Thursday, 31 March 2016

Game 78: Habs vs. Bolts


- Galchenyuk in full zoom mode tonight.

- Seems like every shift involving Torrey Mitchell results in some defensive misadventure. Mitchell basically playing himself into irrelevance on a team overburdened with 4th liners.

- Desharnais, playing like he has something to prove, opens the scoring off a (as he usually gives up) Bishop rebound. I guess Davey is making his auditions for the 2c spot? 

- Therrein sends out overmatched 4th line after the DD goal, Habs get hemmed in their zone for more than a minute, barely holding their early lead. Coaching!

- As period progresses, Tampa playing increasingly sloppy hockey, zone transitions are disorganized, entires mostly ineffective. Not a good sign when you're facing a bad opponent just as the playoffs are to begin.

- Beaulieu injured on the PK. Speaking of, Habs PK success rate past two weeks has been 65%. Which is just about as awful as a PK could ever be in the NHL. 

- Okay period for Habs, nice work by Galchenyuk, Eller and Desharnais. Tampa with a pretty mediocre effort - not unusual to see for a team that would look at this game and think "easy pickings". I'll expect to see more from them in the 2nd - perhaps more physical play.

- Habs nursing a two goal lead through 40 minutes, it really does feel like a very tentative game. I guess Habs have Tampa's number this season? Hockey is weird that way. Still, this doesn't take away from the Habs efforts tonight, which have been very hard working. Canadiens doing a good job clogging up the neutral zone which has helped to nullify some of Tampa's breakout speed. Still, the Lightening must be disappointed with their performance - two supposedly easy points to keep them ahead of Florida being tossed to the wind, mainly due to sloppy, one might speculate, somewhat lacidazical efforts?


- After 20 minutes, Habs CF (5v5) was 50.0%.

- Beaulieu is out for the night to injury because this team will never be allowed to be healthy ever again. The end.

- Wow. Torrey Mitchell picks up the puck at the red line, turns on the afterburners, and scores one of the prettiest solo goals you'll see. Habs take a stunning 2-0 lead.

- Tampa finally now playing with some urgency. That Mitchell goal might have woken up some dozy heads. 

- Lightening still being very careless and sloppy with the puck. Passing is very poor. Just about the last things you want to see your team doing with handful of games left on the schedule. 

- Palat splits Hanley and Pateryn, who both do a lousy job blocking the rush, with Pateryn pulling on Palat just as he's skating past. A penalty shit is (incorrectly) called, but Condon makes the save anyway. Given how atrocious Montreal's PK has been lately, it was probably a blessing in disguise.

- Tampa finding their mo, it seems. Pateryn and Emelin getting hemmed in - the loss of Beaulieu is going to make holding this lead progressively more difficult as the game progresses.

- Habs not even showing pretence of fighting fire with fire, pucks brought/shot in are being dumped out without pause. Transition game virtually ground to a halt. Full on prevent mode here, possibly because of rapidly exhausting defensive line. Could get pretty messy here if Tampa finally starts converting.


- Habs and Lightening after 40 minutes. Galchenyuk line, statistically speaking, best for the Habs tonight, both ends of the ice.

- Tampa juggling their top two lines in a bid to find some goals. Stamkos just came close. Otherwise, still shooting blanks.

- Tampa's defense continues to make poor choices with the puck, often resulting in deep zone turnovers and high percentage Habs scoring attempts. Bishop keeping his team in this game, although the mistakes are bound to burn unless and until Tampa starts scoring. 12 minutes left.

- 7 minutes left, Habs defense visibly tiring, the impact of losing Beaulieu now taking effect. Tampa, if they're ever going to score, may very well do it now - Habs icing the puck to slow the game. We'll see how that works out.

- For whatever reason, Tampa pulls Bishop at the end of a powerplay, with Danault leaving the box, and putting the puck into the empty net. And so Tampa lose again to the Habs, who with 5 defence, played a pretty gritty game resulting Ina valiant win. Florida now with grand opportunity to win their division, which just about nobody saw happening at the start of the season. Good coaching, I suppose. Our loss, their gain.


Okay, we're in south Florida. What's happening?

- Well lookie here, P.K. Subban is ... not back in the lineup tonight. Oh well. HEY, lookie here. Mike Brown is also not! Stefan Matteau will take his spot in the lineup, which I guess is okay? One guy who doesn't have an NHL future switched for another.

- Habs held a practice this morning, and Carey Price played in all of it, fully equipped. He's getting close. Maybe he'll be ready come April 10th?

- ICYMI, Ben Scrivens was placed on waivers yesterday, and today he cleared, meaning he's out in St. John's. It's unlikely Scrivens will be with the Ice Caps beyond this season, just as it's unlikely Scrivens will play in the NHL again. Bon Voyage, Ben!

- With Scrivens forever banished to the middle of nowhere, Mike Condon will take the reigns the rest of the way ... unless Price does return, of course. Habs backup tonight is the newly signed (good move by Marc Bergevin, might I add) Charlie Lindgren.

- Tampa continues to fight for the Atlantic Division crown with the Florida Panthers. So every game is meaningful for the Lightning, which means they won't exactly be "resting" their better players tonight, which means we could be witness to another scoreboard thumping.

- Tampa, much like the Habs went through from ... oh ... December unti the present, have been dealing with injuries. The Lightening recently lost defenseman Anton Stralman with a LBI that will keep him out for the next 3-4 weeks. They're also missing wingers Nikita Kucherov and Ryan Callahan. Their return is not known at this time. One (or maybe even both) might play tonight.

- Ben Bishop is in goal for Tampa, coming off a 3-0 shutout victory over the Leafs on Monday.

- Puck drops at 7:40 EST.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Game 77: Wings vs. Habs

Montreal Gazette


- Sabres well on their way to victory tonight, Habs drive for 24th most definitely is alive.

- Lots of empty seats in the Bell Centre, those giving this game a pass not missing much early on, both teams really poor carrying the zone. Hard to believe this Wings team would go far in the postseason, assuming they even qualify (I think they'll come up just short). 

- Pacioretty with a nifty tip off a Hanley point shot, Habs score, Sabres cheer.

- Assuming all are healthy, Wings have a pretty weak one-two goaltending tandem in comparison to the rest of the League. This isn't going to get better for them anytime soon.

- And just like that, Mrazek is yanked for Howard after surrendering a bad rebound to Byron, who makes it 2-0 Habs. Wings goaltending has got to be a spot of great concern.

- Nonetheless, given the display I just saw of the Habs powerplay tonight, I remain confident the Wings will come back.

- Therrien has shoved McCarron off to the wing, while also burying him on the 4th line. More missed opportunities for the org to get a good look at young players at their natural positions.

