Thursday, 27 October 2016

Game 8: Bolts vs. Habs


- Holy moly, do the Habs have some last minute lineup shuffling:

- Byron/Galchenyuk/Gallgher
- Lehkonen/Plekanec/Radulov
- Pacioretty/Desharnais/Shaw
- Danault/Mitchell/Flynn

Hoo boy. Byron is apparently this season's Dale Weise. And yup, it's Pacioretty next to Desharnais again. Oy.

- Really not happy with the line combinations. Sure, it's early season, and it's the time for experimentations, but these are worrying early trends - overvaluing Byron's offensive abilities, and slowly working Desharnais into a top-6 assignment, when he's done fine this year as 3C.

- Weird deployments on Habs first powerplay, which goes nowhere. Therrien puts out Andrew Shaw for lion's share of the man advantage. He has nothing close to the skills required to be a positive contributor to this unit.

- Almost half done the first period, Tampa hasn't registered a shot on Price. Safe to say their chances of winning are fairly limited if this doesn't change.

- Habs really doing a lot of line matching in attempt to contain the Stamkos and Johnson line. It's pretty hard to argue with the results, as Carey Price has had little to do but stand in his crease the first 12 minutes of this period.

- Carey Price makes his first legit save courtesy a great glove pass up ice by Ben Bishop to spark a Tampa 2-on-1. Habs have had defined edge in the period, so it's essential that they be the first to score.

- Just like last night, not an enthralling first period of hockey - Habs did a decent enough job gaining the Tampa zone, but couldn't generate sustained pressure. Meanwhile the Bolts seem intent living (or dying) off the rush - they are the anti-Habs in that they prefer to carry the zone. So far, the Habs have done a relatively good job coming back to intercept their attacks. Net result is a scoreless period.


- Wow, Nathan Beaulieu. Gloves dropped, one shot at Paquette and down. Sneaky tough is Beaulieu.

- Johnson line has not been good both ends of the ice for Tampa tonight, as he gets nailed for a trip.

- Apparently Desharnais is now the 1C for Habs powerplay, and his shift is, predictably, totally ineffective.

- Therrien is clearly trying to sneak Desharnais back into unearned minutes. Starting the season, Desharnais was barely getting 10 minutes a game. Now he's very close to having most time among Habs centres. Can you feel that 2015-16 magic?

- Pretty much a slog period of hockey - both teams are stacking their blue line, which has resulted in a good number of shots coming from 50+ feet. Price and Bishop are simply too good to be even remotely challenged.

- You might have thought Therrien might have shaken things up a little bit, just a little bit, to get something on the scoreboard. Nope. Still running the same lines he started with, with 5 minutes left in the 2nd.

- Alex Galchenyuk is one very frustrated hockey player right now. Seems like nothing he tries is quite working out. Still stuck on 1 goal for the season.

- Alex Emelin again fails to do the basics of guarding the slot, allowing Killorn to skate in unmolested to tip in a slap pass by Hedman and Tampa takes a 1-0 lead. Emelin has been guilty more than once this season making boner mistakes deep in his zone, but doesn't seem to face any consequences.

- 2nd period winding down, Therrien stubbornly sticking to obviously dysfunctional line combinations. Maybe the 3rd period will bring us something new.


- Habs and Tampa after 40 minutes. Habs SA CF (5v5) 50.0%, 51.2% Fenwick:

- First line shakeup, Galchenyuk back to centring Gallagher and Radulov, and within 20 seconds, Habs go on the powerplay, thanks to Gallagher's mucking in front of Bishop.

- Therrien sends out Shaw *again* to start the powerplay, which is all kinds of madness.

- Ah, now we have the right players on the ice, Markov pin perfect pass to a streaking Galchenyuk working from the off wing, a one-time shot beats Bishop to tie the game. Frustration finally ended for AK27.

- Using them on the first line powerplay is indefensible, but the Pacioretty/Desharnais/Shaw line has been pretty damn good tonight, Pacioretty snapper, with Shaw putting on the screen, beats Bishop to give the Habs a 2-1 lead. As long as they produce, it's hard to second guess the line combinations.

- Habs 4th line has been pinned deep in their own zone wayyyy too much tonight. With 7 minutes left, Montreal might be wise just to shelve that line for the rest of the night.

