inferior opponents.

- Another eerie Allen/Murray similarity. Their shots. They both don't have one.


- Rousing applause at the Bell as Gionta and Gorges are shown up on the big screen during the national anthems. Gionta looked genuinely touched.

- Wonder what the deal is between Emelin and Gionta, but it's carried over to tonight.

- Sometimes Bryan Allen almost makes me miss Doug Murray. Have no idea what Bergevin was thinking, or what Therrien is thinking by continuously penciling him in.

- An alright start for the pp, Weber with a fine block to save a sure goal by Pacioretty.

- Oh fer, zero SOG, but they at least carried the zone. So ... progress?

- More wretched defensive breakdowns - only this time it isn't Allen or Emelin - it's Markov - getting caught, and then to make matters worse, takes his time getting back. 1-0 Sabres, and here we go again.

- Habs with another meek offensive effort. Sure, the Sabres have defended well, but the Canadiens have played into their hands - forwards are playing wide, no traffic around Enroff, blue liners mostly contained, and virtually no tough chances on the Sabres goalie. This team will lose much more than it will win if something fundamental doesn't change.

- Another listless, fruitless first period for the Habs. Their 22nd this season - in 25 games. It's beyond mind boggling at this point. Never seen any team this consistently bad for this long for the same period. 


- Woah. Brendan Gallagher signed a six year extension today, $3.75M per. How 'bout that!!

Okay Marc, so you're making the right player personnel moves ... now about that coaching thing ...


- So as suspected, coach Therrien was tearing a strip off the linesman last night for the ejection of Brandon Prust, who was given the heave-ho after complaining about missed offside calls. You set 'em straight Michel, don't worry about your team playing crappy defense, not being able to compete in the first period, not being able to score on the powerplay for more than a quarter of a season. Stuff like that.

- Speaking of terrible, bad news for the Habs - Alexei Emelin won't face suspension for his head hit on Brian Gianta last night. Just a fine. So that means he's back in the lineup tonight. Oh well.

- Dustin Tokarski will start in net tonight, coming off a hammering at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings last Sunday. We don't fault Dustin, however. The Habs defense was pathetically porous.

- How's that "new look" offense working out, Michel? Still trying to wrap the mind around benching Gibert, and limiting the ice time of the Eller line. Also, playing Emelin on the powerplay. Also, just plain playing Emelin, period.

Puck drops at 7:15 EST tonight. Man, if we lose two in a row to the Sabres ...

Friday, 28 November 2014

Game Twenty-Four: Habs vs. Sabres


- Well, well, well - miracles never cease. Subban involved in a penalty call, only this time, he drew.

- And the miracles just keep on coming. Parenteau scores off a mad scramble, Enroth failing to propriety cover the puck. As greasy a goal as they come, but it's a goal. Desperate times. Desperate times.

- Therrien absolutely tearing a strip off the linesman. Can't fathom what for, or what he hopes to accomplish.

- Sans the early powerplay goal, Habs mailing in another uninspiring period of hockey. Almost as though they're playing for the tie. Against the Sabres.

- Wow. Prust was given a match penalty in the second period. That's pretty serious. Must have been something he said - to an official? 

- One of the big problems with Desharnais is he carries the puck around with no rhyme or reason. His wingers seem to have trouble figuring out what he's going to do.

- Emelin with the stupid play of the night. Really, really stupid hit on Gionta that looked intent as a headshot.

- Just desserts. Habs get burned by fluky bounce off the backboards. Emelin the root goat, though.

- Sabres win. Unbelievable. With Gilbert a healthy scratch. With Beaulieu in the minors. With Tinordi in the minors. With Emelin getting regular shifts. Just crazy, unbelievable.

- Deaharnais fails to hit the open net, and there you have it - tired Habs line can't come back to cover the always excellent Hawks transition, and Saad stabs the Habs through the heart. Also loved the way Desharnais coasted back from one end of the ice to the other. 

- Another loss. But this one had extra bite and hurt. 


- Habs first period Corsi registers in at 53%, which again, isn't bad - against an average team. But Buffalo isn't an average team.

- Habs have plenty of possession in the Sabres zone so far in this second period, but are failing to generate many good scoring chances. Plenty of puck lobs, low percentage cross ice passes into feet, but no actual productive offense.

- Habs forwards making Enroth look way better tonight than he's actually been.

- Price hasn't faced a single difficult shot this period, and yet still, the Sabres are comfortably sitting on a 1-0 lead.

- Nifty pad save by Price on Moulson, his first difficult shot faced this period, now with 8 minutes left.

- For some inexplicable rationale, Therrien has dramatically scaled back the ice time for the Eller line - the best line this team has had much of November. Net result? Sabres 1, Habs 0. Shocking.

- And so the Habs head to the dressing room after having been outplayed the first 40 minutes against one of the worst teams in NHL history. Yeah. It's just like that.


- Hooy boy, here we go. Ennis just skates around the slowfooted Emelin and makes a pretty backhand play off the rebound to put the Sabres up early

- Habs "new look" powerplay features Desharnais at centre and Gonchar at the line. Brilliant.

- Habs forwards are seemingly trying to drive the net, which against this terrible Sabres defense is quite sensible. But it's generating so far ziltch on the scoring chance ledger.

- And Emelin takes a hooking penalty for not paying attention to his fundamental responsibilities. The Horrorshow continues.

- Habs "new look" powerplay gets a second chance. This should be fun.

- Powerplay looks, in a word, atrocious. In five words, just as bad as before.

