Monday, 28 November 2016

Game 23: Habs vs. Ducks

By just about any standard, this is unacceptable behaviour by a "professional" hockey player:

Anaheim 2, Montreal 1:


Hey, we got lines. Let's check 'em out. First, the Ducks:


And the Habbies:


Third line D pairing for the Habs will again be Barberio with Pateryn.

- We were led to believe Bernier would start tonight. We were incorrect. It's John Gibson, who has weaker numbers than Bernier, but ... that's Carlyle's call.

- Well, that was quite a start for the Habs, totally pinning the Ducks in their zone for essentially the first 3 minutes of this game, highlighted by a very good shift by the Desharnais line. Anaheim lucky they're not already down on the scoreboard.

- Habs incredibly fast start might not have netted actual goals, but unsurprisingly, it nets them an early powerplay for hooking (a pretty good sign the other guys are having trouble keeping up to you).

- Habs 5v5, look far more dangerous than they ever did 5v4, which makes no sense, of course.

- Habs 2nd powerplay really humming, fast crisp passing, good zone setup, and very nearly a highlight reel goal after a sweet Radulov/Weber to Galchenyuk at the side of the net, tic-tac-toe setup that worked brilliantly, except that Galchenyuk whiffed at the puck with a totally gaping net. Habs still dominating here.

- Plekanec line looks really good, so too does the Desharnais line. And the Galchenyuk line is always looming there, dangerous.

- Andrew Shaw brings "grit" (apparently), and yes, physicality, but fighting - he's not very good at it. Andrew, just step away.

- Habs losing their smarts as the period draws to a close. First, Shaw gets into a stupid fight with Corey Perry, and then Shea Weber gets nailed for a very stupid roughing, and the Ducks convert. Habs were totally owning the period up to the Weber stupidity, and now find themselves down on the scoreboard.

- If Galchenyuk finishes that setup on the powerplay earlier in the period, I'm guessing Habs are likely up 2, maybe even 3 gaols by this point.


- Habs dominated the 1st, 65.7 SACF (5v5), but dumb decisions combined with Galchenyuk missing an open net helped put them down on the scoreboard:

- Desharnais line continues to be the best for the Habs tonight, generating more good scoring chances, and likely working the hardest. But it still consists of guys who have trouble finishing scoring plays.

- Wathced Plekanec lead a 3-on-2 break, nothing special, including the way the play finished, with Plekanec weakly shooting the puck that was easily deflected away. This might, more than anything, give us a hint as to what is Plekanec's biggest issue in a year that's been pretty disappointing - his shot. It looks weak, and if you examine the percentages, they're telling. It's only 3.2% for Plekanec, which is way down from last year's 8.3%.

- Ducks having a much better 2nd period, which is to be expected. Typical rebound period, bolstered by the fact they scored the only goal in a period that they were otherwise trounced. Hockey is like that, sometimes.

- Radulov with a breakaway, foiled because he was hooked hard from behind, and yet, somehow, it wasn't called. Refs are lettin' 'em play, I guess.

- Gonna be one of those nights. Ducks have been better team this period, and have capitalized, with Fowler beating Price blocker side with a 40 foot wrister, a shot that Carey would readily tell you he'd like another shot at. 2-0.

- I guess that Fowler shot was slightly deflected by Galchenyuk, so hard to criticize Price. Bounces just ain't happening tonight. Hockey is like that.

- Many are making good point on Twitter that nobody on this Habs roster should be trying to block unobstructed shots from 30 feet on Price. He's going to stop those pretty much every single time. Yet that's what Galchenyuk did - push the tip of his blade out to redeflect an otherwise easy shot by Fowler, into an impossible save.

- Daniel Carr with a stupid trip, right beside the Ducks' goal as the 2nd period winds down. Just a dumb, dumb, dumb play. Habs have been their own undoing tonight from lack of thinking. Weber with a rough in the 1st leading to Ducks powerplay goal. Galchenyuk with deflection of relatively harmless Fowler shot - Canadiens simply can't afford to play unintelligent hockey in California, a place they've had a horrible winning record the past few years.


- Habs recoiled substantially in the 2nd period, CF barely above 50% now. It's only 2-0, but if we're honest, the odds of the Habs coming back in this game are pretty much slim-to-nil.

- Unless it's a fluky and/or greasy goal, Habs aren't going to snap the twine tonight. They put it all out the first 17 minutes, got nothing, and pretty much gave up.

- Galchenyuk again misses glorious scoring opportunity. Just not gonna happen for him tonight, or, seemingly, for anyone else wearing the same jersey.

- I mean, Habs are at least giving it this 3rd period - they're looking much more the same collection we saw in the 1st period. But there's just no finish - Gibson is playing strong, but the best playing line, the Desharnais line, is riddled with players that don't quite have the abilities required to score.