- Three Habs powerplays, none of them even remotely threatening. Still, Canadiens were the better team, which is a good indicator of how poorly the Wings played - it appears the Sabres took a lot out of their legs last night. Canadiens did a good job with controlled entries, while Condon held the line even though he wasn't really tested. 


- I Suppose we can grant some benefit of doubt given this is 2 games in just over 24 hours. Still, the Wings effort meter is barely rising above zero - the Habs really doing minimalist stuff to repel most of Detroit's attack. Maybe the Wings are trying to lull the Habs over a cliff? 

- Emelin subjected to a beat down after delivering a clean shoulder check on Larkin, who falls into the boards. You're really not supposed to go after guys who make perfectly fine hockey plays.

- Emelin given a highly unusual 5 minute interference penalty, which is very arguable, but may be more of a game management penalty.

- 10 minutes left in the period, that Larkin hit seems to have fired up the Wings a bit, skating and puck movement noticeably more intense in the Habs zone.

- Wings strike on the man advantage (Habs bench watches and wonders what it must feel like). We've got ourselves a game.

- Another goal off the Emelin penalty, Habs defence utterly chaotic around Condon, whom himself can't seem to cover pucks, and the game is tied. Just like that.

- Mike Brown, who really really really has no business playing in this game, or any other for that matter, loses his cognitive function and goes trolling for a fight, which lands him immediately in the box. Mike Green scores on the powerplay, of course, and the Habs implode, much anticipated previously, is completed.

- Well, that was a bad period for the Habs, assuming you wanted a win. Otherwise, it appears the Canadiens will finish the night officially behind the Sabres in the standings. Tremendous!


- Emelin doing his team little good by scoring to tie the game early in the 3rd. Habs really need to lose tonight. 

- Wings doth protest that Howard was interfered on by Brown. Here's hoping.

- Heh. Mike Brown. Cost Habs the Wings go-ahead goal with bean head roughing minor in the 2nd, now Emelin's first goal in nearly two years here in the 3rd. And yet, he's put into the lineup - again and again and again. 

- Habs score ...? On ... the ... powerplay?!? Plekanec with great slap pass intended for Galchenyuk wide open beside the net, but Andrighetto gets his stick on the way and redeflects the puck past Howard. Shesh. Way to go, Sven. Tie game.

- Max Paciorertty, courtesy some wonderful slight of hand playmaking by Markov, gives the Habs a late lead, and suddenly, it's the Wings' turn to collapse. With Boston losing tonight to the Leafs, Pacioretty may have just saved the Bruins' season. Try to wrap your head around that.

- 5 minutes left, Wings really pushing, Habs hanging on, and getting odd man rushes as Detroit may have suddenly realized their season might be at stake. Howard may have to come up big more than a couple of times to give his team a shot. 

- There's one. Pacioretty and Andrighetto, Howard stretching out to keep it a one goal game.

- Habs win. Sigh. Sabres ... lost. In a shootout. Canadiens now two points ahead of Buffalo. Red Wings totally blow their opportunity to pull ahead of the Bruins with a sloppy loss - a combination of soft and often disorganized defence, especially in the slot, and questionable netminding. Meanwhile, Max Pacioretty appears to be going on one of his scoring runs, at pretty much exactly the wrong time. I guess at this point we can cheer him on to reach the 30 goal mark for the season. Otherwise, with important bodies now returning, the task of losing out the string is going to get more difficult for Montreal.


Some points for consideration.

- Habs will soon be the 3rd most injured team in the NHL this season, surpassing Edmonton for that coveted bronze medal spot. Reaching for an even higher (i.e. catching New Jersey and Toronto) position is about to be hampered by the return of some IRL bodies, specifically Daniel Carr (remember him?) and Brendan Gallagher. Hey, there's even talk that Carey Price might be available to start later this week, for reasons that are completely and totally baffling.

- So aside from Gallagher and maybe Carr, who else might the Habs be getting back this week? Probably P.K. Subban, whose neck is reportedly still not quite 100%.

- Habs will have pretty much the same lineup tonight as they did in a pretty awful losing effort against the Rangers on Saturday, expect that Jacob De La Rose will get a start, while Stefan Matteau will not play.

Meanwhile, over on the other bench ...

- Red Wings continue to fight for their playoff lives, it appears that they and the Boston Bruins will enter the room, and only one will leave. The Wings are playing the second of a back-to-back, last night they just eeked out a win over the lowly Sabres, where this happened:

- Wings have no huge injury issues, save for Johan Franzen (concusion) and Drew Miller (lower body). So Detroit is a little weak on the left side. That's about it.

- It was not unsual in recent years for this Wings team to be very near the top in puck possession. This year, they've dropped off significantly - from 3rd last season in CF%, to 12th as we type. More reflective of roster and front office turnovers, the Wings aren't rebuilding, but they aren't nearly as deep as they usually are, and have been for about the last ... oh ... 26 or 27 years.

Who's in net? WHY, it's Mike Condon for the Canadiens, and Petr Mrazek (he who nearly blew a 4 goal 3rd period lead to the Habs last week) for Detroit. Puck drops at 6:40 EST.

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Game 76: Rangers vs. Habs


- Who picked up tickets for this game a few months ago hoping to see Carey Price against Herik Lundqvist? Joke's on you.

- Hey, Therrien's coaching his 750th NHL Game. Congrats, coach! YOU HAVE SIX LEFT.

- Haha. Emelin decides to go for a stupid hit on Stepan, which sets the table for a Rangers break, Miller making Markov look bad, Condon look even worse. Bush league play. 1-0 Rangers.

- Andrei Markov apparently gives zero ducks. The way Miller skated around him to score that goal, it sure looked that way.

- Habs defence looks completely disinterested tonight. Team looks like they're more or less mired in resigned depression. Totally playing out the string, and the Rangers are going to eat them alive tonight.

- Erik Staal has been pretty much a total disaster since getting traded for before the deadline. Tonight might be his night when he actually scores. Condon with a desperate save off Staal courtesy some pretty chaotic Canadiens zone coverage off the Rangers rush keeps him off the board - for now.

- Eller is one of the few Habs players seemingly out there giving an effort, and he's rewarded with a goal off a nifty slot shot. Great work and awareness by Lars off some pretty lazy defence by McDonagh, and Habs tie the game. For now.

- Rangers with a pretty aggressive attack, perhaps believing there are many goals to be had off this super-soft and incredibly disorganized Habs defence. Can't blame them for thinking that - though it could present the Habs with some odd-man breaks as the game progresses.

- Desharnais continues to play some pretty atrocious hockey since returning from IR. Passing is totally off the mark, effort appears to be either half-hearted, or he's lost a step with skating speed. In any case, if the Habs need a good look at someone long overdue for a contract buyout, they're getting a pretty good answer in spades.