- Agaainst a good team, this first period would barely qualify as mediocre. Against this terrible Sabres team, it's more of the same from this team: a terrible first period.


Haha. We love the Sabres. Not because they're so lovably awful, but mainly because they thoroughly thrashed the Leafs last week. As you can see, it was a pretty embarassing night for all involved at the Air Canada Centre. For that, we are forever grateful to the Sabres organization.

Well, except for tonight. Tonight, you Buffalo people will twist in the wind. Or perish by drowning in seven of the 248 feet of snow you have on the ground right now. We don't care. We just want the two damn points, and you're gonna hand 'em over, see?

Well, maybe you'll hand them over. We Habs fans have a little problem right now, and it's mainly to do with the guy who stands behind our bench. See, he grasp on how a defense is put together is rather, shall we say ... rudimentary?  The coach, as we pretend to call him, was given a pretty sweet list of players to select from at the start of the year that included superstar P.K. Subban, and two up and comers by the name of Nathan Beaulieu and Jarred Tinordi. He was also given the solid but sturdy Mike Weaver, and savvy veteran Andrei Markov - still one of the best of the business.

Add to that, G.M. Marc Bergevin added to the roster a pretty solid free agent signing in Tom Gilbert. He brought to the table pretty sound defensive abilities, and a little offensive punch.

So there you go. Pretty good slate to choose from. Oughtta win more than a few games with that.

So hey. Guess what? Almost none of those guys are playing. Nope. Beaulieu and Tinordi have spent much of the year in Hamilton, and Gilbert, who's played as well as many of us expected him to (i.e. pretty good) has been scratched tonight, in favor of 40 year old Sergei Gonchar, and the newly acquired, but slow and bumbling Bryan Allen.

So instead of having a 1a) (Subban), 1b) (Markov), 3 (Gilbert),  4 (Beaulieu), 5 (Weaver) 6 (Tinordi) defense, our coach has decided to run with a 1a) (Subban), 1b) (Markov), 6 (Weaver), 7 (Emelin), 8 (Gonchar) 9 (Allen) defense tonight.

It just makes you scratch your head, or run away and cry.

So yeah, Sabres fans - we love you! And in recognition of that love, we're doing everything possible to ruin our defense. Tonight, you're the lucky first recepient of this gift of a terrible defensive lineup. ENJOY.

Puck drops at 7:10 EST. The hand wringing will start around 7:15.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Game Twenty-Three: Habs vs. Rangers


- Yeah, I know Therrien likes to juggle things up, but this Desharnais/Pacioretty/Weise combo is inexcusable.

- Speaking of inexcusable, the Gilbert/Allen combination is pretty atrocious, Allen looking worse as the game progresses. Hagland makes it 4-0. Lights out.

- Oh boy. Lundqvist comes darting out of his net into Prust's path, gets bumped and sends himself flying. Disgraceful. Somehow Montreal doesn't get a powerplay, even though Prust is wrongfully mobbed by Rangers goons.

- Emelin still getting shifts. If Beaulieu or Tinordi did what Emelin did tonight, they'd be on the first bus to Hamilton.

- Don't have the numbers, don't really need them. Fair to say the Rangers have won the vast majority of puck battles tonight. A pathetic effort by the Habs.

- Good lord. Nash. Where Subban and Markov were, who knows? Tokarski looked bad there. 5-0. It's been a drubbing.

- Habs come alive. In the final three minutes. Sorry guys you ain't fooling anyone.

- Wretched performance for everyone involved. 5-0 to Chicago. 5-0 to New York. Number one teams don't lose this badly, even on back to back nights. The lofty heights are a facade. 


- Great start. Neutral zone turnover and soft defensive reponse (indifferent?), Stepan converts a neat pass by St. Louis and it's 2-0. Habs continue to look like they've played a back to back to back game. Sloppy and slow.

- I know the Habs wanted to test drive their acquisition, but it's hard to envision how Allen is an improvement over either Beaulieu or Tinordi.

- St. Louis having a monster game - he's single handedly stoping all over the corpse of the Montreal Canadiens.

- Habs slowly gathering some legs at the halfway mark, but it's still not nearly enough to reasonably compete tonight. Only lucky bounces will save this game tonight.

- Alexei Emelin. Just awful. The Habs motto "no excuses." Well there is absolutely no excuse for failing to hustle back to pick up a loose puck, get pocket picked by St. Louis. 3-0. One of the most shamef and embarrassing goals I've ever seen given up by this franchise. 

- Brilliant pass by Subban sending Desharnais across the Rangers line in full flight, he could have easily driven the net for a goal, but instead makes a useless pass that's easily intercepted. Same old story.

- Not like the nightmarish first period, but still pretty bad. Habs getting their clocks cleaned tonight. Fully deserved the scoreboard butt kicking.


- That's a pretty soft trip call on Markov. If the officials are going to be that strict for e rest of the game, they might as well plan a parade to the penalty box.

- Allen unspectacular but competent. That's really all there is to say about him, at least from what we've seen so far.

- Another poor first period start, Habs getting totally outskated in their zone. One side of the ice barely touched.

- Tokarski drops an easy 60 foot shot, Emelin wanders off to somewhere else, Galchenyuk fails to hustle back to cover his man, and Moore shots in the loose puck. 1-0.

- Really could easily be 3-0 Rangers, virtually every second of the period played on the Habs side of the goal.

- Looks like only on line has shown up tonight for the Habs - the Eller line. Otherwise, everyone else looks pretty much half-asleep.

- god awful Habs powerplay, creating two great scoring chances ... for the Rangers.

