Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Game Forty-Two: Habs vs. Blue Jackets


- Adjusted Fenwick through 40 minutes nearly 60% for the Habs. The game has become a whitewash except for one area - the scoreclock. Plekanec line easily Habs best tonight. 

- Plekanec line has been a monster tonight. Still doesn't let Therrien off the hook for mucking up the rest of the lineup.

- Sekac is now with Galchenyuk and Bournival, Parenteau demoted. That's a good step in the right direction.

- Been awhile since I've seen the Habs swarm puck control in their opponent's like I have tonight. However, it's still not producing shots that are testing Bobrovsky.

- Subban given an atrocious penalty. Called by the official after a very long delay after the supposed violation. Official saw it was Subban and only then raised his arm. This is targeting, pure and simple. It's disgusting, discriminatory and totally unacceptable.

- And OF COURSE the Jackets score. What a god damned disgrace. 

- Well, hell yeah. Pacioretty scores, hold on to something, on the powerplay. Habs are clearly miffed and angry right now - very fired up and determined to take this game back - I suspect over the Subban penalty.

- It's goaltender interference. Except when it's against Carey Price, of course.

- One of these years, Beaulieu is going to score. He's well overdue.

- What a crazy game. Subban, and it seems only just, ties the game with a cannon from the point ON THE POWERPLAY. Tie game. 

- Habs, it should be noted, scored both powerplay goals with two defensemen out. Four offense unit was, let's be honest, a mess.

- Another dumb, dumb Columbus penalty. They deserve to lose this game.

- THERE YOU GO. Pacioretty ON THE POWERPLAY. Habs lead 3-2.

- Galchenyuk can't be pretty in his zone. Terrible turnover creates great Columbus scoring chance. 

- Columbus pressing, trying to salvage a point. Desperately pressing.

- Habs win. A satisfying win. The powerplay making a difference, this time, finally, for the positive. Columbus, in addition to being soundly outplayed, shot themsleves squarely in the foot with terrible third period penalties. Habs defense also, for the most part, were very sound, especially in the second and third period. Habs sixth straight road win, the first time they've done that in 33 years.


- Price took a long time stretching to start the period. He most certainly does not appear to be 100%. Michel Therrien sweating bullets. So are the rest of us.

- Dale Weise on the powerplay. That just happened.

- Habs shifting Plekanec to the line on the powerplay. Thus ends this Parenteau era at the point. Anyway, another man advantage flies past the board. 1 for the past 24.

- Habs getting beaten by the same game they've used all year. Seems only just, I guess.

- Canadiens have owned puck possession, but their zone control is pretty meek. Puck is consistently being forced to the perimeter, which is generating slim good scoring chances. When the Habs do muster something, Bobrovsky bails his team out.

- Very good shift by the 4th line - the Blue Jackets defense really struggling to stay in touch with faster Habs puck carriers. Bobrovsky, though.

- Sekac another strong game, mired on the 4th line. Decision makers making their terrible decisions.

- Price might not face five shots in the period. His health status is almost irrelevant tonight.

- Another tired legs penalty for Columbus. Their fifth tonight, fourth in this period. HABS POWERPLAY.

- Good lord. How does this team manage not to score with the man advantage. How? How has Bergevin not fired someone for this? How?


- Galchenyuk taken away from Pacioretty, Sekac dropped to the 4th line. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

- Columbus strikes on the first shot of the game because the Habs continue to insist on clearing the zone by shooting the puck up the boards. It creates totally avoidable turnovers, and in this instance, creates an opposing scoring chance. Ugh... 

- No way you'll convince me Bergevin wouldn't trade Emelin and Desharnais away in a heartbeat - for next to nothing in return. But those contracts ... those awful, awful salaries ...

- Wow. Jackets got called for too many, and then the call is reversed. I've never ever seen that before.

- Plekanec, Gallagher and Galchenyuk look pretty strong, but puck bounces seem to be going the wrong direction. Gallagher with plenty of mustard so far.

- Oh man, if Gallagher gets robbed by this ... puck on the line. Wow.

Why doesn't the NHL net use transparent string on top of the net? Gallagher denied.

- Anyway ... so many puck bounces going against the Habs in this period - one begins to resign oneself that this one is going to end badly, no matter what.

- Habs resoundingly outplaying Jackets in the period - Columbus defense getting a little tired, and now drawing holding penalties.

- Powerplay. Shield your eyes. 

- Habs desperate - use four forwards on their powerplay, Parenteau at the line, who has a disasterous shift. That man advantage was a total mess, and Price looks injured off a brutal breakaway surrendered.

- Weird period. Habs the better team, Columbus gets all the breaks. And Price might be hurt. A possible nightmare scenario tonight.


Well, great. Do you smell another huge losing streak coming down the pipe? I sure do. Pissing around with a powerplay that hasn't produced in a year, putting together line combinations that make little sense, or reflect badly against reality. To make the woes even more woeful, a stretch of games against some of the toughest/hottest teams in the League. Columbus tonight, then the Islanders Saturday, then Nashville. The Rangers next week. Oy.

What to do? This Habs team's offense has been in sputter mode since coming off an impressive win against the Pens on January 3rd. Just three goals scored since that time, which has generated plenty of second-guessing among the belly gazers that this team is due another lineup shakeup. Move Desharnais back to center! (a mistake). Demote Gallagher! (another bad call). Trade Eller! (one of our most consistently effective forwards the entire season).

It won't get a whole lot easier tonight as the Canadiens take on one of the best in the goaltending business in Sergei Bobrovsky, who was tossed onto the garbage heap just two years ago by the forever inept Philadelphia Flyers franchise, only then to win the Vezina trophy the following season with Columbus. This year his numbers have come down (from a .932 to a .923 SV%), but he's still a very tough netminder to beat on any given night. Matched up against a team like the Habs, and there's plenty of room for hope tonight for the Jackets.

Although ... the Blue Jackets have been hit hard, ridiculously hard, by injuries this season. Through last night, Columbus has lost a mind-boggling 255 man games, the most of any team in the NHL (Anaheim, interestingly, is 2nd). I know, you're asking, how many for the Habs? Glad you asked. It's 34. Yeah. That's the actual total. 34. Another feather in the cap for the argument that the Canadiens have been just as lucky this season as they have been good - realistically, a LOT more lucky than good.

The decimated Blue Jackets lineup means they have few bodies to depend on to produce offense - Nicky Foligno and Ryan Johansen comprise their two top scorers, but after them - well .. there ain't much. Three of the team's top six point producers are defensemen. Then again, those six players (Foligno, Johansen, Scott Hartnell, Jack Johnson, James Wisniewski and David Savard) comprise basically all of those on Columbus' roster this year who haven't missed (many) game to injury. It really has been that bad.

So add it up, and you're looking straight down the teeth of what should be a pretty low scoring game. The Habs, who can't score, up against Bobrovsky, versus the Blue Jackets, who don't have enough healthy bodies to score, up against Carey Price.

I'm thinking ... another 2-1 final? We'll see.

Puck drops at 7:10 EST.

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