Sunday, 19 March 2017

Game 72: Sens vs. Habs

Montreal 4, Ottawa 1:


- So what about Emelin? You'd have to figure that if he has one more badly played hockey game, he's finished - at least for the rest of the regular season. I'm pretty sure Emelin knows this as well. So expect him to play cautiously tonight, not taking stupid chances, not wandering away from his side of the ice. An entirely forgettable game (which might be good enough to earn him more starts). If he figures he has to take chances, watch out. It could get ugly.

- Craig Anderson, who looked a little iffy last night, rough start tonight, surrendering a big juicy rebound off a relatively harmless shot, and Tomas Plekanec scores a goal for the first time in 329 years, 1-0 early.

- Flat-footed Sens get nailed for a hook, Habs powerplay again struggles to figure out the whole zone entry thing, but still, Montreal utterly dominating Ottawa first 4 minutes.

- Pyatt ties the game off a fluke, his shot hitting Benn's stick, the puck going overtop Price. One-in-a-thousand play. Maybe one-in-ten-thousand.

- More poor officiating, Benn sent to the box for simply protecting his goaltender. Sens have been crashing Price tonight with no consequence. Refs can't have it both ways.

- The is not a penalty, especially if the officials aren't willing to send any messages that crashing the goaltenders is a no-no:

- Jordie Benn, the best player picked up by any team at the trade deadline, scores on a play that calls into severe question Anderson's aptitude tonight. 2-1 Habs.


- Habs with slight shot attempt edge in the 1st period, Emelin didn't have great numbers in that period, but no glaring errors (played most of it safe).

- Plekanec/Byon/Gallagher line had a very strong first period (Plekanec scoring the game's first goal). Sens line matching seems to be more focused on containing the Galchenyuyk and Danault lines - which has opened the door for Habs 3rd unit.

- Habs powerplay unit really only has one big functional problem, but it's a biggie. It can't seem to muster a clean zone entry.

- Sens hemm the Habs into the zone early with Emelin on the ice. First significant indication of trouble-a-brewin' with #74.

- Habs slightly more physical this period, more focused on finishing checks, perhaps an attempt to slow down and tire out their opponent. You can go down that road, but your scoring chances are going to be significantly reduced.

- Habs have dominated from the 15:00-10:00 minute marks of this period - stacking their blue line to break up any semblance of a Sens attack, and doing a good job keeping the puck in the Ottawa zone (although not exactly generating a ton of good scoring chances).

- Emelin with almost 5 more minutes of ice time than Beaulieu, which is worrying. Still half a game yet to play.

- As far as playmaking is concerned, this has not been a stellar night for Radulov.

- Price, who's had a quiet second period, had to wake up for a moment to make a stellar split pad save off Turris. Big game goaltending - Price continues to deliver.

- This reconstructed Habs 4th line is just abysmal. I'm seeing almost nothing from Mitchell and King tonight (as usual). McCarron modestly better, but he's not getting much support from his linemates. Marc Bergevin's trade deadline deals, at least to bolster that 4th line, have actually made his team weaker.


- We noted during the 2nd that the Habs had taken control around the 5 minute mark. Well, that maintained through much of the period. Ottawa had one good scoring chance. That was about it.

- Byron with a weaksauce goal, his 20th of the season, off wing 5-hole through Anderson, who I continue to maintain hasn't had a good weekend. He insisted yesterday that he was 100% recovered from injury. Not so sure he wasn't fibbing.

- Still befuddling that the Flames saw fit to just have Byron walk away. Even when he first arrived in Montreal we wondered "why?". With his 20th goal of the season, that question has changed into a thank you. Thank you Calgary. Thank you.

- Habs getting lots of "secondary" scoring support the past week - which happens to coincide with the top line going into a steep funk. Timing is everything, I suppose, but if the Galchenyuk line was even producing expected offence, Montreal's games this week would likely all be easy wins.

- I'm already envisioning the post-game mortems: "EMELIN IS GOOD AGAIN".  No mind-bogglingly stupid mistakes is likely the only bar he needs to clear, these days. Still, bad or "good", it doesn't change the bigger picture since the arrival of both Benn and Davidson - this Montreal defence is better with him out of the lineup.

- Because the officiating tonight has been so inconsistent, we have our first (inevitable) fight - Kelly squares off against Mitchell, and Mitchell gets the stuffing knocked out of him.

- 8 minutes left in the period, Habs are definitely set to sit-on-it mode. Eight minutes is a lot of time with just a 2 goal lead.

- Big part of that first line funk? Alex Radulov's struggles. Can't pass the puck tonight to save his life.

- Beaulieu finally nets the Habs a powerplay goal. Icing on the cake.

- What a nightmare night for Craig Anderson. Byron scores six seconds after Beaulieu, 5-1.

- So stupid is this offside review, goal is called back. Sorry Paul, the NHL can't get their act in gear. It's still 4-1.

- Habs sweep the weekend series in convincing fashion. Emelin wasn't terrible, Byron continues to light the red lamp, Carey Price continues to make the big saves, and the Senators aren't nearly the same team without Mark Stone in the lineup. With a 4 point cushion for first place, at 90 points, the Canadiens have likely mathematically secured a playoff spot, which is always a big relief. Tuesday night ought be easy pickings for Montreal, as they move closer to nailing down top spot in their Division.



- Ah, le sigh. Emelin will play tonight (Claude, you've been warned again), which means Brandon Davidson will sit. It's not all bad news, though. Steve Ott is a scratch tonight (thank heavens), making way for Mike McCarron.

- As we projected earlier, Carey Price will start again tonight (against Anderson). It's a good bet that At (Tony) Montoya will get the next start on Tuesday night.


Not a lot to report today, with the Habs savouring their shootout win over the Sens last night, helping the Canadiens to improve their lot for winning the Atlantic Division. Tonight Montreal can take another significant step towards clamping down first place if they can muster up another victory over Ottawa.

- Craig Anderson, whom I observed on more than a couple of occasions on twitter last night, did not look like his usual self, will start again tonight for Ottawa.

- The Habs haven't yet named their starter tonight, which makes me believe that it'll be Carey Price who'll get the nod. Instead, the Habs might be inclined to start backup Al (Tony) Montoya for Tuesday's game agains the Wings.

- Habs are expected to put out the same lineup tonight, including keeping Alexei Emelin safely secured from any on-ice destruction in the press box. Habs 4th line, still mysteriously comprised of Steve Ott, Torrey Mitchell and Dwight King, were frequently overwhelmed by the Sens last night, largely because Ottawa, with last change advantage, matched that line into a cumulative -28 SA. Ouch.

- Notorious Habs killer Jean-Gabriel Pageau was kept off the scoresheet last night, and had an otherwise uneventful game with exception to this breakaway which was brilliantly broken up by Jordie Benn:
- Puck drops tonight at 7:40 EST. We'll post updates during the day relating to the game (including the Habs starter).

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