Saturday, 5 November 2016

Game 12: Flyers vs. Habs


- Habs totally dominated in that 2nd period with just 3 shots on goal, and yet they have the lead. We've seen this before, and we'll undoubtably see it many more times again:

- Does it go without saying the Habs cannot play their 3rd like they played their 2nd? But then we wonder, does it even matter?

- More interesting line juggles, Danault playing with Galchenyuk and Radulov.

- Habs 4th line gifted a goal, as Neuwirth totally misplays the puck behind his net, handing the puck over to Mitchell, who feeds Danault in front for a wide open net, and it's 4-2. Fylers sloppy zone play just too much to overcome, even if they have dominated the Habs zone for most of this game. This is how bad teams like the Flyers lose. They find ways.

- Plekanec doing about as much as he can to score a goal. Pushing the other guy into the net. Anything and everything. But it's not working out.

- Shaw with a 4 minute penalty. Habs hoping their PK doesn't revert to last night's form, or we could still have ourselves a hockey game here.

- Uh-oh. Simmonds with a nice screen off a Giroux shot, it's 4-3 with lotttttttttta time left on the clock. Just the 2nd shorthanded goal given up by the Habs at home this season. Flyers still with a man advantage.

- Plecks. Finally. F-i-n-a-l-l-y hits the scoresheet, after the Flyers brutally fail to cover their zone after the puck is fired out around the boards on the PK. Plekanec with a simple, totally stoppable slapper with the puck on its edge that Neuwirth totally whiffs on. Habs regain their 2 goal lead, as the Flyers can't stop handing out gifts.

- Tonight's game hasn't been so much the Habs being better than last night (although that's not much of a hurdle to clear), but more so the Flyers goaltending, or lack thereof. Habs muster 5 goals on 17 shots, that's an unacceptable NHL ratio.

- Silly soft holding call on Mitchell, refs doing their part to try to get the Flyers back into this game.

- Of course, the Flyers score. And we have ourselves a game with just over 3 minutes left.

- Del Zotto loses his mind and gets nailed for interference with just over 2 minutes left. Killer penalty. Another example of how bad teams find ways of losing.

- Things that make your head spin - with time running down, Habs ice the puck, while on the powerplay. Faceoff next to Price. Incredible.

- Draw won, puck cleared, Habs find a way of hanging on. Same old formula - the Canadiens were vastly outplayed most of the night, although this time it wasn't Carey Price required to stand on his head, it was Michal Neuvirth who tossed a very poor start, which basically gifted the Habs their win tonight. The fundamental flaws of this team remain present. Poor puck possession, poor transition, soft defence and inconsistent offence. And now, the Canadiens hit a tough(er) part of their season schedule. The next two weeks should give us a pretty clear indication of just how truly dysfunctional this team really is.


- Phasers locked, full steam ahead!!! Michel Therrien says no lineup changes for tonight. I mean, why fix something that ain't broke, amiright?

- Gary Galley who's the Sportsnet analyst tonight, just said the Habs are "known for the transition game." He meant that in a positive way.  He's actually paid for hockey analysis.

- Galchenyuk line with a strong first shift, and that's followed up by Desharnais deflecting a Markov shot to give Habs an early 1-0 lead. Flyers very sloppy in their own zone early.

- I suppose the Habs are playing with a little bit of pride early, so them coming out storming isn't altogether a surprise. The question is whether this is sustained over three periods.

- Markov credited with opening goal, not Desharnais. So double-bonus there.

- Poor faceoff taken by the Habs next to prince, Mitchell with bad draw, Flynn and Pateryn skate to the wrong spots, leaving VandeVelde totally unchecked to take a snapshot top corner to tithe game. Good example of the Habs failing to execute something that is very routine, in this case, taking a faceoff and going where you're supposed to if you lose the draw.

- Uh-oh. Keystone cops routine with Markov, Petry and Lehknonen, total chaos in their own zone after coughing up the puck at the Philly line, with Gostisbehere eventually joining the confusion and snapping the puck in right in front of Price. Habs look like a team that hasn't practiced in a month. 2-1 Flyers.

- And Pateryn answers back just second later to even the game. This looks to be a rough night ahead for goaltenders. The Flyers defense plays a very active part of their offence, while the Habs defence in general is complete disorganized.

- Both teams have been pretty awful defending their slots tonight, we're seeing lots of shots coming from there, much of it screened.

