Monday, 25 January 2016

Game 49: Habs vs. Blue Jackets


- Habs and Blue Jackets after 40 minutes, with the 30th place team taking it to the Habs in the 2nd period:

- Clean sheet of ice, Habs powerplay to start the period goes absolutely nowhere. Not even to generate a little momentum. 

- Desharnais line with their best shift of the night, Barberio nearly backhanding one in, Habs appear to have some wind in their sails. Surely this team knows it cannot afford to lose two "easy" points.

- Puck luck still violently against Habs, point shot hits Petry and goes right on the stick of Saad, who has 6 feet of wide open net to choose from. This team, I tells ya ... 

- Less than 6 minutes left, desperate times ... so Therrien puts out the 4th line, which has been a train wreck the past two months. We shrug our shoulders.

- Sense of urgency? Habs trouncing the Jackets for shot attempts in this 3rd period, but nothing really urgent. Team needs to push with everything they've got.

- Columbus just dumping, icing, repelling pretty much every Habs "attempt" to attack the zone. Canadiens have 4 minutes left. You'd never know it watching right now, though.

- Why is Therrien sending out the 4th line with 3 minutes left? WHY.

- Dismal. Habs couldn't even gain zone possession. Just dismal. Habs lose to 30th ranked Blue Jackets. Just. Abysmal.


- Habs and Blue Jackets after 20 minutes:

- More sloppy zone play by the Habs defence, coughing up the puck deep, with Atkinson with a meek backhander that Condon whiffs on. 2-1 Columbus. Sigh. Habs can't afford to surrender weak goals like that.

- Plekanec line, and Galchenyuk in fine form tonight, the later determined to do it all on his own (to his detriment, I suppose).

- Uh. Kay. Subban with a shot from centre ice that Korpisalo can't pick up, an incredibly weird goal. Then the officials give Subban a two minute unsportsmanlike call after he gives Dubinsky a little shove while going back to his bench. An incredible call by an NHL official, giving us all the fodder we require with the belief this League's officials target P.K. 

- Kendrick Nicholson, who officiated his very first NHL game 8 days ago, gave Subban that penalty. Not saying the League is breeding a new generation of targeting officials, but that's definitely not a good sign.

- Puck luck (negative) continuing the hamper the Habs - Eller a crossbar in the first, Petry a post in the 2nd. 

- Win or lose, there will be conversation about that Subban penalty, because his minor denied the Habs of momentum they would have enjoyed from tying the game.

- Not a good period for the Habs, started slowly, then made more deep zone errors, undisciplined penalties, and Condon failing to stop a routine backhand shot. Subban managed to get the Habs back on even terms, but the Habs simply can't afford to play the 3rd like they play the 2nd, or another loss is on the way.


- So Subban will start after all, the question being, will tonight's Subban be the regular P.K., or the one we saw struggle through much of the game Saturday night.

- Jackets starting their backup tonight in Korpisalo, so Habs would be wise to shoot early and often.

- Habs defence continues to struggle effectively moving the puck out of their zone, doing the usual bank job along the boards, which two times out of three, results in a puck turnover. Columbus' defence by contrast, more patient, more effective moving the puck forward.

- A Habs-friendly bounce? Yup. A Habs-friendly bounce, with Gallagher a shot that goes off Jack Johnson's foot and in. 1-0 early. 

- Lars Eller continues to play excellent hockey, especially so since his return to his natural position at centre. Hopefully that will be the end of his endless shuffle from there to wing.

- Habs with blind attempt to clear the zone by firing the pucks up the boards (Barberio) results in, you guessed it, a direct turnover, and zone coverage chaos, with Atkinson burying the puck to tie the game at 1. It's maddening to see again and again, how poorly this team handles the puck in its own zone.

- Carr takes an awkward spill into the boards, his leg getting pinned under his body. On the bench in obvious discomfort, has missed two consecutive shifts. 

- Now Torrey Mitchell is off to the room, with a leg injury. 

- One period down, Habs the better team, much more puck possession and shot attempts, but it still isn't going to mean a hill of beans unless this team takes firm steps towards correcting its sloppy play, specifically in its own zone. This team is getting killed firing pucks up the boards, giving the puck away, and scoring chances. 

John Tortorella! How is this guy even employed? Well he is, and he's the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. I'd had this date circled with great anticipation because it always brings joy to my heart to have my team beat one of his teams. So I've been, to say the least pretty bummed out this week because Tortorella won't be behind the bench tonight because he's recovering from broken ribs. DENIED. Gawd. This season has sucked.

Anyway, besides not getting to beat Tortorella, are we dream to dream the undreamable? Dare we think the unthinkable? A Montreal Canadiens winning streak?

Well hey, that's what's up for grabs tonight as the Habs take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in Ohio. The Canadiens, fresh off their skin-of-the-teeth win over the hapless Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night, look to get back into the playoff race with a (count 'em!!!) 2nd straight win.

The Jackets, in case you somehow missed it, pulled off a rather large trade three weeks ago, in which they sent young star forward Ryan Johansen to Nashville, in return for young star defenseman Seth Jones.

The net effect from this trade since it was announced? Both the Jackets and Predators have fallen off the cliff, with Nashville putting up a 3-5 record, being outscored 21-23, while the Jackets have faired even worse, going 2-6 since the deal, in which they've been outscored 18-28.

See? Making big deals does not necessarily cure all that ails a team, something every Habs fan should take to heart, and Marc Bergevin ought readily consider.

So the Habs might, yes ... just might have a decent shot of actually winning their second straight game tonight. Although even that hope is being tempered by news that P.K. Subban has been puking his guts out the past 24 hours, and may or may not be available for play. If Subban can't play tonight, it'll be the first time ever, yes ... ever, that Subban will miss a game because of injury or sickness.

In any case, with or without Subban, the Habs will tackle this Blue Jackets lineup:

L1: Junner/Dubinsky/Atkinson
L2: Hartnell/Wennberg/Saad
L3: Foligno/Karlsson/Rychel
L4: Calvert/Campbell/Bourque



Habs will be playing same lineup as Saturday, and if Subban can't go, Greg Pateryn will probably slot in for third line duty, likely promoting Beaulieu up on the first line next to Markov.

Mike Condon in goal for the Habs.

Puck drops at 7:10 EST.

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