Rabid Habs

The Recap: Game 57 – Blues vs Habs

GameRecaps

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

St. Louis 4, Montreal 2

FIRST PERIOD

– Pacioretty is doing warm-ups, which is a pretty good indicator he’ll play tonight (although he could withdrawal even minutes before gametime, if he’s too sick to play. If Max goes, then Habs will have the same lineup as they did Thursday, with the same healthy scratches.

– Pacioretty is officially good to play tonight. Out go Desharnais and Flynn.

– Habs pay tribute to a man who had billions of dollars and then got taxpayers of a bankrupt city to hand him over hundreds of millions more for his own arena. Good job guys. Good job.

– Habs start out strong, and then Montoya goes and falls down as Pietrbngelo takes a simple wrist shot from the top of the circle. 1-0.

Played at its highest levels, goaltending is pure grace and beauty, physical poetry, the very form of agility, flexibility, and balance.

– Blues getting good looks at Montoya, and more pucks on goal. Blues doing much better job breaking up any semblance of an attack in their zone, Habs defence again playing their usual passive selves.

– Not sure if this has anything to do with Mike Yeo, but the Blues look far more prepped tonight, even though they’ve had 4 games in the past 6 months. They’re freewheeling in the Canadiens zone early in this period.

– Habs first PK survives without surrendering a goal (or shot), but St. Louis spent most of it with excellent command of the puck in the Montreal zone. That’s a worrying sign for future Blues man advantages.

– Canadiens looked good for about the first 2 minutes of this game. Then Montoya fell down, and it’s been pretty dreadful since. Can’t fathom that the Habs are so mentally fragile that they’d break over a fluke play like that, but they’ve gone into hiding.

– Masterful job by the Blues defence tying up bodies and stripping pucks from Habs forwards. Canadiens can’t muster shots on net.

– Weber with a cannon beats Allen clean as a whistle, Pacioretty adds to his point total, but the whole play started after Radulov gave Pietrangelo a crunching hit, generating a deep zone turnover, and seconds later, the Weber goal. Radulov is ridiculously good at just about everything, including bodychecks.

– That Radulov game seemed to change the dynamics of this game, giving Habs a definite boost. Otherwise, the period was pretty much the Blues on both ends of the ice, the Habs are going to have to match St. Louis’ close checking ethic from this point forward if they hope to compete. Also wouldn’t hurt to crash a few more bodies in and around Allen, who looked suspiciously weak-ish on that Weber goal.

SECOND PERIOD

– McCarron gets into a tussle with the marginal Edmundson, which isn’t going to help him get a full-time NHL job. I sense McCarron is growing frustrated with his performance and ice-time during this latest call-up, which is a shame since the door has never been this wide open for him. With Gallagher returning, David Desharnais basically is the odd-man out of the Habs lineup, which means that all McCarron has to prove is value over Brian Fynn, which isn’t relatively speaking, a huge obstacle.

– Fast transition starting with Allen forwarding the puck all the way to the Habs blue line while the Canadiens were on a change opens the door, Perron with a snapshot that beats Montoya clean between the legs, while Makov and Pateryn are caught flat-footed. 2-1 Blues.

– I had hoped the Canadiens play this period with a bit more checking ferocity, but they seem more mindful of doing puck dumps either out of their zone, or into St. Louis’s. Hard to fathom this being a winning approach, already we’re seeing it pay off, in the Blues’ favour.

– Brilliant shift by Beaulieu, and Radulov again doing incredibly hard work generating puck turnovers in the opposing zone, and I think maybe Pacioretty scored with Beaulieu the assist. In any case, great shift by a Habs defender who’s not had the year he, and those who follow this team, had hoped for. But he’s having a tremendous game tonight.

– Radulov, we’ve already said, but bears repeating, does it all – but what he’s really good at is winning battles, and churning out positive turnovers. Two of them tonight have led directly to both Habs goals. When will that damn extension contract be finalized?

– Torrey Mitchell really struggling tonight – there’s another regular who might be feeling the heat in short order once Gallagher returns and lineup spots become precious. Assuming McCarron sticks, only one of Mitchell, Brian Flynn or David Desharnais can play.

– Pucks haven’t been going in much lately for Artturi Lehkonen, but it’s not because he’s playing soft or poorly. Mainly puck luck, or lack thereof.

– Killer late period goal for Berglund, Pateryn and Markov again playing some overwhelmed defence, not aided much by zone wandering by (zoom!) Andrew Shaw, and the Blues exit the period up 3-2.

– Shame that late goal, totally preventable if the Habs keep their legs moving, but some (*cough*) were coasting around their own zone, waiting for the clock to drain out. Habs really needed to go to the 3rd tied ono the board against a better playing opponent. Matters are significantly more difficult trailing, as the Blues can now play their game of disciplined zone checking, a huge advantage.

THIRD PERIOD

– Habs haven’t been bad tonight, quite good actually. But breakdowns in their own zone have helped lead to each of the Blues’ three goals tonight, Pateryn and Markov pairing really struggling. 57% CF even strength. Not bad.

– Can’t fault the Habs effort so far, but again, as they have so many times this season, the offence is gaining the zone well enough, but they aren’t convert many gains into quality shot attempts from good spots. Too many dart shots from long distances, little chance of actual goals being scored.

– Danault line it goes without saying, Habs best tonight, especially creating scoring chances. Radulov doing the gritty work, Pacioretty getting his body into the right spots.

– Mid period powerplay, lots of shot attempts from Weber and Markov, with Lehtora apparently with a death wish putting his body directly in front of the attempts, but that’s about it. Not much Habs traffic in front of Allen, perhaps in fear of getting hit by that Weber shot. Begs the question, what’s the point of setting things up that way??

– Blues are stacking the line, Habs barely able to enter the zone. Time is running out.

– 3 minutes left, Habs with little choice now but to roll all the dice and pinch like crazy, as the Blues are doing an excellent trap. The only semblance of offence is coming when Radulov hits the ice. Otherwise, the Canadiens have been totally contained from generating any kind of quality shots on Allen the further this period has progressed.

– Habs going out with a whimper here.

– Pretty lame attempt tonight. One line showed up. Not gonna be nearly enough to do it.

– Habs just unable to solve the Blues in that 3rd period, who even with just a one goal margin most of the frame, didn’t appear to be in any real danger of losing. The NHL today has few margins for error, and tonight, the Habs were undone by early mistakes in their own zone, and after that, they simply couldn’t recover. The late 2nd period goal, a direct result from certainly Habs forwards being far too casual in their own zone, stuck the killer blow. A disappointing loss, and another reminder that this Habs team struggles against opponents who are at least above average. This does not bode well for the playoffs, assuming they get there, of course.

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