Rabid Habs

The Recap: Game 1 – ECQF – Rangers vs. Habs

GameRecaps

You can follow A.J. Bassett’s live blog live during every Montreal Canadiens game at Habs Game Blog.

New York Rangers 2, Montreal 0

FIRST PERIOD

– Nesterov gets the start ahead of Davidson, which surprises (and concerns) me.

– If it seems like the Bell Centre is loud on your TV, you’re right. Having been at a Canadiens playoff game in that arena, the noise cannot be described (or underestimated).

– Gallagher with a bad trip on Staal. As we mentioned in the series preview, it’s important that the Canadiens avoid the penalty box, because it offers the Rangers a path to victory.

– Good PK by the Canadiens – not entirely surprising since this unit has been among the League’s best since Julien took over.

– Beaulieu with a couple of great scoring chances high slot, but can’t deliver his shots on goal. That’s been an issue with him all season – shot accuracy.

– Habs largely dominating the game so far, but Rangers strike first, as Plekanec wins a deep draw, but his wingers, specifically, Paul Byron, fails to tie up their marks, in this instances it’s Glass, who with a fierce backhander that hits top corner. 1-0 New York.

– Galchenyuk looks great, but he isn’t getting much help from his inept line mates Martinsen and Ott, both of whom are predictably mixing it up physically, but can’t do a damn thing with a hockey puck.

– Lundqvist has stopped all 12 shots he’s faced, but his style shouldn’t endear Ranger fans with confidence. Scrambly would be a good way of describing his style so far.

– McDonagh gets nailed for an interference, with a strange play on Pacioretty at centre ice, with the puck really nowhere close. Gotta be smarter than that.

– Julien goes with Andrew Shaw first unit, a page out the book of Therrien. Doesn’t work very well at least that first attempt. Galchenyuk on the 2nd unit, which is something, I guess.

– Smith high sticks Lehkonen, Montreal’s powerplay extends from 2 to 4 minutes.e

– Aside from the Glass goal, difficult to feel disappointed with that 1st period, the Habs outshooting the Rangers 14-5, which is not a sustainable number if you’re hoping for a New York victory. Don’t think Lundqvist looked anything but slightly shaky, which means he’s likely getting too many good looks at shots. Habs could probably offer a bit more traffic around the crease, and shouldn’t be wary of crashing the Rangers net when the opportunity presents itself (Ott had managed to run over Lundqvist earlier in the period). Don’t like the score, but like the mostly dominated Habs period.

SECOND PERIOD

– Domination by Habs in that 1st period, 77.3% CF … at even strength. Rangers with a couple horseshoes helping them stay ahead on the scoreboard:

– While the Canadiens had a very strong 1st, one failing were their attempts. Just one high danger in the frame, which is not nearly good enough against any opponent or their goaltender:

– Underlying numbers are hard to debate, here. If the Canadiens play the 2nd and 3rd periods like they played the first, the Rangers will need a miracle to win this hockey game.

– Maybe Vigneault read them a copy of the riot act during the intermission – Rangers coming out a bit faster this period.

– Stumbling start this period, Rangers doing much better job retreating to their own zone, and for bottling up centre ice. Canadiens unable to muster much speed with the puck so far.

– Rangers clearly turning the tables this period, Habs need to regroup. Ott and Martinsen with two terrible shifts this period, at some point Julien has to think about moving Galchenyuk up, maybe switching him up with Dwight King, who’s doing his line no favours so far, either.

– Rangers have the forecheck running full throttle, and it’s keeping the puck mostly in the Habs zone. 7 minutes gone in the period, Montreal still hasn’t registered a shot.

– Habs 4th line officially back to being a tire fire again. Julien needs to make an intervention, or at the very least, significantly scale back their playing time (while moving Galchenyuk to another line).

– Weber with a cannon, which is good. But it’s a shot that Lundqvist is allowed to see without any distractions in front, which makes it a routine save by NHL standards. Habs have to get bodies in front, or they’re not going to score.

