Saturday, 31 December 2016

Game 37: Habs vs. Pens

Pittsburgh 4, Montreal 3 (OT)


- That's an excellent first shift by the McCarron line, which did a find job Thursday night helping the Habs to grind out that OT win.

- That is as sweet a passing play goal as you'll see, Radulov finishing a four way play to give the Habs a 1-0 lead. Canadiens storming out of the game early in this game. 

- Habs violating pre-game key by taking an early penalty, although it's a pretty questionable trip by Petry on Crosby.

- Price with a pretty remarkable save on the PK - might be the save of the year.

- Well, it wasn't pretty, but Habs survive the penalty. Pens, though, seem to have locked into their groove after stumbling a bit out of the gate.

- Carey Price being put through a pretty stern test this period - Habs two penalties so far, it's unreasonable to expect the Habs to keep the Pens out of the gate at this rate.

- Pens really riding off the powerplay momentum, totally dominating play, badly hemming Canadiens in their own zone. Right now Habs are just holding on for dear life, leaning on Price to help them ride this out.

- Only one line dominating for the Habs - the McCarron line. Otherwise, it's been kind of a mess out there for the Canadiens this period. Pens simply owning Montreal, so this 1-0 lead is tenuous, at best.

- Canadiens need to start playing a road game here - slow things down, work whites, maybe even a few icings. Anything to stem the tide.

- Awfully dumb penalties by Danault for hooking - complete obvious and avoidable. Pens are going to capitalize on one of these - sooner or later.


- Hard to believe, Habs SA CF (5v5) was 50.0%. But then again, it's deceptive given that the Pens were on the powerplay for 6 of the 20 minutes. 

- Hornqvist ties the game with one of the easiest goals you'll ever get as a hockey player, Emelin off somewhere in a daze, leaving Weber and eventually Price out to dry.

- While we acknowledge yet another example of awful hockey by Alexei Emelin, let's look at the positive side - Mark Barberio has been lights out since his callup - probably the Habs second best defeseman after Petry.

- Kessel. McCarron caught a bit up ice after a Terry giveaway deep in the Pens zone, Johnston caught totally flat footed by Pens transition, rest is history. Pens overtaking the scoreboard was inevitable.

- Habs defence completely overmatched - Pens should pull away and be out of sight fairly soon - maybe even before this period is done.

- Danault/Pacioretty/Gallagher /Bryon line having a pretty awful night - totally getting outskated and out-checked - possession numbers are pretty bad.

- We knew the Pens had the League's best offence, but wow - when in gear, they're pretty much unstoppable. Not sure what the formula is to battle this kind of opponent - play an insanely close-checking game, slow the game to a crawl, I guess. Wide open, this team is unbeatable.

- Weber/Emelin have been pretty craptaculour tonight. Upon Markov's return, it might be time to look towards splitting that duo.

- Habs first powerplay, pretty awful. Beaulieu in particular looked lost.

-Torrey Mitchel is adding nothing to entering Pacioretty and Radulov. In fact, he's been suffocating both tonight.

- Petry point shot deflected by Bryon, and remarkably, the Habs are tied headed to the dressing room. Nonetheless, the Canadiens are getting badly out-chanced by Pittsburgh through 40 minutes - attempts might be relatively even, but the Pens shots are coming from some pretty high percentage shooting areas around Carey Price, who will have to play a remarkable 3rd period if the Canadiens are to somehow escape this arena with an actual point.


- Habs actually have CF edge (5v5) through 40 minutes (over 53%), but the Pens are dominating in scoring attempts - 16-10 for home plate attempts. That's why CF is throwing us a little shade tonight (hey, it happens) - the Pens are by far the better team:

- Gotta hand it to this Habs team, they're finding a way. Carr deflecting the puck off a post onto Fleury's skate blade and in - likely a goal that Fleury shouldn't have surrendered after he muffed up a Flynn wrist shot that deflected off the post. Somehow, the Habs have the lead, 3-2.

- Puck might not have gone off Carr - Flynn getting coal credit. Regardless, score still stands.

- Carey Price is having an understated statement game - no way his team has even a shot at winning if not for how he played shorthanded, and for that matter, after the Pens took a 2-1 lead.

- No question this 3rd period has been the Habs best tonight - they're competing - holding their own with the Pens, and in some instances, actually outskating them.

- Wow, Carey Price making a pretty bad puck handling mistake that generates plum turnover for the Pens, but Price makes the save to make up for the error. Incredibly rare event there.

- Bryon with some strong forechecking generating a turnover, and he gets nailed for an insane holding penalty. That's NHL officiating at its very worst.

- Calling on Carey Price to dig way deep for one more PK.

- Heartbreaking - Habs with a magnificent PK, but are undone by a fluky goal with seconds left, a point shot that bounces off Sheary and in. So ridiculously close to an incredible win. 


- Well, win or lose, this has been an impressive, gritty effort by this Habs team tonight. So very, very impressed.

- Terrible icing by Weber, passing it to Pacioretty who was in the Pens zone, heading to his bench. No idea what Weber was thinking, but it moves the face-off deep next to Price.

- Habs called for too many - how the hell is that even possible in overtime???

- Malkin. Impossible stop. Heartbreak complete. Still, incredible heart demonstrated by this Habs team tonight - nothing to be ashamed of


- A bunch of famous people died. Some of them too young. Some of them nice. Except for Antonin Scolia. We're fine with you being gone forever.

- Britain more or less by its own choosing, jumped off a cliff.

- Terrorists killed thousands of innocent people all around the world

- Winter didn't arrive in the north pole, meaning the world is likely close to self-combustion.

- Donald Trump, unbelievably, was kinda-sorta elected President by finishing in second place, which means besides terrorists and global warming and shark attacks, civilization will probably end within the next four years.

- P.K. Subbban was traded for another defensemen who'll be a roster and salary cap albatross in the next couple of years.

Yeah. 2016 was awful, awful, awful. And it ends tonight. GOOD RIDDANCE. Before that, however, the Habs will take on the defending Stanley Cup champions from Pittsburgh.

The Habs continue to play some pretty good hockey - arguably among the best in the League, even with a lineup riddled with key injuries. I guess some credit is begrudgingly due to Marc Bergevin for putting together a lineup that's been able to withstand the grind of an 82 game schedule.

Tonight's clash with the Pens marks game 4 of the Habs epic 7 game road trip - one where they've managed to keep their head above water. The Pens, however, aren't much relief - they're just 1 point out of first place in the crazy good Metropolitan Division, an astounding fact if you consider the team they trail, the Columbus Blue Jackets, are currently riding a 14 game wining streak.

What's so good with the Pens? Well, Sidney Crosby is having an MVP year. They have the best offence in the NHL - with a 2.8 GF60 average, bolstered by a top-5 powerplay. They've basically overpowered opponents this season, even with a mediocre defence, just 14th rated in the League, and less-than-stellar goaltending that we've all come to expect from Marc-Andre Fleury. With a .908 SV%, Fleury is rated 21st amongst starting net minders in the NHL.

So that's the key for the Habs tonight - keep out of the penalty box, and with some luck, convert on powerplay opportunities (the Pens sub 80% PK, for what it's worth, isn't very good either).

It's Carey Price vs. Fleury. Puck drops at 7:10 EST.

And then, a few hours later, 2016 will, mercifully, come to and end.

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