- Habs and Sharks through 40 minutes.
- Andrei Markov with perhaps the roughest night amongst Habs defenders, one has to wonder if he's being asked to work more than his body is capable of handling, at this stage in his career.
- Habs powerplay now 0-20, again looking good with puck control and passing, but generating almost no shot attempts from the slot. Opposing PK's will give you all day to hold the puck if all you're willing to do shot from the line.
- Habs now riverboat gamblers - pushing defence in aggressively, pinching hard not only in the Sharks zone, but at centre ice. Condon will probably have to make a couple of odd-man rush saves, if the Habs don't score their second goal soon.
- Don't be shocked if Subban gets something close to 12 minutes in the 3rd period. Markov appears to be having his time shelved in the frame. Not even a minute played with clock nearing halfway mark.
- Well, Andrighetto is back with 27-81, which marks progress. A little too late for tonight's game, it would appear.
- 6 minutes left, Habs will need to go full gambling phasers on at this point. Time's-a-wasting'.
- Since getting paired with Beaulieu, Subban ha become a monster, carrying the puck zone to zone, which on a Michel Therrien team, is very unusual.
- Well, what can you do - Habs arguably the better team tonight, but the story is simple - Sharks took advantage of their chances, Habs didn't. On the bright side, Beaulieu/Subban looks like a pretty serious thing - they looked terrific together the final half of the game - so one wonders, will this become a more permanent fixture?
- Habs and Sharks through 20 minutes. What else can you do other than shrug?
- To be fair, the PDO gods do owe the Sharks a few, but this is getting a little silly. Pavelski tips a soft wrister past Tokarski barely 30 seconds into the period, and it's 2-0.
- Dale Weise, hands of Moen (a few hard-core fans might know what that means).
- I suspect we'll get some separation as the game progresses, but Habs are really rolling all four lines tonight, ice times are almost identical amongst the forwards as we hit the halfway mark.
- Ouch, Dustin Tokarski. Misplays the puck behind his goal, then turned into yesterday's gravy trying to cover up in his net, with Zubrus finishing the turnover off, and it's 3-0. Tokarski out, Condon in.
- Suffice to say, P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov are not putting out stellar performances tonight. That Zubrus goal, both defenders were totally out of position, behind the Habs net. Sure, Tokarski had some blame, but he was left totally out to dry and all three San Jose goals.
- And Therrien has apparently separated those two aforementioned defensemen - Subban is with Beaulieu, Markov with Gilbert. Hmmm ...
- Well, hey now, it pays off? Subban with a nifty carry and shot/pass deflected in by Weise to put Habs on the board. We have life?
- Subban and Beaulieu look like they've been playing partners their entire lives. That combination really clicking so far.
- Habs switch up their defensive line combos, and suddenly come to life - nearly making the game 3-2 before the 2nd period buzzer. Sets up an interesting 3rd period in which Montreal, at the very least, has a half-decent shot an pulling a point out of the night.
- Keep an eye on Martin Jones. He's only had two games this month where his SV% was above .900. Its been very up and down for him the past while.
- Still can't figure out Therrien putting Andrighetto on the 4th line. He was doing some excellent work on the top line, giving opposing defences fits with his, and Paciorettys speed, coming at them from both directions.
- While the Sharks do have a decent possession game, they don't like carrying the zone. Very much a dump and chase offence, which (was) very much the Habs template from 2012-15.
- Habs powerplay continues to play dreadfully, and Therrien continues to use Desharnais and Weise as primary offence, which is just all kinds of bizarre. Desharnais can't/won't shoot, Weise can't finish. And Subban on the wrong wing continues to just go nowhere. Madness all over the place.
- Subban just doesn't seem the same - in particular his slap shot, which I'm positive, doesn't have anything close to the velocity it did last season. Not nearly as dangerous as he used to be - NHL netminders are turning him away easily. Ergo, just 1 goal so far this season.
- Watching the Sharks first 13 minutes, this team is struggling - mightily. Really don't like their dump and chase system, it significantly limits their ability to generate much, if any, decent scoring attempts. Habs are pretty much suffocating them so far, even though Montreal has stumbled to finish their scoring attempts.
- Still waiting for the Pacioretty goal explosion - he's due for a bundle. I think we're on the cusp of that happening.
- Barclay Goodrow, a nothing player, takes a run at Subban, hurting him. Officials don't call a board, but Torrey Mitchell, who is awesome, dishes out some fisticuff punishment. Referees really need to crack down on this dirty, dishonourable play.
- Subban with a bad pinch at the Sharks blue line, generating 2-on-1 break for Jan Jose, and Marleau slips the punk past Tokarski off a nice feed from Ward. Outshot so far by a ration of 5-to-1, San Jose maddeningly has the early lead.
- Watched the replay, Galchenyuk has to do a much, much better job getting back to cover Subban, who was simply making an aggressive play in a period that the Habs have owned.
- Eller really fighting the puck of late - he's struggling.
- Welp, what can you say? Habs shot attempts were 22-4, which .. yeah. What can you do? Just keep plugging away, keep playing the same way. No way Sharks should have the lead, but that's more indicative of the bounces of hockey, and the Habs inability to finish. Montreal's powerplay also becoming a pressing issue. Something needs to be done there, and quickly.
- It's hard to believe, but San Jose hasn't won in the month of December. Last win came November 28th against Calgary. In fact, the Sharks have only won twice since November 22nd, and the last time they won against an opponent with a .500 or better record was November 13th. OUCH.
- That San Jose has struggled so much lately is a bit of a puzzler, since the Sharks are the League's 3rd rated team for generating high percentage scoring opportunities (only Dallas and ... yes, Carolina are better). Their possession numbers are also very respectable - 53.7 score adjusted Fenwick.
- Interestingly, of the 14 wins by San Jose this season, 10 have come on the road. This team really is a puzzler.
- Torry Mitchell is back for the Habs! That certainly won't hurt the Habs, given how well he played before injury.
- Dustin Tokarski will get another start. He's played two very good games in a row. Third time's a charm?
- Puck drops at 7:40 EST.
HAPPY GAMEDAY! ADD ANOTHER ONE TO THE SHELF
News 'n' Notes for the game day, some important news, for once.
- Congrats to Carey Price, who was announced today as the 2015 receipient of the Lou Marsh Award, which goes to the best Canadian athlete. Apparently this year's award was a "tough choice", because of course, it's a real struggle giving this award to the guy who's currently the best hockey player on the planet, coming off one of the greatest seasons ever had by an NHL goaltender.
- Habs Zack Kassian was cleared by the NHL this morning to return to hockey, after successfully completing its substanec abuse program. The Habs immediately put Kassian on waivers. Assuming he clears, he might, just might, get a chance to actually play in a Habs uniform if, and only if, there's an instance where he's required (which would only be as an injury replacement).
- Hey, speaking of returning, Habs finally are getting some wounded bodies back - Torrey Mitchell, who's been excellent on the Habs 4th line up until his injury, will return to the lineup tonight. Charles Hudon will be a healthy scratch, to make way for Mitchell.
We'll post a game preview in a bit.