– Mats Zuccarello, who’s been the target of Shea Weber tonight, with a dirty low hit on Gallagher that the officials refuse to call. Not cool. Not cool.

– Great shift by Galchenyuk, one of the best I’ve seen all year, and it puts the Rangers entirely on the defence. Canadiens come close to scoring, with pucks loose around Lundqvist, but predictably, neither Ott nor Martinsen can shoot it home. At some point Julien will need to reconsider his strategy, Galchenyuk needs to be put next to people with goal scoring abilities. Otherwise, all this fine play is being wasted.

– That Galchenyuk shift has changed the dynamics of this game, Habs swarming Lundqvist, who has to make a couple of big saves to keep his team ahead.

– Galchenyuk with a *do’h* puck handling off the faceoff, which is probably the most avoidable penalty possible. Sigh. Goodbye momentum.

– Uh-oh, extended Rangers 5-on-3 advantage, as Gallagher is nabbed for a hold.

– Simply outstanding kill by the Habs PK, Markov and Weber really shining. Huge missed opportunity for the Rangers.

– Well, that was an unexpectedly bad period for the Habs, especially in light of what we saw in the first. Maybe this team came out a little too fast, too hard? It happens, especially game one at home in the playoffs. Still, there’s no excuse for the way this team played in that 2nd period, the Rangers clearly reorganized and refocused during the 1st intermission, and took it to Montreal for the first 14 minutes of that period, dominating possession and the shot clock. Galchenyuk played a very strong period, Dwight King was very weak. Claude Julien, the hockey gods are basically screaming at you to make an obvious adjustment – moving Galchenyuk up to King’s spot, and King back down to the 4th line. HEED THE GODS.

THIRD PERIOD:

– Oy, what a turnaround. Canadiens ridiculously lucky to be only 1-0 down at this point, including the fact they managed to kill an extended 2 man advantage. Rangers CF (5v5) in the 2nd alone was 67%+:

– Julien sticks with King along side Lehkonen and Shaw. Sigh.

– Rangers are stacking their line, and so far, the Habs have no response.

– Habs are gonna have to do this the hard way – shooting pucks, hitting and retrieving. Rangers also doing an excellent job covering passing lanes in their zone. Canadiens can’t muster up any form of sustained puck pressure.

– Shaw sets King up perfectly in the slot, shot fired hits Lundqvist in the head. If that’s Galchenyuk, it’s like a tie game. CLAUDE TAKE A HINT.

– Rangers are winning most of the puck battles, especially in their own zone, against Bergevin’s “bigger”, “tougher” team.

– Habs look spent. Gave it all the 1st period, battled to keep the floodgates closed in the 2nd, limping through the 3rd.

– Julien steadfast with his line combinations, refusing to budge an inch. He’s picked his hill to die on tonight, dammit.

– 6 minutes left, Habs will have to gamble now with hard pinches. Nothing else has worked. Julien won’t make any adjustments, so now we need some luck to salvage this game.

– Phillip Danault won’t be bookmarking this game as a career highlight, and he gets nailed for an anxious tripping penalty in the O-zone. Another viable candidate for some kind of line juggling, but Julien remains steadfast.

– Habs kill the Danault dumb-ass penalty, but lose two minutes off the clock. 3 minutes left, time to roll all the dice.

– Julien switches up King and Galchenyuk. With 2 minutes left in the 3rd. Too little, too late.

– Grabner, empty net. Game over.

– Habs get shut out. It’s not rocket science. You put one of your best forwards on the 4th line for 58 minutes, you’re going to struggle to generate offence. And now the Habs suddenly find themselves in a must-win position, with the playoffs literally just begun.

Game 2, there’s no excuse for Galchenyuk to be mired next to Martinsen and Ott. There’s no excuse for Dwight King to be in over his head on the 3rd line. This team ought easily handle an opponent like the Rangers. Instead, the Rangers easily handled the Habs tonight, especially in batting for pucks. This against Marc Bergevin’s reconstructed “tough” hockey team. Well tonight, his troops got manhandled.

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