Thursday, 1 December 2016

Game 24: Habs vs. Sharks

San Jose 2, Montreal 1:


- Hmm, Mitchell between Pacioretty and Gallagher? That makes absolutely zero sense, but here we are.

- Very, very weak holding call on Barberio sends the Sharks to an early powerplay, of which they've destroyed the Habs with at home over the years.

- Burns with a one timer that Price appears to have overplayed moving left to right, exposing right side of the net, and we're off to the races already, 1-0 Sharks.

- Mitchell back on the 4th line. That lasted all of two shifts.

- Jones absolutely robs Galchenyuk in a play eerily similar to Gibson's save on Lehkonen Tuesday night in Anaheim. That save turned out to be a key play in the Ducks win. We'll see if history repeats itself.

- Sharks are more or less destroying the Habs this period, totally outmuscling during puck battles, generating a ton of shots and shot attempts. This looks like the game will end in a route.

- Alexei Emelin, in yet another display of not thinking, takes a very stupid interference penalty on Lebanc, trying to level a big hit instead of just playing proper defence. Habs back on the PK, something they simply can't afford to do.

- No question Galchenyuk line the best so far in this game, but mainly by default. The rest of the Habs lineup have been pretty much zeros this period.

- Brian Flynn. He's healthy, he's playing, but for the life of me, I've little idea what Therrien sees in him that couldn't be supplied by any number of younger bodies now in St. John's purgatory. 

- Killer. Galchenyuk the turnover, Petry caught way out of position giving Sharks a 2-on-0 break, Markov can't get back, and Pavelski tips home a centring pass from Thornton, and all with less than a minute left in the period.

- 1st period summation in eight words: We can't get out of California fast enough. 


- To be fair, the Sharks were the better team that 1st period, but it wasn't a slaughter. The Habs did do a relatively decent job, but got burned by the Sharks powerplay and an unfortunate late period turnover that gave the Sharks a 2-0 lead. But if you look at the even strength data, the Habs did an alright job:

- Going through 1st period data, too many underperforming Habs forwards getting lion's share of ice time, while those getting good numbers getting less time. It's the same story with this team. Poor deployments.

- Good first shift, Gallagher draws an interference, and first powerplay shift, Therrien sends out Galchenyuk, Radulov (all good) and Andrew Shaw. I don't understand. I just don't understand.

- Predictably, the powerplay produces absolutely nothing. Not even a shot attempt. 

- Habs scorers (supposed) aren't finishing. Galchenyuk early in the 1st period, and now Pacioretty early in the 2nd can't finish scoring opportunities that ought be finished.

- I have no idea what Therrien is doing tonight. No idea. His deployment strategies make little logic. Seems to be putting Flynn out as much as possible, which is not what the Habs need to do down 2-0, with pucks not going in the net.

- Pacioretty just has no cutch this year, I still think there's something not right with his shot. An unstated injury. Whatever. But at some point, he and Habs need to refocus if Max is unable to finish the hard work of his line mates, towards using his talents to feed the puck to finishers. I think Galchenyuk could be that guy, if Therrien would only be willing to put Paciortty on his wing. But Therrien steadfastly refuses. 

- Quite literally as I posted that last thought, Therein puts Pacioretty with Galchenyuk. Incredible.

- I'm not sure if anyone else is noticing this because of the scoreboard, but the Habs have resoundingly outplayed the Sharks in this 2nd period, and for that matter, this game as a whole. Just haven't finished any of their numerous scoring chances.

- The Habs took it to the Sharks in that period, but because of bad luck, goalposts, bounces, missing excellent chances, and good goaltending by Jones, still find themselves down 2-0. It's a shame, because except for the horrible decision making by Alexei Emelin tonight, the Canadiens really ought be ahead, or at least tied, on the scoreboard. But that's the margin of error in the NHL these days. If you don't take advantage of what's been generated, and if just one of your defenseman puts out a terrible game, no amount of outshooting and out-chancing your opponent makes a spit of difference.


