Monday, 11 April 2016

Habs Post-Season: April


Okay, here we go with the press conference:

- Molson is there to give them (Bergevin/Therrien) support. Isn't that sweet of him?

- Bergevin said that no goaltender was really available in January, although it's now known that the Leafs would have traded Reimer for a 2nd rounder. So that's a lie.

- Bergevin says his focus is on making the Habs a winning team, which is basically him describing his main responsibility as a GM.

- Lots of rationales by Bergevin for failing to find anything to improve his hockey team. NO EXCUSES!*
(*offer only applies to the players).

- All coaches will return. Lefebvre will also return to head coaching the Ice Caps. This is pretty much worst-case scenerio. Insane.

- Bergevin makes it official - Therrien will return.

- Evades the question whether Subban could be traded. Calls him an "elite defenseman". But won't say 100% he's wouldn't trade P.K.

- Therrien bumbles and stumbles in answering why he short-shifted Galchenyuk with his atrocious deployment. Rambling answer - he can't provide one other than some gibberish about matchups, taking a step backward, and loving his progression.

- Bergevin is just evading. Offering nothing but excuses, when he isn't too busy avoiding the provided question.

- Molson says Bergevin is one of the best in the business. It's all futile, then. If the awfulness reaches right up and through Molson, this team truly has no chance of moving forward in a positive direction.

- Bergevin says policies about not detailing nature of injuries won't change in order to protect the players from being targeted. They wouldn't talk about Price because it was to protect him (while he wasn't playing), but then they released all the specifics about his injury at season's end. It makes no sense. Does this mean nobody will target Price next season?

- Here's why the problem is unsolvable. In one quote:

- The Hubris is amazing:
- 65 minutes of evasion, offering up plenty of evidence that Geoff Molson is clueless, and Marc Bergevin's overly inflated opinion about his abilities are going to send this hockey team down a very dark path. Happy days!!!


Press conference by The Three Amigos at 1:30 EST. We'll be live blogging that. Until then, enjoy these quips from locker clean-outs this morning at the Bell Centre:

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Game 82: Bolts vs. Habs


- Goaltending misplay by Vasilevskiy gives the puck away to Gallagher behind the net, who feeds Galchenyuk for his 29th of the season. One more for Alex, and Max needs two to hit that big mark. Who knows? With the Bolts 2nd stringer in net, anything is possible.

- Now we wonder if Alex might be gunning for 40 if he had been played at his proper position the entire season?

- If the first 8 minutes are any indicator, Tampa is a total no-show tonight. Habs might be having this game handed to them on a platter.

- Considerable number of Habs on the ice tonight that may very well not play next season in a Habs uniform (or for that matter, perhaps not in the League, period). Will Dietz get another shot? Hanley? Mitchell? Eller?

_ Pretty good first powerplay by the Habs, I'm betting they finally figured it out. On the last day of the season.

- Pateryn, with Johnson off balance, cross-check/slams him into the backboards, Johnson down for a considerable amount of time with an apparent shoulder injury. Pateryn given 5 and the rest of the night off.

- What a terrible defensive breakdown by the Bolts, with a brief 4-on-4 underway, they leave Plekanec totally unmarked on an Eller rush. 2-0. That's not the way you want to see your team play headed into the post-season.

- The way they're playing, and with all their injuries, this Tampa team might be a prime first round exit candidate for the upcoming playoffs.

- Galchenyuk rings the post with seconds left in the period. Pretty one-sided for the Habs, Tampa seem to be just playing very carefully, trying to avoid injury. The irony being, they may have lost Johnson, which would be devastating. In any case, Habs seem to be in the process of having this game gifted to them, which will only lower their draft spot. Doesn't seem like a worthy price for the sake of a very meaningless victory tonight.


- Habs more or less destroying Tampa tonight. Max his 29th (almost there!) and Galchenyuk with a brilliant bullet snap shot to snag him his 30th (yay!!!). 4-0. They're still pouring it on.

- Habs passing and puck control tonight begs the question, "where have you been all season?" Everything seems be tape to tape. Really remarkable.

- Speaking of passing, watch for just about everyone to be headed Pacioretty's way for the rest of the night (or until he scores #30).

- Tampa's powerplay also looks lethargic, just to pile on the problems this team has right now. I have no idea what Jon Cooper can do between tonight and Wednesday, maybe work a miracle or three, which is likely what it will take if this team is to advance very far in the post-season. Injuries considered, this is a very disorganized playing team right now.