- Radulov backhander, misplayed by Gibson, Byron a wide open net, nobody around, somehow misses. I think it's time to go to bed.

- Would it kill this goal-starved team to try putting Pacioretty next to Galchenyuk? At least a few shifts? I mean, what harm could possibly come of it?

- Tomas Plekanec is killing Pacioretty's season. It's not that Plekanec is playing poorly, it's just that he's not a good fit for Max. He's a two way, defence-first centre - basically the kind of guy you want up the middle on your third line. But next to one of the top scoring snipers in the League? Bad, bad, bad fit.

- Habs with late, absolutely must convert powerplay, and Therrien puts out Andrew Shaw. Man advantage goes completely nowhere.

- Horrible man advantage. Absolutely horrible. Therrien refusing to use his best assets when they're required most. It's baffling decision-making.

- Hold the phone a little bit longer, Habs actually score, and it's Shaw (go figure) with Price pulled. Two minutes left.

- Only fitting the Habs final nail is self-inflicted, with Shaw getting nailed for a hook while the Canadiens are pushing deep in the Ducks zone. He goes nuts, and is tossed from the game.

- Habs somehow fluke out Ducks zone possession with 20 second left, and forget that the clock is running, not even taking a shot on Gibson. Bzzzzt. Game over.

- Well, Habs made it interesting, at least? Crucial turning point was likely way back in the 1st period, when Galchenyuk missed an empty net while Habs were on their 2nd powerplay, which would have opened the scoring, and likely changed the entire complexion of the game. Instead, Habs made poor decisions that resulted in Ducks getting a couple past Price, and the rest is history. Now on to San Jose, with the Habs probably at this point just hoping to get a point out of their California swing.


West coast swing! This means at least two nights of having to stay up way past our bedtimes. Tonight, it's Anaheim.

- No lineup changes tonight for the Habs. That means no Zach Redmond, and also Chris Terry is a healthy scratch.

- Habs are facing a team that's unquestionably got the worst coach in the NHL (which is saying a lot if you're the Montreal Canadiens) -  Randy Carlyle! Since somehow getting rehired, Carlyle has taken the Ducks to 19th ovearll CF% (their current standing), from last year's 17th overall standing, to 2014-15's 17th overall standing, when Randy wasn't coaching the Ducks, to 2013-14's 19th overall standing - and ... you know what? The Ducks are, and have been, pretty mediocre for a long time.

- So what are the Ducks good at? Uhhhmmm .. offence? 24th rated, so nope. Defence? 9th rated .. so ... kinda yeah? Anaheim plays a pretty boring style of hockey, lots of trap action, lots of dependance on goaltending, which this season, has actually been pretty decent. Specifically, it's been Jonathan Bernier (another Leafs cast-off that found a life in California), who's put together a +.500 record this season backed by a .933 SV%. Yeah, he hasn't started a ton, just 9 so far, but he's still been a pretty good reclamation success story this season. Anyway, Bernier starts tonight. He'll be a key to this game.

- What are the Ducks bad at? Well, there's the anemic offence, no surprise given who the coach is.  Also because Anaheim's top line of Rikard Rakell, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, haven't been producing many goals this season. Otherwise, their powerplay is pretty good, 6th rated, PK is "okay", 18th rated. If you go down the list, they're pretty much in the middle of the pack in most major categories - shots taken and allowed, 5v5 performance. Etc., etc. This is the quintessential mediocre NHL hockey team.

- Puck drops tonight at 10:10 EST. Fire up the coffee maker, and curl up for some late-night hockey!


Hey, happy start of the week, everyone. We have a few bits of hockey info today, mostly Habs-related (in present or past):

- Zach Redmond. Hey, remember him? Well ...

Redmond was a free agent pickup this summer, a defenseman signed to bolster an otherwise thin 3rd line pairing on the Habs blue line. Well, Redmond sustained a broken foot in mid-October, shelving any aspirations that he'd join the big team for opening night. Now, it would appear, Redmond will get his first Habs action tomorrow night in Los Angeles, as the Canadiens take on the Ducks. With 7 D now on the roster, this means either Mark Barberio or Greg Pateryn will be a healthy scratch.

- The Florida Panthers, who, despite having a mediocre record barely above .500, have been playing some pretty good possession hockey this season, even while deal with a rash of injuries. In case you hadn't heard, the Panthers unceremoniously fired popular hard coach Gerry Gallant immediately after last night's 3-2 loss to the Hurricanes in Raleigh, leaving Gallant literally stranded on a street curb after literally being tossed from the team bus. Photographers were there to document the event:

Classy job, Florida. Very, very classy.

Anyway, Gerry will be fine. He was in just year 1 of a recently signed 3 year contract extension, so he'll be collecting paychecks from the Panthers for awhile yet. It's now largely assumed that Gallant will be the lead candidate for consideration for the new team in Vegas.

More in a bit.

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