Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Game 74: Ducks vs. Habs

Montreal Gazette

- Hanley gets another start tonight - I'm fine with taking a look at the organization assets, but really, Hanley ahead of Ellis still makes little sense. With Subban coming back possibly Thursday, it marks another missed opportunity for management to take a better look at players with a more than realistic chance of an NHL future. Hanley really doesn't represent that.

- Both clubs are interesting in the divergence the took with handling their head coaching situations. The Ducks held steady with Boudreau, mainly because the undercurrent of statistical information at hand strongly suggested the Ducks awful season start was an anomaly. Turns out, that assessment was spot on - the Ducks have the best NHL record since then. The Habs, by contrast, made the same decision been though the evidence strongly suggested the Habs biggest challenge was deployment (coaching) issues. They held fast with Therrien, and since their early 9-0 start, have by far the worst record in the NHL. 

- Will the Habs score more than once tonight against a team like the Ducks? It won't be via specialty units, with Anaheim rated #1 in both powerplays and penalty kills. Amazing stat, there. Unsurprisingly, Habs first early powerplay goes totally by the board without remark.d

- WOOT! Plekanec with a 60 foot floater from the line that somehow Gibson fails to pick up, and Canadiens take a shocking 1-0 lead. 

- If anyone questions the Habs "toughness" as a factor (it isn't - not in today's NHL), the Canadiens need only point towards Mike McCarron. A beat down on Manson helps him to advance the cause for making the roster next season.

- Sweet, sweet skill play Byron right on the tape of Galchenyuk who gets behind Gibson, but redirects the perfect feed just wide of the post. Should be 2-0. Byron also stating his case for full-time NHL employment.

- Silfverberg evens the score, courtesy Mike Condon, whom on far too many occasions this year, has gifted opponents goals via routine shots. 

- Just to be realistic, Condon will never be anything more than a backup NHL goaltender. In that role, you're going to expect more than a few goals let in that normally are stopped by the first string. Because Condon's role has become first-string, expectations have been far too high. Still, that Silfrverberg goal was a stinker.


- Another Condon gaffe, although not quite as bad as his first period mistake - gives up a pretty juicy rebound off a relatively routine shot by Fowlers, Perry slams home the rebound to make it 2-1. Everything is not back on order. Ducks with the scoreboard lead, can now start padding their way to victory.

- Condon, again. Good grief. Fowler shot, big rebound, batted home by Rakell. Hoo boy.

- Habs saved - for now - Rakell hit it with a high stick. Still, Condon ain't exactly stating his case very strongly tonight.

- Hey, ho. Habs tie the game. Pateryn with an excellent play (showing nice hockey sense) coming in hard up the middle to keep the puck in the Ducks zone, feeding Pacioretty who immediately goes cross ice to Galchenyuk for the one timer. This is why a good offence often begins (and ends) with apt plays by the defence. 

- Ducks more or less imploding, with an awful, awful turnover in their own zone that eventually lands on the stick of a wide open Mike Brown, who makes a nifty deke on Gibson for a 3-2 Habs lead. HUH!! Hanley picks up his second assist. HUH!!!!

- Habs again burned by their stupid, stupid system of trying to clear the zone by chipping the puck up the boards, this time Pateryn with the turnover, Silfverberg ties the game. This play has burned the Habs time and time and time again, and yet nothing changes, because it's considered to the be the "safe" play (pssst - .... it's not ... it's a stupid play that quite often produced high scoring chance giveaways to the opponent). 

- They might have produced a goal, but the Galchenyuk line has spent way too much time hemmed in its own zone tonight - Ducks doing a good job with line matching. 

- Well, at least the game is entertaining, which is something we haven't been able to say about any Habs game in quite awhile. Both teams guilty of some sloppy play - the Ducks in their zone perhaps because they took their opponent a little lightly, the Habs because they've been that way most of the season - so that won't change. Ducks doing a pretty good job containing anything that the Habs have to offer as far as an attack is concerned, the main reason why Montreal is even hanging in tonight is secondary scoring support from places not expected. Could be an entertaining final period ahead.


- Here's the 2 period totals, Habs SC CF just over 43%. Galchenyuk line struggling, relatively decent performance tonight by the 4th line. 

- Dietz with a nice play coming in from the point to get a quality scoring chance on Gibson. I'm sure Therrien is already wrapping his knuckles for that play. 

- I gotta say that Ducks blue line, even with a couple of letdowns tonight, looks pretty fierce to face in the post season. I wouldn't wanna play against them.

- Sweet rush and feed deep Markov to Galchenyuk, Gibson forced to make an excellent save. Again, offence is dictated by how involved your defence plays. Chipping the puck up the boards, as has been drilled into the minds of every Canadiens defender the past three seasons, is a formula for failure.e

- Wow, what did Mike Brown eat this morning? Fantastic grinding work behind the net, winning the puck against two Ducks defenders, then feeding Lessio for the one timer, and the Habs take the lead again. 

- Good game for Markov, he's been much more involved tonight, certainly more so with aggressive play in the opposing zone, something we've seen little of since Subban went down. 

- Still don't think Habs can possibly hang on to this one goal lead for a full 11 minutes. That said, we're more than halfway home. How badly do the Ducks want this game?

- Habs collapsing hard around their crease when the Ducks have puck control in the Canadiens zone. Basically the hockey equivalent of hanging on for dear life.

- Ducks really move the puck nicely on the backend, Habs are basically giving them free reign at the blue line, while everyone else guards bodies in front of Condon. It's an interesting passive approach to hockey - not what I would define as a wise strategy, but the clock is being killed. 2 minutes left.

- Condon with a couple of excellent saves during the last minute Duck Storm (hey, that sounds cool ... duck storm) ... to seal a complete unexpected victory for the Habs. Outplayed, outshot, basically a totally inexplicable win, statistically speaking. 


Here are your Habs lines for tonight's game:

- Pacioretty/Galchenyuk/Byron
  Lessio/De La Rose/Brown


  Mike Condon

- Brendan Gallagher and P.K. Subban participated in today's a.m. practice. Subban figures to possibly play Thursday night in Detroit. But that might be a bit of a long shot.

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