- Byron, a (granted) ridiculously excellent pickup at the bargain basement price of zero, is the best shorthanded forward in the NHL. Sorry, but that's official.
- Habs pouring it on this period, everything seems to be going right, while Tampa just wants to get the hell out of town ASAP. One period left before we can finally bury the season, and walk away. One bit of suspense to keep us engaged for 20 more minutes - will Max get his 30th? Be certain his teammates will do everything possible to make it happen.


- Mad Max watch, Markov nifty blind pass off the rush to Pacioretty. Couldn't muster a shot, though. That's shift one. Still lots of opportunity left.

- Blunden crashes into Condon, while beating him with a shot off a juicy rebound. I think this will count, but stranger things have happened.

- Nope. Doesn't count. Goaltender interference. Everything coming up Habs tonight, they're getting the calls too.

- Even with management pretty much a catastrophe, Habs still have lots of optimism with the likes of Andrighetto, Carr and Byron taking a pretty big step forward this year. Allows the organization to clear away some of the midriff that comprises its 4th line, and maybe warrants consideration that only one winger of substance need be pursued this summer.

- Druoin scuttles the shutout, although Condon was off in a little bit of la-la-land, wandering out of his crease to cover the net while the puck was behind his net. 4-1.

- Check that, Palat with credit, Druoin picks up the assist.

- Blunden crashes Condon again, and gets nailed for interference. Pretty reckless play by the ex-Hab, nothing to prove or gain by that play, which looked like it had nothing but intent but to hurt the Canadiens' netminder.

- Drouin makes it 4-2, with the Habs defence looking pretty much like they have the whole season - slow, unstructured and disorganized. It ain't quite over ... yet.

- What's kind of nice about this mini-comeback, Tampa might actually empty their net, which means if Pacioretty is on the ice - well ... you figure it out.

- MAAAAAAAAX!!!!! 30th into the open net. Season finally ends on a nice note. Thanks for stoppin' by, folks.

Oh wait ... maybe not:
And we thought tonight would be the end of the nightmare? HA. Ain't see nothing yet.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Game 81: Habs vs. 'Canes


- First NHL game in Charlie Lindgren's life, first shot, and ... first goal allowed. That's quite the trifecta. 1-0 'Canes.

- Lindgren, FWIW, is being given the once-over to see how well he'd play in St. John's next year. His career might very well not go beyond that, but he's contractually obliged to be played in the NHL this season, so that the Habs can avoid waivers when he's returned to the rock. 

- After a pretty poor start, Habs have owned the period since the 10:00 mark, Galchenyuk line (as seemingly usual) the best Montreal has to offer, Alex hitting a post. 

- Nice effort so far by Markov, trying to end the season on a high note, no doubt. Whether he'll be around for another season in a Habs uniform remains to be seen.

- Habs guilty of some pretty wretched defensive breakdowns here late in the period, very poor coverage in the slot, Carolina basically granted numerous scoring opportunities because of some chaotic/unstructured defensive structure. Pretty inexcusable play by a supposedly professional hockey team.

- Dietz with his first NHL goal, and absolute bullet top corner that would make P.K. Subban blush, and the Habs tie the game late.

- Two bad teams clash, makes for a pretty poor quality period of hockey. Sloppy, unstructured, not a low of flow, lots of defensive breakdowns. More or less torture to watch. Habs probably the slightly better team in the period, they had more zone pressure than did Carolina, but Ward vs. Lindgren over the long haul of three periods, you'd have to take the former over the later.


- Habs and 'Canes after 20 minutes, Habs with majority puck possession (60.0%), the Galchenyuk line with an impressive 71.4% CF (5v5).

- Lindgren shows nice lateral movement, is one of the observations I have (albeit admittedly limited). That certainly separates him considerably from Mike Condon, whose lateral movement is, to be charitable, below average for an NHL goaltender.

- 4th line does Keystone Kops impersonation, Hanifin eventually blasting one past a totally hung-out-to-dry Lindgren. More dysfunctional hockey burns the Habs - for about that gazillionth time this season. 2-1 Carolina.

- He's trying, but Desharnais will never amount to anything better than a 3rd line winger. That's about all he's ultimately capable of contributing, properly deployed as a winger, of course.

