Monday, 11 May 2015

Game Six - EC Semi Final: Habs vs. Lightning


- Habs possession in 2nd period declined to 46%, 51% over 40 minutes.

- Do you believe in miracles? Well in case you hadn't thought about it, the Habs are going to need a few of them this period. 

- Here comes the Habs tire fire ... er ... powerplay.

- Can't buy a goal. Can't buy one.

- Habs got pulverized in the neutral zone tonight. As I've said on here for years, games and Cups are won in this League by dominating centre ice. Tampa, to its credit, played a sound game that focused on controlling zone exits and entries, while applying the necessary pressure to generate centre turnovers, which directly resulted in goals scored. The game of hockey is paradoxically complex in execution, but relatively simple in strategy.

- So ... that's that. Lots of questions to be answered heading into the summer. Can Bergevin sign Petry? Other fundamental considerations - what will the team do with regards to some key "leadership" players, most notably, Thomas Plekanec, who again has put forward a pretty awful playoff appearance, David Desharnais, who has seemingly never been able to get his game on track since signing a generous extension, and Brandon Prust, who may find himself the odd man out as younger, cheaper and probably more capable talent work their way onto a full-time role.

And what of Michel Therrien? In light of a 110 point, first place regular season, would Bergevin even dare to let him go if Mike Babcock indicated an interest in taking over behind the bench?

An interesting four months lay ahead. One thing is for certain, as usual, there is never a dull moment in Habsland.


- Habs with 54% possession in the first period, even with the Tampa powerplay. Essential for Montreal to return to playing with discipline. It also wouldn't hurt if their forechecking efforts were turned up a little.

- Tampa storms out of the gate, Lightning really getting their defense involved with their offense. It's paying off. Montreal needs to replicate.

- Habs clinging to life here. Tampa coming in waves.

- Stamkos. Bad turnover at centre ice. It's 2-0.  Season slipping away.

- Habs try to bounce back, but just can't quite set up high percentage chances. Tampa's defense holding the fort around the slot so far.

- Habs pushing heir defense very agressively forward. Looking desperately for a goal. 8 minutes left in the period.

- Tampa just lining up across their line. Which will either work very well, or very badly. Let's see.

- Finally, a powerplay. If there was ever a time for this unit to score, this is pretty much that moment.

- Horrid powerplay. Couldn't even setup in the Tampa zone.

- Luck weighs in with its opinion. Parenteau hits the post. Tampa now in the powerplay looking for the series kill.

- Montreal's poor penalty kill is finishing their season. Palat with the dagger.

- Well ... it was a good run, but tonight the Habs luck, which really hasn't been with them in the post-season, will come to and end. The loss tonight if anything, shines a glaring light again on the team's inherent weaknesses that hampered them throughout the season - a disorganized, borderline chaotic powerplay that nobody seemed able to fix. Poor turnovers, especially at centre ice, and a muted offense that seemed more focused on chips than actual passing. Many questions face this team heading into the summer, I'm not so sure there are any answers. Tonight was a dysfunctional effort generating a poor result. It's not a fixable situation - at least, not with the minds who are making decisions.


- There was some (very wild) speculation this afternoon by hopeful Lightning fans that Ryan Callahan might start tonight. He will not.

- Also out tonight is Jonathan Drouin. Jon Cooper tinkering with the lineup. 

- Here's the warmup lines for Tampa:


- Cooper making some last minute lineup adjustments. Marchessault and Nesterov are in,notably   Namestnikov is a healthy scratch.

- 3 Minutes in, both teams feeling each other out, lots of chips and shoot ins. Canadiens seem early on to be set on playing classic road game. 

- First Habs chance goes to Gallager, Bishop square to the close range shot. Nervousness building.

- Both teams with very short shifts, no more than 40 seconds. Looks like this will be a long, grinding game.

- Galchenyuk skating hard, is horribly overdue for a goal. Here's hoping.