- Bad Habs version in that first. This team is impossible to figure out - how can a team leading the League standings be so consistently awful in the first period? How can a team this so dysfunctional with its powerplay have 16 wins in 22 games? Incredible.

Yeah. The hell with the Rangers. Tonight, revenge shall be extracted. Without prejudice.

Also, Dustin Tokarski will start, so we're safe.

Live blogging to commence shortly.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Game Twenty-Two: Habs vs. Bruins


- Habs Fenwick possession nearly 70% through two periods. Astounding.


- Bruins getting shadow checked most of the first five minutes, not really able to generate much in the way of offensive momentum.

- Malhaltra is a faceoff machine tonight, it's helped to nullify the adverse affects from the Habs tendency to ice and surrender faceoffs deep in their zone.

- Bruins getting anxious, send defense forward on a rush, get caught, and it results in a 4-on-2 break for Montreal. Plekanec makes it 2-0. Habs taking advantage of this Boston team's lack of consistency.

- Bruins are during up the physicality and forechecking dial. Trying to push the Habs back, and generate some scoring opportunities via turnovers.

- Concersely, the aggressive switch in tactics could create some odd man rush opportunities for the Habs. We'll see.

- Gallagher has great speed but his puck handling abilities aren't exactly great. It's resulting in some sloppy turnovers. He's really not gifted with playmaking charms - so he can create problems onthr occasional shift.

- An unbelievable shift by the Habs, hemming and totally exhausting the Bruins in their zone. Habs controlled the puck for an astounding 2:10 minutes before the Bruins were finally nailed for a penalty. That might have been one of the best shifts I've seen by any Habs team in 10 years.

- Fine period for the Habs, they are head above shoulders better than the Bruins - their speed matches up perfectly against this inexperienced Boston defense. The final five minutes were a thing of beauty. This team has looked fantastic is week.


- I'll take that Sekac penalty (on Lucic!) any time. Sends the Bruins a tough message.

- Most excellent kill. Injury decimated Bruins lineup looked pretty disorganized. 

- Glen Healey is the sure formula for a ruined night of hockey. Ugh. 

- Habs doing a bit too much long bomb passing on transition. Maybe 1/10 will be successful, which means a lot of turnovers, and poor possession time.

- Subban tries a Hail Mary to Plekanec, almost connects. Almost. Really don't understand all these passing stratagies.

- Bruins take a silly retribution penalty after Emelin delivers a hard, clean hit on Reilly Smith. 

- Happy 100th Andrei Markov. And a road powerplay goal to boot, the very first of the season on the road. Past the 25% mark of the season.

- Habs defense has tried at least a dozen long passes from their zone this period, a grand total of zero were successful, a grand total of 100% resulted in turnovers, some do them resulting in odd man breaks for Boston. This isn't working, guys. Stop it.

- First Sekac now Allen, Habs in Lucic's face with every opportunity. That's the way you deal with a goon. Stand up and don't back down.

- The unforced turnovers aside, pretty solid, physical period by the Habs. Anytime they even draw in the first period, it should be considered a win. Bruins might not have the legs to compete tonight - injuries and back to back games considered.


Hey, Tukkaa. Last time we squared off, you managed to avoid facing the Habs. You can sit but you can't hide.

Although tonight, you do get to start at home. Feel better now? Think you can do this, now??

Habs have owned the bears this year. As in, totally. And oh yes, Milan Lucic is still an incredible ass. A completely overrated one, at that. 

Puck drops at 7:10 EST.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Game Twenty-One: Blues vs. Habs


- Some really bad defensive breakdowns by Habs defense, but Price makes two sparkling saves to keep his team ahead. 

- How big were Price's huge saves? Desharnais with a nice pass to spring Pacioretty alone on the wing, his snapper leaving Allen baffled. 3-1.

- Habs doing a superb job on the forecheck tonight, basically snuffing out the Blues ability to maintain any sense of consistent possession. Habs have dominated centre ice. In cruise control right now.

- Max Pacioretty looks determined to score about 200 on his birthday. Almost a hat trick tonight.

- Eller with the Cherry on tip. He's so deserved of these goals, and he's benefitted hugely since Sekac was put beside him. Really showing us just how terrible Bourque was in a Habs uniform.

- Impressive, impressive win tonight against a top-flight organization. A collective victory in so many senses. Price was strong as usual, and all four lines were really rolling. It was the kind of win you'd expect from, well, the St. Louis Blues.


- Gallagher claiming during the intermission that an official said to him during the penalty that offenses by opposing teams on him won't be called. That's kind of big. We'll see if anything comes of it. 

- In any case we now have a player making an on the record claim that NHL officials have a set bias against the Canadiens. 

- Ouch. And here I was praising the Blues in the first period for their excellent zone play. Then Shattenkirk does that. Tie game on a gift.

- Pretty solid period by Habs so far - Blues have, surprisingly, sagged. Mainly playing reactionary and defensively.

- And Paciorety puts the home team on top, a brilliant 70 foot pass by Parenteau with Jackman completely disengaged, and Allen whiffs and lets it through the wickets. Blues defense a real letdown in this period.

- Habs first powerplay, they dumped every single attack, and were able to muster zero shots. Didnt even come close to registering a SOG. Feh.

- Shartenkrik with a make-up brilliant poke check on Galchenyuk on a dangerous odd man rush. You just know Alex was about to score. Just an excellent play, there.

- Habs continue to dump the puck with the man advantage, the man advantage continues to go nowhere fast. Makes you really question the aptitude of the braintrust, sometimes.