- Cam Ward muffs up a relatively routine wrister by Pacioretty, and the game is tied. Can Max reach 30 in a season playing on a very terrible hockey team? It's gonna be close.

- While Max scores, all of our nightmares are coming into fruition:

- Yay, another year of Michel Therrien! If you hadn't yet, best get right on planning the parade.

- Carr scores, off a deflected Plekanec shot, Habs get a very lucky bounce, and a 3-2 lead. More-or-less just, the Canadiens have controlled much of the game tempo since the 'Canes pulled ahead 2-1. Nice little demonstration of some bounce-back, I suppose.

- A 75 game season for Daniel Carr is going to make this Habs team a whole lot better. In retrospect,  he was the big positive addition of the year for the Habs. 

- 'Canes definitely going through all of the motions tonight, they look even more in a hurry to see this season done and over with than the Canadiens. Habs pretty much controlling the game, Carolina has a very small handful of scoring chances, and if not for some bad structural breakdowns, are fortunate to have 2 goals on the board. Really can't see how the Habs will lose this game if the pattern continues as is, through the 3rd period.


- Habs and Canes after 40 minutes, Habs with 67.4% SA CF, which tells you all you need to know about Carolina's effort tonight (perhaps more telling is they were only able to muster up 4 scoring chances in the first two periods).

- Desharnais, open net, fires the puck, misses. 5 seconds later gets the puck, open net, passes the puck away. This is why he doesn't produce, can't produce. Terrible hockey intelligence.

- Lars Eller with insurance, Ward with a juicy rebound, but still totally let down by his defence. 4-2. Canadiens frittering away a precious spot on the standings, overtaking the Sabres.

- I guess the Habs were overdue to play against a terrible goaltender, and be gifted a game. Still, it's frustrating to see this team lose a place in the draft standings for the sake of a nothing victory.

- Habs win, played a pretty decent game, aided by a pretty poor effort by Carolina, assisted by questionable net minding by Cam Ward. Just one more game left to endure before we can mercifully put this season to bed, and look forward to another year of Marc Bergevin and Michel Therrien in charge. 


Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Game 80: Panthers vs. Habs


- So, welcome to the Bell Centre everyone, puck just dropped to start the game, we're live blogi .. and the Habs are losing. 1-0.

- Mike Condon. Perennial NH backup goaltender.

- Oh, hah. Took John Scott all of 10 seconds to be -1. At this point in the year, we gotta take any laffs handed to us.

- I know Florida is all happy about scoring before Sara Diamond got off the ice surface, but surely they knew there was 59:50 left to play, right? Habs kind of taking it to them since, regardless that awful first goal.

- Carr looking strong, just like he was before the almost season-ending injury. The Habs, as long as they're healthy, aren't that bad a team - the issue more or less seems to be depth beyond starters. Too many 4th liners on this team to shore up the loss of 1st and 2nd liners, was a significant component of the Habs undoing this season. Ideally, guys like Carr and Byron would find a firm place as 3rd liners, ready to take promotions only when necessary. Currently, the Canadiens have the likes of Mitchell, Matteau and Danault to pull slack, which simply isn't gonna do it.

- Scott gets lots of cheers when he's on the ice, a baffling response by who you'd expect to be a little more educated hockey crowd. Maybe I overestimated the prowess of the typical ticket buyer. Speaking of, there are still many an empty seat in the Bell Centre tonight.

- Lars Eller, I'm almost 100% confident, will be a consistently productive forward/centre the day he gets a couple of line mates, instead of the merry-go-round of wingers he's had to work with night in, night out.

- Emelin once again, for what is almost certainly literally the 40th time this season, goes for a big hit, misses, and leaves his goaltender out to dry. Condon with his best save of the period because Emelin doesn't think much.

- Even period, save the opening goal, both teams with unspectacular offensive efforts. Habs going through the motions, playing just hard enough to not embarrass themselves. The Panthers really should be taking a beating to their opponent. Maybe they will over the next two periods.


- Not exactly the start the Panthers were hoping for, Brian Campbell with a careless tripping penalty within the first minute. It'll be fine with the Habs being on the powerplay, but still, Panthers lacking focus.

- Therrien puts Scott out for the powerplay. He literally could care less. Literally.