- Habs (so far) doing a decent job carrying the puck through the neutral zone. It's giving them opportunity to generate shots on Bishop. It appears as though the Habs are looking to cash in off a rebound.

- If Tampa wants to win this game by out hitting and checking the Habs, it's not playing off of their strengths. 

- That "feel out" period observed after three minutes has extended to the 11 minute mark, lots of line matching happening, Cooper trying to find a spark.

- Things opening up a little, in the Habs favour. Prust and Plekanec miss golden scoring opportunities off tremendous setup efforts by Eller and Gallagher. Remember that.

- Early puck luck again favouring Tampa, with Markov losing two broken sticks in the span of mere seconds. 

- Petry hurt. That's very bad news.

- Plekanec's playoff woes continue, a terrible clearance attempt gives Tampa the game's first goal. 

- Meanwhile back in Montreal ...


If you had told me a week ago that the Montreal Canadiens would be playing tonight, I'd have laughed in your face (although not in a rude way), and then quickly offered you a bet involving the wagering of my home and kids. That's how confident I was six days ago that the Habs were on the cusp of bowing out of the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs.

Thanks goodness, of course, that you weren't there to take my gamble. I like my home, thank you very much. The kids ... well, you can still have those.

Anyway, in six very short days, matters have changed abruptly. Six days ago, you couldn't have faulted the Canadiens for folding up their tents and going home - having suffered a seemingly mortal wound after surrendering a last second winning goal to find themselves down 3-0 in the series.

But then something changed - while nothing changed. After the game 3 loss, Coach Michel Therrien reaffirmed that he thought his team was playing well, and that he saw little reason to change team strategy, an assessment many of us nattered over since this was the same team that had just gone 1-30 on their powerplay. This Habs team had just gone off the rails to a 3-0 series deficit, and you're saying that you think everything is fine? Com'on coach. You're not that dense, are you?

The thing is, Therrien was (mostly) correct. The Habs had outplayed Tampa in games 1 and 3, but fortune wasn't on the team's side. Racking up 9 goalpost shots in three games was a pretty strong indicator that Tampa had Montreal's number this year. That despite all the effort, the Lightning were never to be beaten because the luck Gods had simply decided that Tampa, come hell or high water, were going to advance to the Eastern finals.

Luck, like oceanic trade winds, has a funny way of suddenly changing direction. Maybe that's what this Habs team believed going in to game 4 - that if they just kept plugging, eventually the horseshoes, which has P.K. Subban so aptly described were providing significant assistance to Ben Biship, would vacate the Lightning's crease.

And so game four was held, and the Canadiens soundly thumped the Lightning in their own rink. Then game five, and the Habs, as they did two nights previous, soundly outplayed Tampa again, en route to a late game winning goal by P.A. Parenteau. Suddenly, this series was reborn.

The funny thing was, the Habs victories in game 4 and 5 came despite luck - certainly no more so than Saturday night when the Canadiens hit not one, but three goalposts on their suddenly revived powerplay. The Gods, it appears, were still on Tampa's side, but the plucky Canadiens refuse to capitulate to higher powers. This is a team determined to see their way to another Eastern Conference championship - despite the odds, and despite poor fortunes.

Tonight's test will not be easy. The Lightning, backed by their home crowd, will surely be determined to snuff out any last hopes of a miracle comeback. The Canadiens will require all hands on deck, and one more night of stellar performances delivered by those who this team has come to depend on most. Leaders will be required to stp forwards - those like Subban, Max Pacioretty, Andrei Markov, and of course, the great one himself - Carey Price.

And who knows? With a little luck, we might have one more night to decide this series once, and for all.

Puck drops at 7:40 EST.


First shot, about 1/500th of a second before "the save".


And this stunning picture from the Montreal Gazette just before the puck arrives:

The guy is just amazing. What a lucky, lucky privilege to have him playing on our team. 

More in a bit as we gear up for the next biggest game of the year.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Game Five: EC Semi Final: Lightning vs. Habs


- Habs must continue to apply pressure, need one more goal. One more time.

