Monday, 16 January 2017

Game 45: Habs vs. Wings

Detroit 1, Montreal 0:


- Wings scratches for today (now official), Tomas Jurco, Ryan Sprout and ... sadly, Steve Ott. Always nice to face an opponent with not very good players in their lineup. Mike McCarron healthy scratch for the Habs, a shame since Detroit is his hometown (and often, these home returns are greeted by exceptional performances). 

- Fundamental difference between a very good defenceman such as Petry and someone who's pretty marginal, Zach Redmond. Petry takes the time to move the puck forward to one of his forwards (or at least makes the attempt), while Redmond's mantra is to dump the puck out of his zone as quickly as possible, be dammed the transition. The effect is, of course, the Habs go from being a pretty good team while someone like Petry is on, to a not very good team when Redmond is on.

- Habs again stumbling out of the blocks with their offence, which is again having trouble executing simple plays, such as short passes. Setup in the Wings zone has been pretty awful - the Canadiens in general have been pretty unstructured the past couple of weeks. Not much different so far today.

- First Habs powerplay not much different than their play even strength. Not much flow or structure. 

- Game itself is not much different from 1st period Saturday night against the Rangers - very sloppy, inelegant. 

- On a scale of 1-10 for good hockey, that first period was -281. What to say? Both teams look rusty? Tentative? Tired? If you're missing the game, you're missing nothing.


- So how bad was that first period of hockey? This bad:

Not convinced? Let's look at even strength scoring chances:

One scoring chance for the Habs in that period. One. That, folks, is bad, bad, bad hockey.

- The Jeff Petry/Nathan Beaulieu pairing continues to struggle - both are quality NHL defensemen, Petry certainly well above average, but together, they have little to no chemistry. Seems like communication is fundamentally lacking between these two.

- Last point, Habs can't get Markov back fast enough, Petry certainly seemed more comfortable with him, and Beaulieu has more or less, become befitting 3rd line responsibilities.

- One more 1st period point - Habs leaning very heavily on Weber/Emelin, whom each got close to 10 minutes playing time, while the rest of the defence were in the 4-5 minute range, Petry included. This pattern cannot continue indefinitely.

- Galchenyuk line just had their first solid shift of the afternoon. Actual good scoring chance was generated.

- Insane holding call on De La Rose. Simply touched a Wings player with his hand, gets called. There goes all the momentum from the Galchenyuk shift.

- Habs PK continues to be uninspired, stagnant. Not a lot of movement, just a lot of reaction, which is bad if you're wanting to effectively kill penalties.

- Galchenyuk line clearly humming right now - nearly breaks the scoresheet with Pacioretty slipping a nifty back pass to Galchneyuk, Coreau with a brilliant save. Therrien might want to ride that horse quickly with a few extra shifts squeezed in for that trio.

- W're at the 8 minute mark, Habs have become markedly better team as the period has progressed - Wings seem to be lagging much more with the puck, are committing more turnovers as the game has progressed.

- Wings netminder Jared Coreau made a pretty good save off Galchenyuk earlier in the period, and now just plain whiffed off a relatively routine wrist shot by Beaulieu from 40 feet, the goalpost saving his day. So there's opportunity still there for the Canadiens.

- Habs making defensive switch here, Beaulieu has been demoted, paired now with Redmond, while Barberio has been promoted to play next to Petry.

- Even though the Habs have been the more "dangerous" team this period, their even strength scoring chances are still pretty abysmal - only 3 this period with 2 minutes left, 4 overall for the game.

- Bad break for Habs, great break for the Wings, as Vanek scores after point shot hits his body and bounces in. Play was already broken after Mitchell lost his stick off the draw, and after wandering around trying to find it, lost his mark, which left the point wide open for a shot on goal. 1-0 Detroit.

- Habs may have been the better team in that 2nd period, but their lacklustre play was simply begging for trouble - or at least a bad bounce. Danault and Galchenyuk line have had their moments, while the Plekanec line has been pretty invisible, and Mitchell line more or less a vacuum for defensive letdowns. Add it all up, and the Candiens are watching a winnable game against an inferior opponent go past the board.


- Habs had more attempts, but still aren't doing a very good job generating quality scoring chances. Been that way for a solid two weeks. Excuses can't be made with Galchenyuk back in the lineup.

- Maybe the total lack of quality scoring chances corresponds with Gallagher's sudden departure? The Canadiens more or less have gone off the cliff in that department since his injury. Makes you wonder.

