Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Game 42: Habs vs. Jets

Montreal 7, Winnipeg 4:


- Plekanec is in, so lineup matters not quite as dire for the Habs tonight.

- So with Patrik Laine out, eyes out on Blake Wheeler who's been the Jets 2nd best forward this season.

- Not the start the Jets were hoping for, once again great work and pressure by Radulov generates zone turnover, Danault backhanding a loose puck home, and Habs grab very quick 1-0 lead.

- This isn't the first time the Danault line has been involved with an early Habs goal - they play an awfully fast and aggressive game, which I think takes a lot of teams unfamiliar with the Habs (Jets being an example) by surprise.

- Now it's Andrighetto's turn to make an impressive aggressive zone play, a perfect cross-ice pass on Flynn's tape, and he finds the top corner to give the Habs a 2-0 lead, barely 4 minutes into the game. Jets defence looking very flat-footed early.
- Moments after Habs nearly make it 3-0, Canadiens make very bad defensive error, with Petry and Beaulieu both chasing Stafford in the Canadiens' zone, springing Scheifele wide open for an easy goal. 2-1. Now both sides have demonstrated some pretty questionable defence, this could be a very long night for the goaltenders.

- This one's on Petry. Sorry Jeff, but this is not how you defence:
- Woes continue for Petry, as he's called for a (weak-ish) hold while on the PK.  Habs, however, survive the 5-on-3.

- Hellebuyck having significant puck issues this period - giving up rebounds, and having a lot of trouble covering up pucks. Habs forwards might want to continue to apply extra heavy pressure - there have been a lot of loose pucks presenting golden scoring opportunities.

- More shoddy defensive coverage, and again, it's Petry and Beaulieu failing to be on the same page - Perreault ties the game, Montoya more or less left out to dry.

- Plekanec top corner, 3-2 and Hellebuyck gets the hook. Hutchinson comes in, his line is 4W, 7L, 3.18, .894 in 13 starts. Not exactly the guy the Jets were hoping to lean on tonight.

- Getting Andrei Markov back into the lineup is key, but the Habs still should be concerned with how sloppy their defence has played of late. I understand that Therrien has been working on getting his blue line more involved offensively, which is an approach that I tend to agree with - but the fundamentals have been lacking of late - proper positioning and communications lapses have been the big culprits. Montreal must get this sorted out - certainly before the team starts its preparations for the playoffs.

- Kind of a missed opportunity first period - if not for some pretty bad defence by Petry and Beaulieu, the Habs could be three goals clear. Montreal certainly the better team, aided by some pretty questionable Winnipeg goaltending - which hasn't been a strong point for them this season. I suppose keep with the plan - play an aggressive game, but be a little more conscientious in the defensive zone, and who knows - the Canadiens might actually end up with a victory tonight?


- Fairly even period, Jets more or less down on the scoreboard because of goaltending.

- Sven Andrighetto having a little big of a statement game, no? Scores off more soft Jets zone coverage to make it 4-2, barely a minute into the period.

- Danault with a sweet, skilled goal makes it 5-2 off an end-to-end rush. Jets blue line, specifically Byfuglien, just waving his stick as Phillip skates by. Pretty awful 2nd period start by this Jets team, this game in danger of spinning completely out of control.
- Paul Maurice is not having a good night. Might he be next on the coaching chopping block?

- Scheifele makes it 5-3 on the powerplay, the Habs PK unit continues to look soft at best, downright awful and disorganized at worst. Is somebody going to rattle the cages for this unit, because it sure looks like J.J. Daigneault (if he's the guy in charge) is utterly incapable.

- Weber and Emelin haven't been very good tonight, especially at even strength where they're already under -10 corsi. Habs defence in general one good reason why the Jets still have hopes of winning this game.

- There is no "off" on the Radulov light switch. There are very few players in the game of hockey that bring his intensity to the rink each night.

- Carr getting blasted in the face by Byfulien, which the officials won't penalize, of course.

- Much better 2nd period for the Habs, they came out strong, put the Jets on their heels, and extended their scoreboard lead, in spite of the Canadiens still playing soft defence, and very disorganized with their PK. Winnipeg hopes in the 3rd will rest on drawing penalties, and taking advantage through the powerplay.


- Jets with just 2 shots in the 2nd, only 1 shot first 17 minutes, although attempts show a slightly closer game, it was still mostly Habs in that frame:

- Jets start the 3rd fairly strong, maybe Paul Maurice had another rant at his team? Habs be wise to play a road period, slow the game down, keep the checking close.

