Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Game 42: Devils vs. Habs


- Not an ideal start for the Habs, as Devils outskate Montreal's defence to get puck possession - Henrique redeflecting a shot past Condon. 2-1. This is not the kind of goal winning teams surrender when holding 3rd period leads. 

- 4 minutes into the period, Habs offence finding a little mojo, Plekanec batting a puck past Schneider with a high stick, but following shifts, additional pressure being applied in the Jersey zone. Habs are going to need at least 1 more tonight to secure a victory.

- Desharnais sent flying into the boards with a hit from behind by Severson -  and nothing called. Yet again, another example of NHL officiating letting the players down by not refusing to call the most egregious, violent violations. 

- Pretty low intensity period, given the score margin is just one goal. Long 12 minutes ahead for the Habs, who need to find a way of putting an insurance goal behind Schneider. 

- Beyond shooting or shovelling pucks up the boards, Alexei Emelin might be one of the worst defensemen in the NHL for feeding pucks to the forwards. It's a glaring weak spot on this Habs team, which for whatever reason, is never addressed.

- Looking for New Jersey to open things up a bit, perhaps a few pinches. So far, they're only playing their usual grinding, defence-first game. There are only 7 minutes left in the 3rd.

- Alright, Jersey finally now pinching defence, which might give Habs some chances here. 

- Beaulieu/Subban reunited!! 

- Less than 5 minutes left, Devils generate very good scoring chance off a Condon rebound, but the Habs netminder makes a nice save to keep his team ahead. Quiet, but solid night for him.

- Habs 4th line gets time with 3 minutes left, which is just all kinds of poor deployment. Not surprisingly, the Devils pin the Canadiens in their zone for almost all the duration of the shift. 

- Well, less than 2 left. I guess the Habs are going to try to squeak this one out.

- 1 minute left. Okay Jersey. You're going to have to open up .. like .. now.

- Why is Desharnais on the ice with less than a minute left??!?

- Habs hang on for a less than inspiring win. Offence continues to look pretty meek, which does not bode well for this team as we head into January. Still think something meaningful, if not profound, will need to be done if this Habs team is going to turn their season around. That might mean a coaching change, or a significant player trade. We'll see what happens in the days ahead.


- Okay, let's see how this clean, fast sheet of ice works for the Habs to start the 2nd on the powerplay.

- Lots of talk about P.K. Subban this week, and that he's got just one goal this season. P.K.'s shooting percentage this season is 0.9%, which is atrocious when you consider the average percentage is around 7-8%. I think much of Subban's problems has been often having to shoot from the off-wing (a Therrien decision), and just plain bad luck. Habs 2nd powerplay, as seemingly per usual, goes nowhere.

- Habs 4th line is generating almost no energy. That line needs some serious restructuring.

- This period. Zzzz ... Mike Condon barely tested with a shot first 6 minutes.

- Ruutu with a terrible tripping penalty (to take) in the Habs zone. Very bad decision making on his part, but it's tempered by the fact that it's the Habs on the powerplay.

- Oh, P.K. Flubs a pass to the point, and then gets nailed for a hook while - retreating. Thus endeth the powerplay.

- Therrien sends out Mitchell/Byron on the 4-on-4 because ... (?)

- Note to self: Do never use Jeff Petry in a shootout. 

- Jersey has been doing a decent enough job gaining the zone, but has struggled to set up high percentage shots on goal - they love to grind out scoring chances, it's definitely not pretty to watch.

- Oooh, did Mike Johnson just drop mention about Michel Therrien's future? I think he just did.

- Great rush by the Habs, with Subban joining the play, Beaulieu with a wrist shot that generates a huge rebound that Subban would have easily put in, if he had continued the rush. But he peeled back. That's part of the Subban issue - playing too conservative. But that's been specifically designed by Therrien in the 3 years he's been behind the bench. To squeeze any semblance of creativity out of the Habs best defenseman in 25 years.

- Galchenyuk line seemingly the only one able/capable/desiring to implement an aggressive forecheck. Not surprisingly, they're earning the lion's share of Habs scoring chances tonight. 

- Andrighetto's stick literally slashed into two pieces, and nothing called. NHL officiating drives me crazy - why nobody seems willing to crack down on violent stick work is dumbfounding. There should be zero tolerance for this kind of nonsense.

- Hah. Irony. Tootoo played that broken stick that was slashed out of Andrigehtto to break up a play, and Desharnais gets a penalty shot as a result. Big opportunity here.

- Good lord. What a terrible attempt by Desharnais. Words escape me of how poor that was. And another opportunity lost.

- Desharnais laughing on the bench about that attempt. Not sure what's so funny. This team is starved for any kind of goal scoring, and is in danger of slipping out of a playoff spot. Har, har?

