Monday, 12 December 2016

Game 29: Bruins vs. Habs


- Early on, Habs not nearly as aggressive with the forecheck either in the neutral or offensive zone - at least in comparison to how they played the Avalanche. 

- Krejci/Pastrnak look kinda dangerous - remember, they're a new line. They haven't played an even strength shift together this season. 

- McQuaid muggs Radulov with a hard hold. Ref makes the easy call. McQuaid's response: "HOLD?!!??!?!!? WHAT?!?!"

Yeah, nice try.

- Nathan Beaulieu misses open net setup that Markov would make in his sleep. I guess that, among other things, is what separates him from Andrei.

- Lehkonen continues to get a little bit better every game, every shift. I think the Habs might have obtained another nice diamond in the rough.

- Bruins PK is very, very good ... it looks even better when they play against a Habs powerplay that hasn't still figured out how to gain the zone.

- Krug with a pretty high shoulder hit on Andrew Shaw's face. He's gone to the room, I'm certain for a concussion review. Habs bench pretty upset by the hit.

- Next Krug shift, Gallagher tracks him down a drops gloves. Krug goes down hard and fast, just like we figured he might.

- Here are the hits, which has turned this game suddenly nasty. One hit is perfectly clean, one is borderline not:

- Big bodies delivering hard hits right now, this game heating up.

- Radulov little blindside hit on Miller, who takes big exception, and chases him around the ice. Radulov smart to get the hell away.

- Evenly played period, not a ton of scoring chances, most of the focus by both teams on physical play, big checks, some clean, some nasty. Refs might need to bring down the hammer in the 2nd, or this game could get really, really ugly.


- Habs after 20 minutes, CF at 46.8%, more importantly, it was a very rough period, a game style the Habs really ought not be playing given they're out two top centres for a couple of months.

- Shaw returns to the bench, and is immediately sent on the ice for a Habs 4-on-3 advantage, for baffling reasons. The chance goes ... nowhere.

- Both teams are lining up for hits, which is a dangerous situation. Raises the stake that someone might get seriously hurt. Officials need to send players to to box - a message needs to be sent.

- Bruins powerplay has been pretty bad this year, so they rejigged it for tonight's game. Looks pretty good - puck control and setup. Price doing his job, also aided by a less-than-stellar Habs PK, which has been less than mediocre most of this season. In any case, if that first opportunity was any indicator, Habs would be wise to stay out of the box.

- Holy moly, does Pastrnak have an incredible shot. Far better than I can recall in previous years. No wonder he's tied for the League lead. 

- So Tuukka Rask has a bad record playing in the Bell Centre. You wouldn't know that by how he's played tonight. Handstands in this 2nd period keeping the Habs from scoring 1st.

- Shaw's 1st line powerplay usage is just maddeningly silly - he doesn't move enough with the extra man, just plunks himself in front of the net. Killing a PK is pretty easy when there are only 4/5 players you're defending that are involved with puck movement.

- Zach Redmond just had a horrible shift, totally outskated and outmuscled from the puck in his own zone, Bruins basically taking shots on Price at will as a result. Redmond can't have any more shifts like that, not at an NHL level.

- Whelp, how about that? His next shift Redmond makes a very bad mistake getting caught way up ice trying to make something out of nothing, and resulting odd-man break, Czarnik beats Price short side. 1-0.

- Another more-or-less even period, although the Habs had definable edge in high quality chances, Rask making some rather difficult saves to keep the Canadiens off the board, long enough for someone to beat Price on the other end. Nasty level seems to have been brought down a few notches, it looks as though the teams have sent each other their messages, received, and they've moved on to playing a pretty entertaining game. Canadiens powerplay still looks dysfunctional - hopefully somebody behind the bench will take notice and send out a more potent starting unit (read: no more Andrew Shaw). Otherwise, with Rask playing as he is tonight, Habs could have a big hill to climb in the 3rd.


- Fancy stats suggest far more dominate 2nd period than I had observed, 66.7% CF (5v5) overall. But down on the scoreboard, unfortunately:

- Scoring chances also clear edge to the Habs, 20-12 overall, 11-7 5v5. 

- Haven't really been happy from what I've seen from Redmond tonight - maybe he still needs time to adjust, but he's not having nearly the same kind of solid effort we witnessed against Colorado and New Jersey. Perhaps it's the opponent quality that's had an impact, the Bruins being far better than the previous two opponents.

- Bruins being pretty aggressive with the forecheck, and it's really hampering the Habs ability to forward the puck - the defence not having a very good night even just clearing the zone.

- 5 minutes into the 3rd, looking increasingly likely the Habs will need to score a greasy goal - Rask really on his game.

- Emelin leaning into Brad Marchand is a beautiful thing. Another clean hip check that brings the faithful to their feet. Maybe help spark a Habs goal? 

- Meanwhile, the Bruins response seems to be hitting back, only they can't do it clean. 

- Brins PK is just so good - their defenders are always moving, winning puck battles along the boards. Habs' anemicly performing powerplay has no chance.

- It appears opposing teams have basically figured Weber out, and are covering his passing and shooting lanes. Because Weber hasn't (and maybe can't) adjust, his scoring tallies have fallen off a cliff the past two weeks.

