Friday, 20 November 2015

Game Twenty-One: Habs vs. Islanders


- Habs and Islanders scoring chances through 40 minutes:

- With Price in net, do the Habs attempt to do a lead sit for 20 minutes? There really shouldn't be any good reason to even think about trying.

- I suspect Therrien's rationale for putting Gallagher back with Eller and Galchenyuk is to get the later on the scoresheet. There comes a point where you have to give the damn a poke to get it broken.

- Save for the Islanders'  second goal, sure doesn't look like there was much rust on Price tonight. The guy is astounding.

- Habs are playing a sort of lead-sit game here, zone dump and puck chips a-plenty, it's giving the Islanders a fair amount of open ice between their zone and the Habs blue line. Montreal seems comfortable just trying to block shots. Don't think this is a very good strategy.

- Well, there you have it. Nelson's second goal of the night, as the Habs inevitably get pinned in their zone because their tired line got pinned off an icing call. 4-3.

- The consequences of that blown call by the referees, even with the luxury of a replay. The Islanders are given a goal they didn't deserve, and because of that, Therrien not only loses his ability to make another challenge, he loses his timeout. Galchenyuk line gets stuck on the ice, and the Islanders score to make it 4-3.

- Okay, I'm totally perplexed. Petry flips the puck out of his zone, lands in the Habs bench, and Petry is called for delay of game?? Therrien holding the puck IN HIS HAND and slamming it on the boards, all to no avail. Astounding.

- Habs dodge the penalty, and the Islanders nearly tie it up as Price struggles to get across to stop of soft wrister. Puck goes through his legs and literally across the line. Huge bullet dodged, but more importantly, it's another example of a play you'd never see Price make. At least, not a healthy Price. Anyway, Markov saves the day and (for now) the game-tying goal.

- Less than 5 minutes to go. Can that Habs scratch their way to a victory? I have severe doubts that won't win without a 5th goal, but stranger things have happened.

- Not a great night for Price, at least by his standards. I guess there really is some rust with his game, or he's not 100%. His mobility certainly not nearly as crisp as usual. At times he's looked downright awkward moving side-to-side.

- Price tackled, and I mean, literally tackled in his crease by Nelson, helmet send flying - but the officials make no call.

- As I was saying, Habs are gonna need a 5th. Gallagher the empty netter. Two points in the bag. But only barely.

- Hard-earned victory of the Habs tonight, nice to have Price back in the net, which I'm sure gave his mates a shot of enthusiasm, as Montreal came strong out of the gate. Canadiens mostly dominated the first two periods, before settling into a protective shell for most of the 3rd.


- Habs and Islanders through 20 minutes. That was a pretty solid period for Montreal, as the chart illustrates.

- Well, hey there, Halak gets the hook, and Greiss is put in.

- Hamonic makes it 3-2 with a 60 foot slapper that, shall we shockingly, beats Price easily glove side. Price might have been screened, but it's still not the kind of goal that he normally lets in. That's concerning.

- Dang, Semin stopped on a breakaway, glove save. He and Galchenyuk, just not being rewarding on the goals sheet.

- Greg Pateryn. Certainly an upgrade from Alexei Emelin. And Tom Gilbert, for that matter.

- So ... Therrien puts out Smith-Pelly with Plekanec and Pacioretty, for reasons that are beyond my ability to comprehend.

- EGG line is back together again, and even though Semin has been generating scoring chances (and actually scoring points), he's being buried again.

- Petry again? Shot from the line during the powerplay eludes Greiss, with traffic in front. As we noted in period one, the Habs were getting pretty good slot penetration, off some soft Islanders defending. 4-2 Habs. It is a Petry goal - first time in his career that he's scored two in a game.

- Still trying to figure out Therrien's thought pattern with DSP on the top line. I know it's always good to do the occasional experiments with line combinations, but what exactly is to be gained? DSP is not, and will never been, a top line winger. So why waste his time (or Pacioretty and Plekanec's?). Makes no sense.

- Plekanec and Desharnais line have been surrendering more than average scoring chances, the only responsible lines tonight have been Galchenyuk and Flynn (who both have the least amount of ice time). Therrien's deployment continues to be mystifying.

- Habs maintain two goal lead headed into the 3rd period, but that 2nd period was very strange, in particular Therrien's deployments and line combinations. Gallagher with Galchenyuk, DPS with Plekanec, Semin buried, Byron still fruitless not playing on the 4th. Some strange moves that are usually made in games where you are winning easily or losing badly. But not in the middle of the 2nd period of a one-goal game. Therrien "gut-based" strategies rears its ugly head.


- Alex Semin. First Habs goal tonight. BANK IT.*

- *conditional that Therrien actually gives him a shift.