- Habs with their usual strong second period, deservedly holding a one goal lead through 40 minutes. They've played it pretty close to the chest so far, and the results have been impressive. Blues hardly threatening Price throughout the period.


- So the first game of the official post-Bourque era begins. Trading one chronic underachiever for another.

- Desharnais' refusal to shoot the puck that's set on a tee and ready to be put in the net is becoming ridiculous.

- Third shift for the third line and guess what? Tarasenko given free reign to carry the puck right to Price, thanks to poor coverage by Markov and lazy non-check by Plekanec, and it's 1-0. You simply can't have these kinds of zone breakdowns against a team like the Blues. They will ruin you.

- Blues are ridiculously structured in their zone - everybody plays their position appropriately, especially backchecking forwards, and it's muted just about every Montreal attack.

- Nonetheless, beside the Tarasenko breakdown, Habs have been pretty competitive in the neutral zone, and pretty clean in their own territory - Hitchcock for the most part has avoid pulling any line matching tricks. I'm thinking that will come later in the game.

- Secak is kind of the anti-Desharnais: not afraid to charge the opposing net or shoot the puck.

- Pretty close checking period, thought possession was relatively even. Relatively happy with the results, Habs seem much more competitive tonight than they were against Pittsburgh, which itself wasn't a poor game by the Canadiens either.


It's gotta suck to be a Blues fan. Ozzy Osborne is one of them. I wonder if he's a die-hard. 47 years the Blues have played in this League, and they're still searching for their first title.

So many years, so many times, this organization has looked like a world beater in the regular season, only to flame out, often soon and suddenly, in the playoffs. Last year was no different. 111 points during the regular season, and a first round exit to the Black Hawks.

Really, the pieces are all there for a championship. Plenty of depth, four robust and well balanced lines, a credible defense, decent goaltending, and top-grade coaching.

Yet somehow, this team just can't find a way when it matters most.

The story this year is no different. The Blues have got a terrific lineup. They've got an incredible third line that's most clubs would love dearly as their first line. Centered by Lehtera, winged by Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz, this trio has combined for 56 points in 18 games, and individually are the three top scorers on this team. Yowza.

It also doesn't hurt that the Blues not only have a qualified NHL coach, but one of the best hockey minds in the business plotting strategy. Ken Hitchcock, who matches his players better than anyone else on the League, frequently likes to draw opposing teams into a matchup trap, sending out his checking line against the opposing team's 4th, and then suddenly tossing either his first or third line out to expose the opponent.

Which is to say, expect Hitchcock to lean heavily on the Lehtera and Backes lines tonight against the Habs 4th line - however that's constituted by Michel Therrien.

The Habs are in deep tonight. They were already manhandled by the Pens on Tuesday night, and now they're going to face a team deep in depth and disciplined in strategy.

Carey Price will need to do some head dancing, if the Canadiens are to have much of a chance.

Puck drops at 7:40 EST.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Game Twenty: Pens vs. Habs


- I think it's pretty simple - if Desharnais is unwilling to shoot, he simply must be kept off specialty units. It's exhasperating to watch his linemates continuously setting him up, and he continuously refusing to attempt a score.

- I'll say this, if Fleury gets the shutout, it'll be from the benefit of many lucky bounces. Anyway, the Leafs are losing 8-0 tonight, so this game really doesn't look that bad. Actually, it wasn't. The better team won, but it was no slaughter. Habs played well from halfway mark on, which is to say, as usual this season.


- Bowman got 2 minutes playing time in the first, which begs the question, why even bother? Emelin the most at 8+ minutes, which begs the question, did somebody slip something into Therrien's water bottle?

- Haha. Habs Fenwick close was 36% in the period. Did I not estimate 65% for the Pens?? So close. So very close. 

- Gallagher with a poor pass in the neutral zone, then fails to cover his man on the resulting Pens rush. Sutter makes it 3-0. Gallagher works like a horse but struggles adapting to opposition transitions. 

- Some pretty casual and soft coverage receiving the Pens rush, and it's generating some crazy good chances for Pittsburgh.

- Still think an Eller-Pacioretty-Sekac power/possession line would be worth trying. Each of those three are momentum generators, at the very least.

- No three goal lead is ever safe. Not with Fleury in net. Just sayin'.

- Habs PP, Fleury down, puck clearly loose, Tim Peel inexplicably blows it down. Yeah. Tim Terrible Peel.

- Anyway, aside from that, Habs man advantage looked terrible. No scoring threat. Same old.

- Per Arpon Basu, Desharnais registered his 20th shot in the second period. Of the season. For the supposed number one centre. Yeah. That's pretty dismal.

- Habs second powerplay a little more zip, but no dice. On well. Just not happening tonight.

- Crosby. Powerplay. That'll do it once and forevermore. Might as well start Tokarski for the third.

- Slightly second period, but that's not saying much. Pens are a far more organized and disciplined unit, they eat teams like Montreal alive. One thing's for certain, when the Habs lose, they lose big.



- Pretty low energy start by this Habs team. Very much looking like a back-to-back team tonight, as opposed to last week's two games within 27 hours.

- Ouch. Beaulieu with a cardinal sin giveaway via a bad pass through the middle, intercepted easily by Bennett, and a wrister beats Price high.

- Poor Beaulieu is going to be lucky if he sees anything north of four more shifts the rest of this game. Therrien never forgets, never forgives.

- Hoo boy. Pacioretty with a soft play in his corner, another bad turnover, and in a split second, the Pens take a 2-0 lead, Letang to Downie.