- Not for lack of effort, Galchenyuk is ridiculously overdue for a goal. He's been doing the right things tonight, driving the net, and playing more towards the middle of the ice.

- Tampa is losing the centre ice battle in the period, while Bishop is surrendering some pretty choice rebounds off relatively easy shots.

- What a crazy insane incredible glove save by Price on Filppula. Remember that save.

- Big push by Tampa 8 minutes in, Habs very scrambly and disorganized in their zone. Price keeping them in it.

 There it is. Habs just couldn't get their act in gear, and finally Stamkos finishes the play, breaking many a heart. Tie game. 

- Habs have dominated with lots of zone pressure since the 13 minute mark, but puck just doesn't seem to be bouncing. Have to wonder if Tampa is going to win this by accident again.

- Parenteau!! There it is. P.K. with a great play at the line to keep the puck in and then feeding Parenteau with a tremendous shot just under the crossbar. The puck finally goes the Habs way, and they lead 2-1 with four minutes left.

- Tampa throwing everything in the zone now, which means one of two things - a tying goal, or delicious odd man breaks for the Habs. Hold on to your seats. This is going to be quite the finish.

- Two thirty left. Habs have been doing a pretty poor job clearing the zone to kill this clock.

- Habs zone clearances go from bad to the very worst. JUST GET IT OUT. ICING IS FINE. 



- So we're joining in late, and we see the Habs up one (Smith-Pelly!!), and Ben Bishop doing his usual flops to try to draw penalties. 

- OOOOh 4-on-3, big opportunity awaits. Westerov with a poor interference.

- There's the horseshoe again, crossbar hit, guess who? P.K.

- Another post. Good lord. Habs powerplay all over Tampa. It hasn't looked this good in months. Should be 2-0'i if not for those horseshoes.

- Tampa generating some pressure at the 9 minute mark, Habs diddling far too much with the puck in their zone. I hate the chip out strategy, but it sure beats turning the puck over deep.

- Didn't see enfrier period, but so far P.K. Has been a monster in the second.

- Really, really liking how the Habs are exiting their zone - passing outlets from defense to wing. Chips are being kept to a thankful minimum.

- Therrien matching Stamkos line with 4th Mitchell line. Really think that's a mistake just asking for inevitable trouble, even against a struggling Stamkos.

- Price would appear to be bringing his "on" game tonight.

- Did Gallagher just draw a roughing penalty? Miracles never cease.

- So too is Bishop's puck luck. Yet another post hit on the powerplay, yet another fabulous looking man advantage for the Habs, the difference maker is unquestionably Jeff Petry, who's added another potent dimension to the specialty unit.

- What a period for the Habs, even considering their lack of a goal. Totally dominating Tampa, generating some incredible powerplay pressure, and featuring stellar play by Subban and perhaps even more impressive, Jeff Petry. Marc Bergevin, whatever it takes, this Petry kid is something special. How the Oilers didn't secure him king term is remarkable.


Hey, hey. Saturday night hockey in Montreal! Game five, do or die. We know the drill, blah blah.

- Nathan Beaulieu, IN! Habs have gone 2-5 since his injury. Greg Pateryn, out.

- Andrei Markov, who's been a mystery all playoffs, had his best game of the post-season on Thursday night. One more time, Andrei.

- Hey, we have scoring from guys who weren't scoring! Markov, Prust. Keep it up guys, do that one more time.

- Ben Bishop looked bad. Really bad! Ben, you heard what P.K. said about sitting on horseshoes this series. We think P.K. is on to something. So do what you did on Thursday night, Ben. One more time.

- Hey Habs can make this series interesting with just one more win. Com'on boys. Do it. Just one more time?


Puck drops at 7:10 EST. We'll be joining in later in the first period. 

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Game Four - EC Semi Final: Habs vs. Lightning



- Habs had 48% through 20 minutes, and that needle moved up to 60% after 40 minutes. That gives you a pretty good idea just how one sided the second period was. 