- Minor miracle Habs are tied on the scoreboard after that period of play, mostly dominated by an aggressive New York attack, and with chaotic Montreal defence to boot. Everything is pointing towards an (eventual) lopsided final score.


- Habs and Rangers after 20 minutes. Pretty brutal period for the have, with the SA CF just barely 32%. David Desharnais came in just over 14%, which is pretty atrocious, but is still better than his game against the Ducks, where he was just over 8%. A veritable disaster on skates.

- Are you still watching? Kreider with 3 points in the period, and counting, two goals, Rangers ahead 4-1. Emelin awful, the same old Habs story. But, as expected, the scoreboard total after 1 period was a mirage - New York destroying their opponent tonight. As expected.

- Condon has been pretty bad, but his teammates haven't been much better, and in some instances, much worse. Basically this is a team that finds a new way of embarrassing itself each and every game.

- If this were a basketball game, the Rangers would be the Harlem Globetrotters. Oh wait, Montreal jus scored. Danault.

- Bad news on that Danault goal, Desharnais picked up the assist, which means he'll undoubtably be promoted, and the coach can now tell everyone "I was right about Davey."

- That goal was an aberration, of course. Rangers have held the puck almost exclusively on one side of the ice for most of this period, most of this game. Galchenyuk line in particular is getting routed by line matching.

- Emelin with a stupid cross check, Rangers convert on the powerplay, 5-2. Abysmal.

- Nothing to say. I'm sticking with my earlier prediction as such:


Really no point in going through this period, Habs well on their way to another bad loss. Interesting to note that the Galchenyuk line is indeed having a tough night, Torrey Mitchell is again getting leading ice time (for whatever reason), and Emelin is well on his way to a 26+ minute TOI evening, because ???... Here's the (rather awful) 2nd period chart:

- Therrien puts Ben Scrivens in for the third, just to spread the abuse around a little bit.


Sevens games to go. We're almost there. A few lineup notes tonight, Sven Adrighetto is back in the lineup tonight, which means Jacob De La Rose will be a heathy scratch. P.K. Subban also won't be playing, but Mike Brown will. Oh well.

Habs sit one point ahead of the Arizona Coyotes, so there's something on the line tonight. As in, we're hoping for a loss, and an Arizona win. Desharnais back at centre again certainly won't hurt in meeting that goal.

Here's the Habs liens:


Puck drops at 7:15 EST.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Game 75: Habs vs. Wings


- Uh, mad scramble in front of the Wings net, puck enters the net, and for reasons that are totally baffling, Plekanec is penalized for a cross check he never actually made. So ... no goal because Habs did ??

- Pacioretty blatantly hooked on a breakaway. the other official, Brad Watson, does not make the obvious call. So, yeah.

- Horrible officiating aside, Habs taking a very physical, grinding tact so far in the period. It's resulted in some terrible flow, but it has generated a few turnovers near the Wings blue line and in the neutral zone. Habs with lion's share of scoring chances so far, even if their puck possession is low.

- Even with the departure of Mike Babcock, Wings still play a very structured, disciplined game - even with a diminished roster. Real tribute to an organization that values the merits of smart coaching.

- Habs defence attempts to chip the puck up the boards, leads to turnover, leads to goal. For the 934,0348343.94@*&*@(!!&!*  time this year. 1-0 Wings.

- Habs with not a terrible period, but still totally unstructured and disorganized, when compared to their opponent. Shame they had an obvious goal taken away because of officiating incompetence, shame they gave away a goal because of continuing defensive incompetence.


- Habs and Wings through 20 minutes, Canadiens SA CF (5v5) under 40%, which is pretty bad.

- Smith with blindside hit on Matteau at centre ice, and for reasons that are totally baffling, Matteau is  called for roughing? Incredible.

- Wings score 12 seconds apart, Scrivens is whatever on the 3rd goal. Detroit's second goal abysmal zone coverage by the Desharnais line (SHOCKING!). Game is now pretty much toast.

- Suffice to say the Hanley/Dietz pairing is having an extraordinary evening - extraordinary bad, that is. So many misplays, blown coverages. Both are doing themselves little favour for consideration next season.

- Therrien deploying Mike Brown ALL OVER THE PLACE. On the 1st line with Galchenyuk and Pacioretty, on the 3rd line with Lessio and McCarron, I have no idea what he's trying to do - but the scoreboard results speak for themselves.

- Wings now more or less setting up camp in the Habs zone at will. This game could really, really get ugly.

- Yeah, this game is ugly. So very, very ugly. Habs are getting destroyed this period, the 3rd and 4th lines are total catastrophes, about the only bright spot for the Habs is Max Pacioretty. Otherwise, it's just an embarrassment.

- Hoo boy, Scrivens. Makes a save off the Richard's original shot, and just sits on his pads, totally and utterly unaware he's given up the puck. Martha there for a very easy goal, the first of his NHL career. 4-0. So, so, so embarrassing.

- Yet another low for an organization that seemingly can never touch bottom. Detroit absolutely routing the Habs from just about every possible angle in the 2nd period, this is turning into another night of total shame for a team that probably couldn't compete for a playoff spot in the AHL. Difficult to describe how awful this Montreal Canadiens team is. Actually, it's impossible.


- 2nd period stats. Read 'em and weep. Oh yeah - Desharnis' CF (5v5) tonight? 8.3%. Once again. Eight point three per cent.

- Plekanec, who hasn't scored in more than a month, is gifted a goal by Mrazek, who by all means, should be coasting to a shutout tonight. Oh well.

- Whoops. Mrazek muffs it up again, misplaying a very routine wrist shot from the point from Dietz, and Byron slides a big juicy rebound home to make it 4-2. Still a ton of time left, more than 15 minutes. So don't go away just yet.

- Habs more or less casting caution to the wind, just tossing everything forward on the forecheck. So far they've scored 2, the Wings 0 ... so ... hey?

- Um, wow? Pacioretty takes cross ice pass on a hop from Galchenyuk, and fires it at traffic in front of Mrazek, and somehow, it goes in. Oh wait ... the Wings are saying Mrazak was interfered with. Don't think they have much of a hope.

- Goal stands. It's 4-3. With an amazing 12 minutes still left to play in the period.

- I suppose Habs were due some kind of crazy run of goals all at once - heavens knows it hasn't happened in memory. If Detroit somehow manages to lose this game, it'll be totally devastating to their playoff hopes.

- Mike Brown out for the night, lower body injury. Add 'em to the list.

- Desharnais line is an offensive-challenged wasteland tonight. Best to just shove him in a sock drawer, and walk away.

- Therrien deploying Emelin with the net empty, in the final minute. Um kay.

