Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Game Forty-Five: Preds vs. Habs


- OMG. Subban. Right in your hands. 

- Smith. Another poor penalty. Again taken in the Habs zone. Dumb, dumb.

- Subban. Just like we called it an hour ago. Habs win. What a game for P.K.


- Habs possession through 40 minutes: 37%. Michel Therrien hockey. TO THE EXTREME!

- Officials have been excellent tonight. Good holding call on Smith. Subban drew it.

- Subban two straight chances from close in. You simply can't afford to do that and not expect to get burned. Second chance, P.K. slap passes to Galchenyuk and it's tipped past Hutton. Habs powerplay continues to show signs of changing towards a positive direction, a lot of it is seemingly because Subban is coming in more agressively from the line. Tie game.

- Another hold on Nashville. They are inexplicably being played into the ice this period. Weird.

Subban has been a monster tonight. No other way to describe how good he's been.

- If there's one guy to lay money on breaking this tie, you'd have to start and finish with #76. He's in his  own orbit right now.

- Just no good rationale for keeping Malhaltra in the lineup. Winning faceoffs doesn't compromise for his inabilty to shoot the puck, or gain any sort of crease penetration. He's easily contained by an average NHL defenseman.

- Even though they were the better period in the third, Habs still stole a point tonight. Canadiens played 36 straight minutes of brutal hockey to start this game, but because (as usual) of Price holding the fort, the Habs were able to squeeze one past an underworked Hutton. We'll take a point, thanks. One more is undeserved gravy.


- Preds had 66% Fenwick in the first. The period wasn't that lopsided per say, but as noted earlier, Therrien was, for whatever reason, allocating ice time evenly. It really hurt the team's ability to generate any kind of offensive momentum.

- Insane. Same tactics being used. Six minutes into the second, Habs have four shots. In total. Preds have 23. 

- Now 25-4. Preds on the powerplay. Essentially what the Habs needed to do tonight, get pucks on goal, has only been done by Nashville. Rolling all four lines, still playing Weise on the top line, still playing Desharnais at centre. It's insane.

- Astonishing. Markov called for a high stick (it was a puck), and argues. No avail. Then they show a replay on the scoreboard. Refs reverse their call. Have never, ever seen that before.

- Puck dribbles to Hutton. Barely. Registers as a shot on goal. The first of the period. More than 10 minutes in. Bell Centre erupts in huge sarcastic cheer. 

- Seth Jones, and Nashville finally score. Price losing his stick moments before, and when getting set to stop Jones' shot, is distracted by Desharnais shoving his stick in Price's face. Desharnais meant well, but that was pretty stupid.

- Subban has been on the ice for nearly half of all of the Habs shot attempts so far. 2 minutes left, 2nd period. That's how good he's been tonight. Arguably the only skater who fits that description wearing a red jersey.

- With exception to the final four minutes, a truly pathetic period by the Canadiens. Montreal getting dominated every category, and still, Therrien plows forward with inexplicable line dispersals. One of these nights where a considerable amount of blame can squarely be laid at the feet of the coach.


- So Hutton gets the start. It really makes no difference, the Wings lit him up early and often Saturday, Habs should not hesitate is doing the same.

- Ya know, Hutton got blistered early Saturday in Detroit, you might have figured the Habs would have plenty of initiative. But nope. Seven minutes in, SOG is 9-3 Nashville.

- Contrary to the coach's sentiments, Dale Weise is not very good at the whole puck retrieval thing.

- Preds have twice iced the puck with an exhausted line caught on, twice Therrien has sent out the Malhaltra line. Therrien hockey. Nothing makes sense!

- What I wrote before about the Preds not being boring this year. I take it all back.

- This is probably one of the most uneventful periods of hockey I've seen in a long time. There's just been nothin. Icings, mucked transitions, no real high percentage scoring opportunity at either end. Basically, Habs blew their chance big time against an extremely inexperienced netminder.

- Disappointing period, Habs are rested and healthy and still can only muster four piddly shots on Hutton. Didn't help that Therrien had some strange line stratagies, preferring to over utilize his checkers. I dunno. When I see this team and how it's played, I sometimes shrug my shoulders. Tonight is one of those occasions.


Hey look, it's Carrie Underwood. She's some kind of music star, country I think? Which means she's terrible. But she's famous! There she is, at a Preds game! She's entertained. Excited even! Because Nashville is hockey town, USA! Aren't they? Or ... maybe not.

Nashville is actually not that boring - the team, I mean. The city itself, I've never been. Because country music. Which is bad. Oh right, we're talking about hockey. Anyway, the Predators! They've got the best record in hockey! How the heck did this come to be, anyway?

Well, I guess you have to look first at their offense. I mean, they beat the Leafs 9-2 earlier this year? Remember that? What a GREAT night that was. Nashville has the League's 5th rated offense, averaging right on 3 goals per game. When you're spotting your goaltender that kind of a lead on average, especially when your goaltender is Pekka Rinne, who'll almost certainly be a Vezina finalist next spring, you're going to pile up a lot of wins. 30 to be exact, in 44 games.

The Preds greatest strength lays in their ability to produce offense at even strength. A 1.52 F/A rating is the best in the League, miles ahead of 2nd place St. Louis (1.31). The Habs are 6th, for what it's worth, at 1.21. But that's largely because the team hasn't been able to score with the man advantage.

It's been quite a season with Rinne. With him in net, the Preds had the top League even strength save percentage, a sparkling .942.

But then, last week, things changed dramatically for Nashville, as Rinne went down to a knee injury after a game versus the L.A. Kings, and will be sidelined for at least a month. On Saturday, the Preds took on the Detroit Red Wings, and were soundly trounced 5-2, in which the Preds Carter Hutton posted a .250 SV% before getting yanked.

In other words, these Predators aren't quite the same without Rinne. It's a situation that Habs fans can certainly relate to.

Tonight, Nashville will likely start Marek Mazanec in goal, and if you're wondering who the heck Marek Mazanec is, don't feel badly. If Mazanec does get the call, it will be only the 2nd NHL game he's ever played in, and his first ever NHL start.

In other words, the Habs would be well advised to take every possible opportunity to get the puck on the Nashville net.

Puck drops at 7:40 EST. Don't miss this one, because after tonight, no more Habs hockey for seven days.

Stupid All-Star game ...


Okay, last game before this stupid All-Star waste of time. What's happening?

- P.A. Parenteau is out indefinitely with concussion. Sustained in Ottawa, they say.

- Carey Price practiced yesterday morning, looked good. Practiced this morning at the optional, looked better. I'd say he's a virtual cinch to start tonight.

That's ... about it for now. More later.

UPDATE: And it's official. Price gets medical clearance and will start tonight. Yay!

MOAR UPDATES: Tom Gilbert in, Mike Weaver out. Alexei Emelin, still in. /head desk.

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