Saturday, 14 March 2015

Game Sixty-Nine: Habs vs. Islanders


- Parenteau has needed some time to find game legs, and he's gradually improving with each period played. Seems to be meshing well next to Plekanec.

- Habs powerplay looked so good in the second, now firmly pinned to perimitor and unable to get anything meaningful on goal.

- De la Rose high sticked right in front of the official. Comes up slowly. No call.

- Pacioretty might be the most dangerous PK forward in the League. He's been awesome on that unit tonight.

- Islanders dominating possession and momentum with 8 minutes left. Habs desperately need that third goal and fast, or this game could flip very quickly.

- First order of business this summer for DSP: lose 10 pounds. Because right now, he's lumbering around the ice more than he is skating.

- Looks like the Habs are just going to try to hang on, instead of working on getting that killer goal. And now Markov has been penalized. Hold on to something, because Montreal once again is doing everything to make this closer than it should be.

- Just when you think Carey Price can no longer amaze you, he goes and amazes you again. Incredible.

- Plekanec can't get it into the empty net, Pacioretty passes the puck into the middle right on the stick of Bailey, and it's 2-1. And here we go again.

- Lars Eller, thank god. Selfless play by Gallagher to feed him after intercepting the puck at the Islanders blue line. Habs survive themselves and manage to get the win. Good to see the struggling players back on the horse again. Parenteau, Plekanec and Eller. Habs will need more of that if they want to keep ahead of Tampa.


- Sweet three way passing play, Galchenyuk showing why he's a natural centre with a perfect pass to the right side right on Plekanec's tape, nothing but empty net. 1-0.

- Hoo boy. The Islanders powerplay. Slow lazy change after the puck is shot into their zone, Eller says thank you very much and feeds Pacioretty in front for his 34th. Terrible goal to surrender. 

- Habs with that 2-0 lead, can they drive home the killer goal?

- Powerplay doesn't produce but looks good as Habs are able to maintain puck control. Progress.

- Carey Price up to his old tricks, making ridiculous saves to maintain the two goal lead. Habs sitting a bit and the Islanders are doing their best to take advantage. 

- De la Rose doing more excellent forechecking. Habs have as a whole, improved in this area in this period.

- Very good period for the Habs, they intensified the forecheck, giving them mastery in the neutral zone, which for the most part, contained the Islanders' oft dangerous rush. Carey Price as usual his Hart self. The bottom line is whether this Habs team can finally locate and deliver the knock-out 3rd goal? 


- Pateryn gets a start, Gonchar sits, and DSP gets a demotion. 

- Tavares doing a nice dive club attempt with Subban and Plekanec following him closely. Officials not buying it.

- Nice work by Galchenyuk along the boards controlling the puck under fierce checking and eventually drawing a powerplay. 

Habs approach to 5v4 is exactly the same as it is 5v5. The braintrust still hasn't figured out why that's a problem.

- Dale Weise with an incredibly stupid board. Gets just two minutes. League may review that blindside hit later.

- Price with more acrobatics to bail out Weise and the PK.

- Subban being very physical, but he's being smart about it. Islanders forwards are making appeals to the officials for penalties, but they're not buying. It's a bit of a New York weakness, their forwards are skilled and dangerous, but soft. 

- Brandon Prust can't score, and really struggles to skate at an NHL level. His fitness has really tailed off compared to earlier this season.

- Islanders defense needs to tidy and tighten up. Too many breaks surrendered this period. They've gotten away with it, so far.

- Habs doing decent job to prevent rebound shots. Not such a great job stopping the Islanders from taking the first shot, however.

- Habs now reverting to long bomb passes to generate offense. That's never a good sign.

- Islanders with the better period, which comes as no surprise. Price excellent, yadda yadda. Habs simply can't compete tonight with dump and chase strategy. They need to gear up their forecheck to create neutral zone turnovers. Otherwise, we're simply watching a game that will invariably swing in favour of New York.


Welp. It's the final ever visit by the Montreal Canadiens to the only home the New York Islanders have ever known - the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The ancient building (by North American standards) is being abandoned by its pro hockey team for the glamor of Brooklyn.

The final year in Uniondale hasn't been the usual disaster for the upstart Islanders. They've been competing for top spot in the Metropolitan Division for most of the season, although their hopes for a top Eastern Conference seed has taken a couple of steps backwards in recent weeks, with New York winning just 2 of their past 7 starts.

Meanwhile in Habsland, it's the same old drama. After squeezing through 4/5ths of the season schedule mainly riding the back on future Hart Trophy winner Carey Price, the Canadiens' overreaching fortunes have come crashing back to earth. After taking an embarrassing thumping at the hands of the Senators at home Thursday night, local reports who are finally questioning coach Michel Therrien's "system" of surrendering the puck as frequently as possible, started asking the coach whether the Habs approach to hockey needs fixing. Well, yes, yes ... yes ... yes, very much, it does need significant fixing ... welcome to the club, boys. We've been waiting for well over a year for you to ask you these questions.

Therrien's response was predictable. To paraphrase, the system is fine and won't be changing. Alright then. Live by the system (riding Carey Price) die by the system (Carey Price being human).

So right back on that horse. The Islanders will be hungry for a win, and if Thursday night is any indicator of what's in store this evening, the Habs aren't particularly interested in two points.

Players to watch for? Well, it kind of starts and ends with John Tavares, he of 72 points in 70 games, including 33 goals which puts him dead even with Max Pacioretty (in goal scoring). Speaking of Max, he's the only player seemingly putting pucks into the net for the Canadiens, which is great if you're Max Pacioretty, but not so great if you're the rest of the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs are offensively starved, and badly need some goal scoring contributions by capable players like Lars Eller, David Desharnais and Devante Smith-Pelly, who's been an underwhelming presence since being acquired from the Anaheim Ducks more than two weeks.

So it's the last visit to Uniondale! Unless, of course, these two teams meet up in the post-season, which is a distinct possibility, if the Habs were (as we expect) to fall down the Eastern standings to a 4th or 5th place finish.

Puck drops at 7:10 EST.

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