Sunday, February 14, 2016

Buffalo Gives Priceless Montreal A Reality Check

Date: 13/02/2016
Opponent: Buffalo
Location: Buffalo
Loss: 6-4

Habs Goalie: Scrivens (L)
Opposition Goalie: Johnson (W)

Habs goalscorers: Andrighetto (2), Galchenyuk (2)
Opposition goalscorers: Legwand, Kane (2), Gorges, Foligno (2)

Pre Game

Three wins in a row and Habs fans are cautiously wondering if maybe the worst stretch of hockey in the history of the most storied hockey club on the planet is finally over.  On top of that we're still all wondering about Carey Price. We don't know if he's skating pain free or not.  He's not in equipment taking pucks yet.  From the day he is in equipment taking pucks, how long then until he's in game shape?  It probably won't be instant.  An MCL that takes this long to heal probably needs surgery (if that's what this injury is).  No one really knows outside of the Canadiens' hierarchy but I'm getting a bad taste in my mouth.  If he needs surgery get it done so that next season isn't effected as well. We'd all love him back, but there are few Canadiens fans left that believe this season isn't a wash out.  If we are ever to win a Stanley Cup we'll need Carey Price at 100%.  Who wants to risk him hurting himself forcing himself back this season?  Who wants him out any length of time next season?  I'd feel better if the Canadiens came out tomorrow and stated, once and for all, that Carey was going to be shut down this season.  The sooner he gets surgery on that MCL, that must be badly torn to be taking this long to rehab, the sooner he'll be ready for next season.

The Canadiens are built to win a Stanley Cup now, and by that I mean our best players, Price, Subban, Pacioretty, Gallagher, are entering their prime.  Obviously we nee more pieces but that's a solid core.  Add that to the fact that Markov's days are numbered and we should probably be aiming for sooner rather than later.  What has Bergevin added to the mix?  TSN did up a list of the top 50 NHL affiliated prospects.  We have 1 prospect on that list... and #34.  Artturi Lehkonen currently playing for Frolunda of the SHL.  The St. John's IceCaps are currently 1 point out of a playoff spot but the team they're chasing currently has 2 games in hand.  That's not a team with a wealth of talent to feed into the Canadiens for the coming years.  With the prospect situation as it is, it is this crop of NHLers we must lay our hops on to break this 23 year drought.  Marc has to be more active to make this team a contender and sooner rather than later as this is not a franchise that has a promising tomorrow.


The plays of the game that helped sway things in our favour, even if they didn't stay that way.

Hard Luck/Hab of the Night

The Hab of the night is Sven Andrighetto.  2 goals, one a dandy shot and one a great heads up play to catch the goaltender out of his net.  Not to mention that his addition to the line with Desharnais and Pacioretty finally woke that line up.  Honorable mention goes to Alex Galchenyuk but Sven didn't cough up the puck for a breakaway then took a hooking penalty which led to the penalty shot goal that stood as the game winner.


We'll give Markov the nod for not one, but two great cross ice passes for Galchenyuk goals.  Both passes sold the Sabers on shots.  Both passes were on the mark and exactly where they needed to be for Chucky to wire them on net.

On his second goal, Sven Andrighetto did well to anticipate where Buffalo goaltender, Chad Johnson would be forced to play the puck.  After intercepting the pass, he hesitated just long enough for a sprawling defenceman to slide out of the way before potting the puck into the net.


The Montreal Canadiens needed to win this game, they needed to continue to win and keep the sliver of a window for a playoff birth open.  All you can do is shake your head at some of the bad "puck luck" this team continues to have.  In particular tonight, Scrivens falling down, a shot from the side boards off of Marcus Foligno's pants, Pacioretty hitting the post, and the linesman stopping the puck so that Subban couldn't play it, leading to Kane's empty netter.  Tonight, for the most part, the breaks were against us.


Again we got the first goal and what a dinger.  When Max Pacioretty flipped the puck into the high slot for Sven Andrighetto racing toward goal, he couldn't have envisioned the Howitzer Sven would let go.  I still don't know where it went and neither does Johnson.  All I know is I heard the ding of post and saw the scoreboard notch one for the good guys.

Post Game

The Good News is Montreal's offence has woken up and looks like it can remain so consistently.  In the last 4 games we've scored 4 or more 3 times.  We look to have the beginnings of a legitimate first line with Gallagher/Plekanec/Galchenyuk.  It looks like tonight our second line has emerged.  With the addition of Andrighetto to the line with Pacioretty and Desharnais do we finally have two scoring lines?  You just knew, that with all the line juggling Therrien has done this year that he'd eventually find something that worked, right? 

The Bad News we're back to subaverage goaltending and terrible puck possession in our own end.  You can't let in 3 goals a game in this league and expect to win.  So what do we do?  Let in 6?  Bad luck on 3 maybe but Markov coughed up the puck for one and Galchenyuk did the same which began a series of events that led to the winning goal.  You don't win games like that.  Without Price back to cover for mistakes like that we're not a playoff team.  From the day Price puts on the equipment he's 2 weeks from playing.  Price is done.  The season is done.  Management knows it.  They're just not telling us.

I think we can consider us sellers.  So who's gone?  Dale Weise is a UFA and right off the bat that makes him a target for us to get rid of instead of attempting to resign.  Despite his play lately, he's a solid playoff performer.  He's a great pickup for a team planning on going deep into the playoffs.  He's also well liked in the dressing room.  A team that picks him up is getting a solid third line depth player who thrives in playoff hockey.  Perhaps a change of scenery will remind one of my favourite players that he's not a scorer and help him get back to the kind of game he is most effective at.

I'd like for Paul Byron to resign.  He's been dynamite on the penalty kill and his speed is something else and really fits in well with how Montreal tries to play.  I'm not sure what you could get for Fleischmann.  Maybe he just doesn't fit well with Montreal's style.  I think for a depth defenseman like Tom Gilbert, again, for a team planning on a long playoff run you need guys like this who can fill in for injuries, we might get something for him.  Draft picks would be nice to replenish our minor/prospect ranks.  All in all, with no Price, we didn't think we were going to win out the rest of the season.  We are still 5 points behind the Penguins for the final wildcard spot and the Penguins still have 2 games in hand, but now there are three teams to leapfrog (New Jersey, Carolina, Philadelphia) in order to get there.  I don't like how management keeps the fans in limbo about Price and our playoff intentions, but, like true fans, we soldier on.


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