Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Game 73: Wings vs. Habs

Detroit 2, Montreal 1 (OT):


- Beaulieu nailed right off the bat for an interference penalty that might have gone either way. Abdelkader scores on the infusing powerplay to give Detroit the early lead. Not sure what Julien thinks of Beaulieu's play, but reply shows he was finishing his check. I'm inclined to think the coach will let that one slide.

- So when is the Habs top line going to start producing? Habs can't keep leaning on secondary scoring support indefinitely.

- Danault line looks good yet again tonight - they're got a very persistent and aggressive forecheck going, which is something I've seen absent the Galchenyuk line the past little while. Spark of intensity might be one significant reason why that top line has struggled to score lately.

- Habs powerplay tinkering - Pacioretty put at the point. Puck possession was good, zone maintenance was good, but no shots registered. That might be the end of that little experiment.

- It hasn't been anything close to the nightmare of the Hawks game last week, but it hasn't been a stellar period either for Emelin. Wings aren't a particularly fast team, but Emelin again appears to be struggling adjusting to Detroit's zone entries.

- Meek period for the Habs, especially around Jimmy Howard. Need more bodies crashing that crease area.

- Kinda mysterious how the Habs find ways of being outplayed by non-playoff teams. Not sure if it's anything to do with the lineup looking at the standings, assuming in advance that the game doesn't require full effort. That's essentially what was missing from the Habs in that 1st period - the concerted effort required to win a game in the NHL.


- You'd be forgiven if your eyes glazed over during that first period. Possession was an even split, which means, given the opponent, the Habs were outplayed:

- Habs are buzzing, certainly more than compared to the 1st period, but the Wings are doing a good job protecting the crease/slot area. Canadiens might need to grease one out to get on the scoreboard.

- Flow is certainly a lot more wide open this period, which is something that would generally favour the the Habs.

- Emelin covers up from a Jeff Petry puck handling error. That's all nice, but it underscores the general lack of chemistry and communication between these two since Julien adjusted his defence, moving Markov next to Weber. I think Emelin would be a better pairing with Jordie Benn, and Beaulieu with Petry, but what do I know?

- I know, it was a longshot, but kinda hoped Ott would have a little "oomph" to his game against his former teammates tonight. But then again, it's Steve Ott. Best to keep expectations at around -40.

- Habs with a stormin' powerplay, Howard catching some puck luck, and Lehkonen playing like a monster this period. Pacioretty at the point looking better that attempt. Starting to think this team has a bad case of snakebite against the Wings.

- Just can't seem to find chemistry. Julien mixing the lines up a little to end the period, but I'm not sure that's the issue. Passing is there, but there simply isn't very much traffic in front of Howard, who, for the most part, has seen pretty much every shot directed towards him.

- Habs were the better team in that second period, pushing the envelope to try and get on the scoreboard, but as we mentioned in the previous point, Habs have not done a very good job pushing the Wings net tonight, which has made puck stopping much easier for Howard.


- This is a more meaningful illustration of the Habs issue tonight - they might have more shot attempts, but not many in close. Look at all those point attempts. No wonder Jimmy Howard has a shutout going:

- After demonstrating marked signs that he'd finally got his season moving, it's been a mostly down night for Gallagher - 46% CF and a CF Rel of nearly -13 through 40 minutes.

- Habs are playing patient, much like they did earlier season game they had against Detroit, of which they eventually lost 1-0. In that game, the Habs didn't seriously ramp up their game until there was 2 minutes left in the clock. If you learn from your history, then you'd expect the Habs to start taking some chances much sooner in the 3rd.

- Habs haven't shown much, but now they draw an interference. Canadiens came awfully close to scoring their previous man advantage. This would be a good time to finish their attempt.

- Puck hopping and bouncing on the ice, Beaulieu's stick shatters as he attempts to finish the setup with Jimmy Howard's own stick laying in the corner. One of those nights where seems like nothing is going to go right - and for the Habs offence, that's exactly what's happened.

- Habs are definitely not waiting until the last 2 minutes to make their push. With 9 minutes left in the 3rd, it's been the kitchen sink in the Wings zone. Just can't quite seem to finish plays, the ice conditions look poor - puck bouncing a lot on the ice.

- Rough night for the Plekanec line - most of the play has tilted towards the Habs zone while he, Gallagher and Bryon have been on. Offensive chances have been few and far between.

- Lehkonen ties the game with 2 minutes left, given way too much space entering the Wings zone, he fires a wrister that has Howard looking skyward.  Ironic the way that goal was surrendered given how well the Wings have played defensively in their zone tonight.

- Alexei Emelin with all day and all night to set up the play from behind his net, ices the puck with 2- seconds left. WHY?!

- Critical game tying goal by Lehkonen, given that the Sens have already beaten the Bruins tonight. Canadiens doing a nice job pushing in that 3rd period for the tying goal, especially from the 10 minute mark forward.


- Shot attempt chart shows the Habs indeed were pushing hard at about the 10 minute mark of that 3rd period:

- Montoya clearly interfered by Mike Green, thrashed into the back of his net, all in front of the referee who lets the play, unbelievably, continue without a whistle. The abysmal lack of goaltending protection in this League continues.

- This OT period is the Al Montoya period. His defenders doing him no favours, that's for sure.

- Hometown boy Anthony Mantha with as pretty a goal as you'll see, making Galchenyuk, who's had a bad night in general, look like a beer leaguer with one move, and Shea Weber his next victim with a slick shot that beats Montoya top corner, and the Habs (actually) lose a game in OT. Montoya deserved a better fate, although the Habs played a pretty disorganized OT period, and roundly deserved the loss of an extra point.


It's kinda crazy, isn't it? The Detroit Red Wings, for the first time in 27 years, will not be partaking in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The remarkable string of success comes from Detroit implementing (and sticking to) the development of a perpetually competitive hockey team by focusing resources on developing players internally through wise drafting and quality scouting (especially in Europe and in particular, eastern bloc nations including Russia).

Over the past few years as other teams finally caught on to the Wings formula for success, Detroit has found maintaining their competitive edge to be increasingly difficult, especially in the salary cap era. Before the cap, the Wings had the luxury of locking up their assets for an indefinite period of time. In today's era, the Wings couldn't dream of maintaining a lineup with the likes of Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, Kris Draper, Nicklas Lindstrom, Vladimir Konstantinov, Chris Osgood, etc., etc. (those players were all on the 1997 Wings roster).

So with the official passing of the Red Wings era, Detroit is finishing up their season, coincidently as Joe Lewis, the arena that hosted all of those great Wings teams, will be shuttering their doors for good.

So the Wings, playing the string, will face former teammate Steve Ott and the Habs tonight at the Bell Centre. The Wings, coming off a loss to the Buffalo Sabres last night, are currently sitting with the 5th worst record in the NHL, which reckons to land them a half-decent pick in this summer's entry draft.

Here's the Detroit projected lineup tonight:



The Habs, meanwhile, are still enjoying the buzz of a weekend sweep of the Ottawa Senators, which has given Montreal a 4 point lead for 1st place in the Atlantic Division. Paul Bryon, who got his 20th (and if not for a silly offside challenge his 21st) goal of the season will lead the Canadiens offence in the 2nd game of a 5-game home stand. Meanwhile, Carey Price, who's been stellar since Claude Julien took over head coaching duties last month, gets a well-earned night off. Al (Tony) Montoya (2.71/.910) will start for the Canadiens, while Jimmy Howard (1.97/.933) gets the nod for Detroit.

Here's the Habs lineup tonight:



Puck drops tonight at 7:40, EST.

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