- Habs "adjust" their 2nd man advantage of the period by using four forwards, instead of having a totally incompetent defenseman paired with Markov at the line. Actually generates a couple of decent scoring chances.

- Lotta passengers playing with the CH tonight, including some with other letters on their chest which shall not be specifically named.

- Grant McKegg gets hammered into the boards by every inch of the 6'8" John Scott. Ouch. Panthers again nailed for a penalty, this time for a hold, as the Habs 4th line keeps them pinned in their zone. Gerry Gallant ought be miffed by what he sees from is troops out there. How many times will the Panthers be bailed out by the Habs awful powerplay? This can't go on forever.

- Indeed, it does not go on forever, as Galchenyuk pots his 28th of the season off a one timer pass from Pacioretty. Game tied. Panthers need to smarten up, and fast.

- Jaromir Jagr not much of a factor so far tonight, which is greatly disappointing.

- Well, not sure what the Panthers strategized during the 1st intermission, but whatever it was, it ain't working. At all. Habs have given Condon basically the entire period off.

- Whelp, wha can you say? Habs are outshooting Florida 27-11, scoring opportunities 15-6, CF% is 66.7% (5v5), and Bjugstad scores for long range, Condon muffing another shot. Hockey. What can you say?

- Habs utterly dominated the 2nd period, have pretty much dominated this game, and trail on the scoreboard. Goaltending the big factors tonight without question. Luongo standing on his head to keep his team in the game, Condon failing to make saves off shots that most net minders should save routinely. Hockey. What can you say?


- Habs and Panthers through 40 minutes. Florida has been pretty wretched tonight. Life really is unfair.

- Lars Eller has most definitely not been a passenger tonight. Not being rewarded on the scoreboard, though. It's been that way for him most of the season.

- More Condon follies with the puck, McKegg backhands the puck in, and it's 3-1. Pretty atrocious night for the Habs netminder. Maybe his worst performance of the entire season.

- I'm guessing, wild guess, Carey Price for final two games of the regular season? I guess it's something to watch for. A motivator to tune in. Anyway, Habs can't win for losing, lose for winning. Lose for losing, even. Tonight the team took it to the Panthers, but lost because Mike Condon played much of the game in sleep-eez-dee mode, letting in 3 goals that wouldn't challenge an average AHL netminder. But then maybe that's all Condon is, ever was, and ever will be.

This season is almost over. The finish line is just a few days away. Still, it can't arrive soon enough.


Have you hit the golf links yet? I've done a couple of outings at the driving range. It's been an early spring out west, just like it's an early spring for the Habs out east. In preperation for a very, very, very early extended summer vacation, the Habs are up to their old tricks of doing stupifying things with their lineup.

Latest case-in-point? The Habs yesterday called up the utterly futureless John Scott from the (also early vacationed) Ice Caps, for reasons that could only have something to do with selling tickets, because it's come to that. Scott, who has no chance of playing in the NHL beyond this season, will take up a precious spot in the lineup at the expense of Mike McCarron, who was banished to the rock so that he might take some cool photos of icebergs.

Other than a cynical attempt to fill increasingly empty seats in the Bell Centre, there is absolutely no rationale or excuse to put Scott into any lineup. End of topic.

So with that, here are the Habs lines tonight:


And with Subban still out of the lineup, here is the D:


In case you missed it, with Johnston in tonight, the Habs have had 15 different defensemen in the lineup this year. On a relatively healthy team, that's what you might see for the number of forwards used in an entire season.

Panthers are still in a battle for first place in the Atlantic Division, a spot they may win if only because the Tampa Bay Lightening received word over the weekend that Steven Stamkos is out for 4-6 weeks with a rib injury.

Puck drops at 7:40 EST.  One last time this season to check out the great Jaromir Jagr. He's worth the price of admission 50 times over any John Scotts.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Game 79: Habs vs. Panthers

So here's the deal. It's 24 degrees outside where I live. So I'm outside. With my family. Embracing early summer. That means, no live blog tonight because, sanity.

For what it's worth, Daniel Carr and Brendan Gallagher are back tonight. Mike Brown and Stefan Matteau are out. P.K. Subban still isn't playing. The Panthers are gunning for first place, we're gunning for nice golfing weather.

Puck drops at 7:10 EST. I'll be posting the blog later.

Enjoy the game if you're watching. If it's nice outside where you live, for crying out loud, turn off the TV set.