- Sekac looking fast and involved again tonight. He's also carrying the zone - he refuses to do otherwise, which makes me love him all the more.

- More good work by Prust, who's really found his game the past few days.

- Um, anyone assigned to checking Bennett tonight? Anyone??

- Price looking very scrambley in goal tonight, not that I can blame him, Pens forwards are swarming the Habs crease pretty much unopposed. Some soft defending tonight by Montreal.

- I'd estimate a good 75% of the play in this period has been on the Habs side of centre ice. A good 65% in their zone. Not a pretty sight.

- Yeah. Not a good period. Habs just not even close to competing, slow and sloppy, especially in their own zone. No real quality scoring chances generated on Fleury - it's just like pretty much every other first period we've witnessed this season. So they're gonna dominate from here on out, right? Uh, right??!


- Hey, ho ... Carey Price will play tonight. Back to back starts for the first time this season.

- Jiri Sekac may or may not play tonight. If he starts, that's cool. If he doesn't, grab the pitchforks and fire up the torches.


Okay, Habs lineup for tonight:

Line 1: Pacioretty-Desharnais-Parenteau Line 2: Galchenyuk-Plekanec-Gallagher Line 3: Prust-Eller-Sekac Line 4: Malhotra-Weise Markov-Subban Emelin-Gonchar Gilbert-Weaver Beaulieu

More in a bit!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Game Ninteen: Habs vs. Wings


- Habs humming along now, Winfs defense simply too tentative about Montreal's speed, Cromwall baking away far too much from a Gallagher rush, rebound easily deposited in by Plekanec. 3-0.

- Habs seem determined to get as much PK play as possible.

- Tokarski's mask is knocked ajar, the official doesn't blow the play, and the Wings hit the scoresheet with 3 seconds left on the powerplay. A blown call there (again). 3-1.

- Gallagher just doesn't give up, does he? Incredible work behind the net (instead of his usual place in front).  Howard is gonna lose sleep over giving up that one. Montreal regains it's 3 goal lead. Wings fans pretty quiet.

- It would now appear the only fans left in Joe Lewis are the large contingent that came down from Montreal. It's a home game right now for the Habs.

- Wings yank Howard with more than four on the clock. That's a Pat Roy to the extreme.

- Max had two pretty open chances with the empty net. Guess he likes to score the hard way.

- Pretty routine win for the Habs tonight, the winning streak extended to six. The next week won't be an easy one for Montreal, with Pittsburgh, Boston and St. Louis their next opponents. Accumulating these early season wins are particularly meaningful for these hard schedule stretches, such as what's coming up. 


- Habs had 54% possession in the first, which by their standards, is really quite good.

- Brandon Prust, who was healthy scratch material just a month ago, has been playing his head off for a week, and opens the scoring. Habs continue to play a very good possession game against a team that's historically excelled in this important area. It's paying off tonight.

- Kind of a bad penalty by Gonchar, but the Habs PK continues to do a good job keeping the Wings wide on their man advantage opportunities. Tokarski has been very solid swatting away the few Detriot chances.

- Winning faceoffs deep matter. Subban with a point blast goes about 10 feet wide but hits Quincey and bounces past Howard. 2-0 on a very luck bounce(s).

- Habs getting into penalty trouble - eventually this is going to bite them.

- Habs Eller line looks so incredibly good when it's clicking. Incredible five way passing play off the rush, Howard with an excellent pad save to keep it a two goal game. Nonetheless, Eller line is best playing unit on this team right now.

- 40 seconds of two man advantage complete zone control and zero shots registered. Markov and Subban unable to hit targets because they're being too cute, too perfect.

- Pretty good period for the Habs, their hard work in the first paid off dividends in the second, and the team's grinding allowed them to win the majority of puck battles. Also witnessing an increasing reliance on carrying the zone, which is an hopefull sign. Twenty minutes to go.


- Okay, Riders lose. Now on to more important matters, such as this hockey game.

- Habs looking pretty mobile from joining in at the 10 minute mark. Really have to wonder how much of these terrible starts were psychological, and whether last night's game marked a turning point.

- Beaulieu on the 4th line is just a waste. Of his time. Habs could go seven D and rotate Prust and Pacioretty additional shifts.

- Many thought this Habs PK was due for a tumble after Gorges was traded. That simply hasn't materialized. If anything, the Habs shorthanded unit has become more effective and even dangerous because the defense is more mobile and able to move the puck. An impressive kill to finish the first period, even on zero rest, the Canadiens are looking pretty fresh.


Can't. Blog. Watching. Riders. Lose. Will. Blog. Later. 

Anyway, Dustin will hold the fort.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Game Eighteen: Flyers vs. Habs


- He's had a fine game, Gonchar with a point wrister redeflected by Parenteau with his second of the night, and the ship is righted a bit with a two goal lead reestablished. In any case, Gonchar looks like an excellent pickup - at least tonight.

- Flyers defense looks really sluggish right now. Habs might score one or two more before this night is done.

- Incredible scrum around Price, the Flyers Reed somehow retrieves a puck that's never frozen and snaps it past Price. The puck luck has kept Philly in this game.

- Ofdicials with a quick whistle denying Gallagher a goal, only moments later. The irony and poor officiating is strong.

- Win or lose, Habs defense hasn't been assertive tonight protecting its goaltender. Hopefully the line gets a talking to after this one is done.

- Habs doing a lot of chasing in their zone. Tying goal might be moments away.

- Well that'll help. Emery lets a softie in off a Weise wrister, and surely ... surely that will wrap this one up.