- Habs come up a goal short, but we'll give 'em credit for at least making the game interesting. Nonetheless, little seems to have changed with this organization. Desharnais put back into the lineup, placed at centre, lays an egg of a game, and gets lots of ice time. Garbage in, garbage results out.


8 to go. And then the off season, and hopes renewed that this organization can make some moves that will move the team in the right direction. 8 to go.

One of the moves yours truly was hoping might become reality, would be bold-ish ridding of David Desharnais, who is just finishing up year 2 of a foolish 4 year contract extension. The hope rested in the Canadiens brass buying out the remaining time on that Desharnais contract on June 30th - his injury last month a gift from the hockey gods, in that it gave the Habs an option to bubble wrap DD right through to the end of the season.

Whelp. This morning, we had his:

And so DD, once again at centre, once again displacing other players who should be playing centre over to the wing, once again because the head coach once again insists on pushing square pegs into round holes, take on the Detroit Red Wings, in Michigan.

Who wins, who loses, we care not. Which is not what could be said about the Wings, who are fighting for their playoff qualifying lives, in danger of missing the dance for the first time in 27 years.

So Detroit will be coming out hard tonight. It could be another ugly game.

Puck drops at 7:40 EST. We'll be watching and blogging and bemoaning and wanting this whole season just to be done and over with as quickly as possible.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Game 74: Ducks vs. Habs

Montreal Gazette

- Hanley gets another start tonight - I'm fine with taking a look at the organization assets, but really, Hanley ahead of Ellis still makes little sense. With Subban coming back possibly Thursday, it marks another missed opportunity for management to take a better look at players with a more than realistic chance of an NHL future. Hanley really doesn't represent that.

- Both clubs are interesting in the divergence the took with handling their head coaching situations. The Ducks held steady with Boudreau, mainly because the undercurrent of statistical information at hand strongly suggested the Ducks awful season start was an anomaly. Turns out, that assessment was spot on - the Ducks have the best NHL record since then. The Habs, by contrast, made the same decision been though the evidence strongly suggested the Habs biggest challenge was deployment (coaching) issues. They held fast with Therrien, and since their early 9-0 start, have by far the worst record in the NHL. 

- Will the Habs score more than once tonight against a team like the Ducks? It won't be via specialty units, with Anaheim rated #1 in both powerplays and penalty kills. Amazing stat, there. Unsurprisingly, Habs first early powerplay goes totally by the board without remark.d

- WOOT! Plekanec with a 60 foot floater from the line that somehow Gibson fails to pick up, and Canadiens take a shocking 1-0 lead. 

- If anyone questions the Habs "toughness" as a factor (it isn't - not in today's NHL), the Canadiens need only point towards Mike McCarron. A beat down on Manson helps him to advance the cause for making the roster next season.

- Sweet, sweet skill play Byron right on the tape of Galchenyuk who gets behind Gibson, but redirects the perfect feed just wide of the post. Should be 2-0. Byron also stating his case for full-time NHL employment.

- Silfverberg evens the score, courtesy Mike Condon, whom on far too many occasions this year, has gifted opponents goals via routine shots. 

- Just to be realistic, Condon will never be anything more than a backup NHL goaltender. In that role, you're going to expect more than a few goals let in that normally are stopped by the first string. Because Condon's role has become first-string, expectations have been far too high. Still, that Silfrverberg goal was a stinker.


- Another Condon gaffe, although not quite as bad as his first period mistake - gives up a pretty juicy rebound off a relatively routine shot by Fowlers, Perry slams home the rebound to make it 2-1. Everything is not back on order. Ducks with the scoreboard lead, can now start padding their way to victory.

- Condon, again. Good grief. Fowler shot, big rebound, batted home by Rakell. Hoo boy.

- Habs saved - for now - Rakell hit it with a high stick. Still, Condon ain't exactly stating his case very strongly tonight.

- Hey, ho. Habs tie the game. Pateryn with an excellent play (showing nice hockey sense) coming in hard up the middle to keep the puck in the Ducks zone, feeding Pacioretty who immediately goes cross ice to Galchenyuk for the one timer. This is why a good offence often begins (and ends) with apt plays by the defence. 

- Ducks more or less imploding, with an awful, awful turnover in their own zone that eventually lands on the stick of a wide open Mike Brown, who makes a nifty deke on Gibson for a 3-2 Habs lead. HUH!! Hanley picks up his second assist. HUH!!!!

- Habs again burned by their stupid, stupid system of trying to clear the zone by chipping the puck up the boards, this time Pateryn with the turnover, Silfverberg ties the game. This play has burned the Habs time and time and time again, and yet nothing changes, because it's considered to the be the "safe" play (pssst - .... it's not ... it's a stupid play that quite often produced high scoring chance giveaways to the opponent). 

- They might have produced a goal, but the Galchenyuk line has spent way too much time hemmed in its own zone tonight - Ducks doing a good job with line matching. 

- Well, at least the game is entertaining, which is something we haven't been able to say about any Habs game in quite awhile. Both teams guilty of some sloppy play - the Ducks in their zone perhaps because they took their opponent a little lightly, the Habs because they've been that way most of the season - so that won't change. Ducks doing a pretty good job containing anything that the Habs have to offer as far as an attack is concerned, the main reason why Montreal is even hanging in tonight is secondary scoring support from places not expected. Could be an entertaining final period ahead.


- Here's the 2 period totals, Habs SC CF just over 43%. Galchenyuk line struggling, relatively decent performance tonight by the 4th line. 

- Dietz with a nice play coming in from the point to get a quality scoring chance on Gibson. I'm sure Therrien is already wrapping his knuckles for that play. 

- I gotta say that Ducks blue line, even with a couple of letdowns tonight, looks pretty fierce to face in the post season. I wouldn't wanna play against them.

- Sweet rush and feed deep Markov to Galchenyuk, Gibson forced to make an excellent save. Again, offence is dictated by how involved your defence plays. Chipping the puck up the boards, as has been drilled into the minds of every Canadiens defender the past three seasons, is a formula for failure.e

- Wow, what did Mike Brown eat this morning? Fantastic grinding work behind the net, winning the puck against two Ducks defenders, then feeding Lessio for the one timer, and the Habs take the lead again. 

- Good game for Markov, he's been much more involved tonight, certainly more so with aggressive play in the opposing zone, something we've seen little of since Subban went down. 

- Still don't think Habs can possibly hang on to this one goal lead for a full 11 minutes. That said, we're more than halfway home. How badly do the Ducks want this game?

- Habs collapsing hard around their crease when the Ducks have puck control in the Canadiens zone. Basically the hockey equivalent of hanging on for dear life.

- Ducks really move the puck nicely on the backend, Habs are basically giving them free reign at the blue line, while everyone else guards bodies in front of Condon. It's an interesting passive approach to hockey - not what I would define as a wise strategy, but the clock is being killed. 2 minutes left.

