Saturday, 3 January 2015

Game Thirty-Nine: Habs vs. Pens


- You've probably done something terribly wrong when you surrender a 2-on-0 breakaway on the 4-on-4. Tom Gilbert rubs a little salt on Downie's anger management wound and makes it 3-1. 

- With exception to the Crosby line, the Pens have very little going for them right now. On some nights, that's enough. But against Carey Price? They'll have to do much more.

- Bushels of chances for Habs on a 4 minute powerplay, but Fleury keeps his team in this game. 3-1 is recoverable. 4-1 against Price? Lights out.

- Habs can't shiv the dagger by scoring on that long powerplay, which will give the Pens a boost and hope that they can salvage this game. Watch out.

- Subban needs to simplify his puck control. Trying to do too much is generating sloppy giveaways instead of scoring chances.

- Habs have pretty much free reign to carry the puck out of their zone. Pens essentially being pushed into one half of the ice.

- Pens first powerplay looked much like the Habs has been all season. Confused, disorganized, and ineffective.

 - Really surpsired by the lack of line matching by the Pens tonight. Just no form or rhythm or even momentum on their side tonight.

- Another impressive period for the Habs. You'd never know they played last night. Maybe one of their strongest games of the season? Still, there's a period left and against the Pens, a two goal lead isn't safe.


- Fleury with poor rebound control, you don't do that with Max Pacioretty in front of you. 1-0. Fleury now whining that he was interfered with by Gallagher. Replay shows that's bogus.

- Pens very scrambly with puck in their zone. Agressive Habs skating is generating some very good scoring chances.

- He's frequently mentioned as bait, but Habs would be nuts to trade Lars Eller. He energizies every linemate assigned to him.

- Desharnais with a routine slapper, Fleury with weak sauce reaction. It's 2-0. 

- Well, that's one way to make a mark with your new team. Perron ties the game, largely due to some pretty shoddy slot coverage by Plekanec and Weiss. There goes the strong game start. 2-1.

- Steve Downie (rightfully) called for interference, and proceeds to punch the glass. He's a smart one.

- Price makes Therrien look better than he actually is. The Pittsburgh Penguins make Marc-Andre Fleury better than he actually is. 

- Habs might want to consider double teaming Crosby tonight. He's going full throttle tonight.

- Downie flips his lid because Emelin had the gall to bodycheck Crosby. His phasers are set to full idiot tonight.

- Really good opening period for the Habs, doing exactly what you're supposed to do on the road. Out skating, out forechecking, and out hitting their opponent. Pens looking mildly frustrated. They've got their hands full tonight,


Well, well, well. First place in the Conference. On the line. Tonight. Who'dathunkit?

Tonight, the Habs and Pens will have a little showdown for first place in the whole entire east, courtesy a tidy little 5 game winning streak for the Habs, 4 of them coming off their current 5 game road trip. Impressive! I mean that. Honestly.

Last night's win in New Jersey was a solid team effort, which meant that Carey Price (200th win!) didn't have to (for once) carry the team on his shoulders to victory. Tonight though ... well ...

The Pens are a, well .. a pretty good hockey team. 3rd rated league offense, 4th rated league defense, 6th rated league powerplay, 3rd rated league penalty kill ... geeeeeez ... is there anything they're not good at right now? Nopes. This team is good.

Habs though, they are riding a 5 game streak, they have been getting solid team efforts of late, which are critical when going up against a superior opponent, their defense has become markedly improved since Nathan Beaulieu was promoted and Alexei Emelin demoted, and of course, there's Price.

The key tonight? Play a really REALLY good road game. That means a strong forecheck, winning centre ice possession and puck battles, being cautious and patient, protecting the slot, shielding the passing lanes, getting offensive contributions from the 3rd and 4th lines. Simple!!

Yeah. It won't be simple. Not tonight. But ... first place is up for grabs.

Should be fun.

Puck drops at 7:10 EST.

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