Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Game 18: Habs vs. Canes

Carolina 3, Montreal 2:


- Hudon in the lineup!!! Good news. Andrighetto out. Hmm ... not so good news. Desharnais in. Yeah, what can ya do?

- Fast paced start to the game, very few whistles. Could be fun to watch.

- Wow, Jeff Skinner. Did everything right, putting Montoya on his belly (tsk, bad form), but somehow failed to flip the puck into the empty net. 

- Puck luck is not strong with this 'Canes team - 24th overall PDO, mainly because of below average shooting percentage, and sub-par goaltending. 

- Definite Weber weakness, he's slow on his feet, and gets nailed for slash because he fails to reach quickly enough to Lindholm driving the net. 

- Carolina has defect powerplay, 12th ranked this season, but you wouldn't know that from that first man advantage. Habs doing pretty decent job containing Canes in the D zone - passing lanes to high danger zones have been well protected. 

- Gallagher does not look like a confident player right now - definitely goal weary, it being nearly a month (October 24th) since he last scored a goal. He'll need to get something greasy to break this drought. 

- Markov now with Weber. Not sure why of the shakeup. Possibly an injury or benching (Pateryn?)

- Pretty even period of hockey, both teams not really putting together very many good scoring opportunities - 'Canes with a couple, Habs were pretty passive. Pretty good period for the Galchenyuk line - they had some very strong shifts. Not such a great period for the Danault line - they struggled to gain puck possession. 


- That opening period, which had a sprite start, really ground itself down as the 20 minutes progressed. Scoring chances were pretty limited:

- Habs first powerplay, they buzzed Cam Ward, but couldn't finish - in particular Beaulieu, who somehow missed scoring from 10 feet away with the top half of the net basically free for the picking. He's struggling, and Gallagher is struggling. These funks are clearly getting in the heads of both players.

- Greg Pateryn, unless he's hurt and his time is being limited, seems to have arrived in Therrien's doghouse. Joel Henley, start warming up your skates. You might be going back in tomorrow night.

- A Habs team with a Gallagher and Max Pacioretty producing points is a very hard team to beat. A Habs team with those two producing almost 0 points is very hard not to beat.

- Hudon hasn't had many opportunities tonight, but he just had a very good shift, including a very hard wrist shot on his off wing that tested Cam Ward. At least the kid is producing some scoring chances. Others on his team are failing even that bar pretty miserably tonight.

- Habs continues their strong play - in their own zone. 34 minutes into the game, 'Canes have just 6 shots on Montoya. Canadiens doing very good job shot blocking and covering the passing lanes.

- Controvery. Petry scores into essentially empty net after Daniel Carr runs into Ward, with Ward falling on his back. Replay shows that Carr was hit into Ward, although was it hard enough?? Close call:

- Good goal, says NHL control in Toronto. Habs take 1-0 lead. Hudon (!!!) picks up an assist. 

- Looks like Pateryn getting very minimal shifts. Weber paired with Beaulieu, as Therrien switching pairs up to even out ice time to his defence with Pateryn stapled to the bench.

- Andrei Markov, par excellence tonight. 

- Pretty Habs dominated 2nd period - excellent defensively, and while the offence isn't exactly running on all cylinders, they did manage to crank out a goal. Just 4 shots for the 'Canes in that period, Habs lead 21-8 all. That's pretty one-sided.


- Habs pretty good effort tonight, CF (SA 5v5) over 60% through 40 minutes. The Galchenyuk line has been excellent, with Alex a 85.7%, Gallagher 84.2%. Better than excellent. That's outstanding.

- Definitely better start for Canes in this 3rd period, and they tie the game with Hainsey a wrist shot that goes off Skinner's foot. Sure looked like a kicking motion to me, but it's ruled a good goal. Tie game.

- Not sure if it's Carolina making a push, or Habs not showing up for the period, or a combination of the two, but 'Canes dominating first 5 minutes of this 3rd period. Most of the play has been entirely in Habs zone.

- Habs with a little pushback here, which isn't a big surprise. That it came from the Mitchell line, is. 

- It's all coming undone for the Habs, here. Replay of their first goal, Hainsey a point wrist shot, crazy skill deflection past Montoya, this time it's Teravainen with an incredible deflect, and it's 2-1.

