Friday, 4 November 2016

Game 11: Habs vs. Blue Jackets


- Really no point blogging the 3rd period - the Habs dues all came back at them, and then some tonight. There is an upside, of course - it will give this team a good dose or reality about how badly it's been playing hockey this season, in spite of what was an undefeated record in regulation. Now that we see the real Montreal Canadiens - a hockey team that relays far too heavily on goaltending, with some puck luck tossed in - are no match for even average NHL hockey teams playing an average game. Now the Habs have to hop on a plane, totally humiliated, and face the Flyers in less than 24 hours. How they perform tomorrow could give us another good glimpse into whether this Habs team is truly as dysfunctional this season as it was last.


- Ah, the horror that was the first period. Habs fenwick 33.3%, just a few ticks higher than the first period against the Canucks.

- It would appear that Therrien is pulling out the stops to get Plekanec producing - Pacioretty and Gallagher on his wings now.

- Emelin with a dum-dum trip. Habs have their non-thinking hats on tonight.

- Columbus converts, of course. Their powerplay is off the charts successful this year. 4-0.

- Don't put Carey in, Michel. Even if they score 12 - just don't do it.

- Now Gallagher with a very careless high stick sends him to the box for 4 minutes. Habs playing beyond stupid here.

- Foligno. 5-0. Powerplay.  I've never seen anything like this.

- Hartnell, 6-0. Again, on the powerplay. Emelin literally just standing around. Laugh for cry? I'm doing the former. At the moment.

- Foligno. 7-0. Habs would probably be best just to take their goalie out and go with six skaters.

- Josh Anderson, 8-0. Montoya hadn't the slightest clue. Columbus would be wise to lift the foot off the pedal. This is well past an humiliation.

- You know I was joking earlier about Columbus scoring 12, right?

- Worst period of hockey by a Montreal Candiens hockey franchise in 106 years. Maybe 107. No point even going into details. The score speaks for itself.


- Lehknonen is starting to get heat for his lack of production, but truth be told, he's been put on what has amounted to the Habs checking line this season. In other words, he isn't being used right.

- Karlsson line just routed the Mitchell line, and the Jackets are off to a pretty good start, the Habs, as the broken record says, getting outskated and out possessed.

- Columbus' 35.0% powerplay, rated best in the League, rebuffed their first attempt. It goes without saying, the Habs must stay out of the box tonight. Max Pacioretty wasn't listening.

- Andrew Shaw is terrible handling the puck. Not that you didn't know that already, but it's on pretty good display this first period.

- The game so far. Eerily similar to the dismal 1st period effort against the Canucks:

- Somebody needs to send the Desharnais line a memo to STAY THE HELL OUT OF THE PENALTY BOX.

- Eriksson puts home the puck short side, ON THE POWERPLAY.  1-0 Columbus. STAY OUT OF THE BOX GUYS.

- Jones, one timer, top corner, Montoya down too soon. 2-0. It matters not, the Habs are finally paying a well overdue price for its terrible possession play. Finally.

- Very early line shakeup! Galchenyuk centering Radulov and Lehkonen. We approve of Lehkonen not being next to Plekanec. It's worth a look.

- Calvert with a softie, Montoya totally shell shocked, and it's 3-0. Habs PDO hurtling back to the surface of the earth. Which is good. This team deserves a wakeup call about how it's actually playing.

- Karlsson hits the post off another relatively soft shot that Montoya totally misplays. He's just trying to get to the end of the period. The first of the Habs are too.

- An "okay" first powerplay, Plekanec line at least got the puck to the net. That's about the only highlight of the period for Montreal.

- Liking what I've seen so far with Lehkonen next to Galchenyuk. Looking much more involved than he ever was next to Plekanec.

- Disastrous period of hockey for Montreal - it appears the law of averages have caught up. 17-7 SOG, pretty much reflecting the actual lopsidedness of the period, with Habs goaltending not up to its usual snuff. We knew this time would arrive, but we probably didn't think it would look quite this ugly.


Are the Habs *still* winning? Yup. Are they still winning leaning almost totally on their goaltenders while giving the opposition most of the puck possession? YUP. Has this team learned nothing about its bad, bad, evil, bad ways from the past four seasons? NOPE.

Yet, here we stand, the Habs seeking their 9th (hard to fathom) straight win as they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets and the guy who's actually worse than Michel Therrien at coaching, tonight at Nationwide Arena.

We've been saying repeatedly since week one - Habs can't sustain this Habs can't sustain this Habs can't sustain this WHEN ARE THEY GOING GO LOSE!?!? ... it really has become its own phenomenon. Even with a mediocre powerplay, even with an anemic CF% of 47.5, even with a sky-high PDO of 106.1, the Canadiens just can't lose. Might it all start coming undone tonight against a chump like John Tortorella?

Maybe. The Jackets aren't very good, but they're not bad either. Columbus enters the game with a nifty little 2 game winning streak, the latest being a win over the Stars (a good team) right in Dallas.

The Jackets feature a nice 4 line balance - no particular dominative line (although the Wennberg/Saad/Foligno line is off to a solid start), and not an especially potent threat to score at even strength - of the Jackets 21 goals scored this season, 11 have been 5v5, which is not a good ratio. Where Columbus has been making up for its offence is via their powerplay, which has a zooming conversion rate of 35.0%, best in the whole damn game of hockey.

So maybe there's a little sustainability issue for both sides to face. There's little doubt the Habs will eventually see their SV% and Sh% numbers decline - sooner rather than later, while there's little doubt the Blue Jackets will see their powerplay conversions also decline to more sustainable levels, meaning they'll have to pick up their 5v5 game if they hope to remain competitive in their division.

So here are the lines for tonight's game. Starting with Columbus:



Sergei Bobrovsky

And the Habs, who are running the same lines tonight:



Al Montoya

Puck drops at 7:10 EST.

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