Rabid Habs

Ladies & Gentlemen, The Can-Do Canadiens

Habs vs Rangers

“We needed the power play to be better and lately it has been. It’s been a big reason why we’re winning games – we’ve been getting big power play goals, timely power play goals – but we know it can go the other way just as quickly. It’s going to be important for us to continue doing what we’re doing which is keeping it simple and getting traffic and pucks at the net.” – Brendan Gallagher

Tonight would be the night that the Montreal Canadiens would aim to end their Madison Square Garden curse (three-game losing streak) by taking on one of the hottest teams in the NHL, the New York Rangers. Since the New York City squad handed the Canadiens a 5-0 loss back on November 23, the Rangers have won 18 of their last 25 games, sitting third in the Metropolitan Division which is just four points back of the second-place Pittsburgh Penguins. Along with that, Henrik Lundqvist boasts a .920 save percentage and a 2.30 goals-against average in 36 starts, while Rick Nash currently sits tied for the league lead with 28 goals alongside Tyler Seguin. While the Canadiens held a three to two win over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday at the Bell Centre, the Habs have been struggling in the offensive and power play department, leaving goaltender Carey Price as their saviour and one of the main reasons for their past win streaks. After Tuesday night’s game, the Canadiens announced that Hamilton Bulldogs captain Gabriel Dumont would be called up to join the troops in New York as a healthy scratch. However, a strong forward might be what the Montreal Canadiens would need to put points past the Rangers. Even though the Habs have scored eight power play goals in the last five games, Therrien’s four lines would have to push the limits in order to have a better power play, a balanced attack, and put more pucks in the net. If this game wasn’t stressful enough for the Habs, they would also be facing goalie injury specialist Chris Kreider who has since crashed into four goalies including Jaroslav Halak of the New York Islanders (who is surprisingly okay). Tonight’s game would be testing the Canadiens’ limits and would prove whether or not the team could provide more physical force in order to protect their goalie and win this one to get out of sixth place in the league.

While the shots on net were in favour of the Rangers, the Montreal Canadiens had some attempts at putting the puck past Henrik Lundqvist, including some hard hits from David Desharnais and face off king Manny Malhotra. The Habs were struggling in the offense while New York were playing sharp and were two steps ahead of the wobbly troops. The Habs started to put the pressure on late but despite both teams’ best efforts, the first period ended scoreless.

The second period didn’t treat the Habs kindly as the Canadiens still continued to struggle with pressure on the forecheck and puck control, leaving the period scoreless once again. Things were getting heated and the third period was starting to get physical as both the Habs and the Rangers were racing to get the first goal of the night and time was running out. After a long and nasty fight for the puck, Max Pacioretty fooled Lundqvist with a long slapshot which finally gave the Canadiens their first goal of the night (assisted by Dale Weise and Tomas Plekanec) with four minutes and 17 seconds left of the final period. With the final minutes of the game coming to a close, the Rangers were speeding around the rink and applying the pressure in hopes to tie up the game and go into overtime. Unfortunately for them, the Montreal Canadiens would finally have their first win of the season at Madison Square Garden and take home a one point win.

Here are my thoughts on tonight’s game.

  • Chris Kreider is shit head (excuse my language). When you’re just coming out of the box from a penalty and you attempt and succeed in getting another penalty (unsportsmanlike conduct) by grabbing P.K. Subban at center ice and dropping the gloves for a fight, you’re an absolute idiot. I’m pretty impressed that Subban didn’t want any of it and just skated back to the bench. Kreider needs to cut the crap. I won’t talk about what he did to Carey Price, I don’t want to remember what he did to Carey Price, he just needs to stop overall.
  • The Montreal Canadiens played very well but not well enough to even consider their game ‘dominating.’ The Habs, despite cleaning up their power play percentage, are still struggling in the offensive zone (how do you struggle to score on an empty net?). A goaltender can only do so much for his team and if the Canadiens keep relying on Carey Price’s skills and lucky turn overs/giveaways from the opposing teams, then the Habs won’t be strong enough to face any team in the playoffs. I have faith in my team, I think the Habs are an incredible team when they want to be. They just need to keep pushing themselves to the limit and hey, at least they’re not playing like the Toronto Maple Leafs. Am I right?
  • Speaking of Carey Price, can we talk about how awesome he looked in the net tonight? He generally looks fantastic but I don’t know if it was because the Habs were facing the team that fucked over Price in last season’s playoffs or just because he had a different attitude. He just played different and looked different. His eyes were on every move and every shot and every puck. He was like some transformer or maybe the Terminator in disguise. His saves just blew my mind. Not to mention, he got his third shutout of the season. I’m pretty sure the Rangers and their fans were pissed about that as well.
  • If you’re confused about the title of this article despite what I wrote above about how the Habs played, let me explain: The Canadiens can win. They’re the ‘Can-Do Canadiens’ because despite a poor play they always manage to throw in a win most of the time. They can win but they just need to work on other ways in order to win and come out looking sharp.
  • Top player and sniper who saved the day – Max Pacioretty. Nothing else needs to be said.

The Montreal Canadiens face the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre on Saturday at 1pm.

(Purchase your Canadiens tickets here. | Achetez vos billets des Canadiens ici.)

Follow Jessica-Lyn on Twitter: @strucxtures.