Sunday, 12 February 2017

Game 58: Habs vs. Bruins

Boston 4, Montreal 0:


- As mentioned in the pregame preview, there won't be a first period blog due to a scheduling conflict, we'll be joining in for the start of the 2nd period.

- That said, there's apparently a heavy contingent of Colorado Avalanche decision makers at the game, which is fueling speculation that a deal is in the works involving Matt Duchane. As I've said before, this trade is *not* going to happen. The Avs demands for a rental player are far higher than Marc Bergevin could hope to offer.


- Looking at first period stats, looks like the Habs had a good period, with exception to Boston being the only team who scored.

- First shift of the 2nd period, excellent work by Gallagher. He's a welcome sight for this team, and adds a pretty irreplaceable dynamic that seemed to be missing on quite a few occasions during losses since early January - a general lack of intensity.

- Spooner to Chara who dipsie doodles around a couple of flailing checks and beats Price top corner blocker side to make it 2-0. Shorthanded goal just to rub in a little more salt. Habs powerplay has gone from being unable to score, to giving up soft goals. This is bad. Very bad.

- Canadiens being very sloppy with the puck, especially in their zone. Bruins are also swarming the low slot at will, Habs are basically playing on their heels.

- Hard to say for certain what's happening, but I suspect its a combination of the Bruins rolling, while the Habs stumbling. Combined, Price is getting blitzed in this period, plenty of chaotic defending. Emelin icing the puck and Therrien calls time out to give his line a rest, maybe this will reset the Habs to stem Boston's overwhelming momentum. 9 minutes left in the period.

- Habs need the Bruins powerplay. Krejci finishing a pretty passing play, Habs PK doing a poor job closing the lanes, and at 3-0, it's hard to fathom this game not being over.

- Habs, let's face facts, are a dysfunctional mess. They had an incredible month of October, but since then, they've largely repeated last year's losing pattern, *with* Carey Price in goal. If they hockey gods are attempting to tell Marc Bergevin something, they're screaming it. This team needs a fundamental change in another direction.

- Beaulieu with a bad penalty to end the period. He's frustrated, Galchenyuk's frustrated, Price is clearly irked - this is a very unhappy hockey team. Unhappy teams are losing teams - no matter what you do, no matter how many lines you shift, no matter what system you put in place, if your players are on a negative bent, the season is lost. For the Montreal Canadiens, they are now approaching the danger zone of playing themselves into yet another lost year.


- Bad 2nd period for the Canadiens, not only because they were soundly outshot and outscored, but because the team looks like it's pretty much tossed in the towel - certainly for tonight's game, and maybe even for the season. Moral is pretty much close to, or at, zero:

- Desperate times, so why not at least try Galchenyuk back with Pacioretty and Radulov. Down 3-0, how could it hurt??

- Nope. AK27 still nailed with Gallagher and Byron. Oh, well.

- Haha ... Therrien does juggle his lines, by moving Pacioretty and Radulov apart. A mind-boggling adjustment. It's at thought he lives in another universe.

- Having trouble figuring out what Therrien is doing. It appears as though he now has McCarron playing with Pacioretty and Gallagher? Well that worked out great, as Vatrano scores to make it 4-0. We're on the cusp of a blowout.

- Carey Price being taunted by the Boston Bruins faithful. Could this be any more humiliating?

- A dismal loss to end a dismal week that had a favourable schedule, but turned into almost zero points gained. The Habs have gone from a comfortable Division lead to being in danger of missing the playoffs. Life comes at you fast, and this Montreal Canadiens team is in dire need of a huge shakeup if they have any hopes of salvaging their season. With five full days off, that shakeup might come this week. The only question is, does Marc Bergevin have the intestinal fortitude to make the tough decision?


The Montreal Canadiens, who have the League's 3rd worst winning percentage after the 11th game (which fortunately, they won 9 of), take on the Bruins of Boston tonight in Massachusetts. For the Canadiens, tonight's game is the last before the team enters its bye-week, a welcome 5 day rest for a team that frequently appears to be playing on weary legs.

The Bruins, meanwhile, are coming off an eventful week which saw the dismissal of long-serving head coach Claude Julien, replaced by Bruce Cassidy, who was formally head coach of the Washington Capitals way back in 2004 (before he was dismissed).

The response to the Julien firing, at least from game results, has been positive for the Bruins. In the two games since Cassidy took the reigns, Boston has gone 2-0, with wins over the Canucks and Sharks.

It's been a weird year for Boston. They're in a extremely precarious position for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, even though they've put up some the best possession stats in the NHL. As of today, Boston's raw Corsi is 55.6%, the best in the League. That Boston, which numbers that are usually put up by teams competing for Stanley Cups, has barely registered a winning record this year,  is a fascinating statistical anomaly.

One gets the feeling the Bruins, backed by good fundamental numbers, are on the cusp of making a bit of a run as we near the home stretch of the regular season. Imperative to them making a move will be converting more of their offensive opportunities. The Bruins shot percentage, a merger 7.7% this season, has been a big reason why they've had difficultly putting together a sustained winning streak.

The Bruins will also need more dependable goaltending from Tuukka Rask, whom by his standards, has not had a good season. Rask's save percentage is an NHL career worst .910. If you put together Rask's iffy netminding with his team's poor shot percentage, you'll find yourself a losing team - regardless of how well it does with puck possession.

Over on the Habs side of the ice, Brendan Gallagher will return to action tonight, after having his hand shattered by a 98 mph slap shot courtesy of Shea Weber in early January. That Gallagher is returning to game action barely a month after having two fingers nearly severed off his hand is a medical miracle - the Habs medical staff obviously deserving much credit for the quick recovery.

Plenty of questions are dogging the Habs, in particular primary and secondary scoring. The debate remains fierce as to whether Michel Therrien usage of Alex Galchenyuk, who's been mired on relatively unproductive 3rd line duties since his return from a knee injury. Whether or not Therrien will change course and reunite Galchenyuk with more familiar linemates like Max Pacioretty and Alex Radulov, is yet to be seen. One thing is clear - the Canadiens are struggling to score goals, and the current line combinations aren't working.

Carey Price, who struggled in his 5-4 OT win against the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night, will start for the Habs. Rask for the Bruins. Puck drops at 7:40 EST, and because of a scheduling conflict, no live game blogging until the start of the 2nd period.


As is per tradition when the Habs are going up against the Bruins (formally replacing Tuukka Rask losing his shit while playing), it's time to watch bear videos, just 'cause it makes us all feel better.

We'll have Habs updates and game preview (Brendan Gallagher returns!) in a bit. In the meantime, just watch the bears, and forget all about how terrible the Canadiens are. Ahhhhh ... that feels better already.

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.)