Saturday, 21 March 2015

Game Seventy-Three: Sharks vs. Habs


- Gilbert is done for the night after taking a puck in the face at the end of the 2nd. With Emelin in the lineup, expect to see a lot of double shifting of Subban/Markov.

- Sharks loading up their first line, now clearly desperate to find some way, any way, of scoring a goal. They're running out of time 13 minutes left.

- It's mystifying why Subban isn't part of the regular conversation about Norris candidates. Another solid, brilliantly efficient night for P.K.

- Sigh. DSP with a dumb, dumb slash that puts the Sharks on the powerplay. It's uncanny how goals are so frequently scored off stupid penalties. We'll see soon if that happens again.

- Survived. Sharks in pure desperation mode. Could be some odd man Habs breaks coming our way very soon.

- Carey freakin' Price. Incredible.

- That save by Price on Couture was simply incredible. One of the best of the NHL season.

- Gallagher, icing.

- Carey Price. 40th win. 9th shutout. He's playing in another universe. He's playing beyond the NHL. One of the greatest seasons by a goaltender in hockey history. Enjoy it, every precious second. We may never live to see this again.


- There's something to be said about the Habs playing Price only half of the remaining schedule, as he's blindside bowled over by Couture. No Price, Habs might as well not bother showing up for their first round opponent.

- Gilbert looks incredibly uncomfortable playing on the wrong wing. Really makes no sense inserting his next to Emelin just for the sake of Emelin.

- Price on the first PK, spectacular. Sharks appear resigned to trying to set up a perfect play if only to get a goal.

- DSP having one of his better starts in a Habs uniform. His hits seem a little more targeted, rather then his past few games where he was just hitting whatever was in his sight line.

- I've given up figuring out Habs lines tonight. I think there have been 20-something combinations used so far.

- Sharks are a mess handling the puck right now. A consistent forecheck ought produce somepretty choice scoring opportunities.

- Another solid period, Habs much faster, more energized, the Sharks have been disorganized, especially in their own zone. San Jose on just the 2nd game of their brutal 7 game road trip, but they already look weary.


- Headshot on Malhotra, nothing penalized as the contact was incidental, he's in the room being reviewed for concussion.

- Sharks rolling four lines in order.

- Galchenyuk whiffs at an open net, but he's got a spring in his ordinarily fast step. Keep an eye on 27. 

- Therrien's working the blender early with his line combos. Hardly a shift so far with the actual starting lines.

- Galchenyuk is having a monster period. Everything but the goal so far. One crossbar already in his basket.

- Great end to end action so far, 4 on 4 had a basketful of chances, both goaltenders have been excellent. Habs certainly with a lot more zip than we're accustomed to. 

- Habs score? Against San Jose? Yup. Nice breakout from their zone creates a 4 on 2. Galchenyuk quarterbacking the puck with a nice backhand feed to Plekanec for an open netter. Montreal's transition really on the mark this period.

- Impressive first period. Habs did the stuff you come to expect from a first place team, getting clean zone exits, carrying the puck over the line, agressively pursuing the Sharks goal, and capitalizing on a chance. Price, as usual, so so very good. 


The Habs roll out the red carpet to play against yet another team in desperate need of a victory to keep their post-season hopes alive, tonight it's the San Jose Sharks.

The Sharks are yet another club in a string of win-hungry opponents the Habs have had to deal with. On Thursday, the Habs beat the Florida Panthers, who are trying to catch the Bruins for 8th place. Last week, the Canadiens had to deal with the Ottawa Senators (losing), and next week, they'll hit the road to visit fantabulous Winnipeg.

You know the problem with playing teams like this. They're kinda hard to beat. When you're the Habs, a defeat only means a blow to finishing in the Conference top three. For the Sharks, a loss means a probable early end to the year, the dismissal of the coach, the firing of the general manager, the firesale burning of the roster.

San Jose enters tonight's game five points out of a wild card spot, currently held by Calgary, and four points away from the L.A. Kings. So the margin for error, with about 10 games left, really doesn't exist for the Sharks, who haven't missed making the playoffs since 2003.

The Sharks feature two big lines (literally) comprised of Joe Thornton (at centre) along with Joe Pavelski and Melker Karlsson, while their second line is Logan Couture (at centre) with Matt Nieto and Tommy Wingels on the wing. The Habs defense will need to contain those forwards if they hope to finally eek out a win against the Sharks.

For Montreal, simply scoring a goal on San Jose could be considered an accomplishment, since that normally straighforward objective hasn't been done since 2011. Yup. It's been that long since the Habs have scored on the Sharks. Tonight, that ends, because it's absurd and it's eventually gotta end.

The Canadiens lineup, at least its forwards, are exactly the same tonight as they were on Thursday against Carolina. There are some changes on defense, with Nathan Beaulieu getting a seat tonight to make way for Alekei Emelin and Greg Pateryn (the later who's looked pretty impressive since being called up last week).

Netminders are predictable. It's Antti Niemi for San Jose, and of course, Carey Price for the Habs.

Puck drops at 7:15 EST.

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