Monday, January 25, 2016

Two points off an old foe keep the Habs in the hunt

Date: 23/01/2016
Opponent: Toronto
Location: Toronto
Win: 3-2 (SO)

Habs Goalie: Condon (W)
Opposition Goalie: Reimer (L)

Habs goalscorers: Desharnais, Fleischmann
Opposition goalscorers: Kadri, Lupul

Play of the game

There's less than 30 seconds left.  The lead Montreal had worked so hard to grab after a steller first period had been chipped away at by the Leafs, and the Habs were staring a tie game in the face.  They were tight.  They all knew what was at stake here.  More than a win.  Eller didn't follow his man.  With a chip pass, Kadri was all alone in front of Condon looking for his second of the night.  He got away a pretty good shot but Condon flashed the glove out and got enough of it to keep the game tied.  Thank God or Sunday would have been a very long day.

Dome hockey team

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


Daniel Carr - Game Puck

Talk about unlucky.  I don't know how Fleischmann's goal wasn't given to Carr.  In the replays it sure looked like the puck hit him in the crest.  While he didn't make contact with Reimer on the goal, you can bet his presence, that drew in a couple of Leaf defenders, was certainly noticed by the Toronto net minder.  I don't know how this new 4G broadcast couldn't get a better angle on the "non goal" Carr was responsible for in the second.  A bit of luck and this tenacious addition to our third line would have had a brace.

Lars Eller

I almost dropped him out of the dome after that brutal back check on Kadri that almost resulted in the winning goal for the Maple Leafs, but Lars was just too good offensively.  That was a great hockey play to lay the puck across to Fleischmann for the second goal.  On top of that, Lars was buzzing in Toronto's zone all night forcing more than one good save from Reimer.  His best chance was in overtime when a little spin move on the blue line saw Lars beat the Toronto defense to the outside and just couldn't bang it home against a Toronto goaltender who played very well.  He also scored quite a nifty penalty shot for the win.

David Desharnais

I normally don't have two centres in the dome but I felt that neither Lars or David could be ignored.  David scored the all important first goal.  That goal, that was so common for Montreal before December has been a rare gem these days.  That was an important goal from a player who played just as important tonight.


Nathan Beaulieu

Nathan was pretty solid tonight in both ends.  There were no glaring mistakes in his own end and he pinched in appropriately.  Combine that with his helper and he makes the dome tonight.   

Mark Barberio

Our new staple in the dome he replaces Subban as our multiple dome member.  Mark was barely noticeable tonight.  Nothing spectacular offensively but he was solid in his own end, a lack of which by his fellow D-men has been costing us as of late.  He's grasping his role as a stay at home defenseman next to the high risk/reward Beaulieu quite nicely.


Mike Condon

Condon was good enough when he had to be.  His below .9 save percentage doesn't tell the true tale.  The Leafs couldn't muster a ton of shots but did manage some beauty chances.  Thankfully, for the most part, Mike was up to the task.


The Habs played beautiful hockey in the first period.  I believe it was into the 11th minute before Toronto even registered a shot, and that was a dump in from outside the blueline.  It was luck (and poor camera angles) that stopped Carr from scoring in the second and some snow piled up on the goal line that kept Gallagher from scoring in the third.  Toronto were lucky to get a point.  Montreal were better in their own end tonight which, despite there current scoring drought, is just as important considering the chances they've been providing their opponents despite outplaying them.  This was the kind of start Montreal needed against their old foe.

How important would it have been for Daniel Carr to have gotten that to count in the second period? As much as the Habs were flying in the first, the gravity of their situation set in during the second and third.  They tightened up, and not in the defensive kind of way we've been needing for some time.  They played like they were afraid to lose, and fair enough.  All in all, they played fantastic in the first period and well enough to hang on for two points.  Our top line hasn't played well in a couple of games now.  Galchenyuk finally looked comfortable on the wing, as bone headed as I believe it is to put him there.  Eller is really shining lately.

