Saturday, 5 March 2016

Game 66: Habs vs. Jets


- It don't mean a hill of beans that Galchenyuk is playing centre if he doesn't get adequate ice time. We'll monitor closely how Therrien deploys his lines tonight.

- Good first shift for the AK27 line, with Pacioretty nearly scoring off a hard wrist shot that gets through Jets starter Pavalec, but squirts wide of the post.

- Jets definitely the faster of the two teams out of the gate, which shouldn't be. But then the Habs don't like to play "individualistic", do they?

- AK27 line really carries the zone well with Galchenyuk leading the way. Such an improvement over what we've seen among everybody else on this team the whole year. That said, Pacioretty takes a shot that hits Gallagher in the hand that was broken back in October. Hold your breath.

- Gallagher's fine. Relief. Meanwhile, first half of the period pretty much a way, although the Habs rushes are definitely more dangerous than the Jets' have been, most notability the AK27 line's.

- Oh gawd, Gallagher off to the dressing room. You cannot be serious.

- Mike Johnson on the HNIC has been relentless in passive criticism of Michel Therrien, putting up all the numbers showing how Galchenyuk's is superior at centre, and wondering out loud how Therrien doesn't seem to either accept, or understand the statistical basics.

- Even period, but depressing nonetheless, with Gallagher getting hurt in just the 2nd shift with Galchenyuk and Pacioretty. What a ridiculously frustrating turn in a depressing season. It's like the Habs could have *nothing* good this year. And so it goes on.


- Guess the eye test deceived me. I thought it was evenly played, turned out the possession stats disagreed. 37.5 CF (5v5) for Montreal. Yikes.

- Gallagher won't return tonight. So the injury is serious. I cannot believe it. But then again, I kind of do.

- Seven shifts. That's all that line got. A lousy 7 shifts. And just like that, it's over.

- Habs with a pretty inept powerplay attempt, got a few shot attempts away, but they were either impossible (easily blocked), or poorly attempted (6 feet wide of the net). Habs slipping back into bad habit of overlying on point shots.

- Oh ... P.K. Doing too much, or at least trying to. Giving up the puck, giving up goals. I understand the principles of risk and reward, but there are times when you just have to get rid of the puck. 1-0 Jets.

- Nifty blind backhand pass by Pacioretty right on AK27's tape who bangs it home. Habs tie the game up quickly, perhaps no person more relieved that Subban to see that happen.

- Far stronger 2nd period for the Habs, who really ought to be leading on the scoreboard, but aren't because of the Subban gaffe. Still, they've had far more zone pressure, mainly because of the Galchenyuk line.

- Jets are a pretty terrible puck passing team, and it's hurt them more than a few times tonight off the transition. They're more apt to score off broken plays then generating scoring off anything structured.

- Wheeler with one fantastic rush to start Jets late period powerplay, otherwise, Winnipeg really struggling to gain possession in the Habs zone. A good Habs team would eat this Jets team for lunch. This bad Habs team simply staying tight on the scoreboard.

- Spirited start to the 2nd period, which halfway through, became bogged down by mostly broken and sloppy passing and playmaking. Not a particularly tight checking game, more of an ineptly played game - by both sides. Fair to assume the winner will probably back their way into victory, meaning it's not improbable this game will be decided by a mistake.


- 2nd period was much better frame for the Habs.

- You might have been somewhat positive about the Habs fortunes in the 3rd, if you'd witnessed the 2nd period. Safe to say from what we've seen the first five minutes, you'd be fooled.

- Ice broken, it's Copp with a tip past Condon, Jets take the lead.

- Pateryn has a sneaky hard slap shot, and after an incredible one-sided effort by Pacioretty, he blasts the puck past Pavalec. Game tied. Pacioretty has been fantastic tonight, that effort is one you have to bookmark. Inspirational. Will it motivate his team to victory, though?

- Um, answer appears to be nope. Scheifele with a nice redeflect off a nifty shot/pass by Stafford. Markov the culprit here, letting the Jets centre go directly to the net uncontested. Jets retake lead.

- Subban with a stupid slash, 6 minutes on the clock, sent rightfully to the box. Tough night all around for Habs blue line, sans the Pateryn (brief) game tying goal.

- Jets have been really sloppy with the puck in their zone tonight, I think it's fair to guess most of the Habs scoring chances have occurred because of unforced turnovers. That speaks poorly not only of Winnipeg's zone play, but how much the Habs have struggled offensively during this western road trip to Loserville.

- Scheifele with the empty netter, hat trick, and the icing on the cake. Habs had all of two shot attempts on goal after Scheifele put Jets up ahead 3-2 with 6 minutes left on the clock. Absolutely dismal, just like this road trip. Four games, four losses.


So today, we slept in (Saturday!) and more or less woke to this:

Holy mother of crap. It's taken four months of screaming, begging, pleading, crying, killing (okay maybe not that last one), but finally, ALEX GALCHEYUK IS PLAYING CENTER.

It's a well overdue move, of course, and comes only just a few days after G.M. Marc Bergevin endorsed Michel Therrien's (mis)use of the Habs best young forward on the wing for pretty much the entirety of  a lost season.

The key is, for how long will Therrien keep AK27 down the middle? Hopefully he'll be willing to give him at least the rest of this season, but you never know with coach. If Thursday's dismal effort against the Kings where Therrien was sending out a mush of perplexing line combination for most of the 2nd and 3rd period, tonight's game might be the only one Alex gets to "try" at his natural position.

Anyway, a few more good bits of news. Mike Brown will (thankfully) be scratched tonight, and with Galchenyuk centering the first line, the Habs will look like this:

De La Rose/Danault/Mitchell

We're not sure why Torrey Mitchell is on the 3rd line, while McCarron is bumped down to the 4th, but at least Andrighetto is back on the 2nd line. So it's the little mercies that we take without reservation.

Tonight's opponent, the Jets, are also a lousy team playing out the string of a lost season. So it's the battle of two nowhere organizations hoping to finish somewhere around 13th or 14th place in their Conferences. FEEL THE EXCITIMENT. HEAR THE THUNDER.

Mike Condon will be in net for the Habs, because Ben Scrivens would probably have a tough time holding down an AHL job.

Puck drops at 7:15 EST.

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