Saturday, 5 December 2015

Game 28: Habs vs. 'Canes


- Condon with terrible giveaway, but he's clearly interfered with as the puck bounces around in the crease. This should be waived.

- After a two hour review, goal and call is waived. It's ridiculous. Stall clearly interfered Condon, it should have taken a minute to review and make the ruling. The League's goal review process is a joke.

- Anyway, Condon might be the worst puck handling goaltender in the League, ironic since the Habs normal starter is heads above anyone, the best.

- Emelin with a poor night - often leaving the crease completely unprotected, which has generated some crazy good scoring chances for Carolina. Why Therrien continues to play him over Pateryn is another coaching mystery.

- Desharnais-Paciorety isn't working (but we knew that would be the case), as is Plekanec-Byron. Somebody needs to do an intervention.

- Incredible holding call on Subban over a puck battle, since he was being held just as much. Carolina's dangerous looking powerplay back to work.

- Two shots within 5 seconds beat Condon, but hit the post. Canes should justly have the lead, if not for bad luck.

- Condon just plain fighting everything coming at him. Looks like a totally different goaltender than what we saw earlier in the year.

- Eric Stall. Crazy how much this guy can't finish. Condon with a desperate behind the back glove save to keep the game somehow tied.

- Dumb trip by Gilbert on Stall. Oh. Habs their own worst enemy tonight.

- Canes powerplay strikes, Skinner cashes in off a juicy Condon rebound. Specialty teams and goaltending the difference makers tonight.

- Wow how bout that. Pacioretty off the Desharnais line. Weise in his place. Their first shift, Ward has to make three excellent saves.

- Less than 5 minutes left, down a goal, after great shift by the "new" old Desharnais line, Therrien sends out the 4th line. Momentum is immediately surrendered.

- Now Eller is with Plekanec. The blender line routine contines. Stall now called for delay of game, Habs suddenly dysfunctional powerplay one last chance to pull this game out of the fire.

- Can't find any sort of puck control in the Canes zone. Habs powerplay gone from dysfunctional to terrible now.

- Therrien doesn't pull Condon until most of the powerplay goes past the board. More incompetent strategic decision making.

-  Not a single shot registered on that powerplay. Habs lose to the last place Hurricanes. Specialty unit incompetence, line deployment incompetence and another iffy start by Condon, in combination with a very fine effort by Carilona sends Habs to their second straight loss.


- Habs and Canes through 20 minutes:

- Hey, ho. Max Pacioretty in on the bench. Breath easy.

- Habs 4th line looks like it's buzzing. Arguably the best offensive unit for the Habs tonight, which is almost certainly a bad thing.

- Subban just one goal this year. Setting up on the opposite wing has definitely hurt him. Also think he's somehow lost some velocity, for whatever reason.

- Habs powerplay slipping back into old habits. Zone entries are fine, but passing and setups are getting sloppy. The unit is lacking focus.

- If the Habs do find a way of losing tonight, pretty sure one pointing finger can be shown towards specialty units. Carolina is at/near the bottom with their powerplay and PK, yet they've scored with the man advantage and have been perfect shorthanded.

- One big beef with Condon - he tends to flop, either on his side or on his belly, when he doesn't need to. It takes him out of the play, and severely limits his ability to cover loose pucks.

- Nice play by Petry off the faceoff to carry the puck deep off the draw, perfect pass to Andrighetto to give the Habs the lead again. Petry firmly establishing himself as a top-2 defenseman on this team.

- Condon coughs up a juicy rebound off a backhander, Markstrom with a nice effort to score his first in more than a year.

- Condon really fighting the puck. At some point, Therrien will have to start Tokarski. I don't think Condon is able to maintain this workload.

- Plekanec line gets caught on ice, Canes nearly concert off their exhaustion. Poor execution.

- Phantom high stick penalty on Desharnais. Refs attempting to even up the penalty minutes.

- Canes have very good puck movement, but they lack finish. It's a team-wide problem, seemingly. There's no real cure for that kind of ailment.

- Pretty even period, which is great news for the home team, and underscores the lacking effort by the visitors. This is anyone's game - it will probably come down to goaltending, which given what we've seen tonight, probably favours Carolina.


- Smith-Pelly gets the scratch, and Daniel Carr his very first NHL start: So here are the Habs lines for tonight:

1: Pacioretty/Desharnais/Weise
2: Eller/Galchenyuk/Andrighetto
3: Fleischmann/Plekanec/Byron
4: Carr/Flynn/Thomas

- That's amazing. Daniel Carr, his first NHL shift, first shot, and he scores. I'm thinking only a very small handful of players have that accomplishment.

- #67 is flying tonight. Safe to say Max Pacioretty is due for a bushel of goals. Tonight's as good a night as any to get that started, although his current centre isn't helping much.

- That said, Galchenyuk has been his extra-speedy, intense-self so far tonight. Habs in general pretty impressive speed tonight.

- So far, so good with Carolina's specialty units. First PK kept Habs in check, first powerplay generates a goal just as it expires, as Petry makes a poor checking attempt around his net, Flynn is caught flat-footed checking his assignment, and Condon bites on a deke. Series of basic unforced errors means this game is tied.

- Therrien's move of putting Pacioretty with Desharnais really paying off. Dale Weise just high sticked him in the eye.

- Habs were in firm control of this game until the Eller penalty. 'Canes scored, and have now largely taken over momentum and puck possession.

- Tale of two periods divided in half. Habs were in clear control until Eller was penalized - from the point forward, the Hurricanes took over game possession tempo. If I didn't make it clear enough in my pregame post, Carolina can and should be defeated via specialty units, not in spite of them. Somehow, the Habs were unable to follow the trend.


Hey, Eddie Lack. Why so down? You're no longer stuck in Vancouver playing for a going-nowhere-fast hockey organization. You should be happy! You're in Carolina, where, granted, the team you play for has about 35 fans in state consisting of about 80 people who've actually heard about hockey. On the bright side, you're playing in a part of the world that couldn't give two figs about the game, much less riot in defeat.

Oh, who am I kidding. It's been a tough, really tough season for the Hurricanes. They've been a statistical enigma, putting up numbers with the best of the League, but somehow finding themselves mired near the bottom of the standings in the east.

Carolina is approaching the game the way it's supposed to be done if you want to win. One-third through the regular season, the 'Canes have put together a respectable even-strength CF% of 54.8%, which is the League's 3rd best total, and, believe it or not, the very best percentage in the Eastern Conference.

So if you're the best possession team in your entire conference, why would you be struggling so much as the 'Canes have this season, with just 8 wins in 25 games?

Fundamentally, while Carolina is a good puck possession team, the 'Canes biggest failing has been its speciality units. A powerplay percentage of just 12.2%, the worst in the League, and perhaps most impactful, a penalty killing unit that clocks in at just 74.6%. That means, on any given night, the 'Canes are usually surrendering at least one, and usually two powerplay goals per game. That, combined with an anemic offence that does "ok" in generating shot attempts, still possesses a woeful shooting percentage, at 5.44%

This means the 'Canes are not very matchups against teams with strong speciality units - teams like the Habs.

Which means, logic be considered, tonight's game really ought not be much of a contest.

Puck drops @ 7:10 EST. Mike Condon vs. (Saskatoon's!!!) Cam Ward.

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