- Habs did a much better job with deployments that period, putting out those playing well (Galchenyuk, Radulov, Pacioretty), scaling back those not playing great (Desharnais line), and generally reducing amount of 4th line ice time. Net effect? Habs CF (5v5) in that period alone was 64.9%:

- 45/27/67 look good an puck possession and setting the tempo, but they are struggling with zone entires, almost certainly because they've had next to no time actually playing as a unit this season. If they're allowed to time to mesh, watch out.

- I don't get this. Critical 2nd powerplay for Habs, and Therrien puts Radulov on the line, and again sends out Shaw first unit. Habs lose puck control, and Pacioretty gets nailed for slashing. End of powerplay. I don't get this.

- Petry hits a post, add it to the total of pucks just not going in. Methinks the west coast is jinked for anything Montreal Canadiens.

- Looks like Therrien has given up with Pacioretty with Galchenyuk. They were together for just over 1 period. That's it. What can ya say?

- A "decent' 3rd for the Habs, but apart from the Petry goalpost, not a lot of high grade scoring chances. Sharks play a very disciplined defensive system, really shading the passing lanes and soaking up rebounds.

- Oh boy, Radulov with a nasty high stick high, maybe in his eye. Blood gushing everywhere. Looks horrible. This is dreadful.

- Somebody needs to ask Michel Therrien his obsession over putting Andrew Shaw on Habs first unit powerplay. It's NOT WORKING. It really hasn't most of this season. Why. Why? WHY?? WHY?!?

- Lehkonen finally breaks his drought, converting on the 2nd half of the 4 minute penalty. Lead cut to just 1, but very little time left. Just 87 seconds. Shame.

- California is death. Habs did pretty well tonight, but couldn't score. In other words, they got Habbed. But good play or not, win, loss or tie, it's all overshadowed by Radulov's injury. Hopefully his eye is okay. That's all we can do, is hope. 


Let's look at the record. It's pretty horrid, at least if you consider the past 17 years, which, by the way, is how long it's been since the Habs last won a game here. 17 YEARS.

Wins: 5
Losses: 12

Goals for: 38
Goals against: 50

It was November 23, 1999 -  A MILLENNIUM AGO - the Habs last beat the Sharks in San Jose's own building. Actually, if you want to go back to the last time the Habs won in regulation, it was November 7, 1997. We're talking about an entire human generation of ineptitude.

Do the Habs have a shot this year? Probably ... not, but then again, with Carey Price in net, nothing is quite impossible. Fair to assume that there won't be a ton of scoring tonight - the Sharks have had a mid-ling offence this season, the Habs, in particular some of their top scoring forwards, haven't been producing much the past 3-4 weeks.  Toss in that two British Columbia boys, Price and Martin Jones (2.05/.921) are facing each other in goal, and it's fair to assume the margin for error will be pretty thin.

Here's the Sharks' lineup tonight:



Martin Jones

Meanwhile, the Habs lineup features the return of Brian Flynn from his month-long stint on the injury list:



Carey Price



Habs are heading up the California coast to take on Brent Burns' beard and the Sharks in San Jose, before heading back down the coast to face the Kings in L.A., before hightailing it out of California. This place is death.

Pretty quiet today on the Habs news front:

- Chris Terry was exiled out of road trip, sent 9,000 miles east to play in St. John's again. Terry's performance since getting called up two weeks ago has been, shall we say, somewhat forgettable.

- Terry's demotion is a pretty strong sign that Habs might put Brian Flynn, who's finishing up injury recovery, back into the lineup as soon as Friday night.

- Hey, the NHL All-Star game voting started today. Yeah, we know. It's a stupid event that basically means four damn days without hockey. Anyway, if you care to stack the voting for deserved Habs, please click here and vote for Carey Price, Alex Radulov, Shea Weber and .. hmm ... anyone else .. yeah ... Andrei Markov.

- Oh, Brendan. Brendan, Brendan, BRENDAN. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!

AFTERNOON UPDATE: Hey, here are Habs lines from their practice today:


Looks like Daniel Carr is the spare wheel for tomorrow night, if Flynn does indeed start.

We'll continually update this page with news as it arrives.

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