Rabid Habs

The Recap: Game 65 – Preds vs Habs

GameRecaps

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

Montreal 2, Nashville 1

FIRST PERIOD

– Dwight King will get his first Habs start tonight on the 4th line next to Mike McCarron and Torrey Mitchell. He’ll be wearing Chris Higgins’ old number 21. Jordie Benn gets another start, he’ll play next to Beaulieu on the 3rd line.

– Subban hits the Bell Centre ice for the first time for warm ups. I’ll never get used to seeing him in this (or any other) uniform. Sigh.

– Subban in tears after the video tribute and huge cheer from the crowd. What a sight to behold. You know he desperately wishes he was still in Montreal. The best of the Habs faithful feel the same way.

– It was pretty clear early on that Nikita Nesterov wasn’t a beneficial acquisition. Same can’t be said about Jordie Benn – really solid defending his zone, positionally very sound and smart.

– 6’4″ King and 6’6″ Mike McCarron. Imagine for a moment those two chasing you for the puck. Terrifying.

– Preds have a nice balanced attack, they do a very good job finding open space to carry the zone – it’s generated a couple of nice scoring chances for them early.

– The Habs PK is vastly improved since Julien’s arrival. What hasn’t improved is this team’s zone entries on the powerplay. Still disorganized, mostly futile.

– Good shift by Plekanec line with 5 minutes left in the period, pushing two to forecheck reaps immediate turnovers and one dangerous shot on goal. Since the Preds are containing the Habs entries, an aggressive forecheck might be Montreal’s best option to generate some offence.

– Lehkonen handles the puck with plenty of calm demeanour – plays such a smart game, and doesn’t get nearly enough acknowledgement. Having very solid first period tonight.

– Ellis and the Preds show the Habs how a powerplay is supposed to work, with Subban the primary assist to make it 1-0. Habs burned again by a bad Andrew Shaw penalty.

– Not a good period for the Habs – the Preds targeting the Danault line effectively, with neither the Galchenyuk or Plekanec lines doing much to pick up the slack. Montreal seemed to get going when they played an aggressive forecheck, but that strategy wasn’t deployed often during the period. Anyway, Nashville obviously the more organized and energized club – might be a long night ahead for the home team.

SECOND PERIOD

– Not a good first period for the Habs, CF under 40%, the Danault line was pretty much drubbed by the Preds:

– Habs 2nd powerplay, at least they gained the zone, but seemed focused on trying to deflect point shots. Always find it odd they don’t go with what’ works – setting up Galchenyuk for one timers, but instead, the unit is trying to grind out goals.

– While Danault and especially Gallagher continue to look utterly lost, Galchenyuk gets better and better. By far best Habs forward in this 2nd period.

– Nashville keeping Habs on their heels in the Canadiens zone, really intensifying their forecheck when Petry/Emelin take the ice. The Preds have obviously done their preparation homework, and it’s paying off.

– Ellis, who scored the game’s first (and so far, only) goal, locks up his knee, and is likely done for the night. That’s not exactly someone you can easily replace in the middle of a hockey game.

– Beaulieu with a terrible giveaway in his own zone springs the Preds with a close in 3-on-1, but Jordie Benn makes a tremendous poke check to break up the scoring chance. Two defensemen whose quality of play are going in entirely different directions.

– Philip Danault, maybe this top 6 stuff is just too much over his head. Was excellent as bottom 6 forward, was promoted only via necessity from the rash of injuries that hit the Canadiens for two months, and since then, almost zero point production.

– Habs maybe trying too hard? Just not making passes, even the short, simple kind. Kind of mystifying given how well they were passing just 48 hours ago.

– Fisher with a clear as day CFB on Emelin right in front of the damn official that isn’t called. Emelin injured. What a total disgrace this League’s officiating is, especially protecting players from very dangerous hits.

– Watson with delay of game as period ends, so Habs will have a 1:38 powerplay with clean sheet to start the 3rd.

– 2nd period not a whole lot better than the first, very few scoring chances generated, mainly because the passing has been so incompetent tonight. So hard to figure this team out – they looked so good two nights ago, and then they lay an egg.

THIRD PERIOD

– Habs two not-very-good periods of hockey. Nashville solid and steady, but largely untested mainly because the Canadiens have been their own worst enemy today, badly constructed rushes, and passing that at times, has been wildly off the mark. Two period SA CF (5v5), just 43.5%:

– Yeah, this is pretty great:

– While we’ve brought up Price, time to acknowledge his brilliance tonight. Without him, this game would long be over. With him, the Habs still might even win this game, even though they’ve been utterly incompetent with the puck.

– Preds just suffocating the Habs to death – Canadiens can’t get the puck to the middle of the ice if their lives depended on it. Right now their chances of winning, or even just scoring a goal, are slim to nill if they’re unable unwrap themselves from this blanket.

– Greasy, and we’ll take it. Gallagher slam dunks a wraparound to tie the game. How long in coming was that for Galley?

– Hoo boy, Plekanec nailed just moments later for a stupid slash. And the Preds go right to the powerplay.

– Another good kill by the Habs PK, Price continuing to play excellent netminding, very square to the shot attempts, he looks very much like his MVP self. Very calm, efficient and effective.

– Galchenyuk clearly high-sticked near centre ice, another blown call by the officiating duo Steve Kozari and much less experience Jean Hebert. They’re missing things NHL officials ought never miss.

– Kind of remarkable how much better Weber looks with Markov as his partner. Felt like every shift with Emelin, Weber was just struggling to contain his partner’s mistakes. With Markov, Weber is visibly more relaxed and has been very good guarding opposition rushes.

– 3 minutes left, both teams appear to be settling in to bring this to a tie, which all things considered, with be a significant accomplishment for the overmatched Habs.

– Byron!!!! Nashville gets greedy with seconds on the clock, Josi makes a foolish pinch just as Byron bats the puck up the boards, and with that speed, was uncatchable. Only 8 seconds on the clock, the Canadiens have managed to pull another game out of the fire.

– While it’s great to see Gallagher and Byron, both of whom have scored practically nothing since the start of the calendar year, both hit the scoresheet, the indisputable difference maker tonight was Carey Price, who made a number of spectacular saves in both the 2nd and 3rd period to keep his team at worst, just one goal down. If not for Price, the Habs had little to no chance of getting a point tonight, never mind two. Carey Price unquestionably is returning back to his MVP form at just the right time of the season.

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