Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Game 80: Panthers vs. Habs


- So, welcome to the Bell Centre everyone, puck just dropped to start the game, we're live blogi .. and the Habs are losing. 1-0.

- Mike Condon. Perennial NH backup goaltender.

- Oh, hah. Took John Scott all of 10 seconds to be -1. At this point in the year, we gotta take any laffs handed to us.

- I know Florida is all happy about scoring before Sara Diamond got off the ice surface, but surely they knew there was 59:50 left to play, right? Habs kind of taking it to them since, regardless that awful first goal.

- Carr looking strong, just like he was before the almost season-ending injury. The Habs, as long as they're healthy, aren't that bad a team - the issue more or less seems to be depth beyond starters. Too many 4th liners on this team to shore up the loss of 1st and 2nd liners, was a significant component of the Habs undoing this season. Ideally, guys like Carr and Byron would find a firm place as 3rd liners, ready to take promotions only when necessary. Currently, the Canadiens have the likes of Mitchell, Matteau and Danault to pull slack, which simply isn't gonna do it.

- Scott gets lots of cheers when he's on the ice, a baffling response by who you'd expect to be a little more educated hockey crowd. Maybe I overestimated the prowess of the typical ticket buyer. Speaking of, there are still many an empty seat in the Bell Centre tonight.

- Lars Eller, I'm almost 100% confident, will be a consistently productive forward/centre the day he gets a couple of line mates, instead of the merry-go-round of wingers he's had to work with night in, night out.

- Emelin once again, for what is almost certainly literally the 40th time this season, goes for a big hit, misses, and leaves his goaltender out to dry. Condon with his best save of the period because Emelin doesn't think much.

- Even period, save the opening goal, both teams with unspectacular offensive efforts. Habs going through the motions, playing just hard enough to not embarrass themselves. The Panthers really should be taking a beating to their opponent. Maybe they will over the next two periods.


- Not exactly the start the Panthers were hoping for, Brian Campbell with a careless tripping penalty within the first minute. It'll be fine with the Habs being on the powerplay, but still, Panthers lacking focus.

- Therrien puts Scott out for the powerplay. He literally could care less. Literally.

- Habs "adjust" their 2nd man advantage of the period by using four forwards, instead of having a totally incompetent defenseman paired with Markov at the line. Actually generates a couple of decent scoring chances.

- Lotta passengers playing with the CH tonight, including some with other letters on their chest which shall not be specifically named.

- Grant McKegg gets hammered into the boards by every inch of the 6'8" John Scott. Ouch. Panthers again nailed for a penalty, this time for a hold, as the Habs 4th line keeps them pinned in their zone. Gerry Gallant ought be miffed by what he sees from is troops out there. How many times will the Panthers be bailed out by the Habs awful powerplay? This can't go on forever.

- Indeed, it does not go on forever, as Galchenyuk pots his 28th of the season off a one timer pass from Pacioretty. Game tied. Panthers need to smarten up, and fast.

- Jaromir Jagr not much of a factor so far tonight, which is greatly disappointing.

- Well, not sure what the Panthers strategized during the 1st intermission, but whatever it was, it ain't working. At all. Habs have given Condon basically the entire period off.

- Whelp, wha can you say? Habs are outshooting Florida 27-11, scoring opportunities 15-6, CF% is 66.7% (5v5), and Bjugstad scores for long range, Condon muffing another shot. Hockey. What can you say?

- Habs utterly dominated the 2nd period, have pretty much dominated this game, and trail on the scoreboard. Goaltending the big factors tonight without question. Luongo standing on his head to keep his team in the game, Condon failing to make saves off shots that most net minders should save routinely. Hockey. What can you say?


- Habs and Panthers through 40 minutes. Florida has been pretty wretched tonight. Life really is unfair.

- Lars Eller has most definitely not been a passenger tonight. Not being rewarded on the scoreboard, though. It's been that way for him most of the season.

- More Condon follies with the puck, McKegg backhands the puck in, and it's 3-1. Pretty atrocious night for the Habs netminder. Maybe his worst performance of the entire season.

- I'm guessing, wild guess, Carey Price for final two games of the regular season? I guess it's something to watch for. A motivator to tune in. Anyway, Habs can't win for losing, lose for winning. Lose for losing, even. Tonight the team took it to the Panthers, but lost because Mike Condon played much of the game in sleep-eez-dee mode, letting in 3 goals that wouldn't challenge an average AHL netminder. But then maybe that's all Condon is, ever was, and ever will be.

This season is almost over. The finish line is just a few days away. Still, it can't arrive soon enough.


Have you hit the golf links yet? I've done a couple of outings at the driving range. It's been an early spring out west, just like it's an early spring for the Habs out east. In preperation for a very, very, very early extended summer vacation, the Habs are up to their old tricks of doing stupifying things with their lineup.

Latest case-in-point? The Habs yesterday called up the utterly futureless John Scott from the (also early vacationed) Ice Caps, for reasons that could only have something to do with selling tickets, because it's come to that. Scott, who has no chance of playing in the NHL beyond this season, will take up a precious spot in the lineup at the expense of Mike McCarron, who was banished to the rock so that he might take some cool photos of icebergs.

Other than a cynical attempt to fill increasingly empty seats in the Bell Centre, there is absolutely no rationale or excuse to put Scott into any lineup. End of topic.

So with that, here are the Habs lines tonight:


And with Subban still out of the lineup, here is the D:


In case you missed it, with Johnston in tonight, the Habs have had 15 different defensemen in the lineup this year. On a relatively healthy team, that's what you might see for the number of forwards used in an entire season.

Panthers are still in a battle for first place in the Atlantic Division, a spot they may win if only because the Tampa Bay Lightening received word over the weekend that Steven Stamkos is out for 4-6 weeks with a rib injury.

Puck drops at 7:40 EST.  One last time this season to check out the great Jaromir Jagr. He's worth the price of admission 50 times over any John Scotts.

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