Monday, 16 March 2015

Game Seventy: Habs vs. Bolts


- Well, now. Hold those phones. Plekanec With a brilliant forecheck to intercept Bishop's pass up the boards, and Parenteau, whom we've noted has been playing very strong since his return from IR, is alone in front for the easy goal. It's 3-2. We've got a game.

- Brandon freakin' Prust. Another pointless fight that ruins a Habs offensive rush. Enough of this guy.

If Smith-Pelly can't win a simple 2-on-1 battle for the puck along the boards, what good is he for, exactly?

- Pateryn has had a quiet, but steady and effective evening. Another example of someone who can more than easily replace the easily replaceable Emelin.

- Five minutes left. Habs powerplay just barely doesn't score. Tampa hanging on, here.

- Max wants the next goal bad. Real bad.

- Eller given a terrible, terrible holding penalty, which basically snuffs out Habs hopes of tying the game. Just a horrible decision by the official. 

- And that's it. Officials decide the night.

- Full marks to the Habs for their efforts the second half of the game. They actually looked like a half decent team, mainly because the effort was intensified, and they appeared to shelve the dump and chase system for more structured zone entires. Definately something to build on for tomorrow night.


- Hedman. Gilbert, for some reason, totally in nowhere land wandering off while Tampa was on the attack, leaving Petry hung out to dry. Therrien would be wise to pull Price at this point, if only to give him opportunity to go right back to Carey tomorrow night. But he won't, of course.

- Prust runs at Bishop, because, hey - why not?

- Amazing what you can do when you actually control the puck on the powerplay. Markov to Subban to Eller to Plekanec and in. All on the tape. Habs at least avoid the embarrassment of being shut out again.

- While the likes of Desharnais and DSP continue to flounder, it's at least good to see Eller slowly but surely putting his game back together.

- De la Rose with another rookie mistake, he needs to make his hooks less obvious. Momentum killer powerplay handed to Tampa.

- Strong final five minutes to end the period, probably as strong as the Habs have played in a couple of weeks. Still matters little, as there is little or no chance of this team overcoming a two goal deficit against the likes of Bishop. All they can do is contain the damage, and try to build positives for the rest of the week.


- Ferocious start to the game, Lars Eller in particular. Playoff atmosphere to this one.

- Habs four minute powerplay, all set up nicely in the Tampa zone, Desharnais shoots a stupid four foot high cross ice pass that (of course) is impossible to control. Zone lost. Words escape me.

- Parenteau looks in fine form early, Desharnais does not. Also, no more Gibert on the powerplay, m'kay? You have Subban, Markov, Petry and Beaulieu, Michel. This ain't hard.

- Habs powerplay is so dysfunctional, they can't even muster momentum from it, nevermind actual goals.

- Pretty clunky high stick by Pateryn. Have to control your stick much better than that. Tampa to the powerplay.

- Filppula shoots, Markov slips, Price whiffs. 1-0. Powerplay goal. Something we'll seemingly never experience.

- Brandon Prust. He drops the gloves very nicely. The other stuff that is actually hockey-related? Not so much.

- Petry hurt? Just made a slow walk to the dressing room.

- Bolts forwards do such a nice job passing the puck to each other. Maybe it looks really good because I've mainly been watching Habs games, where passing is a totally foreign concept. Anyway, in a seven game playoff series, Tampa would twirl the Habs around like a rag doll.

- Petry returns. Thankfully that means less of Emelin.

- Max Pacioretty. With a brain cramp to end all brain cramps. 2-0. 


Dinner on the beach has arrived! In a box! Very tasty!

Oh yeah they talked about goalie interference something, something. Whatever.

Ooooh. Sangria. Anybody want one? They're frosty cold!


Brian Burke! We think. We didn't approach. Brian can be a little testy at times.


- Habs Game Blog exclusive coverage of the NHL G.M. meetings in Boca Raton! The weather here is fine and sunny. Check out that sand and surf! In an hour, we'll be ordering dinner on the beach.

We'll have more as stories develop.

Well, we have arrived. Alexei Emelin will make his return to the Habs lineup tonight, as the Canadiens take on the Tampa Bay Lightning in a crucial showdown for first place in the Atlantic Division. The winner tonight will take a huge step towards securing the top seed.

I'm not going to get into the whole pluses/minuses about Emelin. I've made my opinions pretty clear in the past about what he brings (or to be more specific, doesn't bring) to the Habs blue line. I will question, however, the wisdom of inserting him into a game, nearly a month after he was injured, that is of this magnitude. Basically, the Canadiens need all hands on deck tonight, with only their best, game-ready bodies to take on a very difficult opponent.

With Emelin working to find his game legs again, why not start him Tuesday night against the Panthers? Miami, with all due respect, are a far easier opponent (although more desperate, as they fight to catch Boston for the 2nd wild card spot).

Whatevs. It's Therrien's call, he wants Emelin to get into the lineup again as quickly as possible. So tonight's the night.

Now, about Tampa. We haven't been here in a while. More than 5 months to be exact. The last visit, the Habs, with Carey Price in goal, got blitzed 7-1 by the Bolts. It's was the night of nights to forget. Fast forward to the present, the Habs hold a tender 2 point lead on Tampa, with a game in hand. With a dozen games left in the regular season schedule, this is as critical a game as the Habs have had all year.

Both teams enter tonight with healthy rosters. Tampa will be missing Cedric Paquette and Ondrej Palat, while the Habs basically have a full slate of healed bodies. Both teams are coming off 2-1 games, the Habs beating the Islanders Saturday night, while Tampa, in a rather lackluster effort, losing by the same score to the Winnipeg Jets.

As last week, tonight's game figures to be another low scoring affair. There won't be any 7-1 results, that's for certain. The Canadiens have had their hands full of tonight's starter for the Bolts, Ben Bishop, who - for the most part, has owned Montreal this season, posting a 3-0 record, given up less than a goal per game, and stringing together a .950 SV%. With the Habs offense often struggling to muster 20 shots per game, goals will be few and far between on Bishop tonight, meaning (once again) that it'll be up to Price to carry the team load, if the Habs are to escape with a victory.

So there you have it. Don't be shocked if we have another 1-0 result. But then again, with Emelin back in the lineup, don't be surprised either if Tampa wins tonight's game with relative ease.

Puck drops at 7:10 EST.

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