- Lecavalier in his younger years, would have buried one of his two PP scoring chances. He's just lost too much of a step.

- Strange penalty calls tonight. No rhyme or reason other than taking turns. One on Habs, one on Flyers.

- Parenteau and Desharnais getting cute again on the powerplay. Already they've forgotten the can't-miss lessen for success in the first period.

- Well nevermind. Plecks-Gally-Subban-bam-3-0. Third powerplay goal. And counting. When it rains it pours. Again the Flyers unit just too slow footed and physically soft to stop anything.

- If Habs continue to score by carrying the puck in, even Therrien will have relent on the dump-and-chase.

- For no real good reason Prust drops his gloves and proceeds to hurt his elbow. He won the fight, but up three goals, who cares? 

- Game slowing up as Habs start to sit. At the halfway mark of the second period. Wayyyy to early.

- Yup. Sitting on it, Schenn wrists one past Price and it's 3-1. Habs forwards just taking too much time to cover their zone. 

- Plekanac makes it 4-1, official signals goal, but then calls Gallagher for a hold, taking away a goal. I'm  fit to be tied to understand the calls tonight. 

- And .... another call. Oy. Flyers set to make it 3-2.

- Tentative, overly conservative play (tuttuling) has cost the Habs a comfortable lead through two periods. Yes, it should have been 4-1, but blown calls aside, this team started to sit far too early, wrongly thinking the Flyers had nothing in the tank. Well, now they'll have to battle to earn two points. Unnecessarily so.


- Habs off to a good first period start?? My eyes must deceive me.


- That's more like it. Quick shots on goal (Pacioretty), rebound prone Emery, Paranteau cashes in. POWERPLAY GOAL.


- Guess who gets the quick shot away? Paxioretty. Desharnais the easy deposit. 2-0. Flyers PK utterly incompetent (that helps a bit).

- Wasn't exactly star-struck by what I saw from Gonchar on Thursday, but he's looking a heckova lot more involved and mobile tonight.

- Silly roughing call on Gallagher. Officials trying to "even" things up, I suspect.

- Subban letting forwards get past him undetected. Too many times this season.

- Habs totally outskating and outmuscling the Flyers in Philly's zone - reflective of a thin Flyers defense, and given they played last night, perhaps tired legs.

- The very first time this season the Habs clearly outplayed their opponent in the first period. It took 18 games to reach that milestone.



Really, dammed if I know how we've arrived at the top of the heap nearly one quarter through the regular season schedule? Productive offense? Naw. Miserly defense? Uh, no. Powerplay production? Hah ... uh, yeah. Dumb luck? I'm starting to wonder. We all have since the team got off to a 7-1 start that maybe, just maybe, the hockey gods have been overly generous this year. Maybe it's a make-up for the 10 years we fans were subjected to the horrors of Rejan Houle and Mario Tremblay.

Oh, Mario. Did ya hear today? Apparently the genius never-to-coach-again ex-coach says the reason why P.K. Subban hasn't been producing this year is that he's out of shape. HAHA ... makes you wonder, does Tremblay even use his eyes. I mean, geez louise, have you seen P.K. Subban? In person? I have. The man is a rock of muscle and athleticism.

The reason why P.K. hasn't scored a ton this year is pretty simple. The team's powerplay unit is a complete disaster ... on pace to score 13 ... that's right, 13 extra man goals this season. Second big reason? P.K. has too much Therrien in his head. He's not carrying the puck through the neutral zone, he's rarely, if ever pinching from the line, he's doing everything you're not supposed to do if you're an offensive defenseman. The culprit here isn't Subban, its the guys telling Subban how he's to play.

Anyway, tonight. The Flyers. Up three goals late in the 3rd period back in mid November, Philadelphia somehow found a way to be on the losing end of a 4-3 score to the Habs. The Flyers, as many expected, have slowly but surely sunk their way down their division, and conference standings - the almost certainly won't be making a post-season appearance next spring, and might not be a playoff presence for some time to come, as they go through a rebuilding process.

So even with the iffy offense, the wobbly defense, and the god-awful powerplay, the Habs should be in pretty good shape to extend (this sounds crazy) their first play lead in the NHL standings.

But then, we thought the Oilers were going to be a piece of cake, and we all know how that turned out.

Puck drops at 7:10 EST. On local cable CITY TV (good grief), if you can stand it.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Game Seventeen: Bruins vs. Habs


- Hard to believe how far the Bruins' defense has fallen this year. Pacioretty allowed soft access right to Rask, Hamilton feebly checking him, soft pass by Desharnais goes off Hamilton's skate and in. 4-1.

- Cue the Bruins dives. Desperate times.

- One more on Boston would be nice. Just to make it an official blowout. 

- That 4th goal awarded to Patches, his second of the game. He started strong, so it's not entirely surprising.

- Chara's return will help, but it won't fully adress the fundamental shortcomings of this Bruins defense, which hasn't looked this soft and slow in years. 

- Rubbing eyes. A powerplay goal? Sekac. Blowout status achieved.

- Admittedly, the Bruins were tired team tonight, but still an impressive win nontheless for the Habs, who followed their season-long pattern tonight to the letter. Slow first, big bounce-back second, and controlled third period. I'm not sure if any torch has yet been passed, but we may have had another glimpse tonight of two organizations headed in different competitive directions.


- Weise gets a penalty shot and buries a chance. Hope Pacioretty was watching.

- Powerplay!!! DRINK.

- Subban blasts a shot off the back of Galchenyuk's leg. At this point, Habs should just decline the powerplay.