- Semin is slotted on the 4th line (yeah okay Michel, whatever), first shift, produces!!! Petry banging home a loose puck, assisted by nice forechecking by Semin who picks up the assist. Did the Habs actually score the first goal? YUP.

- Petry nearly scoring his second before the game is even 6 minutes old. Habs with plenty of intensity to start this game, Galchnyuk looks, as he did last night, terrific. He WILL score tonight.

- Islanders with a very slight possession edge, but their shots have been pretty meek, at least through the first half of the 1st. They'll need to do much better than taking permitter shots on Price. Like, way way way better.

- Therrien putting Byron on the 2nd line, but IT'S NOT WORKING. Plugging 4th line guys on the 2nd line, and 2nd line forwards on the 4th line is stuuuuuupid.

- Nelson pokes home the loose puck, but it sure looks like Nelson pushed Price before the puck was shot in. I think this could/should be overturned.

- Unbelievable, it's a goal. The National Hockey League is fast becoming a joke over what does and does not qualify as interference.

- Fleischmann (righteously) puts the Habs right back into the lead 35 seconds later, Halak looking sluggish moving to his glove side off a perimeter shot. Desharnais line looking very slick so far in the period, passing the puck extremely well.

- Habs really getting good penetration moving into the Islanders slot, which has helped them generate some quality scoring chances this period. Overall, the Habs are way ahead on quality shots, even if their raw totals are fewer.

- Problem with this League's approach to determining goal interference is that they're leaving the decision up to the on-ice officials, instead of going to a central location where, AT LEAST, the decisions could have some consistency. The officials tonight don't appear to be very good (terrible holding call just made on Subban), so if you have bad referees, you're going to have bad decisions made. Exasperating.

- Galchenyuk might be snakebit scoring goals, but it's not going to stop him from making sweet rushes with the puck, as he dishes off to Beaulieu who snaps a shot past Halak blocker side. Another "iffy" goal against the Islanders netminder. 3-1 Habs.

- Very, very good period for the Habs. Passing was crisp, speed much faster than their opponent, Islanders really struggled to contain Montreal's rush, and it's helped to generate a solid scoreboard lead. Halak looking a little off, Carey Price looking very on. Islanders shouldn't even have a goal, but that's the NHL for you.


SEMIN WILL BE ENTERING ... the lineup. Tonight. SO ... watch out.

- While it's good news to see Semin back in the lineup, it's only because Torrey Mitchell is out due to injury (unspecified). But, we'll take what we can get.


So Mike Condon. Hey bud. Thanks for coming out. You looked fantastic for a good solid month. You helped this team get (once upon a time) to the very top of the National Hockey League. FANTASTIC.

But then, about 10 days ago, something went "crash", and I think that might have been the sound of your confidence shattering. Or mabye it was your body breaking in two from the intense strings of games rarely experienced by someone who's been a career-long backup
. Over the past four starts, your SV% is less than .850, which is ... sorry to say this, kind of putrid.

At ease, Mr. Condon. At ease.

So all hail the return of the greatest hockey player on planet Earth. I think it's safe to say, the Habs, at least if they had any aspirations of maintaining their comfortable lead in their Division, needed Price back and between the pipes.

So tonight, a significant challenge. The Habs face off against the New York Islanders in their terrible new hockey arena in Brooklyn. The Islanders have just finished up a west coast sampler, putting together relatively impressive wins against the Sharks, Ducks and Coyotes. Actually, the Islanders handled Arizona with relative ease on Monday night. I wonder what that must feel like?

Speaking of Monday night, that was the last time this Islanders team played - so they're rested. Very rested. The Habs, who played less than 24 hours ago - not as rested.

Over in Habsland, the drama continues over the decision to mothball Alexander Semin, which continues to look like the wrong direction with every passing game. Last night, Torrey Mitchell gave his hand a try next to Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk, and for the most part, looked completely out of place - playing more a witness to the fabulous efforts by his linemates - in particular Galchenyuk, who's come down with a serious case of goal-scoring snakebite. Something's gotta give there - either with Semin returning, Galchenyuk scoring, or SOMEBODY shoving Therrien aside, and putting an actual 2nd line winger on the ACTUAL SECOND LINE.

There's also drama with the Islanders this week, with young start defenseman Travis Hamonic formally demanding a trade to Islanders G.M. Garth Snow, to a western-based team (including Winnipeg!! He really REALLY must want out).  So now the Islanders find themselves saddled with a disgruntled piece of their blue line - which is about as un-ideal a situation as you could wish for.

This should be a pretty good game. Two young, very talented, very deep hockey teams - two of the best teams in the entire National Hockey League, with the very best hockey player back on the ice.

Oh yeah, and Jaroslav Halak will be playing as well. Wearing the Islanders awful, awful, awful all black jerseys. Cockroaches on skates. It's a New York thing.

Puck drops at 7:40 EST.

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