- Habs defence really struggling with the puck tonight. Just too many mishandles and poor passes. Emelin and Weber have been particularly bad.

- Oy. Habs killing themselves with poor passing this period. Even when they gain the zone, far too many unforced errors are killing scoring chances. 

- Danault line giving the Bruins defence the most fits tonight - their forecheck and skating intensity a little too much for that slow Boston blue line to handle. Really wish Therrien had given this unit more playing time tonight.

- Time running out, just 6 minutes left in a period the Habs have really dominated - actually they've owned the ice most of the 2nd and 3rd periods, but Rask has been too good. From one night where every shot seemed to go in, to a night where there haven't been many positive bounces, hockey as always, is elusive to analyze and predict.

- Gallagher's overdue, right? Man, is he ever. 

- Just not happening. Just over 3 minutes left, Bruins hemming up the passing lanes, and doing a good job preventing the Habs from entering and setting up. The Canadiens haven't helped their cause much either, often being out of sync.

- And just as I post that comment, Byron cashes in a loose puck in the slot, credit to Torrey Mitchell carrying the zone, and driving the net. Mitchell continues to rise to the occasion, and Byron has significantly boosted his number the past week. Two guys who are playing exceptionally well right now.

- Emelin seems only able to focus on levelling rushing wingers, but has been totally inept tonight forwarding the puck out of his zone.

- Wow, both teams aren't playing it safe, really opening things up last two minutes of this period. It's been a pretty entertaining game, even with just two goals scored.

- Pretty good period for the Habs, they pushed most of the period, even if they had trouble coordinating their attack. Hasn't been the prettiest game played, certainly one of the more physical games the Habs have been involved in this season. It's always a sign you have good team when they find ways of coming back in the scoreboard late in games. Habs providing more evidence tonight this might be their season.


- Here's hoping Therrien chooses his troops more wisely this OT. That means, no Brian Flynn, Michel.

- Shea Weber coughing the puck up deep to start the OT - not good. He hasn't been good the past week.

- End to end to end so far. 

- Boston scored? Or did they? The ref not indicating one way or the other, with Pastrnak barreling into Price. This must be goaltender interference. 

- There's no way that goal can count. Pastrnak ran right into Price by his own means. Price had no way of stopping the puck because of Pastrnak's interference.

- Yeah, no goal. Interference by Pastrnak. 

- Julien is mad? How can you argue that? Price was tackled into his net. Com'on, man.

- Gallagher. It's just not happening. It hasn't been happening for nearly two months. 

- Not sure what Therrien sees in putting Radulov and Mitchell together, but here we are.

- Radulov trapped in his zone, dog tired. This is bad.

- Yup, Spooner puts it home, because the Habs couldn't make the change.

- Wait. The siren goes. For what??

- Goal is good. Kind of a heartbreaking loss tonight given how the Habs were the better team tonight. But hey, that's hockey.

That said, Habs powerplay is now officially a concern. They're getting opportunities but not cashing in nearly enough times. Montreal must make adjustments, and I'd start by taking Shaw off the first unit. The Habs have other options, but for some reason, Therrien and Kirk Muller seem hung up putting Shaw out there, mostly unsuccessfully.



Let's start with some stupid. P.J. Stock is always a good source:

You tell 'em P.J.! Hey what is P.J. doing these days, anyway? Obviously critiquing blocker punches and recommending suspensions to the League. Anyway, goalies using their blocker to hit other player, have we ever seen that before?

Ouch. Right to Lupal's face, unlike Price who gave Kyle Palmieri two punches to the body. So anyway, what did Stock have to say about Rask's blocker punch to Lupul's face, which is actually a suspendible offence? Why he said:

Oh right I forgot. Stock had nothing to say about that.

Oh well. Anyway, tonight the Bruins and Tuukka Rask's blocker invade the Bell Centre to take on the Habs, who are coming off resounding victories over the Devils and Avalanche. The Bruins, meanwhile, are coming off resounding victories over ... no one. The Bruins are riding a 3 game losing streak coming at the hands of the Caps, the Leafs and the Avalanche. Yeah, the same Avalanche who managed to keep the Habs from hitting triple figures on the scoreboard Saturday night.

So what's the problem, Boston? Whelp, even though the Bruins blue line is slow and aging, its their offence, which has hit the skids of late. So Claude Julien, whose job again is starting to feel a little heat, is making a few line adjustments tonight in hopes of getting some slumping forwards producing again. In particular, David Backes and David Krejci, each of whom has produce just 6 and 7 points respectively over the past 13 games. Krejci will be moved from the 1st to the Bruins' 2nd line to play next to League scoring co-leader David Pastrnak, while Backes will pair up with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

Indeed, getting their top 6 scoring is critical for the Bruins, mainly because their 3rd and 4th lines have contributed next to nothing. Even with Pastrnak lighting the lamp most of the season, the Bruins still have just the 26th ranked League offence, which has led them to spot in the standings which would leave them on the outside looking in, if the playoffs were to start tomorrow.

So here's the Bruins lineup tonight:


C. Miller/K. Miller

Tuukka Rask.

Over on the Habs side, no changes in the lineup or line combinations because, how could you possibly do that after scoring 10 goals?

Puck drops at 7:40 EST.

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