Tuesday, May 20, 2014

New York-Montreal Game #2: Canadiens Fall Again to Able Opposition

Date: 19/05/2014
Opponent: Rangers
Location: Montreal


Habs Goalie: Tokarski (L)
Opposition Goalie: Lundqvist, (W)

Habs goalscorers: Pacioretty
Opposition goalscorers:McDonagh, Nash, St. Louis

Play of the game

The goal. Pacioretty battled and showed that no Ranger defender is his match when he drives on all cylinders. The culmination of all the good work and all the angst from the Priceless fans to release the energy into one bellowing cheer. The Canadiens signalled they would battle. It seemed the puck signalled it was going to be on their side. Alas.

Dome hockey team

The 6 players we're playing in a no changes, do or die contest in the dome


Brendan Gallagher - Game Puck

If another player came out in an intermission and said being down 2-1 after a bad late goal in a game without the only goalie the team has thrived with all year, you would not believe him. I believe it when this guy says it. The way he never loses belief in a game or on almost any play is magical. The Habs can put this to better use, just as they did in recent victories.

Max Pacioretty

A goal. He's now our only danger man?  Strange world these playoffs. Max getting back to his predatory instincts is great news for the Habs. His goal was the product of goalscoring will, not much else. There were another few drives that nearly produced because of the same thing. Gallagher and he are both in the dome, but I'll gladly say they do not complement one another as well as they should. Time for Therrien to realize Chara isn't playing and put the end-of-season line together. Someone needs to get on the end of those hopeful Vanek passes, and someone needs to get some of those to a hungry Paciotetty.

Alex Galchenyuk

He shouldn't have a case. He looked rusty. The rest of the Habs forwards made his case for him by playing the peripheral mess of the last two periods. If the rust is shaken in time for games of consequence, you can see the strength and skill of this first rounder will be of great help to searching Canadiens offence.


Nathan Beaulieu

I am genuinely impressed. There's some poise at the back and skates to turn heads. It's not polished yet, but I hope the coach starts to see what an option he has here. The shakeups up front worked, I wonder whether some changes at the back might be of help. Not permanent ones, just moments of experimentation, maybe. Beaulieu with Markov on a few more times could help the forwards.

PK Subban

Even doing too much, he still deserves to be counted as our best. Going forward, to be better, PK must find a way to make this about the Canadiens coming back into the game and not PK coming back into the game. His rushes are an unmatched weapon, let them not end with pop gun wristers. PK was on for two goals against, but I don't think it's far to say either was directly his doing.


Dustin Tokarski

I was of two minds on this. I do believe Therrien made the right call on starting Tokarski (those who spoke with me in the morning will attest I called for this). Dustin has been a champ every step of the way in his career and he was very good for Hamilton. I like Budaj and all, but he seems to me a good time goalie. I've never been comfortable with the result from him in a end-of-season tight affair. Not sure why. Tokarski in the end did make his own case rather clearly. After he allowed two goals Price would have stopped, he kept it close



Knew this Ranfers series would be tough. This has exceeded expectation. Can't defend. Can't score. Can't get a call.

What the Halloran can go home and say he gave more penalties to the Rangers than the Habs, but he made some big mistakes. Vanek was frustrated into slashing because of three missed calls on which the refs did not wish to influence an NHL game by handing out a deserved 5-on-3. The momentum shifted completely on this play, and wouldn't you know it, the refs influenced the game. The call they made on the Galchenyuk play was amateur hour. They saw a falling player and no more, otherwise there wouldn't be a call. The players have to deal with 4 permanent obstructions for that quality of vision on the play on the puck? The final nail came on that one.

The refs were bad. They always will be. This is known. There has to be contingency for this. The Canadiens cannot win a Stanley Cup or probably another round of the playoffs as a team that is dead without a lead. This has been their fatal flaw for as long as I can remember, since the trap first came into the league: great when in front, terrible in a tight chase.

What they did tonight to make Lundqvist look the enduring hero was textbook Habs. There were very few shots indeed that could have beaten any goalie that played in the NHL this year. Their pressure was nominal and the pick up loose pucks was second rate.

The Rangers have been good. They have taken what good grace has given them and played it safely and soundly into wins. Tonight, they welcomed forays from Habs by opening wide lanes, which were duly taken, and by closing the middle. They have taken their powerplays and made them count.

Is there a way back? Well, there always is. Teams go throught strange motions at this time of year and flat games can befall the unlikeliest of candidates.

For me the way back must start with discipline. Remember the beginning of the playoffs was all about discipline for the Habs. It is clearly lost. I understand what the players want. I can feel the dissonance in their veins, even from my couch perch. Therrien needs to ask them all to give them their discipline for one more week. After that, they can see what happens. Vanek was right to be frustrated, but the Vanek of previous rounds would never have annulled a PP for a slash. Subban wouldn't have (been caught) punching a player down to the ice.

Next, I think the Habs need to slow the game down. It may feel unnatural to the group, but both teams thrive on the speed and the Rangers might not respond to slower build ups as well as they do to powerless quick strikes. It's abandoning the strategy of success. It's also tailoring an approach to an opponent. Will the Rangers wilt with extended time off the puck? Perhaps not. At the very least, the quick breaks when they come can be surprises.

The Habs have a win in them after this one. They had better think hard about making it next game.



  1. Two or three chances were squandered last night on driving wide and looking for a goofy centering pass.

    If you're not going to drive and push and take a good shot on net, at least control possession, set up a good screen, and get a good shot from the point. Simply put there was not enough patience in the offensive zone after lundqvist made a few good stops (as an elite goaltender is wont to do).

