Rabid Habs

The Recap – Game 81: Bolts vs. Habs

GameRecaps

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

Tampa Bay 4, Montreal 2

FIRST PERIOD

– Still think it’s insane to put your franchise goaltender, the guy for whom you have absolutely zero chances of playoff success without his presence, in goal to face a team that’s desperate for a win.

– Tampa as expected, crashing Price and the Habs’ crease right off the bat. Nesterov, likely in anticipation, gets called for levelling a pretty intense crosscheck in front of his net.

– Tampa 6 shots, Habs 0. Price is clearly “playoff ready.” Can we please not have him play?

– Complex blue line juggling tonight. Julien will likely try to scale back Nesterov and Lernout’s playing time, but instead of simply pairing those two weakest links together, he’s attempting to spread the pain. So Lernout is with Beaulieu and Nesterov with Markov. When he’s rooting them out, Petry and Beaulieu are getting the occasional shifts, even though those two continue to struggle to find the same page together. It’s a concerning issue because if Emelin is gone for an extended period of time, then it’s likely those two will comprise the Habs 2nd defensive line.

– Danault line plenty of legs representing Habs best line this period, Plekanec line seems to have cooled off a little from their torrid play last week.

– Brett Lernout, the emergency callup, gets burned as he wanders over to his partner’s side of the ice (Beaulieu) during a Tampa rush, which opens the door for Kucherov and eventually Gourde to make it 1-0 Tampa. In fairness to Lernout, he’s been tossed into a pretty deep end of the pool. These mistakes are to be expected.

– Tampa isn’t messing around. They desperately want the two points tonight and they’re absolutely taking it to their opponent. Don’t see how the Habs stop this.

– More Habs defensive woes, as a long bomb flip pass is picked up by Kucherov, as Nesterov forgets to drop back to cover the zone, and beats Price blocker side with 9 seconds left. It’s Kucherov’s 40th of the year. Might just be the prettiest amongst his bunch.

– 20 meaningless minutes in the books, again, unless something dramatic occurs, Tampa isn’t going to be denied tonight. Habs lineup might be thin (in particular the backend), but that’s almost beside the point. The Lightning’s forecheck has been relentless, which has helped them generate neutral zone turnovers, providing them plenty of zone entry speed that the less Habs defenders simply can’t react to. Gonna be a long night for the Habs. We’ll gladly take the loss as long as nobody gets injured.

SECOND PERIOD

– Scoring chances where 11-6 Tampa in that 1st period. I think it’s about right to say the Bolts were at least twice as good as their opponent:

– Beaulieu’s CF just 16.7% in that first period, which in fairness, reflects that he’s been Lernout’s assigned partner tonight. Lernout was … uhhm … not good.

– Lernout, bless his heart, said during an intermission interview that he hopes to get a full-time spot with the Habs next season. We wish Brett the absolute best of luck, but I’m hard pressed to see that scenario unfold.

– Tampa’s 3rd defensive line Coburn and Sustr with some pretty sloppy zone passing and positioning. Julien needs to match Danault line against them for all it’s worth.

– Habs pussyfoot around on their first powerplay. Seeing a lot of guys going through the motion out there. To be expected, I suppose. Still, most coaches would not call this an acceptable effort, even with nothing to play for.

– Dwight King accomplishes what many thought impossible by scoring an actual NHL goal, cherry picking behind some dozing Tampa defenders (guess who?? Coburn and Sustr!!) and beating Vasilevskiy 5-hole to make it 2-1. Still don’t see the Habs finding their way fully back into this game. Eventually Tampa’s offence will find a way of exploiting the Habs razor thin defence.

– Did Tampa think this game was in the bag after that 1st period? They’re getting soundly outplayed both ends of the ice this period. Bizarre turnabout in this game.

– Well, I guess this goes back to my previous point, even though outplayed in the period, Tampa wasn’t about to let this thing escape their grasp – simply because the Habs defence is just too thin. Davidson with a brutal turnover to Killorn, who beats Price under the bar to make it 3-1.

– Habs seemed to have some good momentum going leading up to and after the King goal, but when Killorn scored, the air just went completely out of the tire. One more period to just play though the motions – Tampa is going to win this game with relative ease, that much we know. Plekanec took a vicious crosscheck to his back at the end of that period – so again, priority is to just play it safe, avoid unnecessary contact, stay healthy, be ready for next Wednesday night.

THIRD PERIOD

– Habs with 59.3% CF through 40 minutes, but Tampa with better scoring chance totals (16-15), high danger chances 8-5 overall:

– Heat map shows how even though they’ve had less of the puck, Tampa has generated more high dangers chances, again reflecting some less-than-stellar Habs defensive play tonight:

– Lehkonen with a fluke goal, backhander hits Hedman and somehow finds its way into the net to make it 3-2. Still don’t see Habs getting back into this.

– Yup. There it is. Literally seconds later another bad defensive breakdown, this time it’s Beaulieu making a bad decision chasing the puck away from his area of responsibility, leaving Lernout out to dry, and Gourde totally unmarked for his 2nd goal of the game.  4-2 Tampa. They’re not gonna lose this – no way, no how.

– Habs powerplay tonight might be concerning to the casual viewer, but most of the issues have been with (again) the backend. Beaulieu has really struggled, no Weber. It’s a shadow of its normal stuff with one guy fighting the puck and the other out of the lineup.

– Radulov can’t buy goals lately. Something’s gotta give there, hopefully by next week. Also, the lack of point production the past 6 weeks is going to eat significantly into his contract demands this spring.

– Habs with a week’s worth of bad defensive mistakes in tonight’s game. It’s amazing how things can become so bad with 2 regulars taken out of a 19 man lineup.

– Ah, poor Alex Radulov. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

– Kudos to Tampa for playing another solid must-win game tonight. If they somehow squeeze themselves into the playoffs, I can’t see how they won’t be spent for the 1st round of the playoffs. Sorry Leafs fans, but your team is going to have to earn its own way into the post season. Anyway, Habs sorrily undermanned at the blue line tonight, and it translated into numerous mistakes that led directly to all of Tampa’s goals tonight. One more regular season game to endure, I’m assuming with the same defence, which means it’s likely more of the same inept play. Again, all of this doesn’t really matter as long as the regulars return next week, and the rest of the lineup stays away from injury.

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