Sunday, 11 October 2015

Game Three: Habs vs. Sens


- Habs expanding possession advantage through 40 minutes, but as I mentioned previously, it's misleading considering how much (futile) powerplay time Montreal enjoyed in the 2nd.

- Tim Peel is awful. That is all.

- Subban does some marvellous work dancing and spinning around in the Sens zone, offloading a shot that Mitchell redeflects past O'Conner. Habs have an insurance lead. That goal - all P.K.

- Not sure if it's happening, but it sure feels like Habs are taking control of this game - Sens are pinching hard at centre, and it's creating a bushelful of 2-on-1 breaks for Montreal.

- Habs have had the great fortune of playing two very undisciplined teams in the span of 24 hours.

- Montreal's powerplay is just trying too hard, looking for some kind of perfection. Setups are far too complex, and low percentage. 95 times out of 100, you're not going to thread through two  long passes through the lanes without somebody from the opposition getting in the way. Whomever is drawing this system up has no idea what they're doing.

- I've lost count. I think Habs man advantage is oh-for-seventy-kajllion tonight. But I might be lowballing that number.

- Three minutes left, Habs firmly in "sit on it" mode. Hope this doesn't burn them.

- Officiating, while widely in favour of Montreal as far as powerplay time tonight, has not been very consistent. Lots of calls missed, especially slashes, and calls made on plays that really weren't penalties. Mitchell just called for interference for checking on opponent who had the puck.

- Condon goes post to post robbing the Sens of a powerplay goal, while simultaneously taking a stick from Subban's hands as he moved across. Remarkable.

- That was Condon's game. Great start, it's little wonder how he won a job with the big team this fall. Habs played a better game tonight than they did against the Bruins last night, but still their powerplay is a complete mess. Once and for all, somebody needs to take control of that unit and set it on a proper path.


- Habs with clear possession advantage in the first period, Ottawa's offence simply doesn't quite have the horses to match Montreal's three line attack.

- This Condon guy is lookin' pretty sharp. Looks like he's been taking some Carey Price lessons.

- O'Conner seems to be settling down a bit. Maybe the jitters were confined to the first period. So far rebound control has been pretty solid in this period.

- Habs man advantage off the Stone crosscheck comes up empty, but had a semblance of competence. Relatively decent puck control in the opposition zone, which is kind of a change.

- Habs powerplay back to the disaster zone, Pageau with a short handed goal.

- And then the Habs can't cash in on 90 second two man advantage. Leaves one speechless.

- I can't understand how this organization could be so bad, for so long, over something so relatively basic as conducting a powerplay. The two man advantage was beyond abysmal. Passing around and around and around only to set up fruitless long range point shots. How long can this go on?

- Not surprisingly, the Sens have a huge boost in momentum from killing (and scoring off) the Habs man advantages. Now Montreal must hold on for dear life.

- Yet another powerplay, and .. well .. you know the rest of the story. It's a running joke now. That's all it deserves to be.

- Habs are going to have a significant edge in 2nd period possession, but it'll be a total facade. Bottom line, the Sens have been the better team this period, the Habs by far the more incompetent team.

- One of the more frustrating period of Habs hockey that I've seen in a long time.


- Nobody seems to care much about this game, as most eyes, especially in Ontario, are on the Blue Jays. Honestly, isn't Toronto tired of cheering on choke?

- Rich multi multi-millionaire gets liver transplant. If only hundreds of thousands were half as fortunate.

- Excellent first shift by the Plekanec lines, cycling the puck well in the Ottawa zone, hemming the Sens in for nearly a minute.

- Beware Hoffman and Stone. Therrien would be wise to do line matching whenever possible to contain those two.

- Excellent transition through the neutral zone by the Habs best line so far this year, the Galchenyuk line. Continued clean, accurate passing will generate plenty of scoring chances tonight.

- Matt O'Conner, who as we mentioned in our preview, is playing is first ever NHL start, and is looking more than a little nervous so far. Couple of long range shots have handcuffed him.

- Beaulieu continues to do a fine job covering the slot, his position in anticipation of the play is rock solid. His partner, Gilbert, has really lost a step this summer - his defence is far more reactionary.

- There's the rookie play - O'Conner doesn't cover his post properly, and Plekanec smartly banks the puck off his skate into the back of the net. 1-0.

- Gilbert, who we mentioned is uber-slow, holds Chaisson who easily skates past him on the wing. Can't see how either Tinordi or Pateryn could be any worse, at a fraction of the payroll price.

- Subban is high sticked by Turris right in front of the official ... and I mean RIGHT DIRECTLY IN FRONT. Tim Peel, in his usual daze, fails to make the obvious call.

- Habs defence again making poor long-bomb passes from their own zone, even with plenty of open ice in from of them. That drives me crazy.

- Plecks again. He's having quite the period. Blocks a Karlsson shot, outskates him down the ice, and slips the puck through O'Conner, who again, probably shouldn't have let that past. 2-0 Habs.

- O'Conner surrenders two nervous goal, while Condon looked cool as a cucumber. Habs had good possession, and sans some silly long passes by the defence, worked the puck nicely through centre ice. That might have been the Habs most complete period played this season.



The Eastern Conference is a funny thing this season. It's mainly comprised of six teams, Washington, Tampa Bay, Montreal, Pittsburgh, and New York (Rangers and Islanders). Each, on its own merits, could be argued to be the best club in the Conference. Aside from those six, the East hasn't got much. It's got dreadful teams (Toronto, Boston, Philly to name a few), and a couple of middling teams that barely qualify as mediocre. What I'm saying here is the east is very top heavy this season. Which means that a couple of not-very-good hockey teams are going to win wildcard spots.

The Senators might be one of those not-very-good hockey teams that sneak into the post season. Ottawa, as you might recall, made a ridiculous run from oblivion last winter, coming from down 740 points in the standings to sneak their way into the post-season (at the expense of the Bruins), only to be ousted in the first round with relatively little ease by the Habs, which ain't saying much.

Point is, the Sens are not a team that can realistically win 22 out of 30 games, which is how they finished 2014-15. They are a team saddled with cap issues, with far too much money tied up in marginal veterans like Chris Neil and Chris Phillips. Having too much cap tied down in the wrong places severly hampered the Sens in their ability to make improvements during the off season. So now Ottawa is now tasked with putting together a decent season with significant question marks surrounding their offense (in particular at wing), and goaltending (in particular Craig Anderson).

But the Sens, at the very least, aren't Toronto-terrible. They've got Mark Stone, who's been a Habs killer, and there's Mike Hoffman, who's been off to a good start in the young season, and of course, there's Erik Karlsson.

In fact, the Sens are just good enough to have made themselves, arguably, the Habs biggest rival at the present. Yes, the anger will always exist between the Canadiens and the Leafs and the Bruins, but it's hard to get the hate on against teams that you know are destined for somewhere near the bottom of the standings. While the Sens didn't have a great off season, it's pretty safe to say they won't be anywhere near the bottom this year - and should be a pretty good bet to earn at least a wild card berth.

Meanwhile in Habsland, it's full steam ahead - the Candiens coming off a (more or less) easy win last night in Boston, and with games coming back-to-back, Mike Condon will earn his very first start against Matt O'Connor, who is also starting his first game for Ottawa. Groovy!!!

Puck drops at 7:10 EST. We're live streaming the game for you to watch while your big screen is playing the Blue Jays game.

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