- Palat, on the powerplay. It's a familiar theme. Also familiar is terrible defense by Emelin, who continues to be played on the first PK unit, which is just plain stupid. 5-2.

- Habs were passing out of their zone first two periods. Now in full chip out mode in the 3rd.

- DSP with a zone entry and cross ice pass to De la Rose that wouldn't cut muster in a beer league. 

- Eller shot handcuffs Vasilevskiy, Prust nice tap in. Four goal lead resorted. This game ought to be in cruise mode from here on out.

- An easy win. Quite a game by the Canadiens, who could have just as easily given up the ship given the heartbreak they've endured against Tampa. There's food for thought - the Habs have soundly outplayed Tampa six straight periods as the visitors. And therein lies the hope, however faint, that the Habs might claim stake to headed back to Quebec. We've beat our opponent very badly the last 120 minutes, so lets do that one more time.

The bottom line is this: A win on Saturday, and suddenly, we have a series.


- Habs with 48% possession in the period, reflecting Tampa's two powerplays. Habs must, I stress this, must not sit on this lead. Period two, same as period one. Here we go.

- Forecheck, forecheck. Relentless. Don't stop. One more goal. At least one more.

Habs doing better, far better, at centre ice tonight. It's generating some choice turnovers, generating clean offensive zone entries.

- Bishop muffs a Desharnais slap shot, a la Pacioretty's game one tying goal, and it's 3-0. Bishop is yanked. Wowzers.

Andrei Vasilevskiy is in. Never seen him before. AHL call up. Habs wise to test him hard, ASAP.

- Petry. A powerplay goal. That happened. Habs powerplay passing looking crisp. Efficient. You knew it had to happen. Eventually.

- Gallgher. It's a route. Unbelievable. 5-0.  Vasilevskiy looks stunned. 

- Habs totally dominating. Tampa has stopped skating altoghether. It's ugly. Hard to believe we're witnessing this.

- Another bizarre penalty on Markov, and Kucherov scores on the Powerplay to make it 5-1. If we do play a 5th game, Habs will need to come up with a solution to styfling Tampa's cross ice passing. It's killing Montreal in this series.

- Weise with a dose of stupid, takes an unnecessary rough late in the period. There is nothing to be gained by pushing the envelope, and getting sent to the box. Most certainly not while holding a four goal lead.

- Habs roll through the period, this team which couldn't muster up a shooting percentage much beyond 3% (there's that dastardly percentage again) the first three games, with a 25+% percentage the first two periods. Hockey is weird and engrossing because of its unpredictability. Twenty minutes to close this out, and live at least one more day.


- Woah. Old Man Markov strikes early for the Habs, barely two minutes in. Could the puck luck be drifting the other direction?? At the very least, a Markov point pinch finally results in a goal. REJOICE!

- Seriously, it's been a very, very rough road of a post season for Andrei. You know he's playing through some kind of injury, and you can see on his face how disappointed he is with himself. A little respite with that goal. Just a little.

- Borderline cross on Markov, really could have been called both ways. Sigh.

- Wow. Max, shorthanded. Bishop didn't look good. 2-0! This answers the question, what would happen first; powerplay or shorthanded goal?

- Habs zone exits have been okay, apart from their usual horrid self. Canadiens must also ramp up their ability to win puck battles at centre ice, or this lead will evaporate very quickly.

- Markov with a nasty edge tonight. He's playing as much angry as he is hurt. A lot of pride on the line, here.

- I don't think there's any cure for what ails Galchenyuk except moving him to his natural position - centre. He's lost along the wing, he overplays the position, binding himself along the boards, frequently hesitating skating towards the middle. He's lost. Therrien's system is styfling.

- Tremendous work by Eller, generating two point blank chances on Bishop, who's looked terribly shaky this period. Wondering if possible that Bishop is playing hurt?

