Monday, 9 March 2015

Game Sixty-Seven: Bolts vs. Habs


- A preposterous point earned tonight. Two points would be an absurdity.


- Tampa with little over 60% possession through two periods. I expected higher.

- Bolts just passing the puck at will, controlling the tempo, having their way in the Habs zone. Their opponent can barely muster up a rush. Almost zero possession in the Tampa zone.

- Palat didn't return to the bench to start the period, apparently he's done for the night.

- Nearly halfway through the 3rd, Habs have registered one shot on Bishop.

- Carey Price with an amazing sprawling save on Callahan. Yet another night where it appears as though he's one of the very few players in red that's bothered showing up to play.

- Eight minutes left. Habs still stuck on one SOG.

- Credit to Tampa, they have every right to be incredibly frustrated right now, but they aren't playing that way.

- Two shots on goal. Two. Shots. On. Goal. Score after 60 minutes: Tampa Bay Lightening 0, Carey Price, 0.


- Well, it took until the five minute mark of the second period, but Habs finally test Bishop, with a little net crashing to boot. Nonetheless, Habs offensive output has been pretty disorganized and clunky, the usual suspect reasons, inabilty to move the puck effectively south-north.

- Therrien now matching Plekanec on Stamkos.

- Half way through the period, Tampa taking over this game, while the Habs are simply hanging on. Bolts are gaining free zone entry reign, while the Habs are just lobbing very low percentage passes forwards hoping for a miracle break. Really awful hockey being played by the home team right now.

- Two swarms around Price on the same shift, Carey somehow keeps the Bolts off the board. Habs with an excellent headless chicken impersonation there not nce, but twice.

- Absolute offensive ineptitude by the home team tonight. Tampa isn't doing anything special, they don't have to because the Habs are insistent on giving the puck away with seemingly every opportunity. 

- Another penalty as a result of being outskated - this time it's a Pacioretty slash. Sigh.

- I suppose the Habs PK has played well, and Carey Price has been his usual great self. But those removed, the game has been dominated by one team from just about every angle.

- Bishop with a ridiculous rebound save on De la Rose. Habs nearly had an astounding 1-0 lead.

- Habs looked terrible and were roundly dominated. A minor miracle that the game is still scoreless through 40 minutes. I don't care how great Price is, no way the Habs will survive if they play another period like the did in the 2nd frame. 


- Aggressive start for the Habs, specifically the forecheck. Putting Tampa off balance. Pleased with that.

- Therrien appears to be favouring De la Rose 4th line to keep Stamkos et al., in check. Not sure I agree with that.

- 8 minutes into the period, Tampa now gaining their legs, Habs struggling to keep pace, in particular the forwards.

- Classic example of being outskated, Desharnais with a poor slash, generating game's first powerplay.

- Nice kill, but marginal hooking call on Gilbert. Officials seem determined to put their stamp of authority on this, which always hurts game quality.

- Twice Plekanec has had a shorthanded two-on-one break with Pacioretty, twice he's completely muffed it up.

- Petry looks in fine form yet again tonight. Utterly baffling how bad the Oilers were defensively, with him on their roster for so many years. 

- DSP with a thundering body on Boyle. Tampa takes great exception to an excellent check. He might not be able to score, but those hits are a valuable offensive asset. Anyway, Boyle looked totally dazed getting back to his bench after absorbing the hit.

- Stamkos slashes Gallagher and gets caught. Oh dear, oh dear. Bishop hasn't really been tested so far, maybe this powerplay will open a door.

- Not one of Plekanec' better periods for either receiving or passing the puck. Lots of good developing plays for the Habs this period have ended with an unforced error by Thomas.

- Weise on the powerplay. AKA the white flag. 

- Even period, Tampa with four more shots mainly because of their powerplays. Habs, for the most part, were pretty tidy in their zone, and the Stamkos line was mostly contained. This game will largely be decide by whomever makes fewer mistakes (and who can most take advantage of errors).


Yay! A game that matters! A showdown for first place! It's coach vs. former-assistant-coach! It's Bishop vs. Price! It's Pacioretty vs. Stamkos! Subban vs. Stralman! NAMESTNIKOV VS. FLYNN. Wait, who?

Yay! A game that matters! A showdown for first place! It's coach vs. former-assistant-coach! It's Bishop vs. Price! It's Pacioretty vs. Stamkos! Subban vs. Stralman! NAMESTNIKOV VS. FLYNN. Wait, who?

Anyway, there's plenty of hype about tonight because, as noted, this marks the first of three games that will feature these two teams before the regular season wraps up. Whomever wins this best-of-three is likely to claim first place in the Atlantic Division, which would likely mean either team would have the luxury of meeting a wildcard opponent in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

So there's a bit on the line this eve, and maybe even a little rivalry starting to develop? Tampa is still steamed and stung over getting swept by the Canadiens last spring, while the Habs aren't particularly enamored with the Bolts in light of a couple of thumpings they've taken from the Tampa earlier this season, by 4-2 and 7-1 scores.

So with that in mind, here's what the Habs will be lining up tonight:

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


- Markov/Subban
- Gilbert/Petry
- Beaulieu/Gonchar

- Carey Price

On the other side of the line, Tampa's big feature is their power line comprised of Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan and Alex Killorn. The formula for Habs success is rather straightforward - contain that line, and their chances of winning increase significantly. It's likely that Michel Therrien, with the luxury of last change, will be matching up Stamkos with the Plekanec line. With Bishop and Price starting, and assuming both first lines are able to keep each other in check, don't be surprised if the red light doesn't flash very many times tonight.

A few minor details - Tampa's J.T. Brown is out, as he's dealing with an upper body injury. The Habs are, as they have been for most of the season, quite healthy, meaning that the scratches are all healthy: P.A. Parenteau, Manny Malhotra and Mike Weaver. For Tampa, it's defenseman Nikita Nesterov.

Puck drops at 7:40 EST.


Oh Guy. Oh Guy. We wonder how things are working out for you out in the middle of western Europe? It's probably been pretty sweet. Switzerland is a lovely, sleepy country. Lots of people go there just to retire. You went there because you weren't able to do what Gerard Gallant has done this year - make the Tampa Bay Lightening a pretty good hockey team.

It's okay, Guy. We'll have you back. Once reality sets in that our current coaching staff are finally deemed woefully unable to maximize the full potential of an otherwise deep roster of players. Heck, the current group of bench managers can't even get average performance out of their lineup. But we've talked about that before. About a kajillion times. You'll be back, Guy. You'll be back.

Speaking of being back (or not), P.A. Parenteau appears to be relegated to non-playing status - perhaps permanently? Habs practice lines this Monday morning:

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

Not even a line three consideration. Nuffin'.

Oh well. Same lineup. Same misuse of players. Same putting centers on the wing. Same putting wings at centre. Same putting 4th liners on the 1st line. Same. Same. Same. Same.

We miss you Guy.

More in a bit.

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