Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Game Seventy-One: Habs vs. Panthers


- Panthers come out full throttle, just as we figured. Tokarski doing his best, but Habs defense really bending.

- Habs in turtle mode now, icing at every opportunity. Trying to slow the game to a crawl.

- Panthers almost universally dominating the game, first five minutes. No way the Habs can hang on for  15 more, barring a break or unforced Panthers error.

- Florida powerplay, Habs just barely survive. Meanwhile Subban is having an outstanding game, at both ends of ice. Doubtful the score is 3-2 for Habs without him.

- 10 minutes left. Florida now on pace to outshoot the Habs 25-6 in the 3rd period. Yup. It really has been that bad.

- Not the coach, but I'd be awfully tempted to call a timeout and read the riot act. Tokaraski is the wrong guy to stand on his head, yet that's what he'll need to do if the Habs don't get their gear in order to salvage this game.

- Small reprieve in the onslaught with 8 minutes left. But the second storm is surely about to begin. Habs desperately need something to stop the tide. 

- DSP with a stupid O zone hold, but Tokarski is actually doing a head stand routine, somehow keeping the Habs one ahead. Panthers running out of time - both this game, and their season. 4 minutes left.

- Hoo boy. Campbell nailed for a hook, with just 2:53 left. Killer penalty. Killer.

- And Galchenyuk nailed for O zone interference. Closed door is opened again. Unbelievable.

- And Jagr with O zone tackle to extinguish the Panthers hopes.

- Well, Dustin freakin' Tokarski. Bravo. Bravo.


- Powerplay continues to be a lost child in the wilderness, with no search and rescue crew dispersed.

- Don't know if it's an age thing, but Gilbert has been pretty bad the past 30 days, which fits with the general pattern of slow decline as the season has worn on. He may find himself the odd man out once the post season begins. 

- Brutal deep zone turnovers are killing this team. This time it's Petry, wearing his Oilers best, serving it up for Barkov. 1-0.

- 4th line production, go figure! Malhotra and Weise doing some nice screen work on Ellis, Emelin with a 55 foot wrister that's not seen or blocked. Tie game. 

- Sweetness, Prust to De la Rose, and 2-1.  But on a 2-on-0 shorthanded? Really? Tsk, tsk, Panthers.

- Florida, for whatever reason, tightened up like crazy after the clunky Barkov goal, leading to numerous unforced errors, and two goals for the Habs. Game hasn't been very logical so far.

- Prust loses his mark, and Pirri with a ridiculous snap shot that must have clocked near 90 MPH on the radar, ties the game. Can't blame Tokarski. It was an incredible shot that probably nobody could have saved.

- Great, great work by Eller to win the puck behind Eller and feed Subban who beats a somewhat surprised Ellis. 3-2. Subban the goal but that was 90% Lars.

- Habs slowly seem to be getting their act in gear, at least offensively. Defensively, this team is getting a little untidy, with forwards frequenly losing their marks. In any case, times are definately desperate for the Panthers - a loss tonight will be a killer blow for their post season hopes. So except them to come out hard for the final 20.


- Cred to Ellis, here's a guy that was buried nowhere a month ago, and he's managed to come in and keep Florida's faint hopes alive.

- Malhotra, Prust and Weise. A most agreeable 4th line.

- Five minutes in, we are not watching Class A hockey. I don't know if I can withstand 55 more minutes of this.

- Panthers so far with a better neutral zone trap, which is helping them generate more shots. Gerard Gallant doesn't get nearly enough credit for how well he prepares this team for each opponent.

- Habs first good scoring chance comes 12 minutes in, excellent save by Ellis on Gallagher. On St. Patrick's day, no less.

- After playing a relatively inspired 3rd period last night, which gave me hope that brighter times were ahead, Habs are right back to their mostly listless ways. 

- Jagr hooks Pacioretty on a break, and gets called. Funny how last night a different crew saw no violation on pretty much the same play.

- Shot clock says 13-9 Montreal. I say, no way. Apart from a couple of flurries, Panthers had most of the period under wraps, certainly generating more scoring attempts. Anyway, Florida the hungrier team, which should come as little surprise.


The booze cart is out! And being pulled around the pool. Pina coladas for everyone! 29 degrees was the approximate high here today, under sunny skies. Tomorrow looks to be the same.

Oh yeah, 3-on-3 OT next year, probably. I think? I wasn't really paying attention.

Stay tuned for more updates.


So, over the past eight games, the Habs have won exactly two. I'm not saying it's time to panic, since we knew well in advance that March was a tough month on the schedule, but at this rate, the Canadiens are looking straight down the throat at a big tumble down the Eastern Conference standings. If they don't start winning, and doing it soon, Montreal stands a chance of losing home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs.

So, all this losing means the games, which a little while ago, held relatively little importance, now suddenly start getting significantly crucial. Tonight is no exception - for both teams.

While the Habs hold on to a top seed by their fingernails, the Florida Panthers are trying to claw and scratch their way to the a playoff berth. The Panthers enter tonight's game as they have any other game the past month - in desperate need of wins to narrow the gap between themselves, and the 8th place Bruins. Boston has a 6 point lead, with both clubs left with 13 games in the regular season.

So that all considered, tonight should be interesting. Games in Miami, at least for the past few years, haven't been particularly compelling. The big news in Florida, is of course, the health status of Roberto Luongo, who sustained an injury two weeks ago, isn't quite ready to return to game action. That means journeyman backup Dan Ellis will get the start tonight against either Carey Price or Dustin Tokarski (as of the writing of this post, nothing has been announced by the Habs of who'll start).

A couple of injury notes - Torrey Mitchell is out for at least two weeks with an upper arm injury, while the other recently acquired 4th liner, Brian Flynn, is a question mark for tonight's game.

Puck drops at 7:40 EST.

UPDATE: Tokarski will start, and Manny Malhotra will also get a start tonight, in place of Flynn, who isn't 100%.

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