Rabid Habs

Postgame: Half Win – Habs Lose in Shootout 3-2

Regardless of the result, Montreal’s effort in Nashville was their best complete effort of the last few weeks. From the first puck drop, the Habs were up to the task of playing against one of the best home teams in the league.

Just like the game against the Stars, Montreal opened the scoring against Nashville. Charles Hudon took the puck to the half wall and fed Jordie Benn in stride. Benn floated into the slot, and beat Pekka Rinne on the blocker side to open the scoring with his second goal of the season. Hudon’s assist was his seventh of the year, his second in as many games, and his third in four games. Heading into this game, Montreal was 3-4-1 when scoring first.

The lead lasted until the very last second of the period. On the powerplay, PK Subban entered the zone and took Max Pacioretty for a walk. Subban pulled the puck through his legs and created a scramble in front of the net. Filip Forsberg capitalized on that scramble, pushing the puck into the empty net for his tenth of the year. 1-1 with 0.8 seconds remaining in the first.

The second was Montreal’s “nothing” period, which is actually surprising considering that Nashville’s best period is the middle frame. Seems like the Habs did their homework and focussed on shutting the Predators down in the second.

Montreal didn’t have the same fortune in the third. On another penalty kill, the Canadiens somehow left Forsberg all alone again, and he made no mistake. Forsberg’s eleventh of the year beat Niemi to give the Predators a 2-1 lead just three minutes into the period. Nashville played with a much better pace in the third, and playing from behind, Montreal had a hard time playing uphill.

It was tough, but seconds after the announcer gave the final minute warning, a Joe Morrow wrist shot from the point found its way to the back of the net and beat Rinne over the glove. Morrow’s third goal of the year tied this game at two.

The overtime didn’t solve anything, so a shootout goal from Kyle Turris did. Nashville takes this one in the mini-game, 3-2. The Habs earn a point in a well fought road game.

Antti Niemi

Boy, I think we all owe the guy a bit of an apology. The one they call Nemo was fantastic for Montreal. He didn’t make any spectacular saves, but he was far from a liability. Niemi was exactly what you want out of your backup goalie. I would feel comfortable giving him the next start on Saturday, but Charlie Lindgren is certainly a good option for the Habs as well. Goaltending certainly isn’t the issue right now for Montreal.

Especially Bad Special Teams

Without Shea Weber on the back end, the Canadiens special teams are bad. To be fair, they’re not exactly world beaters when he’s in the lineup either. Montreal’s special teams combined for 50% efficiency which is far from… well, efficient. During the season, a special team efficiency of about 100% is good; it means your powerplay can operate at about 20% while getting a solid B- on your penalty kill. Coming into Wednesday’s game, Montreal’s special teams combined for about 91% efficiency, with a 15% powerplay and a 76% penalty kill. Their five-on-five play continues to stabilize, but their special teams are sinking them on a regular basis.

Joe Morrow

I wrote about Morrow in my last postgame. I’ve really liked what he’s brought to the offensive side of the game. Morrow is never afraid to put the puck on net, and it seems like it makes it to the goalie more often than not. Watching him learn to quarterback the powerplay from the top of the umbrella has been a bright spot in the absence of Weber. Morrow isn’t going to be a shut down guy going forward, but he could be a bit of a secret weapon with the man advantage. Maybe a new Marc-Andre Bergeron, if you will.

67-92-27

There’s no pretty way to say this; it ain’t working. Jonathan Drouin is allegedly still dealing with a hand injury, but there’s just no connection between these three. I’d like to see Hudon thrown into the mix for a bit, as he’s played the last few games with some really good jump.

Jerabek’s First Game

It’s obvious that Claude Julien felt good about using Jerabek in his first NHL game. The Czech defenseman picked up over 18 minutes of ice time and nearly scored the game winner in overtime. I enjoyed watching Jerabek play, as he’s cut from the new cloth of NHL defenseman; he wants to get the puck and move out of the zone as quickly as possible. The unfortunate side of his play is that Victor Mete may be done with the Habs for the year. It will sting, but Mete can go log important minutes with the London Knights, Team Canada’s World Junior team, and maybe even their Olympic team. But aside from all that, Jerabek looks like a dandy for Montreal so far.

Okay, that will do it. To all my American friends, have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, and I will talk to everyone after the game on Saturday night.

Go Habs Go.

Follow Ian on Twitter @BoisvertIan and follow @RabidHabs for more updates! 

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