Saturday, 19 November 2016

Game 19: Leafs vs. Habs



- Remember last year, when Michel Therrien drove many a Habs fan insane by constantly deploying players who weren't performing more than he was deploying the players that were contributing most? Well, take a lookie here after 40 minutes:

CF (5v5)
Shaw (36.4%) - 10:52
Pacioretty (44.4%) - 11:05
Danault 62.5% - (8:29)
Gallagher 66.7% - (9:30)

Spot the pattern?

- Joel Hanley is not having the night he needed or hoped for to make the case that he should stick with the big team as the 6th defenseman. Will Barbario get the next shot?

- Alex Galchenyuk has been doing all that centre is supposed to do, and more, scoring in 15 of 18 games this season. But he needs to get off the setup train, and be willing to shoot the puck when the opportunity arises. There's selfless, and then there's smart.

- Leafs defence much more involved this period, pushing the puck deeper than they were able to the first two periods. It's generating more puck possession events in the Habs zone, which is not a thing you want if you're holding just a one goal lead.

- 10 minutes left, it's a nasty storm brewing, with the Leafs being more aggressive in Montreal's zone, and the Canadiens being much more defensively passive. Makes for a very, very tenuous one-goal lead. Don't be surprised if Toronto manages to find the back of the net at least once more before the final siren is played.

- 8 minutes left, a thought occurs - maybe the Habs' legs are just giving out, since they played last night, took a late plane back to Montreal. That could be the factor.

- Joel Hanley loses a foot race and an icing, because of hustle. Leafs very nearly score on the resulting blow play. This will not help him earn a spot back in the lineup any time soon.

- Matt Martin with uber-ugly and dangerous blindside board on Beaulieu. This is the kind of play that should be 5 + game. One day the League will (hopefully) wake up and make it so:
- Hudon nailed with a questionable interference penalty with just under 4 minutes left. Hang on to your hats, Leafs might tie this thing up after all.

- Habs do a pretty good job killing the penalty, Andersen out of the goal. Now it's hang on for your lives.

- Therrien burns his timeout, for reasons that can only be described as puzzling ...

- Empty net, maybe Gallagher can end his drought??

- Habs hang on, barely. Leafs with a very good 3rd period where they totally outplayed their opponent, but it isn't quite enough. At least the losing streak is stopped at a manageable 3 games, but the Habs will still need to sharpen their efforts in the coming week, and clamp down on not making the same avoidable mistakes committed tonight. The Leafs, with all that talented youth, are still not a very good team, so positivity from tonight's win is reserved.


- Habs and Leafs after 20 minutes, with Canadiens SA CF (5v5) at 62.1%:

- Did we mention enough how badly that first period went for the Leafs' Hunwick and Polak? If the Habs are paying attention, they're matching up the speed of the Galchenyuk line against Toronto's more glaring defensive weakness tonight.

- More poor defensive play by the Leafs around Andersen, they barely escape as Emelin fails to put the puck into a pretty much gaping net. Bozak gets a penalty, Habs to the powerplay.

- Takes Habs 4 seconds to score on the powerplay, another sweet pass by Radulov on the tape to Galchenyuk who, unlike Emelin moments earlier, does not fail to miss open nets. 2-0.

- Leafs with a nice push here, but they have another problem: Carey Price.

- Not an hyperbole here - I cannot think off hand of any Habs in recent memory who passes the puck as efficiently and accurately as Radulov has demonstrated this season. Maybe Saku Koivu? It's pretty heightened company.

- Bad holding penalty by Pacioretty. Hockey can switch on dime, which means it's critical that avoidable mistakes are avoided.

- Carey Price is simply brilliant handling the puck - so much so it's almost not a PK when it's a PK.

- Nylander scores off a failed Price poke check, and Pacioretty's dumb penalty hurts the Habs, losing half their lead in an instant.

- Pacioretty stupidity has a two-fold effect. First, Leafs score, and second, they generate momentum that up until that dumb hold, they didn't possess.

- Radulov - an incredible season so far. A game-changing player. Having a monster game tonight. When he's not making perfect passes, he's hustling back to break up the Leafs transition. This Habs team is unquestionably completely different, for the better, with him in the lineup.

- Credit where it's due, Emelin takes a puck to the face off a point shot, goes to the bench, refuses assistance. Won't miss a shift. That's pretty hockey tough.