- Well, the puck started to finally bounce the Habs way this period, and the net effect is a tidy 2-0 lead. This is but one very small step up an Everest-sized mountain for the Habs, but it's necessary to help this team build confidence, and at the very least, germinate an idea that Tampa doesn't necessarily have Montreal's number this season (even if they do).  Lots of time though, for the worm to turn the other direction. It is imperative that the Canadiens stay positive and maintain a determined forecheck against Tampa, who struggle against that kind of attack, especially in their own zone.


Let's go out with a bang, okay boys? At least that. At least.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Game Three - EC Semi Final: Habs vs. Lightning


Yeah. That's how I feel about it. That's how a lot of us feel right now.


- Habs have 67% possession through 40 minutes. They trail 1-0. I ... can't explain it. There is no understanding it except that this team simply isn't capable of finishing scoring opportunities. You combine that with a poorly organized offense, and it's a perfect storm of nothing.

- 1 for 28. Season is slipping away. 

- Pacioretty gets nailed for a soft trip. Amazing how easily these Tampa forwards fall. Lightning to the powerplay. 13 minutes left.

- Why Emelin is consistently used on first line PK is totally baffling to me.

- The birthday boy scores. They actually scored. A greasy, go to the net, shove it past Bishop, honest to God goal. Tie game.

- Another dominative period for the Habs. Perplexing effort by Tampa, who've played two consecutive extremely flat 40 minutes of hockey. The Lightning, as they were throughout the 2nd, are ripe for the picking.

- Johnson. With no time on the clock. Unbelievable. Season is over. Just ... unbelievable.

- Season-killing goal was a comedy of errors. Mainly Plekanec failing to do a simple dump in, and then his line basically not skating with 10 seconds left. Markov off in Emelin-la-la land, really, it was for the last few seconds, five Tampa Bay Lightning skaters against Carey Price.

- Habs had 65% possession for the game. Habs got Habbed tonight, perhaps more so than any other game this season. That's hockey for you. Cups are won with bounces, and making the most out of opportunities.

- Well, I'm out. One more game tomorrow night. The Habs won't win it. You can't rebound from anything this devastating. A sweep, and then we collectively turn the spotlight towards team coaching heading into the summer.


- Good first shift by Plekanec line. Then Therrien sends out Prust, and the momentum is quashed.

- Emelin shoots into about 12 legs, somehow expecting the puck to make it to Bishop? There's puck luck, and then there's just plain foolishness.

- Horribly listless period by Tampa, they are just ripe for the picking, but the Habs continue to hit goal posts. Frustration mounting.

- Habs pushing defense forward, trying to somehow score. They will - they have to, unless Tampa scores a backbreaker off an odd man rush.

- More than 16 minutes played before Tampa can register a shot on goal. But the Habs are still blowing their opportunity, just six shots on Bishop in the period. Beyond maddening.

- Well, I'm fit to be tied. Tampa just played a near complete dud of a period, and it doesn't matter one little bit because the Habs are utterly incapable of scoring. Shots aren't getting through, or are missing. Posts are being hit, nobody seems able to push home a loose puck around Bishop, who, witness the Petry point shot (off the goal post) is more than beatable. The Habs have 30 minutes to salvage this game and their season. That's the bottom line.


- So Desharnais gets inserted right back into the top 6. No accountability. No burden of having to prove his worth. Eller saddled back on the 3rd line.

- Tom Gilbert. Awful check on Filppula. Price forced to make three straight enormous saves.

Habs defense has been a comedy of flubs so far. Adjustments!! Biggest flubbers so far: Markov and Gilbert. 

- Plekanec gives Bishop a little tap, and he goes down like he was shot. Refs get suckered into calling a penalty.

- Looks like Habs are reverting to their rope-a-dope, out it all on Price "strategy" that helped bring them 50 wins this season. 

- An okay road game start by the Habs. Still, their offensive is so systematically dysfunctional, they'll need lucky bounces to score more than a couple of goals on Bishop.