- Carey Price getting a pretty good taste of what Montoya had to endure last night. Shoddy zone coverage, forwards losing their assignments, defenseman leaving their spots. It's pretty ugly.

- Somebody must have been listening, Gallagher is placed next to Plekanec, and the immediate effect are improved scoring attempts.

- Lehknonen really struggling, holding the stick too tight, misses glorious setup by Radulov and whiffs the pass with wide open net.

- I guess that's an improvement? Score is at least even, instead of 3-0. That said, Habs still are playing slopping, undisciplined hockey, particularly in their own zone. This team's breakouts are particularly rancid, but that's been an issue since game 1. Anyway, Price will probably have to dig extra deep tonight to keep his team competitive against these Flyers, because the guys in front of him aren't doing a very competent job.


- Habs/Flyers after 20, Habs slight CF advantage (SA 5v5) 51.3, but Fenwick just 42.3%, largely due to some pretty bad defence:

- Flyers 2nd powerplay looked pretty good, focus seems to be point shots, looking for either deflection or rebound. They're setting up well.

- Beaulieu/Pateryn pairing completely overwhelmed by the Couturier line, bailed out by Price making his best save of the night with his mitt off a laser snap shot by Voracek. Flyers are doing a far more effective job line matching, especially in this period, and are beginning to pull away both in shot attempts, and puck possession. Habs are just kinda hanging around.

- Habs fist powerplay is a mess, poor passing, poor setup, no shots registered. Habs have zero shots in the period, and there's just 5 minutes left.

- Apparently Habs did register a shot on goal with 6 minutes left. I must have blinked. In any case, this period has been yet another embarrassing display of hockey.

- Absurdities abound, with the Flyers at about at 70% 5v5 CF this period, Galchenyuk scores on just the 2nd shot of their period off a wonderful period by the team's best forward, Radulov, and ... stop me if you've read this before, the totally outplayed Montreal Canadiens take the lead.


Okay, let's first get the dumb-tweet-of-the-month award out of the way:


Anyway, regular readers of this blog, assuming said person exists, knows very well I'm not the biggest fan of Michel Therrien. So it may come as a surprise to said person that I'll go to the wall defending Therrien in his decision to leave poor Al Montoya in the game to face the wolves, followed by the lions, then a little of the hyenas, a couple of fire breathing dragons, and for the final five minutes of the 3rd period, shaved naked and covered in mayonnaise for a starved pack of honey badgers.

Point being, Montoya was not good last night, which made him the 2nd best player on the ice for his team. 10-0 was the score with the opponent not really even trying the last half of the "contest". It made no difference who was in goal - the Montreal Canadiens do not play very good hockey. They haven't in more than four seasons. They preach "grit" and "character" and "leadership", all traits that have diddly-squat with how games are won in the NHL these days, and punish "creativity", which has everything to do with how games are won in the NHL these days. Last night the Canadiens' approach to hockey was exposed as the sham that it represents.

But all is well, you see. Because Carey Price is back in goal tonight, and that means the Canadiens are the best team in the NHL again! Everything is fine!

Tonight's opponent, the Philadelphia Flyers, oughtta be drooling with anticipation. They have the special privileged facing an opponent that just came off one of the worst defeats in modern NHL history. Plus, the Flyers have been given the added bonus of a bolstered lineup. Michael Del Zotto will return to action tonight, his first game since the preseason when he suffered a knee injury. The game tonight also marks the return of ex-Habs Dale Weise, who's found a nice home in Philly even though this season he's not being improperly deployed as a first line winger.

Speaking of, here's how the Flyers, with the highest scoring defense in the NHL, will stack up tonight:


Del Zotto/Gostisbehere

Michal Neuvirth

The Habs? What can ya say? It can't possibly go any worse than last night, right? But that was the same opinion tossed around yesterday about the game Wednesday against Vancouver.

Let's get this straight - the Desharnais/Pacioretty/Shaw thing? Not working. At all. Habs have been in a SA and possession tailspin since that line came into being. Thomas Plekanec? Not working. Therrien has been trying every possible combination to get the turtleneck specialist to start producing, none of it has panned out.

The only combination that has some spark has been Galchenyuk/Radulov/Lehkonen. So leave that alone, and put Gallagher next to Plekanec. It hasn't been tried, and it's worth a shot.

Puck drops at the Bell Centre 7:10 EST.

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