- Condon with a couple of excellent saves during the last minute Duck Storm (hey, that sounds cool ... duck storm) ... to seal a complete unexpected victory for the Habs. Outplayed, outshot, basically a totally inexplicable win, statistically speaking. 


Here are your Habs lines for tonight's game:

- Pacioretty/Galchenyuk/Byron
  Lessio/De La Rose/Brown


  Mike Condon

- Brendan Gallagher and P.K. Subban participated in today's a.m. practice. Subban figures to possibly play Thursday night in Detroit. But that might be a bit of a long shot.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Game 73: Flames vs. Habs


- Game day tickets could be had for $6. To see a game at the Bell Centre. How low can you go?

- As expected the horrible horrible Flames are taking it to the deplorable deplorable Habs right from the start. More or less defensive disorganization in Habs zone

- Pacioretty drives the net, so i guess that counts as an effort. Four goals for the captain in newly 1/3rd of a season just passed.

- Habs doubling their shot total - to two. 13 minutes into the 1st. Not sure what's worse. The lack of effort or total lack of creativity. You'd expect at least a little bit of the later at the end of a lost season, but nope. Not this Habs team.

- De La Rose. The quintessential regressed young NHL player. Looks like the acumen he demonstrated last year has been totally squeezed out of his frame this year in St. John's, which is another Habs organization with momentous development and coaching issues.

- One of the most unremarkable and forgettable period of hockey I've seen in awhile. Both teams totally inept offensively. It's a mediocre beer league game. You can see those for free at your local rink, by the way. 

- Yet another bad turnover at the defensive blue line by the Habs generates a good scoring chance for the Flames. We've seen that wayyyy to much this season. Calgary taking it to Montreal, more or less. Just can't finish any plays. 

- Another atrociously listless and sloppy period of hockey by the Habs. Pretty much unbearable hockey to watch - so poorly was the period played by both teams - Calgary only slightly less so. 


- After one period, Habs CF (5v5) was a pathetic 40.7%. Calgary with 8 scoring chances, Montreal with just 1. 

- Dietz makes a bad play at the O line, can't recover because he's already kind of slow, forced to take a holding penalty. Continues to look "meh" since his call up.

- Flames power play is pretty bad. Just like this hockey game.

- There is almost literally nothing happening. Habs might not hit 15 today for shot totals. That might our rock bottom achievement today. 

- We have a goal! Colborne totally unmarked and allowed to skate straight to the net to deposit in an easy goal off an ordinary pass to the slot. About as easy a goal as he'll ever score, courtesy some incredibly awful Habs defence.

- Dietz' performance since his call up should cause pause for alarm on a couple of levels. First, how the Habs system is developing its youth (apparently not well), and how the Habs system is scouting and drafting (again apparently not well).

- 2-0. Habs defence an embarrassment of embarrassments. 

- Two periods in the books, I'm not a betting man but I'd consider putting down the ex wife and the one kid that the Habs aren't scoring tonight. Again.  


Happy game day! Yes, there is an actual Habs game tonight. I'm sure you had it circled on your calander, like any good Habs fan would. So ... what's news today?

- Injuries? Hah. Oh, gawd. This time it's Victor Bartley, with a lower body injury. Sustained last night in Ottawa - who knows what happened, when. Anyway, with Vic on the sideline, Habs have called up Joel Hanley, for his first ever NHL game. Mr. Hanley, who was never drafted, is the 13th (my god, Jim) different blue liner used by the Canadiens this season.

- Hey, Habs are now up to 4th in the NHL in man games lost to injury. Soon (as in, probably tonight) they'll overtake the Sabres for 3rd place. Next up? The Edmonton Oilers. We're in pretty high company.

- Flames are (lol) starting Niklas Backstrom in goal tonight. Backstrom hasn't played an NHL game since 2014. Like I told you before, HABS ARE IN HIGH COMPANY.

- Mike Condon will start in goal for the Habs, where he will be hung completely out to dry as the Habs lose another game to a terrible team.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Game 72: Habs vs. Sens


- Hey! We showed up! Suffice to say if the Habs put out the same effort tonight that they did on Wednesday against Buffalo, they're going to get destroyed.

- So it took having Barberio knocked out for the season in order to get Darren Dietz back into the lineup - instead of simply putting Dietz in at any point previously while sitting the very marginal Victor Bartley out. But that would be too obvious.

- Dietz gets all kinds of mixed up covering his zone during a Sens transition, Scrivens forced to make a pretty good save off Scott (yes, he's still playing) Gomez.

- While we've been hammering the Habs all season long for their lack of structure, the Sens sure don't look much better, if the first 5 minutes of the game is any indication. Really, really weak in the neutral zone, not exactly doing a stellar job retreating back to their zone. Methinks Ottawa is saddled with some of the same issues as Montreal - lots of good talent, except behind the bench.

- Actually, to extend that a bit further - the Sens share another similarity with the Habs. They're more or less a mess when Erik Karlsson isn't on the ice, just like the Habs are with P.K. Subban out of the lineup.

- Habs had the first 7 shot attempts in the game, Sens have narrowed the gap a little, but it's still a game mostly controlled by the Canadiens. Basically, Ottawa has virtually nothing going at either end of the rink when Karlsson is on the bench.

- Senators penalty kill is pretty awful. Just 75% success rate. And guess what? They score the first goal of the game shorthanded. Turnover at the blue line by Eller, Plekanec, Pacioretty and Galchenyuk dogging it back to cover, Pageau scores. Awful, awful hockey.

- By the way, Habs could really make themselves better by figuring out a way of getting Pageau, since Montreal is the ONLY TEAM HE SCORES AGAINST.

- Sens outhitting Habs by a 2-to-1 margin, which only means they're chasing the puck more. I'd say Ottawa is extremely fortunate to be ahead on the scoreboard, except that the Habs aren't much less of a dysfunctional offence either.

- Meh, Pageau scores, which he always does at least once every game against Montreal. So at least that's out of the way. Still think it remarkable how the Sens were outplayed in the period even though their roster far outflanks the Habs' right now. Canadiens looked the faster team certainly in that period, but failed to generate many good scoring chances. A lot of inexperience in Montreal's lineup failing to finish their plays. It's to be expected.


- Habs and Sens after 20 minutes, Habs with a slight puck possession edge (5v5) CF of 51.9%.

- Habs zone entries have been far more dangerous in the period, Hammond making a couple of nice saves, one post hit. Again, Senators fortunate to still be holding a scoreboard lead.

- Coing out his zone, Andrighetto carrying the puck with his head down, and Phaneuf decides to hammer him. Down goes Andrighetto, Habs then get a nice 2-on-1 break. Classic dumb Phaneuf play.

