Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Game 17: Panthers vs. Habs

Florida 4, Montreal 3 (OT)


- Habs make line adjustments, with questionable results:



Soooooo ... yeah. Danault has unquestionably been a very positive surprise for the Habs this season, but he doesn't have the speed required to make someone like Max Pacioretty productive again. That's just a poor deployment decision. Also, Desharnais on the 3rd line wing - that he's even in the lineup is a questionable decision, never mind that he's hardly the solution to Tomas Plekanec's big scoring problems.

- Scoring problems extend well beyond Plekanec, of course. Gallagher hasn't scored in 10 games, Pacioretty has only 2 goals the entire season.

- Weak hooking call on Jagr gives Habs early powerplay. Therrien sends out Chris Terry to start the man advantage.

- And there, finally, is a goa for Max Pacioretty - classic Max, he picks the top corner with a ferocious snapshot, and Habs grab 1-0 lead off the powerplay. Max tends to score in bunches, so that might not be the only time we hear from him tonight.

- Poof goes the lead, as Danault makes bad hockey mistake of trying to clear his zone by blinding firing the puck up the middle, it's picked off by Petrovic, who fires a shot likely screened, past Price.

- Kind of the issue with Danault - he often doesn't make the best decisions under pressure - not really the kind of guy you want centring wingers who are struggling to score. Danault's big improvement this year has been positioning - he's putting himself in places to produce scoring. But he's not a quick on his feet thinking type of player.

- Two Habs powerplays, two questionable deployments by Therrien - first powerplay sending out Chris Terry to start the man advantage - 2nd man advantage sending out Desharnais. Both players produce underwhelming results.

- One think is fast coming clear - this Habs team is not nearly as dangerous without Alexander Radulov in the lineup.

- Kyle Rau scores to give Panthers 2-1 lead. Totally unchecked in front, because Byron, who's not a first line winger, but is playing on Habs first line, loses his assignment. It might be presumptuous to draw conclusions, but this Habs team, sans Radulov, ain't nearly the same.

- That as a very bad, no good terribly awful bad bad bad ick ew yuck 20 minutes of hockey by this Habs team, certainly one of their worst all season. The line combinations Therrien has chosen are clearly not working - in particular the Andrighetto/Plekanec/Desharnais line, which was more or less a disaster in that period. Paul Byron also struggled, which should surprise no-one since he's not a first line winger, and never will be a first line winger. In any case, whatever "gameplay" Therrien devised heading into tonight's game is an awful one - some serious adjustments must be made or the Panthers are going to waltz their way to victory.


- How bad was that first period of hockey by the Habs?? This bad:

A 29% corsi, and 22% (!!!) fenwick. Yeah. That was bad, bad, bad, bad.

- Desharnais scored? Well, that's not part of the adjustment plan. Markov doing the hard work, though - winning the puck in the corner and making a sweet pass to wide open Desharnais, who beats Luongo top corner. Tie game.

- Roberto Luengo, whose best days are long passed, can still catch a 95 mph puck pretty damn well.

- 8 minutes gone, 2nd period markedly better than the 1st for the Habs - puck possession numbers are beginning to level up a bit.

- Habs dominated first 11 minutes of the period, but since then, Canadiens defence has been guilty of many very sloppy plays with the puck and positioning, giving the Panthers some golden scoring opportunities, stopped only by the usual Price heroics. This has not been a stelar night for the Habs blue line.

- Luongo one big reason why the Panthers aren't trailing right now. Also, Tomas Plekanec continuing to struggle through an atrocious start to his season isn't helping much.

- Hrm, this is concerning. Malgin with a totally routine wrist shot from 45 feet from the off wing that Price fails to even react to with the left pad, and the Panthers are gifted a 3-2 lead. Been a very long time since I've seen Price give up such a soft goal - and it makes me wonder if he's feeling 100%.

- Big rebound period for the Habs fails to pay off on the scoreboard, as goaltending weighs in - although not the way you'd expect it to, with Luongo making many very good saves to keep the Habs from grabbing the lead, while Carey Price lets in an unbelievable softie. Net result, Habs fail to make up any ground headed to the 3rd period.


