Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Game 77: Wings vs. Habs

Montreal Gazette


- Sabres well on their way to victory tonight, Habs drive for 24th most definitely is alive.

- Lots of empty seats in the Bell Centre, those giving this game a pass not missing much early on, both teams really poor carrying the zone. Hard to believe this Wings team would go far in the postseason, assuming they even qualify (I think they'll come up just short). 

- Pacioretty with a nifty tip off a Hanley point shot, Habs score, Sabres cheer.

- Assuming all are healthy, Wings have a pretty weak one-two goaltending tandem in comparison to the rest of the League. This isn't going to get better for them anytime soon.

- And just like that, Mrazek is yanked for Howard after surrendering a bad rebound to Byron, who makes it 2-0 Habs. Wings goaltending has got to be a spot of great concern.

- Nonetheless, given the display I just saw of the Habs powerplay tonight, I remain confident the Wings will come back.

- Therrien has shoved McCarron off to the wing, while also burying him on the 4th line. More missed opportunities for the org to get a good look at young players at their natural positions.

- Three Habs powerplays, none of them even remotely threatening. Still, Canadiens were the better team, which is a good indicator of how poorly the Wings played - it appears the Sabres took a lot out of their legs last night. Canadiens did a good job with controlled entries, while Condon held the line even though he wasn't really tested. 


- I Suppose we can grant some benefit of doubt given this is 2 games in just over 24 hours. Still, the Wings effort meter is barely rising above zero - the Habs really doing minimalist stuff to repel most of Detroit's attack. Maybe the Wings are trying to lull the Habs over a cliff? 

- Emelin subjected to a beat down after delivering a clean shoulder check on Larkin, who falls into the boards. You're really not supposed to go after guys who make perfectly fine hockey plays.

- Emelin given a highly unusual 5 minute interference penalty, which is very arguable, but may be more of a game management penalty.

- 10 minutes left in the period, that Larkin hit seems to have fired up the Wings a bit, skating and puck movement noticeably more intense in the Habs zone.

- Wings strike on the man advantage (Habs bench watches and wonders what it must feel like). We've got ourselves a game.

- Another goal off the Emelin penalty, Habs defence utterly chaotic around Condon, whom himself can't seem to cover pucks, and the game is tied. Just like that.

- Mike Brown, who really really really has no business playing in this game, or any other for that matter, loses his cognitive function and goes trolling for a fight, which lands him immediately in the box. Mike Green scores on the powerplay, of course, and the Habs implode, much anticipated previously, is completed.

- Well, that was a bad period for the Habs, assuming you wanted a win. Otherwise, it appears the Canadiens will finish the night officially behind the Sabres in the standings. Tremendous!


- Emelin doing his team little good by scoring to tie the game early in the 3rd. Habs really need to lose tonight. 

- Wings doth protest that Howard was interfered on by Brown. Here's hoping.

- Heh. Mike Brown. Cost Habs the Wings go-ahead goal with bean head roughing minor in the 2nd, now Emelin's first goal in nearly two years here in the 3rd. And yet, he's put into the lineup - again and again and again. 

- Habs score ...? On ... the ... powerplay?!? Plekanec with great slap pass intended for Galchenyuk wide open beside the net, but Andrighetto gets his stick on the way and redeflects the puck past Howard. Shesh. Way to go, Sven. Tie game.

- Max Paciorertty, courtesy some wonderful slight of hand playmaking by Markov, gives the Habs a late lead, and suddenly, it's the Wings' turn to collapse. With Boston losing tonight to the Leafs, Pacioretty may have just saved the Bruins' season. Try to wrap your head around that.

- 5 minutes left, Wings really pushing, Habs hanging on, and getting odd man rushes as Detroit may have suddenly realized their season might be at stake. Howard may have to come up big more than a couple of times to give his team a shot. 

- There's one. Pacioretty and Andrighetto, Howard stretching out to keep it a one goal game.

- Habs win. Sigh. Sabres ... lost. In a shootout. Canadiens now two points ahead of Buffalo. Red Wings totally blow their opportunity to pull ahead of the Bruins with a sloppy loss - a combination of soft and often disorganized defence, especially in the slot, and questionable netminding. Meanwhile, Max Pacioretty appears to be going on one of his scoring runs, at pretty much exactly the wrong time. I guess at this point we can cheer him on to reach the 30 goal mark for the season. Otherwise, with important bodies now returning, the task of losing out the string is going to get more difficult for Montreal.


Some points for consideration.

- Habs will soon be the 3rd most injured team in the NHL this season, surpassing Edmonton for that coveted bronze medal spot. Reaching for an even higher (i.e. catching New Jersey and Toronto) position is about to be hampered by the return of some IRL bodies, specifically Daniel Carr (remember him?) and Brendan Gallagher. Hey, there's even talk that Carey Price might be available to start later this week, for reasons that are completely and totally baffling.

- So aside from Gallagher and maybe Carr, who else might the Habs be getting back this week? Probably P.K. Subban, whose neck is reportedly still not quite 100%.

- Habs will have pretty much the same lineup tonight as they did in a pretty awful losing effort against the Rangers on Saturday, expect that Jacob De La Rose will get a start, while Stefan Matteau will not play.

Meanwhile, over on the other bench ...

- Red Wings continue to fight for their playoff lives, it appears that they and the Boston Bruins will enter the room, and only one will leave. The Wings are playing the second of a back-to-back, last night they just eeked out a win over the lowly Sabres, where this happened:

- Wings have no huge injury issues, save for Johan Franzen (concusion) and Drew Miller (lower body). So Detroit is a little weak on the left side. That's about it.

- It was not unsual in recent years for this Wings team to be very near the top in puck possession. This year, they've dropped off significantly - from 3rd last season in CF%, to 12th as we type. More reflective of roster and front office turnovers, the Wings aren't rebuilding, but they aren't nearly as deep as they usually are, and have been for about the last ... oh ... 26 or 27 years.

Who's in net? WHY, it's Mike Condon for the Canadiens, and Petr Mrazek (he who nearly blew a 4 goal 3rd period lead to the Habs last week) for Detroit. Puck drops at 6:40 EST.

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