- Wings are suffocating the Habs offence this period, a not entirely difficult task - but especially more so. Canadiens simply unable to cleanly gain the Detroit zone. Nothing is clicking.

- Galchenuyuk line pretty much the only one capable of getting the Habs on the scoreboard today - I don't think I've seen a single dangerous scoring chance from anyone else wearing a red jersey today.

- Zetterberg fakes a Galchenyuk high stick, referee gets fooled. Just, wow.

- Habs survive a meek Wings powerplay, but two precious minutes are off the clock. 5 minutes left, and no scoring solution in sight.

- 3 minutes left, Habs pushing, opening all the valves, but still no significant scoring chances are being generated.

- Jared Coreau will never have an easier shutout in his life, Habs just sputter away to a loss this afternoon against a team that won't be in this spring's post-season. Wasted opportunity, but Canadiens have no one to blame but themselves, the effort simply wasn't there, and as a result, the Habs generated only a handful of actual scoring chances today. One more "tough" game to play this Wednesday night against the Pens before the Canadiens can finally look forward to nearly a month in the schedule were they'll play mainly sub .500 teams.


Do you know it's been almost 27 years and 25 NHL seasons since the Detroit Red Wings missed qualification for the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

By professional sport franchise standards, it's an impressive and unparalleled accomplishment in the modern era of sport. Detroit has spent the past years following a relatively simple formula for success: draft wisely, develop talent internally, scout for European talent, and hiring smart people to coach and manage your assets.

Seems simple enough, doesn't it? If you take a look around the NHL today with how teams are operated, many if not most either are (or are tying) to emulate Detroit's 30 year old model.

It didn't used to be that way - many franchises, including the Montreal Canadiens, went down a decidedly different path, which focused on finding talent mainly contained within North America, depending on trading as a "quick-fix" method to help make them playoff competitive (usually without success), and hiring 2nd rate minds to help develop what little youth they had acquired.

Like everything else in the world, whether it's Game of Thrones, the happiness of the first three years of marriage, or a free and democratically governed America, all good things must come to an end. For the Wings, their playoff streak, barring some kind of miracle, will cease as of this April, 2017.

That Detroit won't be in the playoffs shouldn't be particularly surprising - this event has been building for quite a few years, as the Wings have somewhat drifted away from the formula that was once a pretty resounding success. Detroit were once the best team at replenishing and renewing its lineup - constantly developing and if not improving, at least keeping the team perennially competitive. That was then. Now, the Wings have started to wilt under the reliance on decreasingly productive, aging, and largely overpaid players like defenseman Jonathan Ericsson and center Henrik Zetterberg. Toss those guys in with other underproducers like Justin Abdelkader, and (har!) Thomas Vanek, and, well ... Detroit might actually be headed for a few years of missing the post-season, not just the upcoming one.

So Monday afternoon (yup!) the Wings will host the Habs, coming off a sweet 6-3 victory over the top-flight Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. Detroit's win this weekend broke a 3-game losing streak, but still, with only 18 wins 43 games this season, at some point in the very near future Detroit is going to have to call it a day, and start planning an exit strategy leading towards a decent pick in this summer's entry draft.

For the Habs, they're coming up a big, if not untidy victory over the New York Rangers. The Habs are getting (somewhat) healthy again, with Alex Galchenyuk back at his proper position of 1st line centre (yay!), while Andrew Shaw is ... well ... do we have to talk about him? Sigh. Fine. Andrew Shaw is back, maybe Monday afternoon he'll actually play a full period before getting tossed from the game for doing something absolutely idiotic? Fingers crossed.

Here's now the lines figure to be for the game. First, the Wings:



And for the Habs:



Take note, it looks like Mike McCarron will be a healthy scratch, making way for Andrew Carr to get a start. In the meantime, on Sunday the Habs called up Jacob De La Rose, while Chris Terry cleared waivers and is back with the Ice Caps.

Starters? We got the (still struggling) Carey Price against the Wings' Jared Coreau, whom Habs fans likely aren't familiar with because the Canadiens have never faced him before. Coreau, who's been in the Wings system for a few years, got his break this season after regular starter Jimmy Howard was placed on injury reserve back in November (and isn't expected back for another month). Coreau's stat line this season: 7GP, 4W, 1L, 3.12 GAA, .903 Sv%.

Puck drops at 3:00 p.m, NOTE THE TIME GUYS, EST, so polish up your best work hooky excuses.

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.)