- Pretty good 2nd for the Habs, shame they couldn't make up any difference on the scoreboard:

- Now it's Luongo's turn to make a bad play, Gallagher with a soft shot from along the boards is misplayed by the Panther's netminder, Byron puts home the loose puck to tie the game. Both netminders with some mental letdowns tonight, perhaps wise to just get the puck on net whenever the opportunity arises.

- Yandle suckers the refs into calling Chris Terry for a phantom high stick - he might get a nice little fine from the NHL later this week for the fake.

- So, 10 minutes left, game up for grabs. Not a lot of intensity between these two teams, both teams being rather cautious with the puck, taking few, if any chances, while attacking.

- 8 minutes left, it's been a pretty solid period of hockey by the Habs - they've firmly gained an edge in possession and shot attempts, Price has had little to deal with this period - Canadiens again need some support from players who are overdue (Brendan are you listening?) to maybe get 2 points out of the night after all.

- This has not been a great night for Petry - specifically forwarding the puck to his forwards. Passes have been elected, or just plain off the mark. It's resulted in far too many neutral zone turnovers that should actually be easy Habs zone entries.

- Another strong period for the Habs, good enough to earn them the tying goal and at least a point in the standings.


- Habs and Panthers after 60 minutes. Really has been mostly Habs since start of the 2nd period:

- Oy, Jeff Petry. This is not your night. Best to just keep him off the ice, especially in OT.

- Bad breaks for the Habs, as Galchenyuk's stick breaks while the Panthers control the puck in Habs zone, thereby giving them essentially a 3-on-2. Galchenyuk gambles, scurries to the bench, and in the meantime, Ekblad scores the winner on a shot that Beaulieu slightly redeflects, and the Habs home winning streak comes to an end, as does Carey Price's quest to tie a club record for consecutive wins. We said the Habs could have their hands full in the pregame, and that turned out to be the case, even though on the whole, the Canadiens were the better team tonight. That's hockey for you. Good breaks and (literally) bad breaks.


Jaromir Jagr is in the building!! Everything is wonderful again!! Let's put up some stats comparisons to give you an idea that the Habs are going to be facing a pretty decent opponent tonight:

CF% (5v5):
Montreal 48.8 (22nd)
Florida 53.0 (5th)

Montreal 29.2 (14th)
Florida 29.9 (11th)

Montreal 32.7 (28th)
Florida 28.3 (10th)

Montreal 104.6 (3rd)
Florida 98.7 (21st)

Montreal 22.9 (7th)/81.3 (18th)
Florida 16.7 (19th)/82.2 (15th)

So if you were a gambling man, who'd you put money on tonight? Carey Price is, of course, starting - but still, significant underlaying numbers give the Panthers an edge in just about every category. But yeah, goaltending - Price's line (10-0-0 .957/1.40) versus Roberto Luongo's (5-5-0 .916/2.30) is pretty lopsided, but still, with Alexander Radulov out of the lineup tonight due to injury, don't be surprised if Florida gives the Habs all they can handle, and stop Price in his quest to make Canadiens goaltending history by tying an 89 year old record currently held by Geroge Hainsworth for most consecutive wins.

Puck drops tonight at 7:40, EST.


A few kitty-sized morsels:

- Alexander Radulov will not be playing tonight because he's caught the flu. THANKS CAREY. Habs have recalled forward Chris Terry, formerly of the Carolina Hurricanes, who was a free agent pickup this summer.

- Greg Pateryn will play tonight, meaning Joel Hanley will be scratched.

- Even though Radulov's absence kind of throws a wrench into the Habs lines, and even though Max Pacioretty is mired waist-deep in a scoring slump, we have this from John Lu:

- Habs 4th liner Brian Flynn is still out with an upper body injury. No timetable on his return.

- Meanwhile, the Panthers will play Seth Griffith tonight. Griffith, who formerly played with the Toronto Maple Leafs as recently as 4 days ago, was claimed off waivers by the Panthers on Saturday.

- We get to see Jaromir Jagr play. Yay!!

Game preview in a bit.

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