- Devils powerplay is indeed,-  a mess. Poor cross ice pass at the line gives Habs shorthanded two-on-one, Byron with a sweet toe drag and pass to Mitchell for the goal. 2-0 Montreal on a semi-gift goal.

- Habs enjoy a 2-0 lead at the break, in yet another period that they were arguably outplayed by their opponent. Still waiting for some signs of life from forwards who need to start making contributions to the scoresheet sooner rather than later. Desharnais and Eller at the forefront there.


- I don't care what anyone says, Sara Diamond is one of the best.

- Smith-Pelly on the 4th line, it's becoming increasingly clear that the number of chances he's got left finding a way into the lineup, is getting pretty small.

- Pacioretty nearly sent in all alone, and almost benefits from an empty net, nearly identical to last night when he nearly tied the game with 10 seconds left. Patches continues to show all the signs of being on the cusp of breaking out big-time. He's always scored in bunches, and another bunch is overdue.

- I cannot imagine how anyone could be a rabid fan of the Devils. Their style and structure of hockey is as boring as ever. Has been for more than 20 years. This game, with checking very tight, is already shaping up to be a snoozer.

- Galchenyuk lines certainly looks like the most sprite for the Habs tonight, so far they've really been the only unit to give this structured defensive-first Devils team something to handle.

- Devils have a pretty good 4th line - something the Habs have been searching for since their excellent October. Torrey Mitchell's game has clearly fallen off since coming back from injury, while plugs like Smith-Pelly aren't really bringing much to the table.

- Devils doing a much better job in O zone, out checking the Habs by a considerable margin, and generating a significant possession edge. 

- There really should be no good reason for Jersey to be out-skating the Habs, but 15 minutes though the 1st, they're winning most of the races to the puck.

- Alexei Emelin, being stupid again, goes for the big hit instead of the smart play - the hit being too late, and it gives the Devils a powerplay. How Emelin continues to get starts over more capable bodies like Pateryn and Tinodri, I'll never understand.

- Pretty unimpressive powerplay for New Jersey - this unit has taken a dip of late, just seem to lack any kind of organization. Teams go through these funks, it looks like the Devils, who are actually pretty good with the man advantage, are stuck in one.

- Beaulieu/Petry unit doing the best job moving the puck out of Habs zone, also feeding forwards at centre. Still waiting for the Subban/Beaulieu reunion, whenever that happens.

- Habs powerplay - Markov and Subban working the point, which we haven't seen in a couple of weeks.

- Therrien sending Desharnais out on first unit, which is just an anchor on everyone else - still can't figure out what Therrien sees with DD on the PP unit. He's done nothing there for nearly two months.

- Pacioretty gets a little break redeflects a pass to the slot, with Gallagher right in Schneider's face. The Devils think it's interference. I don't see any. Devils are challenging the goal. I think this won't go anywhere.

- Man, if Gallagher is nailed again costing another goal ...

- I don't see it. What a pathetic challenge by Jersey. No way they're going to call this one off.

- Good goal. No surprise. 1-0 Habs. 

- Late interference goal on the Devils, which gives the Habs a clean sheet of ice to work with for nearly 2 minutes, to start the 2nd period (a significant advantage).

- Nice to see the Habs come out ahead after 20 minutes, although the Devils did have a defined edge in possession for most off the period. Montreal needs to do a better job on the forecheck, in order to generate a bit more pressure and game time in the New Jersey zone.


Last night was a pretty sad indictment of this team's fortunes, or lack thereof. Will tonight be any better? Will a return to home base make this lost Habs team suddenly found again? Will Devante Smith-Pelly make an actual valuable contribution? Many questions, few answers.

Also, live blog will be delayed a few hours. So don't come lookin' here for any live analysis.


Oh man, is it nice to be home. Finally. Game tonight (early start!), so here are notes that we'll update as the day progresses:

- Devante Smith-Pelly had one heckova terrible game last night, coming off the healthy scratch list - which is quite amazing because you'd kind of expect somebody in his position to do everything to avoid stinking out the joint. So it came as no surprise this afternoon when Michel Therrien announced that Sven Andrighetto, who sat out last night to make way for Smith-Pelly, would be in the lineup tonight. What really came as a surprise is that Tomas Fleischmann will be in the pressbox, and Smith-Pelly is getting another start. Oookay then.

- Mike Condon will start in goal. Ben Scrivens, it should be noted, is 2-for-2 in giving the Habs solid starts.

- Apparently Vincent Lecavalier is on the trading block, and for the love of everything precious, let all all hope that he's not on Marc Bergevin's panic button radar.

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