Thursday, 10 March 2016

Game 68: Sabres vs. Habs


- Habs have the same lineup tonight, with Lars Eller once again due to injury. Injury-strapped Canadiens look to be a pretty good matchup against the bottom-feeder Sabres, who for some reason, have dominated the Habs the past few years, winning 16 of the past 24 games between these two.

- Correction to the pre-game written line, Lars Eller is indeed playing tonight. So Habs' roster is slightly less razor thin.

- Sabres aren't exactly a picture of heathy either, with centres Ryan O'Reilly and Tyler Ennis out of the lineup.

- Gachenyuk getting some pretty heavy ice time out of the game's gate.

- Tame and toothless start for both teams, who aren't doing a very good job with zone entries - Habs slightly more competent, which ain't saying much.

- Sabres have the League 28th ranked offence this season, although their powerplay is ranked 12th - which means it is possible to put together competent specialty units, even if the talent isn't particularly deep. Just takes a little structure.

- Aggressive pinch by Subban and resulting possession loss gives Sabres clear-cut 2-on-1 break in which they very nearly score. I suppose none of this really matters given the time of season and place in the standings, but on any given night, that's not the kind of play you normally make in the 1st period.

- Both teams are pretty soft in front of their nets. Looking for some goals via rebounds (or deflections) tonight.

- Mike McCarron has been doing a lot of the stuff they hoped Devante Smith-Pelly had done more of when he played in Montreal. Getting his body in front of the net, throwing the occasional crunching bodycheck. This is prototypical Marc Bergevin hockey. The kid surely must be impressing.

- Habs first powerplay mirrors the period itself - listless and disorganized hockey. Passing is off the mark, intensity levels are low.

- First period mercifully over. 20 minutes of bad hockey by two bad hockey teams. I suppose that was to be expected, but still, not quite this incompetent. Zone entries were pretty awful, perhaps the main reason why so few scoring chances were generated. 40 minutes to go. Brew a pot of coffee. This could be a tough viewing slog.


- Habs and Sabres through 20 minutes, Habs with a CF (5v5) of 52.6%. Looking at the stats a bit closer, most of the Habs positive possession came from one line - and no surprise, it was the Galchenyuk line.

- When he's not sleeping in, Evander Kane plays a pretty smart game. Just lacks finish.

- Second period picking up where the first period left off - two disorganized teams with little ability to enter each other's zone. Unsurprisingly, there is virtually no flow to this game.

- We have an actual goal. Deslauries with a nifty tip off a point wrister, Condon no chance.

- We have an actual 2nd goal, just  9 seconds after the Deslauries goal. Habs tie the game by ... guess who? Right place, right time. Helps when you're playing the right position.

- Mike Brown fights, and in doing some, fulfils his obligations of making a non-contribution contribution.

- Sabres may have scored, play is continuing after the puck appeared to have entered the net. Habs better not score in the meantime, or the fans are gonna wake up from their nap.

- Naw. No goal. Funny thing was, Galchenyuk nearly scored for the Habs in the play after the Sabres' near score. AK27 is totally committed to answering for the Habs as quickly as possible.

- Habs powerplay, Galchenyuk, good grief, scores again. Right place, right time, as any very good centre is, the Sabres defence, even shorthanded, inexcusably totally MIA in front of their net. Habs take the lead, 2-1.

- Alex Galchenyuk having a remarkable streak, with a totally unsustainable shooting percentage. So eventually there will be a cool down, but still, the transition back to centre, so long overdue, looks fantastic.


- Pateryn drops the gloves and holds his own, thereby reinforcing the notion that even starting Mike Brown for one game has been one game too much.

- Victor Bartley, who's only playing because the Habs have been hit so hard by injuries, with a bad tipping penalty because he simply isn't fast or apt enough to check anyone carrying speed. Habs to the PK.

- Habs soft again in front of Condon, as Kane from along the boards beats (was it tipped?) beats Condon, with Gionta and Moulson directly in the face of Condon. More or less a continuation of what has ailed this team since early December - sloppy, dysfunctional defending.

- Brian Gionta given credit for the goal. Relatively easy score, his positioning wasn't being challenged.

- Habs powerplay buzzing, mainly when Galchenyuk is on the ice. Therrien heavily deploying top two lines tonight, pretty big drop-off in ice time between 2nd and 3rd/4th line (right now about 6 minutes).

- 7 minutes left in the 3rd period, possession chart, almost no variation between these two teams tonight. Almost freakishly similar.

- Nice gritty work by the 3rd line, a lot of it being McCarron's ridiculously good puck retrieval  abilities. Basically if he wants he, he's going to get it. Torrey Mitchell hammers home a rebound off Lehner's mask (more soft Sabres defensive coverage), and the Habs re-take the lead 3-2, with now 5 minutes left in the 3rd.

- Subban hurt. It looks like quite badly.

- It looks like Subban ran into/was run into, Emelin's behind as both collided in the corner. Not sure where P.K. was hurt - it looks like his head/neck area?

- Bell Centre utterly quiet. Almost in shock. P.K. hasn't moved since rolling around in agony when the injury first occured.

- Off on a stretcher. This looks horrible. I'm horrified.

- This brings back awful memories of that night nearly 5 years ago when Max Pacioretty had his neck broken. I can't believe this is happening again.

- Habs win, but nobody cares. Not given what's just happened. Thoughts are with P.K.

1 comment:

  1. I'm so grateful to you for this amazing diligence you have. Your comments have become my bright light and entertainment as the Habs (and fans) endure the play-out of the season. Thank you Monsieur.


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