Friday, 1 January 2016

Game 40: Habs vs. Bruins


- Habs and Bruins after 40 minutes. Yup.

- Dale Weise won't return today (upper body injury). Now we wonder how serious the injury is, and whether this opens the door for Andrighettos' return.

- Bruins seem to be out with a little more oomph this period - Habs seem to be pretty indifferent about allowing them to gain zone entry without too much difficulty.

- Gallagher blocking shots from the points. The rest of us hold our breath.

- Bruins score, their "oomph" finally paying off as the Habs are being way too passive this period. McQuaid with a shot that might have changed directions.

- Okay Habs, are we awake now?

- Habs with some decent possession - waters calming a little bit. Still, one doesn't quite have the sense that the lead is totally safe - not after the trauma endured throughout December.

- Mad scramble in front of Condon, and with bodies flying everywhere looking for a loose puck, Rinaldo sucker punches Subban in the face. Classy.

- This game is way too wide open, Bruins really coming hard at Condon, zone entries have been far too free-wheeling. Ut oh.

- Boston pressing hard, pinching hard, and it finally bites them. Off a turnover at the Habs blue line off a bad pinch, Gallagher feeds Pacioretty who buries this game once and for all. 4-1.

- Brendan Gallagher. It's like he never missed a game. He's not missed a beat today. If Pacioretty is this team's best forward, Gallagher makes a pretty good case for being a close second.

- Garbage time hockey now, so Habs need to be aware of garbage plays by garbage Bruins players who've taken numbers.

- Claude Julien, as per how he is as a human being, sends out his goons for the final shift, Rinaldo included.

- Not much of a "classic" game, given how one-sided the game was. Habs were soft in the 3rd, which I suppose is to be expected. Still, it was an excellent day all-around for the Canadiens, who played like an entirely different team with Brendan Gallagher back in the lineup. With Therrien finally being forced to move Pacioretty off of Desharnais' futile wings, the Canadiens immediately became a more balanced, more dangerous team. So the new year starts on a very positive note - the Habs will now enjoy an extended break before playing their final game of this nightmare 8 game road trip. But one gets the sense from today's game, that things are going to be okay with this team.


- Habs and Bruins after 20 minutes. Habs 5v5 corsi (all situations) was an incredible 86.7%:

- I would fully expect the Bruins to come out pretty hard, given the assumed tongue lashing the received during the intermission. We'll see how the Habs respond.

- Habs more strong forechecking to start the period. Winning a lot of puck battles along the boards.

- Same thing, pays off finally. Forecheck another turnover, puck won along the boards, and Byron slams home a rebound off an Emelin point shot. 2-0. Habs continuing to dominate here.

- If not for Rask, this game could (should be) 4 or 5-0. There's literally been almost zero action on Habs side of centre.

- Habs shot attempts are about 6/1 ratio, which is all kinds of domination.

- Phantom hooking call on Eller. Officials trying to intervene on what has been a massacre so far.

- Another amazing soft call against the Habs, this time a holding call on Beaulieu. Officials seem determined to give the fans something, anything, to cheer about.

- Dale Weise in the dressing room. Pretty sure his absence won't have the same effect as Gallagher's.

- Habs all kinds of pressure off some pretty fierce zone entries, Gallagher missing a glorious chance point blank in front of Rask. Habs agonizingly close to salting this game away for good.

- Welcome back, Brendan Gallagher. Nifty tip in off a Pacioretty tip towards the net. 3-0 Habs. A few weeks ago when nothing was going right, a play like that probably wouldn't have resulted in a goal. Now the bounces are finally going Montreal's way.

- Plekanec with astoundingly stupid play, batting a meaningless puck high in the air with his stick and directly over the glass, giving him a delay-of-game. Mike Condon with a second left, bails Plecks out.

- Another dominative period for the Habs, with possession evening up slightly, but the Canadiens justly rewarded with two more goals to take a stranglehold of this game. Again, Habs tenacious forecheck paying off huge benefits, basically taking Boston completely off their game. Bruins only really able to generate some kind of offence via two gift penalty calls by the officials, but it made little difference. Most lopsided game I've ever seen played between these two teams in the near 40 years of watching this game.


- This:

- Okay, this pregame stuff, the horrible music, the gun shooting, the flames of fire, the trumpets ... ridiculous spectacle.

- Habs defence right off the bat, chipping pucks up the boards instead of looking for forwards free to receive a pass in the neutral zone. Hope we're not reverting back to last year's Habs, because that's something last year's Habs did constantly.

- Well that's a nice start. Weise a shot that Rask flubs, Desharnais bats home the rebound, and Habs take a quick 1-0 lead. Desharnais' first goal in nearly 1/3rd of an NHL regular season.

- Kevan Miller is the Bruins' version of Alexei Emelin, only worse. Therrien would be wise to match up heavy whenever he steps on the ice.

- Julien being pretty passive about line matching - if Therrien is paying attention, there are opportunities at hand. Powerplay now.

- Zero-for, but Gallagher was camped right in front of Rask, who had to make a couple of good saves off rebounds. Already seeing an improvement from that unit. Why others with size have been unable or unwilling (*cough* Smith-Pelly *cough*) to use their size during Gallagher's absence, I'll never understand.

- Habs with massive possession advantage first 10 minutes of this period. Bruins struggling to move the puck effectively out of their zone, and generating almost nothing via zone entries. Habs look pretty organized so far, certainly more so than they looked during their swing through Florida.

- Habs well over 80% possession as we near the end of the 1st period. Habs would certainly benefit from padding their lead a little - they've certainly earned that.

- Habs forecheck has been relentless, really pushing the Bruins off their game. It's not a sustainable strategy, but it certainly appears to be causing much frustration on the Boston bench.

- Gallagher was injured? Sure doesn't look like it from what I've seen this period.

- Total domination by the Habs in that period. As I said, this isn't sustainable, with possession nearly 90%. But still, Habs looked far, far more organized than they have in at least two weeks. Bruins simply looking unprepared, and if not for Rask, this game could easily be 2 or 3-0.


For reasons I'm not going to get into detail, there's not a lot I'm posting in advance of this Winter Classic game. So instead of a full-blown game preview, here's a monkey washing a cat:

Okay, okay. Maybe a few notes about the game:

- Michel Therrien is scratching Jared Tinordi and Greg Pateryn, which means Alexei Emelin starts. Also on the you-can't-play-list, Devante Smith-Pelly.

- Oh yeah. Another guy will play today. Somebody named Brendan Gallagher. Name rings a bell.

- Even though Ben Scrivens looked pretty damn good in Sunrise, Mike Condon will start today.

- HEY, here are the Habs lines:

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

- Little greasy rat-faced-bastard, sorry, I mean, Brad Marchand, won't play because he played dirty a few nights ago and got caught. Serving 3 game suspension.

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