- Markov continues his brutal post season play. Horrid sloppy turnover from his corner, Tampa waltzes to the net with Killorn receiving a pass wide open from Stamkos, and it's 1-0. What has happened to Markov is beyond me, but he's killing this team's already suspect defense. 

- Smells like another blowout is in store tonight. Isn't helping that Emelin just takes a dumb interference penalty. Habs back to the PK.

- Gallagher cross checked to the face by Coburn right in front of the referee. Not called.

- Unimpressed. Habs defense was sloppy, forecheck, which is critical if they want to generate any kind of sustained pressure on Bishop, was almost non-existent. Shots continue to come from along the board. Point shots are being blocked. Whatever is getting through to Bishop that results in a rebound is being easily cleared by Tampa's defense because Habs forwards aren't winning puck battles. I see another long night ahead.


Our savior! Our night in shining armor! It's DAVID FREAKIN' DESHARNAIS! THANK YOU JEEBUZ. WE CAN'T LOSE NOW!

So it's come to this. After falling miserably at home in a can't-lose game at the hands of the GODDAMN TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING WHO WE CAN NEVER BEAT (that felt good), the Canadiens are now faced with a no-messing-around-this-is-totally-a-must-win-game-and-we-totally-mean-it-this-time game tonight.

So Desharnais is back. Which means poor Brian Flynn, who we think played on Sunday night (?), will have to sit out. It also means there are still lots of questions surrounding line combinations, specifically, where will Lars Eller play, and who will he have to carry around the ice? Where will Alex Galchenyuk play, and will he actually skate towards Tampa's goal? What about Brandon Prust? Will the referees continue to be awful to him, and send him the box for lookin' so good?

Will the Habs score a powerplay goal? Ever?

Anyway, this series is likely already over, the stake, I believe has already been driven through the heart - it's just a matter of shoveling dirt on the carcass at this point, with or without the totally underwhelming and post-season useless Desharnias in the lineup.

But yeah. David is back. If the Habs actually win tonight, no more nightcaps, okay Dave?

Puck drops at 7:10 EST.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Game Two - EC Semi Final: Lightning vs. Habs


- Is there any point? If this game is an evener, then a bushelfull of specialty unit goals are headed Montreal's way. They'll need 6 just to get back to even terms these playoffs. That's how bad it's been.

- Torrey Mitchell has been the Habs best player tonight. If you had told me that in advance, I wouldn't have even bothered tuning in.

- Alright, let's take a different tact. The game is out of reach, but Habs can still salvage something if they can find a way of doing something positive - such as scoring with the man advantage. At least generate something that they can build from heading down to Tampa.

- Decent but not dazzling push by the Habs - Tampa in recline mode. Torrey Mitchell runs Bishop because, why not, I guess. Tampa to the powerplay.

- Kucherov. Guess what? Powerplay. 5-1. Feeling very sad for those who paid to see this. 

- Gilbert tosses the paid attendance a bone. 5-2. Meaningless.

- Welp, mission isn't impossible. Go into Tampa, who lost 9 of 41 games in their rink this season, and beat them twice. Piece of cake, right?


- Ever get the feeling that somebody's got your number? Lars Eller didn't play last seven minutes of the first period, and there are reports he won't play for the rest of the night. Good Grief.

- Eller is on the bench to start the period. Whew?

- Habs powerplay. EGG line out.

- Habs two powerplays in the period, each progressively worse and more disorganized than the last. This team is officially totally and completely in a land of dysfunction.

- Habs are really running a simplistic model - feeding the line, and hoping for a rebound. Everybody sees it and knows it - Tampa a walk in the park defending this "strategy". It's killing the Habs offense, and with it, reasonable hopes of winning. Because ... you just know, Tampa's going to score ...

- Yup. Stamkos. Couldn't keep him off the board forever. And here we go ...

- It's a funeral pyre in the Bell Centre right now. This is what happens when opportunities are frittered away ...

