Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Game Four: Habs vs. Pens


- Interesting to note that the Habs player with the least amount of ice time through 2 periods? David Desharnais. The -2 probably didn't help.

- Don't think Weise is snakebit this season, it's just that he overacheived last year, and his actual goal producing ability has come back to earth.

- Good, fast, aggressive start for Habs in the 3rd, legs are moving well, Pens are very scrambly in their zone. 

- Could see that goal coming a mile away, the Habs blistering of the Pens eventually results in a centre ice turnover, Desharnais to Fleischmann for his first ever as a Montreal Canadien. 3-2 Habs.

- Maybe reflective of larger issues, Pens defense looking really sluggish in the period - Habs speed is just killing them. Right now Pittsburgh in reactive mode, Canadiens firing at Fleury at pretty much their will. 

- Fully expecting Pacioretty to score the hat trick tonight. 

- Brad Watson with an absolutely atrocious tripping call on Smith-Pelly. He's another Tim Peel in the making. Actually, he's pretty much arrived.

- How can you tell the Pens have already opened the gates? They surrender a 3-on-1 with the man advantage. Their powerplay might actually be worse than Montreal's, which says an awful lot.

- 8 minutes left in the 3rd, Habs are kinda dominating the frame:

- Pens finally find some offensive mo', but Carey Price doing an excellent door impersonation. Habs, for a very rare occasion in this game, looking very shaky in their own zone - borderline panicking.

- Pens really struggling to exit their zone tonight - many, many passing mistakes being made by their defence. The Pittsburgh might need to look at this situation sooner rather than later, because I can't fathom this team competing if tonight is any indication of how good (or bad) their blue line is.

- Four minutes left, Habs appear to be turtling, which always means trouble.

- Carey freakin' Price, absolutely robs Crosby off a cross ice one timer. Habs passivity giving Pens the opportunity here. 

- Pens will play the rest of the remaining 70 seconds (or less) with the Crosby line, Therrien is going with the Plekanec line. Game at hand.

- Man, Pens have really struggled with their transition tonight, and zone entries. Lots of unforced errors.

- Officials very generous in giving the Habs an icing off a puck that barely crossed the line with Pens defensemen dogging it back to his zone. 12 seconds left, faceoff deep next to Price.

- Crucial faceoff won by Plekanec, Habs clear and win the game. This organization has never gone a season starting 4-0, without eventually winning a championship.


- Ah, here's Plotkinov, taking full advantage of a break, with Beaulieu's point shot hitting Weise in from, and Plotkinov skates the length, beating Price stick side (weak-ish goal by Price's standards, I suppose). Tie game.

- Habs powerplay. Get ready to hold onto nothing.

- Wow. They convert. By doing what they really shouldn't be doing - killing the clock with perimeter passing. This time, however, Pacioretty snipes one past Fleury for his 2nd of the game.

- Pens just dominating neutral zone play in the period, Habs way too passive there, and it's making this period totally dominative for the Pens with puck possession.

- Crosby line being very well contained - combination of Habs 4th line, and the Plekanec line really doing an excellent job shutting down the passing lanes. Kessel one quality shot (and excellent Price save), but that's been about it. 

- That said, Habs defense, especially Beaulieu-Gilbert, extremely soft covering their slot. Pens forwards have had a couple of opportunities where their forwards have been provided the red carpet treatment right to Price. That's going to kill the Habs tonight if it isn't addressed pronto.

- Bounces have so far been strongly with the Pens, Letang with a fluttering shot that somehow evades Price. Knuckler I guess, but it's still disheartening.

- Habs with an excellent first period, and a slightly-better-than-stinker second, where they basically allowed the Pens to take their game to them at will. Puck possession was horrid, zone transitions were uneven. Really, there wasn't a whole lot to cheer about that period, except for Pacioretty's powerplay goal. One more period like that, and the Habs will be due their first loss of the season.


- Hey, this is kind of cool, in a not very cool way. Combined, both teams are going into tonight's game with a powerplay running 1/21, or about 4%.  Wonderful!!

- Habs get Brad Watson tonight. Here's hoping Mr. Watson keeps his mouth shut tonight. 

- Habs defence really struggling with Pens zone entries, allowing too much free wheeling passes and it's giving their most dangerous forwards quality chances on Price.

- Nice feed by Gallagher to Paciotetty with a one timer from the line. Fleury was playing way too deep in his crease. 1-0.

- Brad Watson penalizing Desharnais for accidentally bumping into another guy. 

- Desharnais with a nice backcheck to break up a 3-on-2, but the Habs forwards will need to be more aggressive both directions or the Pens will score more than a few tonight.

- Looking more and more this game will be decided by whomever has the better goaltending. You know who that favours.

- Gilbert with sloppy passing out of his zone. Not for the first time this season.

- Very good period for the Habs. Pens came out string, but Canadiens made necessary adjustments to mostly contain Pittsburgh's transition. Especially strong period by the Habs 4th line, which did a nice job mostly containing the Crosby line. Pens have their hands full tonight.


Is there anyone more awesome in the NHL than Phil Kessel? I mean ... LOOK at him. Look at THAT. If you didn't follow the game of hockey, or didn't know who he was, you'd swear he was that guy you contracted out a few years ago to reshingle your roof.

But no. Phil Kessel is an actual, genuine National Hockey League athlete. Actually a pretty good one, at that. But not good enough, it seemed, for the fans, and in particular the awful media people ([cough] Steve [cough] Simmons) who troll it.

So Kessel, one of the few players in the game who's a pretty sure bet to score 40+ goals on a good team (and 30+ on a bad), was shoved out of Toronto to Pittsburgh, for a few measly returns: "Addition by subtraction!" the media trolls cheered in victory.

Okay, Leafs. Whatever you want. Enjoy last place for the next couple of seasons while you struggle to score 200 lousy goals in an entire season.

The Pens won't be having any problems lighting up the score clock - now with Kessel now settled in nicely next to Sidney Crosby and Crhis Kunitz. Not only did they add Kessel to the roster this summer, they also bolstered their goal-scoring prowess by picking up Sergei Plotnikov.

However, even with all those moves designed although their aspirations for their first championship in eight years might be hampered by what certainly looks like a suspect defense.

The Pens' blue line is anchored by Kris Letang and Ian Cole, which is all fine. Beyond that, however, Pittsburgh's defense is largely comprised of pluggers, including the likes of the oft' injured Olli Maatta, and the wildly overpaid third-stringer Rob Scuderi. The Penguins defensive strategy doesn't appear much different than the one embraced by Michel Therrien and his Canadiens: Let Carey Price do most of the work. Except Andrei Marc Fluery, and let's be totally honest here - is no Carey Price.

So this Pens team is certainly intriguing, but I fear that Pens G.M. Jim Rutherford spent too much time focused on strengthening his offense, at the expense of adding some necessary blue line depth. The team he's constructed is a virtual shoo-in for a playoff spot, but I'm not so sure that in a League where defense wins championships, that the Penguins will acheive their ultimate goal of winning another Stanley Cup next spring.

So tonight, the undefeated Habs will get their first legitimate test of the young season, as they will take on the Pens for Pittsburgh's 2015-16 home opener. The Habs will be going with the same lines tonight as they had the first three games, with Carey Price starting in goal.

Puck drops around 7:20 EST, and we'll be live blogging and live streaming the game.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are welcome, even anonymously. All I ask is that you behave, and in support of good taste, avoid the use of course language, or express opinions that are just plain silly (racist, sexist, etc.)