Rabid Habs

The Recap: Game 53 – Caps vs Habs

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Washington 3, Montreal 2

FIRST PERIOD

– Well, those lineup questions we asked have been answered, and while adjustments have been made (highlighted), it’s not what we were speculating. Desharnais is a healthy scratch (!!), while 2nd and 3rd lines have been blendered up:

Pacioretty/Danault/Radulov
Lehkonen/Galchenyuk/Byron
Andrighetto/Plekanec/Shaw
De La Rose/Mitchell/Flynn

Weber/Emelin
Beaulieu/Petry
Markov/Nesterov

– His point totals aren’t very high, but Lars Eller is having one of his best seasons ever – he and his line have had excellent possession numbers – Lars has really established himself as one of the better two-way players in the NHL.

– Beagle top corner beats Price, and barely 3 minutes into the game, it’s 1-0 Caps. Mitchell line just too soft in coming back to cover the zone, Beaulieu also not playing the slot nearly tight enough. This could be a long afternoon ahead.

– Caps are playing a rigorous trap right now, the Habs offence has been almost totally snuffed out.

– But it’s Radulov to the rescue with a Beagle-like snap shot of his own, beating Holtby blocker side to tie the game. Great work by Danault to work the puck to Radulov in the slot.

– Plekanec somehow misses a tap-in goal. That’s the kind of play he was making while mired in a near half-season long slump.

– Galchenyuk seems to be struggling, still not convinced he isn’t deal with some issues related to that knee injury. His linemate, Artturi Lehkonen, however, has played a rambunctious period.

– Caps stormed out of the gate, and looked intent on putting this game away early – and then the board behind Holtby broke, and it seemed like everything just ebbed away. So while the Caps were the discernibly better team in that first frame, it could have been a whole lot worse. Canadiens will be very happy to go to the 2nd tied up, especially against a team that so far this season, has dominated their opponent in the first period.

SECOND PERIOD

– Caps with a very good, not-quite-dominative first period, Habs really hurt by some struggling shifts by the Danault and Mitchell line. Plekanec and Galchenyuk lines were “okay”, Lehkonen playing some hard, fast shifts. Meanwhile, the Eller line (Lars included) has been a Habs-killer today.

– Habs first powerplay comes up blank, with Bordeleau matching up Eller against Shaw (no contest) on the first wave. Canadiens still hurt by the ongoing issue of disorganized zone entires with the man advantage. It’s difficult to generate offence if you can’t set up.

– Galchenyuk line being taken to the shed defensively – they’ve been a two-way mess today. So it’s little surprise that the Caps take the lead, with Burakovsky (that Eller line!) with a nice snapper that beats Price top corner. That goal doesn’t happen if the Galchenyuk and his mates make a simple play gaining the Caps zone, and bother hustling back after coughing up the puck. They did neither.

– Andrighetto does a nice little pirouette do fool the ref into giving Orpik a tripping penalty. I guess we’ll take it.

– Another zippo powerplay, Galchenyuk made a brief appearance and looked … not good. I just don’t see how he’s playing at 100%. He’s almost certainly still hurt, which begs the question, why the hell is he even playing?

– Eller line is having a monster day – just dominating the Habs almost every shift they’ve had in this 2nd period,

– Okay, Caps *dominated* that 2nd period, if not for a couple of goalposts saving the day, the score could easily be 4-1 Washington. Canadiens really hurt by some very sub-standard performances, most glaringly Alex Galchenyuk, who almost appears to be hobbling around the ice. When he’s barely skating, he’s been making bad decisions with the puck. Just no idea what’s happening there (well, pretty sure he’s still playing with a not-healed knee injury, but I digress). Canadiens have no answer to the Caps top three lines, which beside their offensive abilities, have had little difficulty in snuffing out an semblance of a Montreal attack – bottling up the neutral zone, and forcing the Habs to make mostly fruitless puck dumps. Everything is pretty much set up for a very ugly 3rd period for the Canadiens.

THIRD PERIOD

– That 2nd period, woah … so much ugly. The Eller line has been fantastic, the Caps defence across the board has been excellent, the Habs defence, also across the board, has been miserable. There’s been some speculation the past couple of weeks about Marc Bergevin going “all in” for a Stanley Cup this spring, which if fine, Marc. Go for it. But if you want to win a championship, you’ll have to find employment with another team, because as this game is illustrating, the Canadiens aren’t even close to competing.

– Not sure why, but NHL refs don’t like Alex Radulov. So many borderline (or just plain wrong) calls against him this season. Radulov goes to the box for a (very) borderline hook on Ovechkin behind the Caps net.

– Backstrom, 3-1. Habs PK again a weak link, just too much traffic is being allowed in front of Price.

– Pacioretty via Radulov makes it 3-2. The Habs dare to dream of somehow making something out of this nothing game? Stay tuned.

– Alex Galchenyuk appears to have woken up in this 3rd period, thereby making the first 2 period all the more mystifying. Anyway, Habs been pushing pretty hard here past three minutes looking for the tying goal. 7 minutes left on the clock. We still have hope.

– Annnnnnnnnddddddd … cue Andrew Shaw ill-timed penalty.

– Not a good day for the referees. Sure, call Shaw for that hold, but then you can’t let the other team get away with pretty clear-cut holds and hooks and “let it go”. You set a standard, you have to live by it.

– Price pulled, Habs swarm, Holtby holds. At least unlike the Flyers game, they’re not going out with a whimper.

– Two point blank shots with less than 5 seconds left for Shea Weber, and he fans on both. Caps hold on for the victory, deserved. But still, one gets the feeling that an opportunity missed for the Canadiens to pull a game out of the fire. Are you getting a sense that must-wins are now arriving for this team? I do. Tomorrow’s game against the Oilers critical in helping this Habs team find the winning track, which somewhere along the line of getting healthy again, they’ve lost.