Saturday, 14 November 2015

Game Eighteen: Avs vs. Habs


- Habs and Avs through 40 minutes. It's one of those nights where you throw everything out the window.

- Tokarski will start the 3rd period. Condon can only hope that tonight was an aberration. His save percentage tonight was .636. Ouch.

- Therrien would be a fool to not give him another start next to Galchenyuk next game. This line has had excellent chemistry tonight, more so than any game where Smith-Pelly, Flynn or Byron was on the line.

- Methinks frustration is beginning to settle in with Pacioretty. He's gone from sniping to just hammering the puck at the net. Besides empty netters, it's been a while for patches.

- Berra with a A+ performance tonight. The Habs have fired more than a few howitzers at him during the evening, but he's been there every time - excellent, fearless positioning, and very good rebound control. Frustrating to play against.

- Duchene on the powerplay. Tokarski gives up the rebound(s), puck is roofed. 5-1. As write-off a night of hockey as you'll ever witness.  

- Attempts tonight are ridiculously one-sided. Might even up a bit now that we've entered the garbage phase of this game, but there's no way Colorado can expect to win many games this season if they continue to follow this formula. 

- Garbage time, garbage goals. 6-1. Tokarski just hung out to dry. Nobody is really bothering at this point. Just get the rest of the period over with.

- Well, what can you say? Awful game, at least as far as the scoreboard and goaltending was concerned (from the Habs perspective). But there was a lot of good in the game - Habs had resounding puck possession and zone pressure, the Galchenyuk line, even sans a point, looked revitalized with Semin back in the lineup. Habs just need to forget about tonight, and look forward to the future - possible with Carey Price back at the controls. 


- I don't think the formula is very complex. Habs need to keep doing what they're doing. Berra is human, and hopefully whomever is in net for the Habs can actually stop the puck.

- Habs come out strong again, but just can't seem to find the right combination to solve Berra. Still think something eventually has to give here.

- Habs continue to apply tremendous zone pressure on the Avs, who are being badly outskated. Just waiting for the shoe to drop.

- Finally! Plekanec to Gallagher who banks in a rebound. Habs are finally on the board and back in this game.

- Momentum continues to heavily favour Montreal, Galchenyuk line really impressing tonight. And now the Canadiens get another powerplay opportunity. Could close to within one.

- Annnnnnnnnd .... wow. Habs swarming on the powerplay, Avs come out on a 2-on-2, and Comeau beats Condon on the wing. A terrible goal. Condon having a nightmare of a night.

- One of those nights. Can't really say anything different than I already said before about the first. The Habs totally domiating at both ends of the ice except in one critical area - goaltending. The Avs with Berra have been terrific, the Habs with Condon have been awful. Montreal with nearly 70% possession through 40 minutes, but it don't matter a wink if your goaltender has trouble handling beach balls.


- Here's the Avs lines for tonight:

1: Grigorenko/MacKinnon/Duchene
2: Comeau/Soderberg/Iginla
3: McLeod/Mitchell/Martisen
3: Everberg/Street/Skille


- Roy goes with Reto Berra, for whatever reason.

- If first three minutes is any indicator, this Avs defence is ... uh ... not good. Ooodles of open space in the slot.

- Grigorenko opens the scoring off s bit of a softy. Desharnais loses deep zone draw and the entire line has a total defensive meltdown checking their man. Yet another example of why this line is easily the weakest on this team in their own zone. 1-0.

- Habs first powerplay doesn't show much, but Avs defence continues to play pretty passively with their slot. Seems like the ideal scenario for Pacioretty to snipe a couple of goals tonight.

- Avs might have the only goal, but the Habs are skating circles around them in the period. I cannot imagine how Denver stays ahead for much longer.

- I can't ... wow. Avs score two more, the first off a crazy puck bounce off a draw, second off a weak backhander that beats Condon. Totally stunned. Habs were in full control, but somehow now trail 3-0. 

- So the Habs outshot their opponent 17-8, and trail .... unbelievably ... trail 3-0. Berra was excellent, Condon came completely unravelled. I guess that sums it up?

The upside? There are two periods left to bail this out. Will Tokarski start the 2nd? It's not out of the question.


We'll keep this short, simple and to the point. The Colorado Avalanche are a terrible hockey team. They have an even worse coaching staff, headed by one Patrick Roy.

The Avs, at least on paper, aren't a terrible group. They have star centre Nathan Mackinnon, the young sniper Gabriel Landeskog, possible future trade bait Matt Duchene, the dependable Tyson Barrie - heck, we can even count in old-man Jerome Iginla. The Avs are by no means, full to the rafters with talent, but they've got a fairly decent base.

The way in how the Avs play, however, is dreadful.

Heading into the night, Colorado has, by far, the worst possession numbers in the entire League. A 5v5 Corsi percentage of 43. A 26th ranked 5v5 Fenwick percentage of just 46. Their inability to maintain simple puck possession has resulted in a 16th rated offence, and a 26th rated defence. These are bad numbers.

It's not as though this is some kind of seasonal aberration. The Avs were just as terrible last year, when they finished the season with a 5v5 Corsi percentage of 43.1%, which (somehow) led to modest offensive production (10th rated offence), but still poor defensive figures (22nd rated).

So one year on, with a roster of more seasoned young guns, the Avs are actually receding. There's only one way that happens - by playing a poorly organized game. There's only one main reason for playing a poorly organized game - coaching.

Surely, by now, the higher-ups in the Avs organization have recognized the problem. The big question is, when (or even if) will they take action by dismissing Roy? Speculation has been swirling this week that a firing might be coming as soon as next week, although the Avs win last night against the equally hopeless Bruins might have kept the flames away for a few more days.

Anyway, tonight the Avs, on less than 24 hours rest, face the daunting task of visiting the Bell Centre to take on the League's best team. The Canadiens have a significant lineup adjustment tonight, with Paul Byron getting scratched in favour of Alexander Semin, who will get a big chance to prove his wares. I've been a pretty big advocate for Alex since he was removed from the lineup last month - and hopefully, just hopefully, he plays a game that meets the expectations of his coach.

Puck drops tonight at around 7:10 EST. There will be a moment of silence before the game in recognition of the events overseas. Semyon Varlamov starts for the Avs, Mike Condon for the Habs.

Game Nineteen:

Hey guys, it's kind of a crappy day in the world, with everything that's been going on the past 24 hours or so. Going to lay low a little bit, will put up a blurb about tonight's game later Saturday afternoon. Probably something about how terrible Patrick Roy is as a head coach. In the meantime, please enjoy this picture of Mr. Roy listening to his General Manager about his employment future.


- Looks like Alex Semin will return to the Habs lineup tonight, as Paul Byron is a no-go. So the whole "Semin is done in Montreal", as reported by Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette is ... well, why does the Gazette still employ Mr. Hickey?

- Alexei Emelin is a "?" for tonight. Will this give Jarad Tinordi a start?

- Who'll lose his coaching job first? Claude Julien, or Patrick Roy? Either is fine for me.

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