- Sens had, I repeat, the 2nd worst penalty kill in the NHL entering tonight's game. Another turnover at the line, another break, another shorthanded goal. Just abysmal. 2-0 Ottawa.

- Passing in the Sens zone has been pretty awful tonight, especially around the blue line, where it's been a festival of giveaways. Already it's cost the Habs two goals, and generated more than a few odd man Ottawa rushes. Sure, you're going to have one of these egregious mistakes happen once or twice in a game - but numerous times? Inexcusably bad.

- Lousy period for the Habs, Sens with 22 shot attempts to the Habs merger 12. Sloppy powerplay leading to two Ottawa goals, listless offence. Canadiens going through the motions at this point, and it's really on demonstration tonight. Montreal lucked out with a victory in Buffalo, that's not going to happen again tonight.


- After 2 periods, Habs CF drops from about 52, to 47% because of the 2nd period, in which they were mostly outplayed.

- Emelin with a dumb, dumb charge to start the period. Maybe the Habs can short the Sens right back? Naw.

- Scrivens fails to cover the post, Methot says "hey thanks I'm just going to bank this puck in", and it's 3-0. Ben Scrivens. What a pickup. Happy trails, Ben, when your NHL career ends this summer.

- Annddddddddd ... make it 3 shorthanded goals for the Sens. 4-0. What an embarrassment.

- Habs about as good (bad) as they were against Buffalo Wednesday night, only tonight, the puck luck has not been with them. Plus Ben Scrivens has been bad. Plus the powerplay has been even worse. It's been a horrorshow from top to bottom. Totally deflating and humiliating evening.

- It's official. The three shorthanded goals surrendered tonight? First time in the Habs 107 year history that's happened. WONDERFUL.

- Bowing out for the night. Another abysmal evening in the history of the Montreal Canadiens, which touched yet another embarrassing bottom tonight. Any person with half active cognitive activity would see this team for what it's worth - horribly prepared, horribly managed, horribly dysfunctional from just about every possible angle. It's difficult to watch these games because they're so predictably awful. Easily the worst playing Montreal Canadiens team I've seen in my lifetime, the same team that easily had one of the most talented rosters the organization has seen in 27 years. 

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Game 71: Habs vs. Sabres


- Soooo ... Habs defence is thusly tonight:

Pateryn/Bartley (another wasted opportunity giving time to a kid who might actually have an NHL future).

Let's check out the "offence":

Pacioretty/Galchenyuk/Andrighetto (yup)
Eller/Plekanec/Byron (okay).
Lessio/McCarron/Mitchell (um ... I guess ...)
De La Rose/Danault/Brown (and there we have it, again another game wasted spot taken up by Mike Brown. Sigh).

- first half of the period done, this game is as expected, pretty horrible.

- Habs again with poor transition out of their zone, another sloppy puck turnover, Kane with a snap shot that Scrivens' whiffs at, post comes to his rescue. For now.

- Gary Galley on Sportsnet heaping praise on Michel Therrien, and how he's "done quite a job." This is what happens when casual viewers of hockey are provided access to a microphone.

- Canadiens have spent most of this period treating the puck like a live grenade, which I guess qualifies as a system? Anyway, formula for losing is more apt.

- Bartley takes a penalty because he can't skate very well. But he's getting played. For some reason.

- Of course, Sabres score - although it looks like puck was hit in with a high stick. Yup it's a goal. Bogosian. SABRES TAKE THE LEAD WOOT.

- I don't care if this is the Habs "C" roster, no team should play this poorly under any circumstances.

- Galchenyuk gets hammered 10 times with sticks and face punches after being in the Sabres crease. Habs get penalized. Because, of course.

- Is P.K. Subban really that good? Since he's gone down to injury, this team has become totally and completely inept, save for maybe the Galchenyuk line. Good grief.

- Truly awful. No other way of describing the Habs in that period. Once again, even considering the injuries, no NHL team should play this badly. Taking Galchenyuk line out, perhaps some of the worst hockey I've ever seen a Montreal Canadiens team play in 40 years.


- Here's the ugly 1st period line, Habs CF was a stunning 31.0%. Against the Buffalo Sabres. Remarkable.

- Well, if any Canadiens player was to score tonight, then let if be Greg Pateryn, eh? His very first goal in the NHL. Congratulations! Frame that puck asap.

- That was quite a blast of a slapper by Pateryn, who does have a relatively underrated hard shot. So that it's taken this long to score his first goal is a little surprising.

- Habs powerplay, like just about everything else, firmly back to being terrible. Not nearly enough movement by the unit, which now stands 1 for its last 23 in its last 9 games.

- Andrighetto pulled from the Galchenyuk line, for ... get ready for it ... Mike Brown. 

- Barberio hurt somewhere, missed it. Done for the night. Add 'em to the list.

- Brown gets nailed for a double minor. Making his NHL contributions. You might have the impression that the Habs are having a better 2nd period because they've scored the only goal. The assumption, however, would be incorrect. The underlying numbers are essentially the same compared to the first period. Still awful.

- Awful game spinning out of control, a semi-line brawl with Lehner sucker punching McCarron, and everyone grabs a partner. Can we just call the game, and go home?

- We'll never go home. This game started almost 2 hours ago, and we haven't even finished the 2nd period. The hockey gods are merciless. 

- Markov scores off the, believe it or not, resulting powerplay. Point shot deflects and knuckles in. Habs, incredibly, take a 2-1 lead. And the period ends. Finally. 20 more minutes left to endure.


- Habs and Sabres after 40 minutes: Habs CF (5v5) is 38.8%.

- Seems like Danault/De La Rose/Brown hit the ice, the ice suddenly tilts at a 30 degree angle and the puck slides into the Habs zone. And stays there.

- Emelin with the play of his year, keeping the puck barely in the Sabres zone, deking out two defenders, and slipping the puck to Andrighetto who had a WIDE OPEN NET. Somehow, he misses. Do'h.

- Evander Kane continues to make stupid, selfish plays, this time getting nailed for 4 minutes crosschecking Byron to the head, and then getting 2 more for mouthing off. So much stupid, the Habs can now (possibly) finish this game off. 

- Ha ha. Habs manage to screw it all up anyway. A line change that takes forever and a day, Legwand simply skates over to a loose puck, picks it up, and snaps it past Scrivens. A bush league play by a less-than bush-league hockey team.

- Watched the reply of that powerplay "line change". Sure looks like whatever line was supposed on, somehow didn't know they were supposed to go on. So while players were getting off their shift, nobody was getting on for at least five seconds. That's incredibly bad bench management.

- Trying to envision the silly way the Habs will find to lose this game. The possibilities are endless. 