- Tampa befuddled by Habs neutral zone pressure, unable to generate much more than long distance shots on Price. They'll need to start taking chances with just over 5 minutes left.

- There we have it, Tampa pushing forward taking chances, and seconds later, Radulov finds himself all alone in front of Bishop with both Tampa defenders well up the other side of the ice.

- Habs trapping the Bolts to death here. Tampa simply unable to gain control in the Habs zone. Price facing the occasional shot, but nothing sustained or dangerous. 2 minutes left.

- Fierce forecheck by Habs in the neutral zone causing chaos. Tampa has no apparent solution.

- Therrien sends out 4th line with a minute left.

- Mitchell empty netter. Habs still undefeated this season. Wowzers.

- Well, well, well. Habs beat their arch rivals from Tampa, and remain still the only team in the NHL undefeated in regulation. Carey Price was solid, as usual, and the Desharnais line, newly formed (reformed) created excellent sustained offensive pressure. Is this Habs team as good as their record suggests?? Maybe, just maybe it is so.


Okay, fine. We'll do more today than just make fun of Leafs fans. Here are tonight's lineups, starting first with the visitors:

- Kucherov/Stamkos/Namestnikov
- Drouin/Johnson/Palat
- Killorn/Filppula/Point
- Paquette/Boyle/Brown


Ben Bishop

And Les Habs:

- Pacioretty/Galchenyuk/Gallagher
- Lehkonen/Plekanec/Radulov
- Byron/Desharnais/Shaw
- Danault/Mitchell/Flynn

Emelin/Weber (for how long?)
Markov/Petry (for how long?)
Beaulieu/Pateryn (for how long?)

Carey Price.

Also, are we going to see more of 51 with 67? Please, stop this from being a regular occurrence. PLEASE.

Puck drops 7:40 EST.



Happy gameday! It seems like we were just watching the Habs win ANOTHER game. Oh right. We actually WERE just watching the Habs win another game. With less than 24 hours between games, we now feature an early season showdown between the two best teams (currently) in the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League. Our Habbies, and the Steven Stamkos led Tampa Bay Lightening.

Normally we'd do the same old same old 2-3 paragraphs about each team, and maybe toss in the starting lineup, mix in some advanced stats to make myself look knowledgable about hockey, and maybe put up a video of bears in a paddling pool, and be done for the day.

Not today, though. No, no, no. Not today. Instead of giving you meaningful information, today I figured I'd give loyal readers (all 7 of you!) a special treat:

Toronto's Pathetic Fantasies About Steven Stamkos!

First let me say this about Leafs fans. They're hard freakin' core. When they get an idea in their heads, it's staying there 'till the bitter end. Which is why the Maple Leaf faithful were confident ... nay ... 100% iron-clad certain, that Stamkos was going to be "back home" this July 1st after signing a mega-million $ contract to join the Blue and White. Many became delusional with fevered fantasies that the Leafs Stanley Cup parade was just around the corner, and it would be led by one Steven (no middle name) Stamkos.

Just how hardcore are those Leafs fans? One fan, and this is actually true, snuck into the Leafs dressing room before Steve-o broke their hearts, and hung this baby up:

That's a personalized Leafs sweater. That's a $300 touch.

Ah, but that's just one measly sweater, you respond. Sure, it's stupid, but it's just one! Haha. I'm afraid not. You see, they were selling these all around Toronto. Top dollar. To wit:

People, actual mouth-breathing people, paid actual hard-earned cash for very, very expensive personalized jerseys. You might say "naw, I don't believe you. No way a fan base is THAT stupid." To which I say, THEY'RE STILL SELLING THEM.

Ah, but it didn't end with fools-and-their-monies. The photoshopin' nerds were out in full force, cranking out gems like this one, with Stamkos meeting the media (with Brian Burke???) as a newly signed Leaf:

That's adorable. It has the Rogers propaganda and everything. Here's a good one from some terrible publication called The Hockey Press:

Pretty decent Photoshoppin', admittedly. At least The Hockey Press was only reporting speculation that a Stamkos signing was imminent. TSN, who, the last time we checked, is still clinging to broadcast rights to Australian Rules Football, went one step further, and proclaimed "FOR SURE HE'S SIGNING WITH US!". They even did some horrible photoshopping just in case followers weren't 100% convinced:

Too bad TSN. Maybe in 2024? That's assuming, of course, that you still exist as a network.

At least they didn't make this mistake:


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