- More even period, largely because Habs, who were controlling this game, made too many avoidable mistakes, the most glaring was Pacioretty's holding penalty which lead to a Leafs PP goal, and gave Toronto desperately needed momentum. Then Danault with a bad hooking call in the offensive zone. These are easily avoidable plays. So here we have a game that the Habs ought be comfortably ahead, but instead, find themselves ahead one tenuous goal. Not good.


- From 4th liner to healthy scratch and then all the way to 2nd line centre, I have no idea how David Desharnais manages to defy the laws of hockey gravity, but that's where he's playing tonight, with Pacioretty and Shaw on his wings.

- Radulov is confirmed to start, so the Habs lines will be as thusly:


Daniel Carr is the healthy scratch, to make way for Radulov.

- As we boldly predicted last night, Greg Pateryn will be a healthy scratch, which means Joel Hanley slots back into the lineup. He'll pair up with Nathan Beaulieu.

- Ah, Saturday night Leafs and Habs hockey, we can't get enough of you. Really nice hard, fast start to this game.

- A return to sanity? Habs first powerplay line, Galchenyuk/Radulov/Gallagher.

- Pretty good first attempt, Habs puck movement was good, but that's in large part because the Leafs defence is so green. They're struggling to keep up with the speed.

- And Chris Terry draws a hooking penalty, in large part because Leafs defence can't react quickly enough as Terry carries the zone. Habs right back on the powerplay.

- Torrey Mitchell just got a shot on goal. So what, you might ask? It's his first registered shot since early November.

- 2nd powerplay a bit of a mess, mainly because Habs were very poor simply gaining the Leafs zone. That's a sure sign the unit is heading into a funk.

- Anderson can't handle a Weber bomb from the point, which one can fully understand and sympathize with, Byron tucks in the big rebound. Habs rewarded for having held the bulk of opportunities this period.

- Habs getting back to a better formula this period - more bodies to the net, working to expose the mostly inexperienced Leafs defence. If Andersen gives up more rebounds, there could be more good scoring chances ahead for the Habs tonight.

- Leafs weak link defensively is clearly Matt Hunwick and Roman Polak. They're getting roughshod by speedy Habs attack.

- Considering this is the 2nd of back-to-back for the Habs, that was a pretty good period - perhaps aided by the Leafs defence. Regardless, Habs controlled much of the period's tempo, pushed the net, and used their speed much more effectively than they did earlier this week against the 'Canes and Panthers.


- Habs announced this morning that Sven Andrighetto has been banished back to the rock that passes for Newfoundland. That means 1) Charles Hudon impressed enough last night to keep from being banished himself again, 2) Alexander Radulov is probably gonna play tonight.

- Lines, lines, lines. We got lines for tonight's game. First, da Leafs:

van Riemsdyk/Bozak/Marner



Frederik Andersen

And over in Habsland - we're not sure, tbh. Radulov isn't confirmed at the time of this posting, so the final forward lines are a total guesswork.

- Here's a nice little bit of CF% from last night's losing game against the 'Canes:

Galchenyuk, Alex: 65.9
Gallagher, Brendan: 67.7
Byron, Paul: 58.1
Shaw, Andrew: 53.6

So, who got the most ice time?

1. Shaw, Andrew: (19:45)
3. Galchenyuk, Alex: (16:38)
6. Gallagher, Brendan: (15:03)
7. Byron, Paul: (14:50).

Folks, those are poor deployment choices.

- Okay, it's mid-November, which means we're well overdue to REV UP THE EXCUSE MACHINE:
HAHAHA ... Michel Therrien is complaining about puck luck. HAHAHAHA ...

Yeah, the Canes scored a couple of nifty goals off some pretty crazy deflections, and yeah, Al Montoya let in a softy that proved to be the game winner, but really now - you're complaining about the lack of breaks? YOUR TEAM'S WINNING RECORD HAS DEPENDED ALMOST ENTIRELY ON THEM.

- Okay, other side of the ice, hey remember that first round pick that media, which just so happened to all be located in the centre of the universe better known as the Greater Toronto Area, were falling all over themselves in hailing as hockey's second coming?

Remember that guy? Austin .. somebody or the other. YEAH. THAT GUY.

He hasn't scored in a month.

- Andrew Hammond. Remember him? He was riding the wave less than two years ago, leading the Ottawa Senators' charge against the Habs in the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs. Anywho, Sens waived him this afternoon.

- Puck drops tonight at 7:10 EST. Special note: refs are wearing head cams!!!

- UPDATE: With just over 2 hours before puck drop, Radulov is not confirmed to start. Apparently he'll be a game-time decision. So lineups still pretty much impossible to determine in advance.

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