    Emelin had a bad game, I think I counted at least 3 icings off his stick. Beaulieu should take his place, but #40 might play left not right as I think emelin does.

    Penalties: refs were infuriating. giving a 4-3 is not a whole order of magnitude worse than a 5-3. Refs should know that 3 defenders makes for lots of open space, and call the game accordingly if that's how they're going to do it. Really the difference between this series and boston is stark, and a discredit to the league. It seems like the canadiens are expecting it to be called like a conference semi-final, but they're getting called on december infractions. I hope the GM talks to the series supervisor.

    rsty is pissed. go habs go.

  2. I had a good feeling for this one despite the news on Price's injury - right until I got some more news:

    - Prust was still in the lineup despite being extremely slow and having no discipline whatsoever in the previous game.

    - Bournival, one of the only players who never gives up, is taken out of the lineup.

    - Tokarski is in instead of Budaj.

    Prust gave the remaining energy he had already. He had nothing more to give last night. He's always late, his checking his weak and useless and his first shift ( I think ) turned out to be a turnover which ultimately led to the first shot on Tokarski and it was dangerous as hell. Prust might have a lot of heart but his entire body is broken right now.

    Bournival isn't a top line forward but this guy is mastering the art of controlling the puck along the board in enemy territory, something 3/4 of the team can't do very well. This kind of player is essential in playoff games. We had to win last night, it wasn't time to please veterans by keeping them in the lineup...

    And what about Ryan White? This guy mutated into a solid defensive forward. He's fast and relentless and he is much more serious on the ice ( lots of discipline this season ). To me, he is the perfect prototype of a bottom-line forward in fast and energetic NHL playoffs. Am I missing something?

    Tokarski isn't a bad goalie although he is far from being a #1 contender. He made some good saves despite allowing at least one weak goal last night. Overall, it sure isn't his fault if we lost game 2.

    BUT - and this is a big mistake to me - Therrien destroyed Budaj by replacing him with this "kid coming out of nowhere" ( that's probably what Budaj thought ) and I know Therrien wasn't quite at ease with this decision because he asked Gerard Gallant to give the news to Budaj prior to the game. And now we're stuck with Tokarski who is too inexperienced to handle this tremendous pressure. Sure, Budaj isn't Price and he is shaky once in a while but by putting Tokarski in front of the net on game 2, not only did he put pressure on this kid but he took all the confidence out of Budaj.

    If Budaj would've been in game 2, maybe the result would've been the same ( or worst ). But in that case, replacing him with Tokarski afterwards would've made much more sense. We would've had a realistic Budaj who would've realized he did what he could ( right now he is frustrated and humiliated because he couldn't do a thing ) and Tokarski would've had less pressure - because, after all, he could blame the previous loss to Budaj and thought "Well, I have nothing to lose".

    Instead, Tokarski had everything to lose last night:

    - Lose a very important game AT HOME.
    - Lose his reputation as a winner.
    - Lose his focus for game 3.

    He lost everything last night.

    Blame the refs if you want, I'm not that kind of guy. I think that blaming the referees is pretty much the last rampart there is for delusion in any sport. Even if the refs made bad calls, at the end of the day, the refs don't shoot the pucks in the net or make saves. Despite all the questionable decisions by officials, the fact and the matter is that Montreal only managed to score one goal last night.

    1. The goalie decision was probably one that was made in consultation with goalie coach. Since we don't know how each goalie has been looking in practice, we're really uninformed on the mater.

      Anyways, as you said, 1 goal might win with carey price at his very best in the nets, but few others.

      Ultimately the blame for carey price's injury in game 1 lies on the team's lackluster play, and specifically emelin and markov who let kreider split them like a watermelon, and emelin who hooked kreider's right leg backwards, putting him off balance and allowing him to fall into price.

    2. I think Tokarski only lost the game, nothing more. certainly not his reputation as a winner -- that's unfair.

      I understand that blaming the refs is very low of us, but bear a thought for the fans who watched the Bruins series of holding and scratching only to come into this. It is stark. What's more, how many times will the defenders of refs cite the pace of the game? If that is so, why not more tripping calls like the galchenyuk one. That was a complete aberration. Most times they err on the side of not calling (see Vanek/Galchenyuk 5-on-3 gone wanting).

      I am with you on Prust. He was useful in a different situation, but not this fast series. Moen is no better. I like that you bring up White. he would be a good tonic to what ails the fourth right now.

    3. Well, no one's calling him a loser, but you have to admit that when people began talking about Tokarski being chosen to play game 2, they talked about his past achievements. That was like saying " He's done it before, he can do it tonight ". Well, he didn't do it. And now that we know he's been chosen for game 3, look at the fan reaction. It's pretty 50/50 from what I see. People don't trust Tokarski as much as they did at the beginning of game 2.

      Of course that doesn't mean Tokarski's career is over. His CV just got a stain. We'll eventually forget about it when he becomes a regular #2.

    4. PS: My opinion on Tokarski is that he is smaller in the net when compared to Budaj and I'm not just talking about his size but also the fact that he was too deep in his net on many occasions in game 2, which makes him even smaller. That's also a sign of a lack of confidence in goaltenders...

      He isn't as aggressive as Budaj and he was nervous when handling the puck. Overall, I see Budaj being superior in every single domain besides age...

      But now, Budaj is done for mentally, so Therrien has no choice but to keep betting on Tokarski. Peter's focus is probably on his career outside of Montreal at this time, not on the playoffs. A clear sign was given to him the other night: His days with the Canadiens are numbered.