Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Game 44: Hawks vs Habs


- Habs and Hawks after 40, that 2nd period might have been in the top 3 of periods played by Montreal over the last two months:

- Of note, I think it's safe to say nobody is communicating to Therrien some of the raw data. Thomas Fleischmann, who has the worst CF% among all Habs players after 40 minutes (38.1%), has the most ice time among all Habs forwards.

- Hmm. Galchenyuk now playing on the wing next to Desharnais. One of Therrien's baseless hunches, methinks.

- Looks like Therrien has the blender out and running. Eller centering Fleischmann and Flynn. Uhhh .. no idea. Dunno what to say.

- Anyway, crazy line combinations aside, Habs continuing to apply pressure here, looking for the tying goal. Credit Habs for their efforts, at least.


- Habs and Hawks after 20 minutes. Pretty .. um .. bad.

- Well, it's not quite the same horrorshow as the first period, Habs seem to be settling down a little bit in their own zone, making it less of a freewheel for the Hawks offence.

- Pacioretty getting good looks tonight, just not clicking for him. We speculated last week that he was on the cusp of a big scoring outbreak, but that event never arrived. We're still waiting.

- Habs generating intense scoring flurry on Crawford, who just barely keeps his team ahead on the scoreboard. Barberio with some nifty passing courtesy smart decision making to set up the play. Habs getting close, here.

- Carr on the 4th line is just a total waste.

- Two shift, two huge bodychecks by Emelin, which may or may not give Habs some energy here. Plekanec with a chance that should have been buried. Habs winning the period, but not converting. You can only do this so long before there's a let-down.

- Quite a bounce-back period for Montreal - it's a very strange thing to witness. They looked so awful in the 1st, so good in the 2nd. Can't explain it, other than the defence doing a much better job covering their zones. Habs still a goal down, but reckon to have pretty good odds if they can carry the 2nd right through the 3rd. We'll see.

- Habs first powerplay of the night looked decent enough, but the unit struggled to set up any shots in and around the slot.

- Credit where it's due - Alexei Emelin has been excellent tonight. One of his strongest games in a very long time.

- It's only been happening for 15 minutes, but it's pretty clear that Galchenyuk next to Desharnais is a pretty bad move. Hopefully Therrien pulls the plug on this little experiment before it's too late.

- Habs with a pretty brave performance. After 1 period it looked pretty clear the Habs were well on their way to getting bombed tonight, but they've come out with two excellent periods against a great Chicago team. Will be very disappointing if they can't find a tying goal, given their tremendous efforts.

- Three minutes left, Hawks in full sit-on-the-lead mode. Can the Habs find a way?

- Nope. Exasperating. An heroic effort wasted, Corey Crawford was outstanding, but still, this Habs team can't use that an an excuse. The offence, once again, just couldn't bury their chances - and there were numerous ones generated tonight.

Eyes will again turn to Marc Bereavin. Will he do something, or will this season, with this incredibly deep Habs roster, be frittered away?


- With final change, there is no reason for Therrien to get outmatched tonight. That is to say, no reason why Emelin or Desharnais line should be out against either of the Hawks' two two lines.

- Sloppy turnover by Beaulieu with Hawks forwards doing some pretty aggressive forechecking, Deshnarnais forced to take a hooking penalty. Surely the Habs knew this was going to be Chicago's game plan, right?

- Alexei Emelin seems to be more focused on delivering thundering body checks than he is defending Blackhawk rushes. It's that kind of decision making that will inevitable burn the Habs against a team like Chicago.

- Habs lose zone faceoff, and proceed to completely lose all sense of structure, Toews with an easy tap in goal. Pretty abysmal stuff. Hawks have won 25 of 30 games this season in which they scored first.

- Hawks absolutely dominating the Habs, and then Desharnais carries the zone and feed Byron who knocks the puck off his body behind Crawford to even the score. Montreal will need many small miracles tonight, and that the score is tied right now is one.

- Habs defence is just a mess tonight. Again its the Petry/Beaulieu duo, again they're blinding firing pucks up the boards to try to clear the zone, again the Hawks are easily anticipating this terrible strategy, and again they strike again to make it 2-1. Condon doing his upmost, but pucks are coming at him from all directions, rapid-fire.

- Just watching this team is painful. It's simply unfathomable how a roster with so much talent is being made to look like AHL fodder against most of the NHL.

- Therrien sending out Emelin to handle Kane, which is just all kinds of insane. Fans starting to get very restless in the Bell Centre. For good reason.

- That was bad. Really bad. But pretty much what we feared. Hawks are playing at a completely different level than the Habs, who are mostly a defensive catastrophe. This game will almost certainly have a very ugly final result, unless the Canadiens are beneficiaries of some pretty spectacular puck luck, which isn't very likely (nor something you want to count on).


Are we in last place yet? (no). Is Michel Therrien out of a job yet? (no).  Is Devante Smith-Pelly STILL in the lineup? (no). Is ... woah ... wait. No?!

In case you haven't been paying attention, and heaven knows you'd be forgiven for just turning your head the other direction and ignoring the whole sorted affair - Alex Galchenyuk and Devante Smith-Pelly have been making some pretty stupid headlines in Montreal this week, after it was disclosed that Galchenyuk's (ex?) girlfriend had been chaged with assault. Apparently, this woman, who shall not be named, discovered Mr. Galchenyuk and Mr. Smith-Pelly together, which is innocuous enough. However, in this instances, Mr. Galchenyuk and Mr. Smith-Pelly were in the company of, shall we say, other individuals of the XY chromosomal variety. At that juncture, things got out of hand.

Actually, things really got out of hand when Mr. Galchenyuk, for reasons that still baffle the mind, was made to apologize to the city of Montreal for ... his girlfriend assaulting him (I guess?). Or maybe it was because Alex was being a bad boy in the company of other women? Who knows?!? The bottom line here is that the Montreal Canadiens are fast become the backside punch line of a bad joke, notwithstanding their abhorrent displays of actual hockey the past 45 days.

In any case, Mr. Smith-Pelly, one assumes because he was a participant in this tawdry affair, has been scratched for tonight's game.

So now, the traveling circus that are the Montreal Canadiens host the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks tonight. The Hawks, even though decimated by cap mismanagement the past few years at the cost of some pretty darned good hockey players, continue to just roll along in the Western Conference. There is no other way of explaining the Hawks continued path of success, except to look at what hasn't changed - Chicago's most excellent head coach Joel Quenneville, who has an uncanny knack of being able to turn whatever is shoved on his plate, into a four-star, three course hockey team.

Hey, remember the time when there were rumours flying when newly crowned Habs G.M. Marc Bergevin was knocking on Quenneville's door about filling a vacant head coaching job in Montreal? But then Marc remembered that Quenneville didn't speak french? So instead he hired Michel Therrien? Remember that? Yeah. Good times. Good times.


So tonight, Les Habs will face the music of having to face another well coordinated, well structured, well coached hockey team. The Hawks starting lineup tonight:

1: Shaw/Toews/Hossa
2: Panarin/Teravainen/Kane
3: Panik/Rasmussen/Garbutt
4: Mashinter/Danault/Desjardins

And for the Habs? It's:

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

Keys for the Habs tonight? Hope for a miracle? Keep Desharnais away from the Toews line? Keep Desharnais away from the Teravainen line? Maybe lock Desharnais away in a vault until 10:30 p.m.?

Corey Crawford will start in goal for the Hawks. Mike Condon for the Habs. Puck drops at 7:40 EST.


Closer. He's getting closer. It's gonna happen. Don't worry.

TVA Sports


Got sore eyes? That picture oughtta help a little.

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