Saturday, 23 January 2016

Game 48: Habs vs. Leafs


- So will Therrien put Markov out in OT?

- Heck of an entertaining OT, pretty shady defence both ways, but the finishers in question, DD, couldn't finish.

- Habs really needed to win that via 3-on-3 because Mike Condon, full respect, is not good in shootouts. Heavy, heavy Leafs advantage here.

- A nail-biter shootout, Lars Eller a deserved hero. We breath. Habs ... win?? Yes they did.


- Habs and Leafs after 40 minutes, Leafs with not so much a great 2nd period, more a reflection of how poorly Habs performed in that frame.

- Eler line is having an amazing night for the Habs, Lars' CF% after 40 minutes is a crazy 88% (!!!!), and yet, he, and the rest of his mates, are fighting hard to see much in the way of shifts. This Habs team defines dysfuctionality to the extreme.

- Is there any bigger diver/embellisher in the NHL than Kadri? You can't take anything he does seriously.

- Leafs pressing out of the gate, Habs need an insurance goal desperately, because when you're a losing team like the Habs, you'll find a way of losing.

- Whelp, too late. Lupul off a juicy Condon rebound ties the game. That great first period, just a distant memory. Habs on their way towards another loss. You can just feel it coming.

- Habs, to borrow a three year old phase coined by Mike Cammalleri, play like a loser. It's now firmly in their heads, and the deeper that's embedded, the more difficult it is to overcome.

- Desharnais line nearly twice as much ice time as the Eller line, even though possession is night-and-day in comparison between the two. Insane.

- Gallagher a quick blind shot beats Reimer clean, hits far post, then drifts right across on the line. Pretty symbolic for this team this year. Nothing going right, no bounces going their way.

- Habs with a powerplay chance, at least this time Therrien sends out Plekanec line to start the man advantage.

- Atrocious powerplay attempt. Just atrocious. No other way of describing it.

- Habs "earn" at least a point against a pretty awful opponent. An average team would have put the Leafs away in the 2nd period. An average team. This Habs team is not average. It's awful. Defence is dysfunctional, powerplay in an abomination, and the coach continues to make baffling deployment choices. Leads blown, games blown, points blown. There appears to be no bottom for this hockey team.


- Habs and Leafs after 20. It's hard to believe that the Leafs will be worst in the 2nd period. They were really that bad in the 1st:

- Carr thinks he scored on a wraparound, but no replay is conclusive. The NHL could very easily implement goal line technology, but why do something that makes total sense?

- Another bad defensive breakdown, Subban who's struggled tonight, with a poor decision to pinch hard, leaving Markov in the lurk, and because Andrei can't stake any more, the Leafs had free-flight on Condon. Kadri makes it 2-1. Bad teams, like the Habs, do this night in, night out.

- Habs powerplay a terrible mess, no shots, no scoring chances, and Dale Weise gets nailed for 2 minutes at the end. The Canadiens man advantage has been running at an awful 9% success clip since early December, and yet nobody is held accountable.

- Leafs powerplay, they do everything the Habs haven't. Puck to the net, dangerous scoring attempts, bodies around the goal and in the slot. I mean, this isn't really rocket science. And yet, the Habs never figure it out, because nobody is held accountable.

- Habs sitting back much of this period, while the Leafs doing their best to at least keep their head above water. Habs searching for that magical goal #3, of which they've done very few times since the club starting going off a cliff December 3rd.

- Habs defence continues to be awful getting the puck to the forwards. Just passing the pucks up the boards, like they do almost all the time, and the Leafs have adjusted, anticipating the play, and generating zone turnovers, which is in turn generating shots and momentum.

- 2nd period, yup this is the Habs team we've come to know and not love the past two months. Really sloppy in their own zone, breakouts are awful, puck control by the defence just awful, the basics, the fundamentals, are simply not there. This team played like a loser in the 2nd as they have for 8 straight weeks. Leafs, who are totally overmatched, easily win the period, and may very well win the game.


- It's not rocket science to say that a productive David Desharnais will make this Habs team imminently more competitive. So it's heartening to see him actually score a goal to give the Habs an early lead.

- Plekanec line buzzing all over this weak Toronto defence, while Babcock matches his troops against the Habs weak 4th line.

- Habs first powerplay is a oh-fer, the same old symptoms. Lots of passing, but no real dangerous shots.

- Habs look like they're going back to last year's offensive template of dump-and-chase. So far it's worked against an overmatched team like the Leafs, beyond this game, however, that's a losing strategy.

- Pretty atrocious period for the Leafs, at least first 11 minutes. Almost no meaningful puck possession, Condon facing virtually no shots.

- Another nothing powerplay. Lots of zone time, lots of passing, but no real threatening scoring chances being generated. It's easy to look pretty, but it means nothing if you can't at least fire challenging shots at opposing goalies.

- Leafs breakouts so far have been atrocious, as in, they haven't had anything resembling one.

- Just rewards for the #Habs, as Fleischmann scores to give the Habs a 2-0 lead. That's something we haven't seen for awhile - Montreal actually finishing while dominating.

- Pretty solid period for the Habs, everyone playing well except for the 4th line (but that's an old story). Subban and Markov again looked a little shaky, I'm not sure what it's going to take to get Therrien to give Andrei a couple of days off. Maybe he's hoping to limp him through to the All-Star break? It's genuine folly.

Graham Hughes, La Presse

This weekend I'm writing an article about Marc Bergevin - specically the media conference he held on Thursday, to address the numerous questions revolving around the team in the midst of the worst stretch of hockey in more than 80 franchise years. While Bergevin was straighforward on some questions, he was evasive, even cryptic about others. Regardless, lines have been drawn, and I'll be taking a look at where this team is headed, and the future of Bergevin, in the days ahead.

Meanwhile, we do have a hockey game coming up tonight in Toronto, and it does feature a few lineup changes for the Habs, with some players out of the lineup because of injury. Paul Byron has been sidelined, which significantly reduces the Canadiens' speed at offence. So with him removed, the lineup will look as such:

Line 1: Pacioretty/Plekanec/Gallagher
Line 2: Galchenyuk/Desharnais/Weise
Line 3: Fleischmann/Eller/Carr
Line 4: Flynn/Mitchell/Smith-Pelly


I'm not going to get all nit-picky about the same old things, but really, it's the same old thing. Poor line structures. The Desharnais-Galchenyuk combination has been awful, but they still plug along. Andrei Markov, who's desperate for some kind of ice time relief, is again on the #1 line with Subban, while Beaulieu, for reasons that are beyond me, gets demoted to 3rd pairing along with Barberio.

In any case, the Habs are moving forward for the rest of the year with what they've got on, and behind the bench. That much is clear from Bergevin's statement.

Who knows? Perhaps that will have a positive effect in helping the team to rally. Or, it could result in this team going through three more months of dreadful hockey.

In any case, the schedule is finally granting relief to the Habs. From this point forward, the vast majority of their games will be against teams with sub .500 records.

Mike Condon is in net for the Habs. Puck drops at 7:30 p.m., EST.

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