Carey Price is out another 3-4 weeks... at least.  By that point in time we will be so far out of the playoffs it will be very difficult to get back into it.  Unless Montreal returns to their form in October/November, and by the looks of things right now that is unlikely, the playoffs will be nothing more than something we dreamed about in 2015.  That's okay.  This is supposed to be a deep draft year and a golden opportunity to pick up a potential future scoring star.  The way things are going I don't think it's unrealistic that we'll be in a top three draft position.  Better than Alex Galchenyuk, Auston Matthews has the potential to be that #1 centre we've been craving for so long.  At 18 Auston is 6'2" and 194 lbs.  He has 36 points in 28 games, 21 of which are goals.  For an 18 year old playing in a men's league that's pretty impressive.  Auston was mentioned in the same breath as Eichel and McDavid last year but was two days too young for the draft.  Montreal has slipped to 3 points out of a wildcard spot with the Penguins now between them and a playoff spot.  On the flip side, the Canadiens are only 9 points out of a guaranteed top 4 pick with a chance for the top pick.  It's something to think about now during this slide for the ages.

Let's put Markov on the block.  I actually put this option up a while ago.  We'll have Gilbert back for next season (this one might be a wash out) and we'll have a top 6 defensive unit not much worse than we have now.  Another season with Subban, Beaulieu and Barberio getting better and another season of Markov declining, and this season before the trade deadline might be a good time to move him.  He'll have worth.  Despite his declining stamina he's a veteran puck moving defensemen.  For a team pushing for the Stanley Cup this season (which we are no longer) having Markov as a depth defensemen who can quarter back their second PP unit (a good team will already have a quality first PP unit already) will be quite valuable.  Some scoring prospects could be had from the right team.  Who else have we got to trade?  Well, that would depend on where people are going to fit into Montreal's future.  If Therrien goes back to Galchenyuk as his #2 centre, Weise becomes expendable.  He's a gritty, hard nosed player who has a knack for timely playoff goals.  He won't fetch as much as Markov, but he'll fetch something.  He might be worth more as a draft pick for this year's crop.  If the lineup stays status quo and Eller is down to a #3 centre he becomes trade fodder.  He's good at creating space for scorers and is also a decent depth playoff scorer.  Again, I think draft picks will be worth more than any player Lars can bring in.

Bergevin has told us all that Therrien isn't going anywhere.  We all know, as much as we might want him gone, there are some good, legitimate reasons for this.  No Price, not enough legitimate scorers,  just started a long term contract, but there are some things he could be doing that would be worth a try.  The Montreal Canadiens are not the first team to go through a scoring drought. They're not even the first team this year.  For all the talent the Anaheim Ducks had, they too went through a similar struggle.  A lack of scoring could be an insurmountable obstacle, as it is proving to be with the Habs.  It could also be an opportunity for a coach to be creative.  The Ducks have embraced their scoring woes and have turned into one of the tightest defensive units in the league.  In Montreal, the players believe in the coach, the coach believes in the players, the manager believes in everyone, but holding hands and singing kumbaya isn't winning hockey games.  Maybe it's time for the Canadiens to reinvent themselves.  If we're satisfied that this season is a wash, that Carey won't be back and without him there is no hope of winning the Stanley Cup, then by all means, Michel should continue down this path of futility.  Keep in mind that with every year gone is a chance with the all stars we have also gone.  Price, Subban, and Pacioretty won't continue to put up their numbers forever.  All we need to do is get into the playoffs.  Anyone could coach with Price in that net.  Now's a golden opportunity for Therrien to prove his worth and find a way to win without Carey.  Here's hoping I\m wrong about Therrien's ability to do just that.


1 comment:

  1. Creativity from Therrien is about as likely as a goal from Alexander semin at this point. He is committed to his system, and everyone in the league knows it.

    Another option to imrpve the Habs would be to re-evaluate some of the coaching and development options they put in place on the Bergevin hire down on the farm. It was a wholesale replacement. Since that has happened, I donèt think the farm team has been winning at a great clip, nor producing the kinds of players the team needs (other than support players). Itès often forgotten, but it shouldnèt be. If Detroit is in the playoff race at all this year, it is because of their attention to the farm.