Thursday, 3 March 2016

Game 65: Habs vs. Kings


- Heh. What a start. Kopitar before even a minute has passed. 1-0 Kings.

- Um, pretty awful start for the Habs, who look nothing like they did last night against Anaheim. Slow, disorganized, the same old Habs!!

- And ... we're off the cliff already. Pearson. Utter chaos in Habs zone. 2-0.

- Ben Scrivens, not entirely his fault so far, but fans of this guy might want to watch very closely, because I have severe doubts his NHL career will extend beyond this season.

- Took half a damn period of the Habs to register their first shot on goal. Byron, for what it's worth. Canadiens are absolutely getting schooled by Los Angeles, whom, as we mentioned in the pregame preview, play a very structured game - which is the exact opposite approach taken by the Montreal Canadiens.

- One of the big issues this year (it's a long list) of this team is their powerplay. If you watch it in all of its dysfunctional glory, you might note how stationary the players are when possession is attained. The passing is fine, but movement is limited. Which makes the Canadiens' man advantage relatively easy to defend against. The good League powerplays emphasize player movement and puck cycling. Habs simply don't have that - indicative of poor structure, indicative of lacklustre coaching.

- Woosh, was the sound P.K. Subban's shot made blasting past Quick blocker side. Unstoppable. Gets the Habs back (a little bit) into this hockey game.

- Pretty dismal period of hockey for the Candiens, even with the late Subban goal. Montreal totally outclassed by a team that on paper, doesn't have a whole lot more talent than the Canadiens, but behind the bench, have eons more structure. It's really disheartening to watch a game like this - to see the team you've long cheered for long made to look so amateurish against an organization that up until 5 or 6 years ago, had little history of excellence.


- Habs and Kings after 20 minutes. As lopsided as you might have thought it would be.

- Habs Plekanec line getting roundly thumped in that first period, the Kings using smart line matching to not only contain the Habs "first" line, but roundly out possess them during the period.

- I'll be more than happy to observe - Mike Brown is a total waste of a lineup speak. What was Bergevin thinking? What is Therrien thinking?

- Lucic goes nuts after receiving a little bump behind the Habs net from Pateryn. I'd use a word to describe Lucic, but I don't want to offend my cat.

- Habs more or less just kind of hanging around, throwing darts in the dark, hoping something will hit. Kings are taking their time, setting up plays, being creative. Let's just say, sooner, rather than later, this game will tilt heavily in Los Angeles' favour on the scoreboard.

- Therrien putting McCarron between Brown and De La Rose, which is an experiment in futility. Just drawing names from a hat, I suspect.

- Pacioretty accidentally plays the puck into the Kings bench, and for reasons that are a total mystery to yours truly is being called for delay of game.

- Meanwhile, as the officials were busy giving Pacioretty a bogus delay of game call, Danault gets high sticked in the face. No call there, of course.

- Credit when due watch: Alexei Emelin. Physical, doing a good job anticipating the play, and disrupting Kings scoring attempts.

- Well, I guess credit to the Habs for hanging around after 40 minutes. Still, this game is soundly in control for L.A., they're suffocating any Habs attempts in their zone, which is being aided by weird line combinations being tossed up by Therrien. Canadiens with dizzying line combos tonight, which is severely preventing Montreal from generating any kind of offensive momentum. One more period to suffer through.


- Habs and Kings after 40 minutes. Pretty much same story as the first, with L.A. controlling play and tempo. 2nd period was tight checking, the Kings doing their usual suffocation of inferior opponents strategy. With the Habs barely able to muster up a dangerous shot on Quick, sans Subban's goal, everything still very much on pace for an L.A. victory tonight.

- Therrein recycling make-it-up-as-you-go line combinations from the 2nd period. Offence, as you'd anticipate, firmly stuck in 1st gear.

- Subban, trying to make something happen, can't find anyone open from centre ice, mainly because Habs offence is in complete chaos because of the crazy line shifts, and ends up falling on his face, surrendering the puck to King, who with one slight fake, makes Scrivens looks bad. Killer third goal. And now everything shall unravel.

- Habs survice a slew of questionable calls by the refs, but it really doesn't matter. Canadiens utterly lacking any sort of coherence tonight - the Kings doing the bare minimum coasting their way to victory. Why expend effort unnecessarily?

- Eller/Galchenyuk/Gallagher. It's been what - almost two years since? I guess Therrien figures, wat da hell why not?

- Eller catches Quick sleeping with a wrister that beats him glove side, and incredibly, the Habs have a sliver of hope. 6 minutes left, 3-2 Kings.

- Habs have only shot two dangerous pucks at Quick tonight, and both have beaten him. You'd think that would be inspiration for this team to just start firing at him with every opportunity. You'd think.

- Habs run out of time, without getting another quality shot on Quick. Nice to see the EGG line back together. But again, another loss. Poor game plan, iffy goaltending, more or less the same old same old. This season can't end quickly enough.


Carey Price spoke to the scrum of media that is Montreal hockey earlier today, and he said pretty much what was to be expected. His recovery is coming along fine,  there's been no setback in his progress (even though he was originally due to play way back in January), he's hoping to play before the end of the season. If he doesn't, then oh well. Maybe next year. Non-answer answers. What's the injury exactly? HA. You think the Montreal Canadiens are going to suddenly become transparent about its players? Good luck with that.


- Habs lineup tonight will be the same, with exception to Mike Brown getting back into the lineup, while Sven Andrighetto sits. Ben Scrivens will get the start (facing his old team). Morgan Ellis, who had a fine NHL debut last night, gets another start tonight (thereby making Victor Bartley a healthy scratch).

- Speaking of debuts, Kris Versteeg will make his first appearance in an L.A. Kings uniform tonight since being acquired at the trade deadline from the Carolina Hurricanes. Look for Versteeg to slot in on the Kings' second line next to Jeff Carter.

- The trade for Versteeg, no doubt, was an attempt to boost the Kings' flagging fortunes on offence this season. Although Los Angeles' outputs have improved this season compared to last (from 18th ranked to 13th), it remains an ongoing concern for the organization as it gears up for the post-season. The mediocre scoring results continue to fly in the face of the Kings' overall excellence in puck possession - Los Angeles CF (5v5) is number 1 in the League at 55.9%, a stat they led last year (at 54.7%), in 2013-14 (at 56.8%), in 2012-13 (at 56.3%), and, if you can believe it, were only 2nd overall in 2010-11 at a paltry 54.8%. Anyway, credit that to great organizational coaching that knows how to organize and play very structured hockey (something Habs fans can only dream of), which has its benefiting spin-off effects, such as a pretty good powerplay (5th ranked), shot production (2nd ranked), shot allowance (5th ranked). I suppose what I'm saying here is, the Kings are contenders this year.

- Puck drops tonight at 10:40 EST. So get that coffee maker prepped and ready to rock.

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