Friday, 24 April 2015

Game Five - EC Quarter Final: Sens vs. Habs


- Hope? Gilbert a wrister, superbly screened by Weise. Habs need to feed off of this and score again quickly. One more, and we've got an interesting finish in store.

Terrible, no, horrible pass by Gallagher creates Sens break. Game saved by Eller via an incredible backcheck. How Lars continues to be mired on the 3rd line baffles me.

- Habs 0-3 on the man advantage. We wrung our hands during the regular season about how this team was totally unable to get the pp unit on track, and lo and behold, it's now killing them in the post season. Just desserts - but we can't say this team wasn't warned.

- Markov with mind-numbing turnover, lights out. That's another one by Andrei in this series. So game six, it is.


- Changes? I'd move DSP (bury him, actually) on the third line, promote Eller to centre Pacioretty, bump Desharnais to the wing, slide Emelin down to 3rd line D, limiting his playing time, and make Plekanec/Gallagher/Galchenyuk the default 1st powerplay unit always. Because Therrien is insisting on putting out Desharnais as the first unit (and producing nothing), it means the better playing line - the Plekanec line, isn't receiving the benefit of having Subban and Markov on the point. This team can't afford to mess around anymore. Get the best playing forwards out there to produce goals before this game is totally forgone.

- So Therrein has Pacioretty with Plekanec, which is mild progress, I guess. DSP has now become Eller's ordeal. Poor Lars.

- Halfway through the period, Habs are generating some serious zone pressure, but still can't quite drive one through Anderson. The goal needs to be dirty, greasy, garbage - something. Anything.

- I don't like to promote rough play, but Habs need to do something to get under Ottawa's skin. They did it via Stone, need to distract Anderson - somehow.

- That said, Habs have totally dominated the Sens this period since the seven minute mark. So you know what's going to happen next ...

- ... and there it is. Karlsson. 3-0.

- Well, what to say? Habs have generated more scoring chances, more shot attempts, but none of them really potent - a good deal from short range, but right at Anderson. Meanwhile, feeds to the slot are eluding Habs forwards, in part because the Sens are playing well circling the wagons around Anderson, in part because certain Habs forwards simply aren't following through. At this point, we'd might as well start thinking about Sunday, which means lineup changes. I cannot fathom how Therrien can go yet another game with Parenteau out of the lineup, and Smith-Pelly in. I'm also frustrated by his continued willingness to overlook Desharnais' poor play, while short-shifting Eller. Hopefully Michel will see the light, hopefully Beaulieu will return soon, hopefully Emelin gets benched, hopefully those who are obviously underperforming will be sent a message that their efforts are not acceptable. No excuses. Surely this team knows what that's about - right?


- Good omen? Mitchell with scoring chance right off the game bat.

- Here comes the Habs powerplay!!

- Sigh. Starting powerplay line continues to be Desharnais. Lessons still not being learned. The only modification I see is Habs are getting defense more involved pinching in from the line. Didn't pan out.

- Takes nearly half a period for Ottawa to register a shot. Habs need to convert soon, before the inevitable letdown that occurs when you dominate zone play but fail to crack the sheet.

- Habs dominate, Sens scores off a 55 foot wrister by Ryan that somehow gets past Ryan. That's the danger of dominating early but not scoring first. Air totally leaves the building, and possibly the Habs mo'.

- Yup. Air removed from Habs early period effort. Sens have found another gear and are now generating organized zone entries and quality shots on Price. This game could get ugly, fast.

- Attention Habs offence. Point perimeter shots with no driving traffic will never, ever, ever, ever beat Anderson. Ever.

- Mitchell's very early backhander remains best scoring chance on Anderson. Habs have been very tame, with simple long distance and unscreened shots.

- And the Sens do it again. Traffic in front totally screening Price. Gilbert and Pateryn can't clear the crease, Weircioch a simple shot top corner and its 2-0. It's a funeral in the Bell Centre.

- Well, that was bad. Habs came firing out of the gate, but were burned by the same things which hampered them in game 4 - inability to convert the powerplay, or at all, period. The Habs seemed to be on track the first 8 minutes pushing the Sens crease, but after Ottawa opened the scoring, Montreal went into full revert mode. Meanwhile, the weakest link on the Canadiens' defense hurts them again - Emelin with an unnecessary screen on Price for the first Ottawa goal, and Pateryn and Gilbert, who have struggled playing together, were pushovers for Ottawa's second goal, leaving Price totally screened. It's bad hockey all around, and unless something dramatic happens, we're headed back down the highway for a 6th game. Oy.


So let's put down a few observations heading into tonight's game:

- Alexei Emelin. Has anyone else been taking note just how awful he's been in this series? If it wasn't for his partners constantly covering up for Emelin's poor position, slow play anticipation, and terrible crease clearing efforts, the Sens might just as easily be up 3-1. Yeah, I know I know - Beaulieu's injury has impacted on defensive options, but you still can't convince me that a Subban/Markov, Gilbert/Petry, Gonchar/Pateryn six isn't an improvement than the hot mess Emelin brings to the ice each and every game. Enough, please. No more Alexei.

- DSP. We've been beefing about him forever, well, at least since his acquisition, but were willing to let it all slide during the regular season because, as it was explained to us when the trade as made, Smith-Pelly was obtained for what he'd bring to the playoffs. Well, we're now four games in, and aside from a couple of decent bodychecks, I think it's safe to say that DSP has and is bringin' nothing to the table. He was supposed going to bolster the powerplay (it's as awful now as ever), he was supposed to crash the opposition crease (has anyone seen him make a b-line toward anything resembling a hockey net yet?), and he was supposed to score a few goals (one so far in the regular season. ONE. That's it).

Michel Therrien had been using DSP on the first line powerplay the first three games, resulting in NOTHING. He tried to shuffle in Dale Weise on Wednesday night, which of course, produced nothing, and then gave DSP ONE MORE CHANCE early in the second, which resulted in ... you guessed it. Nothing. From that point on, Smith-Pelly got four shifts. REJOICE! He's in the doghouse! Welcome back P.A. Parenteau! YAY!

Guess what? Same lineup tonight. DSP in. Parenteau ... out.

- Forth line. I know Michel likes to play his gut, but putting Lars Eller out there with Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn, late in the freeeeking 3rd period, was a genuinely baffling shakeup. Eller, who's been working his butt off this series, but seems to only be rewarded by carrying wingers who aren't putting in their full effort, continues to be totally misused. Here's a thought. Why not take David Desharnais, who like DSP, has had a nothing series, stick him on the third line, and give Eller a chance to get guys like Max Pacioretty to start producing.

Is it too much to ask?

- Goaltending. Lots of praise went out to Craig Anderson for getting the shutout on Wednesday, but seriously folks, that was one of the easiest blanks any goaltender is going to receive. On the other end of the ice, Carey Price was, as usual, excellent, going above the call of duty to bail out some pretty incompetent slot coverage, particularly by Emelin. The face of the matter is, if the Habs can simply put three pucks behind Anderson over 60 regular minutes, this series will be over.

Puck drops at 7:10 EST.

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