- Tampa with sweet passing to capitalize on the powerplay. Why we can't ever do this baffles me, but it's killing the Habs season right before our eyes. 3-1.

- Habs with a listless end to the period. Petry draws an interference to end the period. Tampa looking for kill, if we haven't arrived at that point already. 

- And there it is. Kill shot on the powerplay. 4-1. Goodnight, and good luck.

- Well, that was a disaster of a period, wasn't it? But it encapsulated all the big issues with this team, this season. Inability to finish chances, and total incompetence with a man advantage. Habs started the 2nd period with two straight powerplays, which went totally nowhere. Then Tampa got their courtesy call, finally cracked the scoresheet, and the rest was history.

We went on for months and months about how bad the Canadiens man advantage was, even questioning/pleading for somebody to get fired for this team's utter inability to address a very obvious and significant issue, and nothing serious was ever done. So it seems only right that the Habs season falls apart this way.


- Can't excuse the Habs inability to bury chances, but their game 1 PDO was .965. That's some pretty crummy puck luck.

- That said, Chris Lee tonight. You just know he's got a few scores to settle, given he made the critical game 6 flub/call that helped to propel the Habs into the 2nd round. Brad Watson is the other official. Maybe he can help in correcting Lee's inevitably horrid decision?

- Both teams going with the same lineups. Assuming both were mutually satisfied with their game 1 performances. Although, if I'm Tampa, I'm still concerned about being thoroughly out-chanced for much of the game. The Lightning are unquestionably lucky they're leading 1-0 in the series. Oh well.

- Whoops. Nix that. Desharnais is a late scratch, because of the (huh??) flu. So ... Eller to the top 6? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE Eller to top six. PLEASE.

- Breaking news: old dog still doesn't learn new tricks. Weise moved to the top line to accomidate for Desharnais' absence. Galchenyuk still on the 4th.

- Habs first powerplay doesn't score (of course) but did look pretty dangerous the first 75 seconds. Still, nobody seems capable of muscling a good shot on Bishop. That's (one of) the big issues.

- Return of the EGG? Could this be for realz??!

- Petry. 55 foot wrister. Top corner. Brilliant. Five years, $30 million. Do it, Marc. Habs lead.

- Habs very agressive forecheck paying off. Flynn nearly making it 2-0. Tampa really on their heels in their zone.

- Lots of great chances being generated, but Habs forwards, once again, not burying chances. Nothing has changed much from Friday night, which is worrying.

- Waiting for the inevitable Habs letdown and Tampa rebound. Important that Montreal maintains strong agressive play.

- Therrien sends out the 4th line against Stamkos line. Lightning gain predictable momentum. Now Prust takes a dumb double minor. Hoo boy.

- Not sure what's more of a mess right now. Tampa's powerplay or Steven Stamkos.

- Brad Watson handing out penalties like candy tonight. Wants to put his stamp on this game. Another Tampa powerplay, Subban gets two minutes for protecting his crease.

- And Tampa strikes - Filppula a wrister that catches Price off guard. Refs make their mark giving Lightning six minutes of an extra skater. Inevitably, Tampa was going to score on a powerplay.

- Demoralizing result out of a period that was mostly dominated by the Habs. Lots of focus was on Chris Lee heading into the game, but it's Brad Watson who went overboard handing out hurtful penalties, a couple that were very questionable. In any case, Habs have to keep sticking to the plan - strong forecheck, get Tampa off balance in their zone, and pelt Bishop with shots. Bishop, I'm not convinced, is playing steady goaltending. On some shots he looks like a world beater (e.g. the shorthanded save on Mitchell), and others, he looks shaky as a leaf. Also surrendering plenty of loose pucks. Habs need to score dirty, and often, if they want to even this series.


Get in his face, boys. Rinse (very advisably). Repeat.

Puck drops at 6:10 EST. Pretty much a must-win for the Habs tonight. First time we've gone through this situation this season.

In his face. Right in his face.