Friday, 27 November 2015

Game Twenty-Four: Habs vs. Devils


- Habs and Devils through 60 minutes:

- Schneider holding his team in this overtime. Where's Galchenyuk??

- Brad Watson with an awfully soft holding call on Andrighetto. In overtime. Hoo boy.

- Petry with brilliant work on the PK, Plekanec sprung loose and draws a hook. Habs back on even terms and might pull this one out yet.

- One OT shift for Galchenyuk. That's crazy.

- Galchenyuk on. Watch him.

- Schneider robs Pacioretty with only seconds left. Full credit. Fantastic save.

- Shootout. Habs need a miracle here. Can't see Condon beating Schneider at this.

- Condon just doesn't move enough on these. Gets fooled badly.

- Condon makes second save, and pumps his arm as though the game was won. Not yet, Condibear. Not yet.

- Andrighetto!!!! On his first ever NHL shootout attempt. Wowzers.

- CONDIBEAR!! Howz about that. Habs win.


- Habs and Devils 5v5 through 40 minutes:

- Canadiens 4th line really not doing much of a job creating energy during their shifts throughout the night. Torrey Mitchell probably didn't/doesn't get enough credit.

- Pretty flagrant high stick to Desharnais's face, somehow not called by the officials, one of whom is Brad Watson. So ... yeah.

- Habs struggling to find a spark as this 3rd period progresses, but for whatever reason, Therrien seems to be leaning on the Plekanec line instead of the line that's actually bringing energy tonight - the Galchenyuk line.

- Anyway, Habs powerplay here. Let's see if it can't be as terri-bad as it was during the first and second periods.

- Actually, that powerplay was pretty much excellent. Everything but a goal. Habs held the puck in the Devils zone for every second of the man advantage, but couldn't quite find a clear, clean scoring opportunity on Schneider. Still, good progress.

- Seems like the Devils are just trying to hold on to this one goal lead, which is usually a bad strategy. Habs are really taking it to New Jersey, you have to wonder if, failing a bad bounce, a game-tying goal is inevitable.

- Alex Galchenyuk. Incredible speed. Just incredible. And then a beauty move on Schneider. Tie game. There ya go.

- Grats to old man Markov, who collected his 400th career assist off that wonderful Galchenyuk game tying goal.

- At this point, Therrien can no longer continue to give the Galchenyuk line, which has easily been this team's best forward line for more than two weeks, 3rd line ice time.

- Well, Therrien's answer to that - he's taken Galchenyuk off his line, and put him on the Plekanec line, demoting Smith-Pellly. Eller now on the 4th line. Juggling all over the place.

- Excellent period for the Habs, mustering up the needed goal to at least claim a point. Really dominated most aspects of the 3rd, with the Devils seemingly over focused on protecting their zone. The Habs have 5 minutes to pull out a win, because if this goes to shootout, the Devils will almost certainly win since Mike Condon has struggled badly with the shootout format.


- Turnover at centre ice gives Devils clear zone entry, give and go finished by Henrique. 1-0.

- Montreal's second period pretty much a disaster. No offence generated, unless you count the two 2-on-1 breaks the Devils had while shorthanded. Habs seem to be more or less in a daze tonight.

- If there's any clear indication that the Habs are missing the presence of Brendan Gallagher, tonight's game so far in New Jersey would be it.

- Habs defence is pretty disengaged tonight. When they aren't making poor pass attempts, they're pretty much stapling themselves deep in their zone. Which means the Devils are largely controlling centre ice.

- Lars Eller not having a good night. Fails to make a very straightforward zone clearance on the PK, which results in Condon being left completely out to dry with Stepniak allowed to jam the puck home. 2-0 New Jersey. Awful night so far for the visiting team.

- Habs getting called for penalties initiative of a team being skated into the ground. Pateryn, who's really struggled tonight, gets nailed for a hold.

- Habs offence just barely showing a sign of life, with 7 minutes left in the 2nd. Devils seem to be more than willing to allow clean zone entires, with Schneider playing very well.

- Andrighetto! Kid is making a statement, isn't he? That Devils passivity burns them, as Galchenyuk allowed a clean zone entry, and a nifty pass over to Andrighetto with a wrister that somehow eludes Schneider. Game isn't quite over yet.

- Seems to be a pretty good formula - team lacking spark? Send out the energy makers. Galchenyuk and Andrighetto more than happy to fill the void.

