Monday, 30 March 2015

Game Seventy-Seven: Bolts vs Habs


- Well, there's a break. Petry wrister redeflects off a defender and hits the top corner. 3-2 on the benefit of some serious puck luck.

- Emelin has been just horrible tonight, poor Petry has been left on more than one occasion, totally left hung out to dry because of Emelin's inability to simply retreat to his own zone. 

- Habs finally finding some offensive footing, Galcheyuk with a near highlight goal. Habs with good zone pressure in the period. Looking dangerous actually.

- Habs were playing like an express train and thn Pateryn with a bad play, Namestnikov makes it a two goal game again. Price playing like a human being tonight, and as a result, Habs have no real chance.

- Emelin relegated to third D line. Wow. Somebody noticed.

- 6 minutes left, Habs looking more resigned to defeat.

- Man, Lightning hace done a fantastic job blocking shots tonight. In serious playoff form. Hate to face this team in the first round. Or the second. Or the third. 

- Last gasp powerplay for Habs coming up. Where there's hope ...

- P.K. With a bullet. There's hope. 

- Gallager. All goalpost. Ugh.

- Plekanec goes 0-for-3 in the circle, the last loss results in empty netter. Habs made a great push, hit a post, but couldn't draw even. Deserved result tonight, as the Canadiens only seemed to come to play the final 20 minutes. That's not nearly enough against a team as good as Tampa. The Habs will need big help not to finish in the 3rd Conference spot.


- So would it kill Therrien to make a couple of adjustments? Could he not promote Eller up a line or two, and downshift the woefully underperforming Desharnais? I mean .. would it kill him to just try?

- Habs with a horrible line change, with the Stamkos line on the ice. That's just beyond dumb. Stamkos, not suprisingly, takes full advantage carrying the zone, and feeding Namestnikov who goes in all alone on Price. 1-0. Habs made the same exact mistake Saturday night against the Panthers and the Barkov line. It's not rocket science. You don't do a full line change when the opposing team has their most dangerous line on the ice.

- Oh man, Dale Weise. Gets called for a slash, and mouths off to the ref. The slash was a mild clip on Bishop, but yapping an obscenity to an official won't change his mind. Still, terrible original call by the referee. Tampa can bury the Habs right here.

- Pacioertty shorthanded! Number 37. Bishop looked stunned. It's as though he wasn't even set for the shot. Tie game. What a turn of events.

- What in the heavens ... Habs surrender *another* breakaway goal, with Markov somewhere up ice (?), and Subban and Eller taking a siesta, Drouin takes a sweet feed from Stralman, and makes an even sweeter move on Price. Weise's lack of composure hurts his team. Will Therrien show him the bench?

- 10 minutes left, Habs mostly scrambling in their zone, as Tampa is outhitting and outskating them for the puck. It's very bad news for realistic hopes of staying in this game. The Lightning have owned just about every minute of this game. 

- Not even a contest right now. Almost all the action is now contained to the Habs zone. Tampa just firing picks at Price from virtually every angle. The rest of his teammates are flip flopping around. Some fans rightfully starting to boo the dismal effort.

- J.T. Brown with a breakaway. Petry to wide off to adjust, and Emelin is (for real) doing pirouettes. Habs performance this period has been so bad it's safe to say I'm laughing rather than crying.

- Dale Weise hasn't had a shift since taking an unsportsmanlike. No excuses, indeed.

- It was inevitable. Markov with a weak clearance attempt up the boards, Pavlat easily picks up the puck, feeds to Namestnikov, to Kucherov, 3-1. You surrender nearly 20 shots in a period, you lose. It's simple.

- Habs got throughly thumped in the period. Outshot 18-6, 31-13 through 40 minutes, three clear breakaways surrendered, it's been a wretched evening. Habs are going to finish the season oh-for-five against Tampa for a couple of reasons. The Lightning are a more talented, better coached hockey team. They'd probably sweep the Habs in the playoffs.


- So the Petry/Beaulieu pairing ain't happening. The practice lines this morning were all a facade. Sigh.

 Killorn-Filppula-Stamkos. Last game, those three were mostly contained. Tonight, the same needs to ,happen, or the Habs won't stand much of a chance. 

- Pretty good start for the Habs, zone entries are pretty clean. But Tampa, an offense-first team, tends to surrender those.

- Well, there goes the good start. Tampa's taken over the game 6 minutes into the period, and the Habs, on their heels, are drawing penalties. First Mitchell with a hook courtesy being outskated, now De la Rose with a trip.

- Petry gets nailed for a pretty iffy trip. Yeah, the stick was down around the feet, but there was clear embellishment. Wish the officials would call these more often, especially the flagrant dives.

- Habs PK bailing them out of the period, Price as per usual having to make better than average saves to keep Tampa off the board.

- Shots are 13-3. Just another night, another first period for the Canadiens.

- Powerplay for Montreal. Not bad, again zone transition was sloppy, but once they managed to set up, some quality chances were generated on Bishop. Nonetheless, the dump and chase PP routine hasn't worked for the past 5 months, and it's not about to start working the next 2. 

- Strong period for Lars Eller and of course, Carey Price. Otherwise, unimpressive period by the Habs. Tampa doesn't really have Montreal's number, they're just a better organized team.


Oooh. A game that matters. We haven't really had one of those for a while. Well how does "winner probably puts themselves in a good position to maybe win the President's Trophy" strike you? Yeah. I know. Feel the excitiment.

So we've arrived. Tonight the Habs will host the Tampa Bay Lightening, with not only first place in the Atlantic Division on the line, but a plum opportunity for tonight's victor to take a big step towards winning first place in the National Hockey League, an achievement that means totally nothing. Except for bragging rights. And maybe a free dinner for the players at The Keg? I have no idea.

All attempts at humor aside, this is a pretty important game, with the Habs attempting to nail down a high placement in the Conference. Realistically, the Canadiens won't finish any worse than a number 3 seed, but would, of course, desire the number 1 or 2 placement. In order to arrive there, however, Montreal will have to win these showdown games, and tonight, they're facing a team that's given them fits this season.

The Habs, if you hadn't been keeping track, are 0-3-1 against Tampa Bay this year, losing all games by a combined score of 16-4. Yeeesh.

In their final showdown for the regular season, matters are slightly different as Tampa finds itself battling the injury bug. The Bolts will be absent starting defensemen Andrej Suster and Jason Garrison. Adding to their woes, Tampa will also be missing starting centres Tyler Johnson and Cedrick Paquette, although the later will be a game-time decision.

Over on the Habs side, Michel Therrien will be going with the same lineup as Saturday night, with a couple of adjustments to the first line, and second defensive pairings, which, mercifully and finally, have Jeff Petry with Nathan Beaulieu.

Line 1: Pacioretty/Desharnais/Parenteau
Line 2: Galchenyuk/Plekanec/Gallagher
Line 3: De la Rose/Eller/Flynn
Line 4: Prust/Mitchell/Weise


Carey Price.

Tampa will go with, as expected, Ben Bishop in goal.

Keys for the Habs finally beating Tampa tonight? Scoring goals. That's about it. Montreal has managed only 4 in 4 games, so it doesn't take a math wizard to figure out your chances of victory are pretty limited if your GPG average against an opponent is 1.00. The Habs have a some hopes tonight, with Alex Galchenyuk hopefully out of his recent scoring funk, Brendan Gallagher producing well, Lars Eller playing some of his best hockey this season, and Tampa dealing with some pretty critical defensive injuries.

Puck drops at 7:40 EST.

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