Thursday, 26 February 2015

Game Sixty-One: Habs vs. Blue Jackets


- Prust now with de la Rose and Eller. Spend every single second of their shift pinned in their zone. Jackets continue to dominate possession.

- DSP had better be really good in front of the opponent's goal because he hasn't been particularly effective in front of his own.

- Timely and opportunistic scoring. Prust with a totally harmless shot that's wonderfully redeflected by de le Rose, for his very first NHL goal. Dagger has finally been applied. 

- Yeesh, Plekqnec-Galchenyuk-DSP with an awful shift, doing excellent headless chicken impersonations, and the Jackets narrow the lead to two. DSP looking particularly lost. I know it's early days on a new team, but that was really pretty bad.

- Pretty weak sauce tripping call on Calvert, Habs head to the PP. Will we see DSP?

- Even weaker than that penalty is the Habs powerplay, unable to generate simple controlled possession in the Jackets zone, because everybody is focused on chipping and dumping. Which is why the Habs unit is in the League's 20th percentile.

- Powerplay number two arrives almost immediately. DSP now? I thought Therrien was all up on experimentations tonight.

- Improvement. Instead of being awful, 2nd powerplay was just bad.

- de la Rose, his second career NHL goal, empty net. 

- Solid enough win tonight, not entirely happy with how the team sat on the lead even after just 20 minutes. Oh well, it's a win, as the Habs take another step towards solidifying a top tier finish in the Conference. Grats to Carey Price for winning his 10th straight road game, this extending his franchise record.


- Habs with 70% possession in the first, which equates to a near season high for a single period.

- Smith-Pelly with some nice work on the PK. He's not fast but he's sneaky because he seems to have good hockey sense. Play anticipation is strong. 

- Prust basically tossed to the ice like a rag doll carrying he puck into the Jackets zone. Wonder if he's playing through an injury to that bumm shoulder. 

- Instead of going for the knockout punch, Habs in full coast mode this period. Columbus not really offering any pushback, they're just taking what's being given, which Is plenty of open ice. 

- Eller now winging de la Rose and Weise, which is a pretty good sign Lars hath returned to Therrien's doghouse.

- I sesnse not only are the Habs attempting a two period lead sit, but Therrien is doing more line experimentations. They're just begging to fritter away this lead.

- DSP now with Plekanec and Galchenyuk. Goes offside off a rush.

- Pacioretty-Galchenyuk-Gallagher would make a killer line right about now. Each is playing in top form.

- Habs sat on it, but get away without surrendering anything on the scoreboard. Outshoot 2-to-1, this team really should have the game totally in the bank, but seem more focused on line experimentation than actually winning. Oh well.


- So Malhotra bumps Thomas out of the lineup, because .. well .. who knows why? In other news, the Blue Jackets just let the Leafs off the hook for the next 7 years, because .. who knows?

- P.K. Subban with a blast, unstoppable. Did you know he's probably going to set a career high this year for points in a season? OH ... but he's having an "off year" if you listen to the mouthpieces. Anyway, Habs right off to a 1-0 lead.

- Yeah, yeah. Malhotra won the draw that led to the Subban goal. Whatever. No way he should be in any starting lineup, ever, again.

- Well, there goes that lead. Dubinsky with a shot that I think (I hope?) deflects off Gilbert, and past Price. Otherwise, Carey just let in an easy one. Tie game.

- Having trouble keeping up here. Markov reestablishes the lead, after McElhinney goes wandering off behind his net. The Jackets netminding tonight appears to be a bit ... uh ... suspect. 2-1.

- Pretty certain to say word on the Habs bench right now is "shoot everything at McElhinney." Can't really argue with that.

- Pacioretty with his 30th. Jackets defence looked horribly disorganized leaving virtually every Habs forwards, including Max, completely unchecked. This one has the whiff of a blowout. We'll see.

- Like what I've seen from Smith-Pelly - good positioning around the net, he's generated a couple of decent scoring chances. Don't know how much of a defensive liability he'll be over the long run, but so far, so good.

- Pretty much a Habs period in most respects, Habs looked a little soft on the PK, giving the Jackets a bit too much lane passing freedom. But the slow, disorganized defensive play and questionable goaltending mean the Canadiens should be a pretty good position to wrap up two more points tonight.

What else needs to be said, other than this is yet another of those games against lesser teams which the Habs can ill-afford to give away, assuming one of their main objectives is to finish as high as possible in the Eastern Conference standings.

Tonight, the Habs will be icing a nearly totally healthy roster, including the debut of newly acquired Devante Smith-Pelly. He'll start, we're guessing, on the Habs third line next to, we guess, Brandon Prust and Lars Eller? Michel Therrien said he won't be announcing the starting lines until the last possible minute.

The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, continue their process of playing out the schedule, now losers of three straight games, including an inglorious loss at the hands of the Sabers on Tuesday night (we know how it feels). I don't expect the Jackets' game plan to be much different tonight than it's been previously. They'll come out physical, try to slow down the Habs, and hope they can find a way of somehow beating the best active goaltender on the planet.

Which is to say, it'll be a longshot for the home team.

Habs should win this relatively easily.

Now that I've totally cursed them - puck drops at 7:10 EST.


- Mr. Smith-Pelly has arrived in town. He's even on the practice ice! There's a picture of him above in uniform, courtesy TSN's John Lu.
- Here's a nice little piece about Habs prospect Tim Bozon, who met a 13 year old meningitis survivor (and HUGE Canadiens fan) in Regina, Saskatchewan yesterday. Tim, as many of you are aware, survived a meningitis attack last year in Saskatoon (and spent weeks in a hospital that's not much more than a stone's throw from my house). (
- Here's a questionable article clearly written by someone who has little idea what's happening with the Canadiens, about a supposed trade offer of 2013 1st round draft pick Mike McCarron to Arizona in return for defenseman Zbynek Michalek. (NBC Sports)
- Not Habs related, but still hilarious. Somebody actually wrote this. Click, and be prepared to have your mind blown away by the inanity of it all. (Sportsnet Edmonton)

More in a bit.

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