- Markov is gonna get 30+ minutes tonight because of the early Barberio injury and the Beaulieu misconduct. He's definitely lagging out there right now - Habs incredibly vulnerable when he's on the ice.

- And there you have it, Markov loses his judgement and hits Foligno in the head with his elbow on an attempted body check. A player not exhausted doesn't make that stupid mistake. Sabres to the powerplay to win the game.

- Sabres can't convert. Oh well. Longest three periods of hockey this year, both literally and figuratively, now goes to overtime, just to torture viewers all the more. Habs screw up getting the Sabres to within 3 points in the standings. Now best Buffalo can do to close the gap is 4.


- Beaulieu on the ice for this overtime would be obvious, but instead Therrien is going with Emelin.

- Eichel making Emelin look pretty terrible off an end to end rush. Easily breezing past him wide off the wing.

- Brian Gionta hasn't lost his old Habs touch, missing a wide open cage off a Scrivens rebound.

- Beaulieu gets a shift. Finally. With 2 minutes left in OT.

- Markov just got tossed from the game, presumably from informing the officials his displeasure over continuously getting blungened by Buffalo Sabres sticks. There goes one very tired and frustrated hockey player. Sad.

- Mitchell puts it home off a nice pass from Byron off a 2-on-1, and this game mercifully ends.

- Oops, hold that, Byron's pass goes in off a Sabres stick for the winner. Anyway, mission not accomplish tonight - Habs hopes of being overtaken by the Sabres in the standings are pretty much zero now. 


Where to even begin? Tonight's game is utterly meaningless, unless you're fascinated by the June lottery draft, in which case I would highly recommend you seek professional counselling.

So ... Habs stuff. Lars Eller will play tonight. So will Nathan Beaulieu. That means the defence has too many bodies, which normally would mean the obvious sit-out would be the (on the best of days) marginal fill-in Victor Bartley. But nopes, it's Darren Dietz who gets the ride the pine. Actually, it's even worse for Dietz. He gets a one-way ticket back to Newfoundland so that he might enjoy the lovely March weather.

What else do we have. Well, I guess we're hoping desperately for a Sabres win tonight because a Buffalo victory would pull them to (it's hard to believe, but yet, it isn't) a mere 3 points of the Canadiens.


I guess we'll blog this one tonight. Ben Scrivens will start in net for the Habs because ... aw screw it - nobody cares.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Game 70: Panthers vs Habs


- Hey, we're joining in a little late tonight, the kiddo had a minor league playoff game (lost ... sniffs). Looked at 1st period stats, and it was pretty well, brutal. Expectedly brutal. Habs could only muster a 42% corsi.

- Bounces aren't going Habs way - that tends to happen when you're getting stomped. Bjugstad with a nifty puck bunt with the stick shaft, off a Condon rebound, and it's 2-0 Florida.

- See that Mike Brown got into a fight, once again proving his "worth", even though it's a total hockey crime he's in any lineup. There are 12 relatively precious games left in the season which are critical in helping this organization to get good looks at kids in the system. Instead, Brown is dressed. Inexcusable.

- Lessio looks good with speed and hockey sense. So does Danault - as a checker and grinder. Those two may very well factor in the Habs 4th line next season. This season, it's been pretty much a wasteland.

- Habs look pretty AHL'ish tonight - although that's expected. Still, awfully sloppy passing, Montreal really unable to muster anything resembling an offence tonight. Meanwhile, lots of ice time is being given to Darren Dietz, which is a positive development. Still doesn't excuse Mike Brown playing, though.

3-0, Condon, as usual, slow to move from post to post as Hudler bangs it home. This is going to be one of the more uglier results we've seen come out of Habsland in quite some time. Florida, to be blunt, is mauling their opponent. No mercy.

- Galchenyuk gives the fans something to cheer about, with the team basically almost unable to register shots on goal. I expect that will be the only time the red light is activated for the home crowd tonight.

- Habs with garbage time shots on goal in a period that they were resoundingly outplayed. Panthers not really extraordinary tonight, making regular passes, transitions are relatively clean and simple. But against an opponent that's utterly disorganized and chaotically structured, it's about as easy a win for the Panthers as they'll have all season.


- Here's the two period lowdown - and it ain't very pretty.

- Wish I had something to say about this period, but there's little meaningful action. Waiting for Jagr to score, though.

- Barkov makes it 4-1, wide wide wide open in front of Condon. Emelin back to his bad old ways on that one.

- I'm watching this game from the comfort of my couch, and yet I can still feel the aura of despair from those paid in attendance. Been a long time since I've seen this organization so low (2005?).

- Who's looked good for the Habs tonight? Galchenyuk. Lassio ... yeah ... that's all I got.

- I'd boo this team if I was there at the Bell Centre, if they were worth the effort of being boo'd at. But even tonight's team and their effort - aw .. screw it. I'm going home.

- 4-1 final. Utterly dismal game. Even with Jagr in attendance. Nothing else to say - this team's rock bottom knows no end.


Habs are in tough tonight, with still a depleted lineup against a top-tier Conference opponent in the Florida Panthers. Oh well. Here are some things to keep in mind.

- Habs get to play against Jaromir Jagr, which is always awesome. Also warrants the rationalization of actually paying to see the game tonight, a process that's become damn near impossible since the new year.

- Habs (expected) lineup tonight is thusly:

-Byron/Plekanec/Mitchell (yeah, Mitchell. Oh well).
-De La Rose/Danault/Brown (the later taking up yet another precious start that could go to a young player who might have a future in the NHL).

Bartely/Beaulieu (HEY WE GOT SOMEBODY BACK!?).

Mike Condon (how many pucks will he misplay tonight? Over/under is 3).

- Panthers are fighting for top spot in the Division, which means tonight's game has plenty of meaning. Which means they won't be holding back against the hapless Habs. Which means it could be an ugly result.

- Even with Florida's somewhat surprising result in the standing this season, one area of concern is whether or not the Panthers have be riding a wave of luck. Florida's save percentage isn't sparkling - rated 13th in the League at .929. They have, however, been getting plenty of puck luck benefits, putting up a shooting percentage well above the curve at a 8.59% clip, which may not be sustainable in the tight checking post-season (which is to say, this team might be ripe for a 1st round upset).

- Puck drops at 7:40 EST. If you're in Montreal, go pick up a ticket. They're cheap, and also Jagr. I mean, com'on.


The season ends in less than four weeks.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Game 69: Wild vs Habs


- Dubnyk does indeed start tonight for the Wild which is very good news for them. Minnesota has something to play for this season, with Dubnyk an important part of their drive for the post season.

- Everyone seems to be talking about Subban's (former) playing streak, which ended tonight. Funny thing is, it would have been longer if he had not been a healthy scratch (Randy Cunningham) back in 2013. Randy, in case you're wondering, is no longer a head coach.

