Monday, 23 February 2015

Game Sixty: Habs vs. Blues


- Still feeling very nervous about this two goal lead - might be one of those nights where the Habs just totally screw the pooch in the 3rd.

- They changed the scoring on the a Blues second goal - Oshie gets credit, which means Price whiffed off a 55 footer? It happens.

- Thought occurred - this might very well be Malhotra's final game of the season. With bodies arriving/returning, it just might.

- Eller and Plekanec basically have zero chemistry together. Yet that square peg just keeps getting hammered into that round hole. 

- Puck luck blues. First, Paciorertty hits shaft of Allen's stick on breakaway shot, two minutes later, it's Prust's turn. 

- Even though he's let in two very suspect goals, Allen keeping his team alive in this period. Habs really setting themselves up for possible heartbreak.

- Thankfully, Habs haven't been sitting on their laurels this period. At least searching for the dagger, but not quite connecting. It's surpressed the Blues' ability to generate sustained momentum. Six minutes left.

- Habs have been really focused in on Steen tonight, but he's been coming closer and closer to scoring this period. 

- Jaskin with a totally inane crosscheck on Galchenyuk while the Blues were nicely set up in the Habs zone. Seconds later, Gallagher finishes the night with a powerplay goal. The Blues have got to play much smarter hockey than this if they want to push deep into the post-season.

- Nice little statement win for the Habs tonight, who maintain their pace over their biggest conference threat, the Rangers. Galchenyuk, Eller, Gallagher, Beaulieu and Prust with particularly strong games. A nice team effort all around. Looking forward to seeing how the lines will be set come Thursday night.


- Well, I just give up. Galchenyuk his second of the night, although this time off the left side, on a shit that Allen simply must stop. Nonetheless, I want Therrien at the blackjack table with my money.

- Another target penalty on Subban, and the Blues score (essentially) on the powerplay, Backes off a wonderful pass from Oshie. Price no chance. 2-1.

- Habs transition woes really biting them hard this period. Turning the puck over not in the Blues zone, but just beyond their blue line. Blues reckon to take control, even though trailing on the scoreboard.

- Eller a real unsung hero tonight, played a key role screening the 2nd goal, being very physical all over the ice. Really wish he could score just once and get this monkey off his back.

- Officials really bending backward giving the Blues a lot of benefits from some obviously line-crossing rough play along the boards. Consistently wrong, I suppose. Unless your name is Subban. Then you can't do jack.

- Four on four play should almost always favour this Habs team, and they take advantage - Galley with a nice slight fake, Allen totally fooled with Desharnais on the other wing, and it's 3-1.

- Terrible Blues breakdown, a totally brilliant pass by Galchenyuk right on the tape of a totally home bound Bournival, and it's 4-1. Crowd totally stunned in St. Louis.

- Backes/Oshie AGAIN. Price no chance again. The lead is back to two. Habs need to really cut down on these breakdowns immediately following their own goals. Been surrendering way too many this season.


- So, where's Lars gonna play when DSP starts Thusrday? RDS reckons it'll be centring the 4th line, which seems kind of .... wrong?

- Man, when did Prust last score? It's gotta be coming up on three months.

- Okay, so it's been three weeks - but beyond that, just one goal in 2+ months. I think how he plays in the upcoming playoffs will tell the tale whether he plays in Montreal beyond this season.

Yet another great goal-saving backcheck by de la Rose. Trying to imagine this kid's peak. So good already.

- Blues have (no surprise) the majority of zone pressure, but Habs doing a decent job protecting the slot. Lot of perimeter offense so far.

- So people gaff as Therrien moves Galcheyuk over to the wrong wing, and then Alex goes and scores in the very first period. It's baffling how he calls this stuff, but who can argue with the result? 1-0. 

- Eller has one goal in 2015, and I fear that line won't be improving anytime soon - he's trying his best on the left side, but it's looking more and more likely that experiment has failed, and he'll be relegated to 4th line duty. A real shame.

