Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Game Sixty-Four: Habs vs. Ducks


- Habs just dumping at each and every opportunity. And failing to make successful passes into centre ice. This team hasn't scored in California over the past 9+ periods. No reason to believe right now that won't be 10 in about 15 minutes. 

- Therrein starting to cave at this point, has Galchenyuk with Pacioretty, which is what he should have had all along. Let's see if that pays off.

How many fails in a row is it going to take to see that the shooting in from centre thing isn't working. AT ALL.

- Galchenyuk, bless him, tries to do it all just so the Habs can score ONE goal on this trip. It's an exercise in futility against this bigger than average Ducks defense. But at least he's trying.

Hey notice the faceoff impact since Malhotra was scratched? Yeah. Me neither.

- No sense of urgency with this Habs team. None whatsoever. They more or less packed it in back in the second period.

- Habs manage to get scored on five seconds into a late powerplay. Yup.

- Well. A goal. Galchenyuk. We'll take it. I guess.

- Road trip to disaster. We have two more games to endure. Habs are going to get kicked around tomorrow night in L.A., because nothing is going right. The offense is a mess, and there's no turnaround in site.


- Habs really need to just keep doing what they did, and things should be okay. Whether they'll deliver in that is another matter altogether.

- Seems like forever since the Habs had a powerplay, probably because it's been that long. Finally they have one.

- First 30 seconds, Plekanec line looks great, then Therrien pulls them off for Desharnais. Powerplay takes a due south course. Of course.

- Plecks line sent out for final 20 seconds, but of course, it's too late to salvage anything. Bench management. Sigh.

- Habs continue to pressure Ducks in their zone, and it's given them two powerplays first half of the 2nd.

- That second powerplay all kinds of a mess, Ducks had more of the puck and good scoring chances.

- Oh god. Sekac. No.

- Well, Michel. You wanted him run out of town. So that one is on you. And every other goal he scores that follows.

- Relief. It was Rakell who scored, not Sekac. Woot!! Oh right. Habs are well on their way to losing. I forgot that part.

- Whatever air was in the Habs tire completely hissed out after the Ducks' second goal. Everyone collectively just lost half a step.

- Two periods in the books.  Habs are offensively dysfunctional and snakebit. That makes for a pretty potent combination. This team headed right towards getting shut out. Again.


- Sekac watch. How many is he gonna score tonight?

- Sluggish start for both teams, first qualified shot takes nearly four minutes.

- Beauchemin. Habs couldn't handle the Ducks transition and carry across the blue line. Gosh,I'm wish we could do that.

- Gibson with a few good testing saves, a couple of lucky bounces to keep Habs off the board. Habs forecheck hasn't been half-bad out of the gate. 

- Ducks have not lost a single game this season in regulation by one goal. They thrive off these razor-edge games. Just a reminder there.

- Ducks totally owning the neutral zone, Habs have been rolling out the red carpet, allowing Anaheim to have more than one full speed carry over the blue line. It's already resulted in one goal. It nearly resulted in a second, if not for Price. Not good.

- It's still wayyyyy to early to draw firm conclusions, but DSP has me seriously anxious right now. His rep is supposedly that he's often where the puck is, but I haven't seen much of that so far. Wonder what Bergy is thinking?

- Two-on-one fails. Weise has to do better there finding a lane to receive a pass. Basically Plekanec had no choice but to shoot, and Gibson knew it.

- Eller is just shooting now, even when he shouldn't. You know he's just aching for a goal.

- Not a bad period for the Habs. Really liked their aggressive forecheck, although they were a little too passive at centre ice for my tastes. Gibson came up with a couple of nice saves to reflect a relatively agressive Habs attack. This one, unlike Monday night, is shaping up to be a close final result.


Line 1: Pacioretty/Desharnais/Gallagher
Line 2: Galchenyuk/Plekanec/Weise (oh, God)
Line 3: Eller/De la Rose/DSP
Line 4: Prust/Flynn/Mitchell

Parenteau and Malhotra are healthy scratches. THAT IS ALL.

- So uh, Dale Weise goes from healthy scratch status, to getting a few 3rd line drills, to getting a 2nd line start tonight. Head, meet desk.


This western trip has all the signs pointing towards disaster, doesn't it? A miserable effort in San Jose, where a thumping was roundly applied to the Habs by yet another non-playoff team. The hill only gets steeper tonight, as the Canadiens take the Ducks of Anaheim.

The big question tonight is, what will be the Canadiens' forward lines?? Here's what was running for a good portion of the early afternoon practice:

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

Wowzers. No Dale Weise! A healthy scratch, we all cried out! Well, that was until later in the practice, when Weise was inserted into 3rd line drills, with Parenteau stepping out. 

So who even knows? Weise in? Out? Parenteau in? Out? Youppi in? Out? Michel Therrien has the curse of choices. So many choices. So many combinations. So many possibilities.

Anyway, it's pointless to surmise who'll play with whom, where - when - why - until the warmups are done. In the meantime, let's check over in ducksland and tonight's opponent.

So a couple of weeks ago, the Ducks were in a bit of a funk, losers of three straight, and 4-out-of-5. Their lofty position in the Western Conference wasn't looking so lofty anymore. But that was two weeks ago. Things have changed a tad since then - tonight, Anaheim will be seeking their 4th straight win. Chances are, based on how the Habs played on Monday night - they'll get it.

Still, the fundamental numbers for the Ducks are rather mediocre. While they sit atop the League with 89 points, there are a few red flags to consider:

- 12th rated offense
- 18th rated defense
- 16th rated 5v5
- 21st rated PP
- 14th rated PK
- 16th rated SPG
- 14th rated SAG
- 17th rated "SAT"

You get the point. Anyone looking at that would logically assume that a team putting up those kind of numbers would be fighting for their playoff lives. But, nope. The Ducks lead the League in the only category that matters.

An explanation of this contradiction is mainly one of depth. With a roster that includes Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Sami Vatanen, Ryan Kesler, Jakov Silfverberg ... etc., etc., the Ducks have got an excellent core.

The BIG reason why they're in first place? Their uncanny ability this season to pull out close wins. Of the 41 victories so far this year, 27 were by one goal. Flipside? Of the 17 regulation losses for the Ducks this season, here's how many were by one goal: Zero. That's right. This team has not lost a single game this season by one goal.

In other words, the Ducks specialize in winning close games this year. Actually, they've perfected it.

Therefore, if the Habs want a decent shot at actually winning tonight (hah!), the formula is pretty straightforward. Score first (critical), hold a lead after 20 minutes (very critical), and find a way of getting insurance (imperative).

Carey Price will start tonight for the Habs. Puck drops at 10:10 p.m., EST.

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