Saturday, 6 February 2016

Game 53: Oilers vs Habs


- Habs and Oilers through 40 minutes. That 2nd period much better for the Habs, their possession numbers going from 38% in the 1st period, to 56% in the 2nd. 

- Habs powerplay strikes again, for all the wrong reasons. Pouliot, shorthanded, simply skates through the Habs retreating defenders, with Petry making a poor check attempt. Edmonton on the board, and the crowd suddenly gets nervous.

- Habs doing some lead sitting here, which for a normal team, might be the logical thing to do. But with this Habs team - they must keep pressing. More goals. More.

- Plekanec lines dazzling today. This time it's Galchenyuk with fantastic puck handling that completely tires out the Oilers in their zone, and Gilbert of all players, comes to the net to push the puck home. That's a clincher goal, for sure. 5-1 Habs.

- I can't quite possibly emphasize enough how bad this Edmonton Oilers defence has played today. One of the worst I've seen by any team in any game this year. 

- Once again, only Oilers line to really show up today was McDavid. Habs have basically swarmed every other Oilers player without a 97, 4 or 14 on their backs. 

- Habs live to see another day. And Therrien as well. McDavid line came up totally empty today, which was shocking, while the Plekanec line was simply fantastic. Habs also aided a bit by some decent puck luck, which they haven't seen much in more than two months. Habs win. Habs win.


- Habs and Oilers after 20 minutes. It was pretty one-sided, but we'll take two goals anyway they come. 

- Just a little FYI, Habs PDO is now down to 27th in the League, just a tad over 97, so a whole lotta puck luck is due their direction. It might be coming in their favour today. We'll see. 

- Gryba: When he isn't dishing out absurdly illegal and dirty checks, he's play acting. Smith-Pelly brushes his face with an arm, and Gryba goes down like he's take 15 or 20 MK-47 bullets. What a trash player.

- Ben Scrivens with a couple of great saves, while Edmonton being very sloppy with the puck in their zone, Eller and Weise with breakaway chances within 20 seconds of each other. Habs really needed to capitalize there. 

- Habs soundly outplaying the Oilers in this period, which is mildly surprising. The downside is that no goals are being produced, which may come back to haunt this psychologically-fragile Canadiens.

- Relief. Sweet relief. Another poor defensive play by the Oilers, shooting the puck up the boards from deep in their zone, creating a puck turnover, and a quick transition Plekanec shot hits a defender's skate and gives the Habs a precious 3-0 lead. The Oilers defence looking a lot like the Habs - defenders blindly shooting the pucks up the boards, resulting in unforced possession giveaways. It's not exactly what you would call a winning formula.

- Guess what the Habs didn't do today? A morning skate. Why NHL teams do these is mystifying. They're not practices, and every NHL player is in superb physical condition. Which means these routines are pointless - if anything, detrimental. 

- Subban. What a beautiful goal. With the McDavid line on the ice. Habs routing the Oilers. I'm stunned. Never saw this coming. 

- I had been thinking the Oilers had a half-decent shot at actually making the playoffs this year. As early as today. But after examining their defence today, I'm ready to rescind that sentiment. Incredibly awkward, sloppy and disorganized. No way they can compete with that blue line. No way.

- Habs dominate the period, and we're just baffled. Oilers doing themselves no favours with too many unforced errors, and lack of offensive push, the only exception being the McDavid line. Otherwise, the other Edmonton lines, and in particular their defence, have been pretty awful. Habs also benefiting from puck luck - the stars really coming aligned for Montreal this afternoon. 


- Good crowd in the Bell Centre today, to be expected, Saturday afternoon and all, and with McDavid on the ice. Expect this, however, to be the exception as the rest of the season winds down. Habs will be a tough sell, and may struggle to sell out many more games this year.

- It's been reported there are a whole lotta scouts from other teams in attendance today. It's a good bet they're not there to observe anyone from the Oilers. 

- Uh. This McDavid line. Oh. My. God. They're going to score about a kajillion points today.

- Just watch - let's see if (I'm assuming smart) Oilers coaching staff sends out McDavid line whenever Desharnais line goes out. I'm betting they will. 

- Yup. Mclellan is matching McDavid on Desharnais, and Therrien isn't picking it up. Woe are the Habs today. Woe are the Habs.

- Crazy. The Habs score first? ON THE POWERPLAY?! Plekanec with a one timer off a Markov pass, it probably should have been stopped, but still, WE TAKE WHAT WE CAN GET.

- Um, Plekanec is playing at another level. Not sure if he's enthused, mad or both. But it's working.

- Therrien madness. With last change, sends out Desharnais line against McDavid. Then Emelin gets nailed for a spear. With Beaulieu the healthy scratch. Good grief. 

- Scrivens, bless his heart, is doing everything possible to keep Edmonton off the board. He'll need the game of his life today. 

- Plekanec line is having an awfully good period of hockey. Still, it doesn't excuse Galchenyuk on the wing, which is an ongoing saga of deployment insanity. 

- Fleischmann with nifty pass to Lars Eller skating down the middle, a snap shot that Talbot muffs, and it's ... can we believe it ... 2-0 Habs?

- Oilers same old saga, incredible offence, but it's defence ... well ... it's still a mess. This has been going on for a remarkable 7 years, and counting. On full display this period. 

- Welp, Habs have a 2-0 lead after one period. I honestly can't remember the last time that happened. Of course, this game while the Habs were pretty soundly outplayed, but Edmonton let down badly by some pretty shoddy defensive zone coverage and some iffy net minding. Habs might actually catch a little luck reprieve today. Who knows. This team is so fragile, that it might (probably) take only one Oilers goal to start the walls caving in. Quite certain Edmonton knows this, so there's no reason for them to panic. 


So yesterday (Friday) morning, I fired up the ol' twittermobile, and saw this on my feed:
Woah! IT'S HAPPENING. MICHEL THERRIEN IS BEING FIR .. wait ...... Guy Carbonneau? Oh gawd, no. No. No. No. No.

Yes, only our beloved Habs could turn the thoughts of sweet merciful relief that would be the dismissal of Michel Therrien as head coach, into another nightmare scenario that would be the return of Guy Carbonneau as head coach.

Fortunetly, nothing transpired for the rest of the day. Well. Hold on.

 Oh, great. Our second best defenseman on a team loaded with defensive problems is mad. Great. What next?
Ya know, it's almost as though Therrien thinks of ways to make his team lose. Almost. So Beaulieu, at any given normal moment of time, a first line d-man, is getting scratched to make way for Barberio and Emelin?

Hey, Michel. Do you know who you're playing against today? It's the Edmonton Oilers. With Connor McDavid. Ring a bell? They've just come off a complete thumping of the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night, a game I watched, and was absolutely stunned by the Oilers incredible ability to move the puck up the ice.

That means, on any given normal moment of time, you want your absolute best defenders suited up and ready for play. That means you don't allow Alexei Emelin or Tom Gilbert to come within 10 miles of the Bell Centre. That doesn't mean you scratch your second best defender ... oh ... who am I kidding?

Habs are, in all likelihood, going to be destroyed today, or at the very least, soundly defeated.

Puck drops at 2:10 EST.

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