- Andrighetto with possibly his best game of the year, not only picking up two points so far, but playing some pretty good defence in his own zone, meaning he's hustling both directions. Therrien likes that kind of effort, so the kid might stay up with the big team a bit longer than usual.

- Weber with a blast that likely went off Lehkonen to make it 6-3. Jets simply had to score the next goal, and now trailing by 3, the rest of this game is likely elementary.

- Anyway, any doubts now about how huge the Habs off season signings were? Radulov is having a Hart Finalist season, and Lehkonen - he's going to be a part of this team's future core. Strong performances by both yet again tonight.

- Jets really loose on the PK, lanes far too wide open, and slot unprotected, Lehkonen bats home a rebound to make it 7 for the Canadiens.

- Little makes it 4 for the Jets, Johnston with a poor turnover trying to carry the puck out of his zone through heavy traffic.

- Solid win for the Habs tonight, bolstered by secondary scoring support by the youngsters, with Andrighetto and Lehkonen being the brightest lights. Meanwhile Danault continues to add to the Marc Bergevin mystic of finding diamonds in the rough. Road gets much steeper for the Habs as they head down the road to face the very tough Minnesota Wild tomorrow night - again with the same lineup as tonight's, meaning the Canadiens will need another solid effort from the supporting crew if they hope to have a positive result to wrap up the mini road trip.


What do you do if you're the Winnipeg Jets? You're a team not quite good enough to make the playoffs, but you're too good to finish somewhere in the standings to gain a decent draft pick (for a very mediocre 2017 draft)?.

The Jets are the quintessential middling hockey team playing in a middling city that's almost quite literally right in the middling of a giant country. Let's go to the stats machine.

First off, the conundrum the Jets currently face at the moment.

The Jets are in that tricky "are we, or aren't we?" playoff qualification zone. Yes, they're hanging in there as a possible contender for qualification, but then as we dig a little deeper, the picture becomes even more uncertain:

Let's look at the baseline stats, to see how the Jets stack up against the rest of the League:

STAT             RAW          RANK
CF% (5v5)     49.6           22nd
GF60              2.18           14th
GF (5v5)        74               14th
GA60             2.42            22nd
PP%               16.8            19th
SV%               .916            25th

The numbers are, well ... not horrible, but not good. The Jets' shooting chart at even strength pretty much sums up their position in the NHL:

The Winnipeg Jets. Kinda dull. Kinda bad.

Not helping matters is the recent injury to their fine rookie (and arguably better player than Austin Matthews) Patrik Laine, who suffered a serious concussion Saturday night against the Sabres, after taking a serious (clean) hit near center ice from Jake McCabe. Laine's return is totally unknown - it could be days, weeks, or even months.

Laine, at the time, was the Jets leading point-getter, so for a team that on most nights struggles to generate offence, his injury comes at a particularly bad time.

Then again, the Jets are playing an injury-decimated team tonight, with the Habs again missing many key players from their lineup - the latest possibly being Tomas Plekanec, who reportedly has come down with the case of the flu. If Plekanec can't play tonight, the Habs will be icing a team with four centres that were originally designated 3rd line duty (Danualt), or 4th line duties (Flynn, Mitchell and McCarron). When your forwards lineup is comprised of just 4 top-6 forwards, you're in some serious trouble

So yes, the Jets are mediocre, bordering on bad - but they're taking on a very vulnerable and undermanned opponent tonight, so the possibility is very good that Winnipeg can muster up 2 more points in the standings.

Which just might make them believe they're playoff contenders again.

It's Al Montoya (5W, 4L, 2.76, .911) versus Connor Hellebuyck (16W, 13L, 2.65, .913). Puck drops at 7:40, EST.



Fairly quiet day, Habs-related, except for reports this morning that Tomas Plekanec has come down with a bought with the flu, making him a "game time" decision for tonight's game. With Andrei Markov, Alex Galchenyuk and Andrew Shaw not joining the team for this road game, the Canadiens are right back to (possibly) having 7 regulars out of their lineup, and in Plekanec's case, one more top-ish center not being able to play.

So with Plekanec possibly not playing, the Habs went with these lines during practice:


Yeeesh. That's a pretty thin lineup, especially down the middle.

- Al Montoya was last to leave the ice during this morning's practice, so he'll be starting tonight.

- Erstwhile, the Jets lines tonight will look as such:



Connor Hellebuyck

Game preview coming up in a bit.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are welcome, even anonymously. All I ask is that you behave, and in support of good taste, avoid the use of course language, or express opinions that are just plain silly (racist, sexist, etc.)