Saturday, 17 December 2016

Game 31: Habs vs. Caps

Montreal 2, Washington 1:


- Chris Terry gets a chance! Called up from the Caps, he'll start tonight on the 4th line.

- Redmond out, Barberio in for the Habs tonight. After a couple of pretty good games to start his season, Redmond has visibly struggled, especially against faster and more structured opposition, and hasn't done a very good job guarding the crease/slot. Like their situation at centre, Habs seem to be riding out a thin 3rd D line until Greg Pateryn recovers from his injury sometime in January.

- More interesting Habs shuffles, it appears that the season-long struggles has finally resulted in demotion:


McCarron had a very strong debut last night, so don't be surprised if Therrien shuffles him a few top 6 shifts, especially if the Habs are in need of quick offence.

- Barry Trotz, who's one of the smartest hockey guys employed these days, said earlier today that Price was going to have a statement game tonight. Bold!!

- Price seems to be pretty "on" early in the game. But, it's early. 

- Another early observation, two very strong shifts to open the game for Gallagher. Talk about someone goal-starved? Galley would be on that poster stamp.

- One concerning trend for the Habs have been the number of times they've been pinned in their own zone, which has cost them goals and even games (the Boston overtime loss a few days ago is an example). Two main reason for this - being outskated/worked, and poor puck movement by a defence that's really been struggling of late, in particular Shea Weber.

- Part of the being outskated narrative, McCarron called for a slash, which is mainly a penalty from not being able to catch your check. Habs really can't afford to be sitting in the box - surely they've learned that lesson given how they were burned so badly less than 24 hours ago.

- Decent 1st PK by the Habs unit, leaning more on Markov and Petry than the usual Weber/Emelin pairing. 

- Injury woes are really starting to hit this team hard - just one shot in more than half a period, Habs offence not even able to gain the Caps zone so far. 

- Nearest scoring chance for the Habs through 13 minutes? Chris Terry, who beats Holtby skating down the off wing, but slips the puck about 2 inches wide of the right post.

- Puck is rolling quite a bit - an indicator that the ice is pretty bad. Makes it tough to set up scoring attempts. 

- Lehkonen, who's played some pretty fine hockey since his return from the injury list, wraps a goal in behind a surprised Holtby, giving the Habs a 1-0 lead. 

- An "okay" period for the Habs, they were visibly outskated and out-possessed by the Caps, but did have some pretty good individual performances by Lehkonen, Terry, Radulov (as usual), and Price looks be very solid tonight (not surprising). Canadiens will have to do a better job exiting their zone in the 2nd and 3rd period, taking some of the pressure off Price, while improving the team's overall possession bottom line.


- As we suspected, not a great period for the Habs possession-wise - they were doing most of the chasing. 4th line Carr/McCarron/Terry particularly struggled keeping pace, even though Terry was able to generate a couple of decent scoring chances. Still, Therrien may be forced to scale back their ice times if we don't see improvements. 

- Another dumb penalty by Torrey Mitchell, this time a totally unnecessary hold. Add that to his two intellectually challenged penalties he took during the 1st period last night that helped directly lead to an insurmountable Sharks lead an eventual victory.

- Still mostly Caps game here, they're dictating the tempo, and having a much easier job gaining the zone. Nonetheless, Carey Price is really on his game, which creates a big problem for Washington.

- Caps not cashing in, largely because of Price. The more this goes on, the greater the possibility the Habs might score a demoralizing 2nd goal. 

- Dismal first powerplay for the Habs, the only scoring chance going to the Caps after a poor turnover by Weber. Michel Therrien taking Markov off the first unit in favour of Petry, he seems to think Andrei is part of the Habs recent PP issues. An odd move, since Weber is the guy who's been unable to score two points in nearly a month.

- Lars Eller, what an invisible force. Mysterious career for a guy that has so much natural talent. 

- What a crazy deployment call by Therrien. Beaulieu gets called for interference, and instead of sending out Markov/Petry, who played very well on the PK in the 1st period, Therrien sends out Weber and Emelin. Second later, Emelin gets nailed for an interference, which of course, the Caps convert. What a terrible piece of coaching. Backstrom with the goal, tie game.

- Jeff Petry off a beauty feed from Pacioretty, deflects one past Holtby to give the Habs the lead again. Petry is having an excellent outing tonight, an example that others like Emelin and Weber ought to follow.

- Nice bounce back here by the Habs after giving up the Caps PP goal - the Petry goal, and now good pressure around Holtby draws another powerplay. 

- More evenly played 2nd period, Habs holding their own despite poor play by the defence, and some questionable decision making by coach Therrien. The Danault line is really motoring tonight, generating plenty of attempts, in spite of the blue line still struggling with handling and forwarding the puck. Petry has been good, Markov too ... but Emelin, Weber and Beaulieu - inconsistent bordering on poor. Habs simply can't afford their blue line to play this sloppy with so many injuries up front. Expect the Canadiens to lean on Carey Price in the 3rd period in an attempt to scrape out 2 points. 


- Habs had a pretty decent 2nd period, 57.7% CF, just under 50.0% total through 40 minutes. But with Shea Weber apparently out from a LBI, Habs blue line will be bending, possibly breaking in the 3rd period:

- Weber back on the bench. Even though he's struggling, it still helps to have all hands on deck for this 3rd period.

- Barberio with a very good shift early in the 3rd, which is also helpful. Weber still taking regular shifts, so it's likely he suffered just a deep bruise from that 2nd period shot block.

- Keep an eye on ice conditions, which are poor to begin with. As the period progresses, the ice will get chewed up, and the puck will bounce and roll on edge, making it much more difficult to pass/handle, which in turns, tends to stifle offence. Ergo, pressure is on Caps to score sooner rather than later. 

- Habs better defensively in this period, more resembling a classic road period, emphasis on tight checking, better than average aggressive forecheck, cautious neutral zone possession. It's working out well ... so far.

- Markov out with a LBI. Hoo boy. When it rains it pours.

- Caps really struggling to get shots on Price, a good reason because the puck won't settle down. Washington really needed to even the score early in the period, hill gets harder to overcome as we get towards the finish line.

- Plekanec really being leaned on this period. He essentially got benched last night, but Therrien knows he's the best the Habs have for defensive forwards. 

- Holtby pulled, Therrien recognizing Barberio's strong play this period, putting him out for late period shifts. 

- An awesome win tonight, the Habs playing an excellent road game even with their roster undermanned by injuries. Really solid play in the 3rd period, Habs were very disciplined checking and puck possession, aided by some bad ice that made it difficult for the Caps to gain the Habs zone with any kind of authority. Really gutsy two points, well earned. 


Seriously, have we moved on from this yet? At least the coach said the right thing:
And Carey Price will start against the Caps.

Story, fini.

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