- Powerplay!!! Find the highest bridge near you.

- Nothing. Lots of passing, the two shot attempts on Svedberg harmlessly wide. It doesn't need to be a prefect goal. Just get it somewhere around the net and drive it home. The uglier the better.

- Habs bench management has been a mess tonight. Players who need to be played are stapled to the bench. Madness.

- 4th line Beaulieu just took Matt Fraser to the cleaners. Wondering if Beaulieu was visualizing Therrien's face on Fraser's head.

- Habs have played a much better forecheck this period, and Gallagher creates the turnover at Seidenberg and Hamilton's expense to feed Eller for the go ahead goal. Poor Bruins defense especially costly on that play.

- Bergeven so far has had a night he'd probably gladly forget.

- More soft Bruins defense off the Habs rush creates plenty of open ice to allow Wiese to slide a pass to Patches, his one timer totally freezing Svedberg in the headlights. 3-1.

- Pretty much a disasterous period for Boston. Unable to keep pace, Campbell hooks. POWERPLAY!!!!

- Good lord. Plekanec with the widest of open nets, and from five feet out, he somehow misses. On the powerplay. I'm speechless.

- More goonery by Lucic, this time on Sekac. P.K. chases him down and gives him a little taste back. More, please.

- Habs owned that period. Completely owned it. Bruins defense was overwhelmed by a fierce forecheck, and Habs legs went into some otherworldly gear that forced Boston into a series of chase infractions. Net result, three well deserved goals. Really should have been four.


- Well I guess that's one way of ensuring Rask doesn't have another disasterous night at the Bell. Simply don't start him.

- So far, not exactly overwhelmed by Gonchar. Yeah, I know he's 40, but was he always this slow?

- Seems as though Therrien has Beaulieu already below Gonchar on the pecking list. Of course.

- Boston kinda pretty much totally dominating Habs, possession wise. Another terrible first period for the Habs. 17 games into the season, they haven't had a single good start to any game. Amazing.

- Habs powerplay!! AND DRINK.

- Desperate times. Subban and Markov are split up with the man advantage.

- Another man advantage, another adventure in nothingness. It's incredible how badly this unit is functioning, how little seems to be done to improve it. The coaches just stand around, shrug shoulders. How can Bergevin tolerate this?

- Habs forwards mainly playing on their heels, just standing back, not attacking, not taking any imitative. They look awful.

- 3 seconds. It took three seconds for the Bruins to score on their powerplay. That's salt in the wounds. Really deep wounds. Also, Desharnais on first line PK? Yeah, okay.

- Svedberg robs Pacioretty on a break. Max one of the few Habs players with any semblance of legs in this period.

- Bruins outshooting Habs 11-6 in the period. It was even worse than that. Habs have far too talented a roster to continually play this poorly to start their game, each and every game.


Hahaha ... the Boston Bruins.

Oh Tuukka. Poor Tuukka. You and your team got destroyed last night. To the Toronto Maple Leafs. Let's just think about that for a moment. Your team got whooped. By the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

Hoo boy. Oh, the humanity!


Aw, the poor guy. But he's clearly a great Bruins fan in the making! Actually, he's pretty much nailed it down, at least emotionally.

So what's the deal with the Bruins? In a word, it's defense. It's not been very good this season. Yes, it's not helped that Boston lost their captain and arguably still their best defenseman in Zdeno Chara, who's out indefinitely with a leg injury. With Chara out, the Bruins have leaned heavily on the capable Dougie Hamilton, but he's only one guy, and he's no Chara. Other components to the Boston defense have struggled, including the slow footed Dennis Seidenberg, the relatively inexperienced Torey Krug, and the really inexperienced Joe Morrow. 

Let's cut to the chase about this - the Boston Bruins are not a particularly strong defensive team - certainly not among the League elite. It is a flaw that could very well be their undoing as the season progresses.

And then there's Tuukka Rask. 

What is going on here? The defending Vezina Trophy winner has posted a save percentage barely north of .900, which has him currently tied for 44th overall in the League among goaltenders. That's pretty far down, at least for the guy who was considered the best for his position in 2013-14.

That all said, the Bruins are facing an opponent tonight who aren't exactly setting the offensive world on fire. The Habs, ranked near the bottom of the League in overall offense (and let's not even get started about their powerplay which might be having its worst season in more half a century), might just be the defensive cure the Bruins have been trying to find the past while.

In any case, Rask will be playing against a team, in a venue that's been miserable to his career record. He, like the rest of the Boston lineup, will be hoping the Habs post another night of hapless passing, transition, powerplays and scoring. Then, and only then, will the Bruins have a pretty good chance of winning tonight.

Otherwise? May we be so bold as to suggest the Bruins suck? Because, defensively speaking, they do.

Puck drops at 7:40 EST.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Game Sixteen: Jets vs. Habs

Third Period:

- Seems pretty clear this club's lack of offence has gotten into their heads. Too much focus on setting up the perfect play, not enough on getting pucks on the net. 

- That's a killer goal for Galchenyuk, the Jets defense way too soft in their slot. 2-0.

- Habs are gonna try to ice this game to death. Folly, I say. We'll see.

- It's not very pretty, but Habs doing pretty good job strangling the play. Not a lot of places for the Jets to muster a rush or find an open lane right now.

- Pacioretty and Desharnais are lousy odd man rush mates. Desharnais is judgement impaired, Pacioretty should just stick to shooting.

- Price getting good protection this period by his defense off the initial shot. The few rebounds Price gives up aren't much of a threat.