- Tres implosiĆ³n, Rask a very simple wrister that Montoya totally muffs, and in the span of less than 5 minutes, Carolina scores 3. 

- Therrien, realizing these are not good times requiring urgent measures, finally caves and puts out a superfine - Galchenyuk/Gallagher/Pacioretty. They come within 2 inches of scoring. Gotta roll the dice, at this point.

- Obviously Habs were due for a correction - three losses in a row is a sure sign this team has begun its return to earth, not to mention with it, the puck luck. Tonight Carolina reaping that benefit.

- Now Therrien pairing Pacioretty with ... ugh ... Desharnais. Yup. He never learns. 

- Another hard wrist shot by Hudon off the wing - Ward forced to make another good glove save. 

- Habs make it interesting, Markov shot deflected by Shaw to make it 3-2. More than 4 minutes left. Plenty of time.

- Habs pouring it on. Gallagher hits the goalpost (unbelievable), Ward with a sparkling desperation save off Markov, who's been outstanding tonight. Hang on to your hats.

- Habs pushing incredibly hard for the tie, all ended with an absolutely brutal hooking call on Shaw to end the game.

- Stop me if you don't want to think about last year, but Habs dominate puck possession, shots, zone play, have to incredibly fluky goals scored against them, one bad goal let in, and lose the game. Nightmares? I'm having them already.


Don't look now, but the Montreal Canadiens are in some injury trouble. They've been without Brian Flynn for a week, which no offence to Brian or the Flynn family, isn't a very big deal when you're talking about someone that barely cracks the 4th line of an average NHL team. Since then, however, the Habs have had to add a few more names to the sick and wounded ledger, including Alexander Radulov, who's out again tonight from the flu (thanks, Carey), and of course, Artturi Lehkonen, who's been on injury reserve with an upper body injury, and isn't expected back until at least next week, at the earliest.

So with all of these missing bodies, the Habs lineup will look tonight much like it did Tuesday night in an overtime loss to the Florida Panthers:



Al Montoya.

Now, I don't want to make a huge deal out of this, but with Radulov, Lehkonen and Flynn unable to play, this seems like a perfect opportunity to give Charles Hudon, who was leading the AHL in scoring before his call up a couple of days ago, the perfect opportunity to slot at the expenses of say, Desharnais or Chris Terry. Hudon, however, will have to sit and wait and hope that his number somehow comes up, so that he might once and for all prove he's ready for the big club.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the rink, the 'Canes will stack up like this tonight:



Cam Ward.

Carolina made some unfortunate news this week, specifically forward Bryan Bickell, when it was revealed that Bickell had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and is now on long-term IR. 

Otherwise, the 'Canes are currently on a 2 game wining streak, both impressive victories over good teams, the San Jose Sharks and Washington Capitals. So like Tuesday night struggle against the Panthers, the Habs might have their hands full against Carolina.

Carolina players to keep an eye on: Cam Ward, who did post a nifty 1-0 shutout against the Sharks Tuesday night, hasn't exactly stormed out of the gate this year between the pipes - mustering up a 4-4-3 record with a 2.51/.908 split, which amongst goalies that have had at least 10 starts this season, ranks Ward 15th/19th out of 30 in the NHL. Ward is, as he has always been, reliably mediocre. If Ward is off his mark tonight, it could give the Habs a window of opportunity.

The other Carolina factor is their speedy second line consisting of Jordan Stall, Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen. Stall, in particular, is having an excellent season, posting a team-high (and nearly League high) 5v5 CF of 65.8%, which is the best of career. The Staal line, in combination with the Rask line, should give the Canadiens defence and their starting goaltender Al Montoya, plenty of headaches to deal with tonight.

Puck drops tonight at 7:40 EST.


I mean, com'on. This was long, long overdue.


I still say he's auditioning for the top bench job. Keep working on it, Kirk!!

Meanwhile, in case you were pining for the good ol' days of the 2015-16 season, we have good news for you from Tuesday night's game!

Mmmmm yeah .... that's the stuff. Give me more of that sweet, sweet David Desharnais top line deployment. I can almost see that Cup presentation.

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