- First 7 minutes are a big ZZZzzz ... both offences, which aren't exactly elite to begin with, unable to generate any sort of flow. Lots of puck play in the neutral zone.

- What the heck is Mike Condon doing? Coming 30 feet out his net and feeding it up the middle to Neidderider who has an empty net to shoot at, apparently. Atrocious beer league netminding. 1-0 Wild.

- Thankfully Habs respond quickly, Andrighetto leads a rush and Dubnyk provides a generous rebound to the punching Barberio who ties the game. Habs speed generating offence, making things happen. The organization, meanwhile, seems more focused on slowing down their lineup acquiring pluggers and grinders.

- Soft, totally incompentent zone coverage by the Habs 4th line, too many players half heartedly chasing puck carriers, with Granlund cashing in off a cross ice pass from Dumba to give the Wild the lead again. Once again, Habs lack of professional structure kills them in their own zone.

- Habs get the first powerplay. Let's see how good (bad) this Wild penalty kill is.

- Charles Hudon gets a little pp time on the second unit. Good to see.

- Lack of Subban already apparent. Stunted zone exit, rushes aren't nearly as dangerous, and zone coverage is barely able to handle the Minnesota attack. Could be a long night ahead for this team.

- Habs 3rd and 4th line getting curb stomped. Most of the play while they're on has been repelling the Wild attack. Lots of inneffective puck chasing by both lines - expect Minnesota to score some more while each unit is on the ice.

- Habs capitalized off the Dubnyk rebound gaffe, otherwise, it was a pretty slanted period for the Wild. With Subban in the lineup the Habs had some semblance of being able to compete (that's how good a player he is), without Subban, the whole enterprise seems futile. 


- Hudon is trying his level best, maybe trying a little too hard out there. Having trouble staying on his feet - I've seen him tumble to the ice (from no contact) three times, and counting. You can only skate as hard as your feet can move.

- If you had told Mark Barberio he'd be a starting first line defenseman for the Montreal Canadiens at the start of the season, he'd have thought you insane, yet here we are. He's done a pretty good job filling some pretty big shoes, being very catious in his zone. Wild wingers have tried more than a few times to beat him wide with speed, but Barberio has managed to keep pace.

- Another Subban effect - Galchenyuk line has been dangerous, but not nearly as they have the past week. Subban played an integral role in feeding the puck up to them, which helped them establish zone puck control (and eventually, scoring). Pateryn and even Markov aren't nearly as good.

- Mike Condon, more puck control issues, unable to handle a simple point wrist shot and cover it up. Puck is banged home. 3-1 Wild. Can't afford to give up these soft scores.

- Habs utterly overmatched, Wild controlling the puck at will, and are poised to blow this game wide open.

- Lessio with a decently strong effort tonight, getting involved creating scoring chances, but not really possessing much of a finishing touch.

- Second period much like the first, Habs with very brief sparks of offence, but little sustained pressure. Wild with plenty of zone pressure, largely due to the reality of 5 of the Habs 6 defenseman being 3rd line players, at best. Also not helping matters was Condon's continuing struggles handling the puck, two of the Wild's three goals tonight largely due to the Montreal netminder's poor reactions and decisions. Almost certainly no way the Habs can battle back down two with a period left. There are no horses to pull the weight.


- Pretty quiet night for the Galchenyuk line - Wild have nullified them with very close checking - an apt strategy. With Galchenyuk and company unable to score, the Habs are offensively punchless. 

- Habs doing a lot of goal crashing first five minutes, Markov pinching hard and misses a golden opportunity off a big Dubnyk rebound. Really should be 3-2. Montreal definitely taking an aggressive tact this period. Nothing to lose. Why not?

- McCarron on the powerplay is agreeable - he's doing what he's told standing in front of the opposing net - but he's got to be a little more aggressive and disruptive, and needs to take a page from Gallagher's book if he hopes to become a truly productive NHL forward. 

- Halfway through the 3rd, Wild with trap in full effect, Habs simply unable to solve it. Aside from Markov's huge scoring chance, since then Montreal has generated zero scoring opportunities.

- Stone Hands Mike Brown. Shame his scoring chances weren't Galchenyuk's scoring chances, otherwise the scoreboard might be dramatically different. 

- 5 minutes left on the clock, a good 3 thousand paying customers have already left the building, no doubt looking for a uncrowded ride home on the metro.

- Wild just methodically strangling this game to death. Habs might have more shots on the clock, but few have presented Dubnyk with challenge.

- Presumptuous to say this, but with Carey Price in net, the Wild would have had to work a lot harder for the two points tonight. The Condon gaffs were by no means decisive, not with the Habs roster so badly depleted. Nonetheless, another loss tacked to the board, the Canadiens  take another big step towards official elimination.


So, it's over:

Not entirely unexpected, of course. No point in the Habs risking the long-term health of an elite player in a lost season. With P.K. sitting tonight's game out, Darren Dietz will get his very first NHL start. I've seen Dietz play a few games in the WHL during his stint with the Saskatoon Blades. Sturdy, cautious guy - he may, at some point, establish himself as a 3rd line starter. The road, though, is still long for him.

Some other game notes:

- Funny thing about making a coaching change. The Wild did that a month ago, while sitting 7 points out of a wild card spot in the Western Conference. Today? They're in a wild card spot. So, yeah. To repeat: the Wild had a coach who had significant personnel and deployment issues, they gave him the pink slip, and they may save their season.

- That said, the Wild enter tonight's game with urgency, having had lost their past two games to the Islanders and Flyers. Minnesota, even with the spark of a new coach, continue to play some pretty questionable speciality team hockey. Their powerplay is a mediocre 16th overall, but even more concerning for the Wild is their penalty killing unit. At just a 74% success rate, the Wild have the 28th ranked PK. When Minnesota draws penalties, they get into big trouble.

- Minnesota's PK woes mean the Habs would be likely inclined to play a physical game tonight, in order to draw the Wild into penalty trouble. If that indeed becomes the Habs strategic direction tonight, expect to see a little more time for the 4th line, and a little more ice time for the big physical Mike McCarron.

- Wild are missing a couple of key players - Jason Pominville (day-to-day) will not play tonight after sustaining a lower body injury last week. Meanwhile number one goaltender Devan Dubnyk is questionable for tonight, he's sick with a flu virus.

- Habs have nothing much to play for, expect some looks at young players, as well as recent trade deadline pickups. The Canadiens, in case you missed it, did get a little news this week that Carey Price (remember him?) may return to actual NHL action as early as next week. I remain catious about this kind of speculation - I cannot imagine the braintrust putting Price out for any kind of game action in a lost season. Bubble wrap, and bring him back in September.

- Mike Condon will start in goal tonight for the Habs, puck drops at 7:15 EST.