- Well, I suppose that period could have been a lot worse. Devils dominated first 13 minutes, and could have easily scored more than two, to put this game away. Habs seemed to find their legs as the period came to a close, but still, this isn't nearly the same team without Gallagher in the lineup. Nonetheless, the Habs at the very least retain a shot of getting a point (maybe even two) out of tonight's game. We'll see what they're made of in the 3rd.


-Interesting. Emelin is a gametime scratch for Pateryn. Don't think it's injury related.

- Pretty sloppy first powerplay for the Habs, with Markov saving Subban's bacon (and a Jersey goal) after a terrible turnover by P.K. deep in his own zone.

- Habs defense being very sloppy in their own zone, really struggling to feed the puck to the forwards. Devils with a fairly aggressive forecheck which is creating problems.

- Devils just don't allow anything. Habs having fits simply carrying the zone. New Jersey with a big focus on shot blocking, while forcing opponent forwards to the outside. Habs yet to generate a quality scoring chance on Schneider the first 12 minutes of this game.

- Pretty soft interference call on Smith-Pelly off the faceoff - officials very aggressive calling these interferences so far.

- Habs PK looks excellent again tonight, Devils could get nothing going, their offensive thinness really on display.

- Schneider's first big save of the night off Plekanec off a sweet pass from Pacioretty. Took nearly the entire first period to test the Devils.

- Habs offence finally locating 2nd gear, although they continue to struggle registering shots on net. Can't win if your opposing goaltender doesn't have to stop anything.

- Pretty meek first period of play - both teams playing classic trap game, offences really struggling to generate any kind of momentum through centre ice. Quite possibly the most boring period of hockey I've seen this year. In other words, classic New Jersey hockey. No wonder they can't sell out even half the building.


Hey, we're in the middle of a swamp tonight! Yeah, normally I'd use every opportunity whenever the Habs go to New Jersey to mock their frenetic Devils hockey fans (all approximately 400 of them!), or that the Devils franchise nearly single-handedly destroyed the game of hockey in the 1990s by playing a (winning!) game of boring their opponents to death. Or that New Jersey itself is pretty much humanity built on a toxic waste dump. NOPE. NOT GONNA DO THAT TODAY.

Instead, let's be nice, and just make fun of the New Jersey Devils. They're not very good! 23 points in 21 games, puts the Devils on a pace for about 87 points, which won't be nearly enough to make the playoffs.

The issue with the Devils? Pretty much goal scoring. Coming into tonight's game, New Jersey has just the 23rd rated League offence, with an average just over 2.3 GPG. This anemic production puts considerable pressure on Jersey's netminders, in particular Cory Schneider, who's very capable, but is by no means elite. In games this season where the Devils have scored 3 or fewer goals, their record isn't good - 3-5-1. Contrast that with the Habs, whose record is 5-2-2 when they score 3 or fewer goals, and you begin to get the picture.

The Devils are led by ... well ... how do we put this gently. Old guys. Yeah. Old guys. What do Mike Cammalleri, Ryane Clowe, Patrik Elias, Stephen Gionta, Tuomo Ruutu, Lee Stempniak, and Jordin Tootoo have in common? They're all on the Devils offence, and not a single one of those players are under age 32. Yeeks! Otherwise, New Jersey does feature a younger, shall we even go so far to say, good defence? Andy Greene, Adam Larsson, and the big-bodied Eric Gelinas are the Devils' blue line foundation. With younger bodies like Jon Merrill and John Moore up-and-coming, at least New Jersey can be a challenging team to score against. At least.

It's not all doom-and-gloom though. The Devils will be taking on the suddenly injury-ridden Habs team in back-to-back night-to-night games. The Habs are hobbling, now without the services of Carey Price for at least a week (ain't no way Carey is coming back in a week, for what it's worth), and the also irreplaceable Brendan Gallagher, who's out until January (at least). Toss in Torrey Mitchell, and now Alexander Semin, and the Canadiens are getting their first rigorous depth test of the season.

With all these bodies out, Bud Holloway (gawd, that name is fantastic) will get his first ever Habs uniform start tonight - he'll be placed on the 4th line in place of Semin. Otherwise, the Habs will be going status-quo with the lineup - Sven Andrighetto will play on the Galchenyuk line, while Devante Smith-Pelly will start again on the Plekanec line.

Game time tonight is 7:10 EST. It's Mike Condon against ... we're not sure. Either Schneider, or Keith Kinkaid.

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