- Steve Ott. The intellect is small with this one.

- So Galley and DS-P camped in front together on the powerplay? That could be interesting.

- Blues the edge in play, but as mentioned previously, Habs did a mostly tidy job protecting their goal. More or less your typical road game plan, more or less executed fairy well. So far so good, I'd reckon.


- The Habs latest acquisition, Devante Smith-Pelly, will suit up for his new team Thursday night in Columbus.
- Marc Bergevin isn't with the Habs in St. Louis tonight. Nope, he's in Chicago watching the Hawks and Panthers. Take that for what you will.
- Habs also have scouts out and about tonight in at least a couple of other cities. It's reported that the Canadiens are scouting in Madison Square Garden and also in Carolina.


So, the Habs made a trade today, one that nobody saw coming. Well, maybe one part of the deal isn't particularly shocking, and that's Jiri Sekac being somewhere else, largely because he simply didn't mesh with coach Therrien's philosophy.

That rationale always struck me as odd - just as strange as Therrien's apparent unwillingness to use the young and obviously talented winger. Sekac certainly didn't lack in work ethic - he was one of the most tenacious young players on the Habs. He made huge strides since coming over from Europe, adapting quickly to the smaller NHL ice surface. When he was matched up with the Canadiens' better forwards, which included Lars Eller, P.A. Parenteau, and Thomas Plekanec, Sekac produced ample scoring attempts, producing an adjusted possession percentage of 48.7, which is above the overall team average. And when he did contribute, it made a difference. Every game that Sekac scored this season, the Habs won.

All of that, however, is moot. Bergevin made the move to obtain Smith-Pelly, the narrative being Marc wanted to obtain someone with playoff success, and someone who made the Habs bigger up front.

Let's tackle the later rationale, which puzzles me. Smith-Pelly at 6', is two inches shorter than Sekac, although he's 35 pounds heavier. So there's a trade off - yes, Smith-Pelly has some bulk, but he'll be significantly slower, which doesn't really favor the current Therrien "system" of chasing dumped pucks.

With regards to playoff success, well, colour me a bit suspicious. Yes, he performed well in the two rounds the Ducks played last spring, but let's remember, that was one, just one, playoff. It seems to me rather absurd that anyone, Bergevin included, could draw any firm conclusions that Smith-Pelly is a proven guy based on two series. It's not much less absurd than assuming Sekac would (will) be a big success in this spring's post-season.

So there we have it. I'm not pleased with the deal - I'm hopeful that it works out well for both teams, but I have a nagging belief that this deal could come back to haunt the Habs down the road. Heaven forbid that Sekac soon becomes a 25+ goal scorer. If he does, streams of anger and discontent will not only be focused on Bergevin, but also on Smith-Pelly.

Plus, he's a Leafs fan. Do we really want those on our team? Caamaann.


As we near the playoffs, this site will be a bit more active in Habs-related updates. We might toss in a few more fan pics or two, just for funz.

- Injury updates: Apparently Alexei Emelin and P.A. Parenteau will be back on the practice ice later this week, although there is no timetable for their eventual return to actual hockey (Montreal Canadiens).
- Sergei Gonchar practiced this morning. Also no stated date for return yet.
- Hey, Max Pacioretty was named the NHL's third star for the week. He's got 23 games left to score 10 goals to reach that magic 40 mark. I know you're already wondering. When was the last time any Canadiens' forward scored 40 goals in a season? It was 1994, Vincent Damphousse. He scored 40 (NHL.COM).
- So the coach doesn't really buy into that whole "scoring goals" thing. OOooookay then. Anyway, Alex Galchenyuk appears to have gotten over the flu, is traveling with the team to St. Louis, and is a probable start Tuesday night.

- Fun fact!! Guess who played in his first ever NHL game for the Canadiens 30 years ago tonight? Com'on ... this one is easy. Stumped?!? Really?? Here's your answer.

More in a bit.

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