- Jets pulling a Roy with 3 minutes left.

- Enstrom with a dive in his zone, obvious dive. Refs blow the call. 6 on 4 with 92 seconds left.

- A post and two totally open nets missed by the Jets on this powerplay. Enstrom's dive had serious karma attached.

- Plekanec with the empty net as he returns to the scoresheet after a couple of weeks off. Habs win 3-0.

Second Period:

- We said they be hummin' in the first, and to no one's surprise, Sekac drives the net utilizing his speed, Pavelec surrenders a loose puck and Eller puts it home. More great Sekec. 1-0. 

- Habs PK has had one scoring chance tonight. Their PP? Zero.

- Pretty sloppy hockey resulting in poor penalties being committed by both sides. Game had flow in the first period. The second? A mess.

- Six minutes left, Jets are swarming the Habs, but Price is standing on his head. Habs forwards guilty of far too many zone turnovers.

- Kind of wondering why Subban isn't shooting. At all. Had the entire lane wide open and a red carpet to Pavelec, makes a meek and useless backhanded pass.

- Frantic end to the period on both ends, the Habs, outplayed, escape with a one goal lead. Carey Price, as he has so many times in the past, masking his team's glaring flaws - they being specialty units, forwards unable or unwilling to shoot, and sloppy puck possession. Another stolen victory tonight? Stay tuned. 

First Period:

- So Drayson Bowman gets his first NHL start of the season tonight on the fourth line, which means he'll likely get ... oh ... seven or eight shifts for the game. #TherrienEffect

- Gallagher beats Pavelec. Offside by four feet. Oh well.

- So Gilbert, who's been very good this year, is demoted to the third line, and Weaver, who's been so-so, gets promoted to the 2nd. Mmmkay.

- Eller/Sekac line be hummin' right where it left off Saturday night.

- Another terrible Markov turnover in the neutral zone, creating a Kane break. Price with an elegant blocker save.

- Price has been receipient of tough shots tonight, but looks very sharp, very cool. Could be tough customer for Jets offense tonight.

- Calling this Habs powerplay a tire fire would be an insult to burning rubber.

- New powerplay system seems to be emphatic that neither Markov or Subban are to shoot from the line. Mystifying.

- Habs get last minute man advantage, Therrien doesn't ice Markov or Subban. Results are pretty much hapless. 

- Reasonably even period, Price with key saves off tough chances, Habs specialty units are as much a mess as ever, and their neutral zone puck possession left much to be desired. Eller/Sekac look fine again, Markov and Subban ... not so much.

Habbies Acquire Gonchar

Well, hmm ... this is interesting. Habs have traded 32 year old Travis Moen to the Dallas Stars in return for 40 year old defenseman Sergei Gonchar. Moen, who's been around for five seasons believe it or not, hasn't had a particularly productive year, and has been shuffled in and out of the lineup. With Michael Bournival now established, there really wasn't a whole lot of room left.

Gonchar? Man, he's old. Used to be pretty good. But now? He's old. Experienced I guess, he'll be a UFA at season's end. Now the Habs have 8 bonefied starters on their roster. Markov, Subban, Gilbert, Weaver, Emelin, Beaulieu, Tinorodi and now Gonchar.

If Beaulieu and Tinordi are going to continue to evolve, I'm thinking somebody else is going to be moved soon. But who? Emelin? Dare we to dream?

Habs 'n' Jets Gameday Game Preview:

Welcome to the Bourqueless era of the Montreal Canadiens! Man, don't you ... I don't know ... almost feel cleaner now? Almost a little extra spring in your step almost knowing future Habs games won't be so frustrating to watch? Almost? Yeah. Almost!

I suppose we could add welcome to the Moen-less era in Montreal, but we liked Travis.

So tonight. What is with this Habs team? We suck. We don't suck. We score. We can't score. We defend. We can't defend. We're a playoff team. Good luck finishing above 80 points. We're a Stanley Cup contender. Are you on crack? On and on it goes.

Anyway, here's the Jets' lineup for tonight game:

Line 1: Ladd-Little/Frolik
Line 2: Kane-Scheifele-Wheeler
Line 3: Perreault-Lowry-Byfuglien
Line 4: Galiardi-Slater-Thorburn


There you have it. A meh roster for a meh hockey team. Still the Jets do have 8 wins in 15 games, most of them against pretty competitive teams, like the Hawks, Preds and Rangers. They could be considered, along with the Calgary Flames, to be one of this season's early surprises. Bryan Little, whose best season came last year (64 points in 82 games) is off to a solid start, 11 points to lead the team. Blake Wheeler is, as anticipated, producing (10 points). Disappointments? Dustin Byfuglein, just two goals and five points this year (.33 ppg), far below his usual output (career .56 ppg).

The BIG surprise in Winnipeg this year is goaltender Ondrej Pavelec. After consecutive years putting up numbers that would barely qualify him for a backup role in the League, Pavelec has a sparkling .928 SV% and 1.98 GAA. He's a big part of the reason why the Jets are off to a respectable start this season.

Over in Habsland, with Bourque and Moen gone, the lineup is beginning to settle. With Sekac finally (mercifully) now established, he'll be playing again along side the underrated Lars Eller. Meanwhile, it'll be the usual defensive lineup tonight, with Beaulieu slotting in, and Tinordi slotting out.

Carey Price, of course, will start.

Game time is 7:40 EST.

But, these are the Jets, and they are facing the Habs, who have beaten Winnipeg seven of the nine times these two have met since Atlanta moved north.