Sunday, January 13, 2008

They might as well have not shown up...

Henrik Lundqvist came up big on 18 of 19 shots Saturday night. *Above photo taken from (AP Photo/ Frank Franklin II) courtesy espn.com.

For a team who pointed in 7 straight games, the Canadiens sure looked like a team in the basement of the Eastern conference.

And for a team who dropped 5 in a row, the Rangers completely blew away the competition.

The Habs came out and started the game flat footed immediately. Unfortunately, that effort didn't change throughout the game. They were outshot each period, with the breakdown going like this: 13-6, 15-8, and 13-5. That is flat-out disappointing, even though you're in MSG, where the Rangers are statistically sound on defence.

However, it is fair to note that as poorly as the Habs played last night, the Rangers played in the exact opposite of fashion.

The Rangers were all over the Habs, physically dominating, creating beautiful plays, and finishing off chances. Despite handing the Habs 2 separate 5-on-3 situations, the Habs couldn't capitalize. They were actually having loads of trouble even GAINING THE ZONE on parts of their 5-on-3 rushes.

Andrei Markov's turnover led to the first goal, as Hossa and Drury combined on give and go passing, allowing Drury to skate in and manoeuvre brilliantly in front of Huet, beating him easily and sliding the puck home along the ice at 3:17 of the first.

Later in the first, the Habs players on the ice were just as useful as New York's Statue of Liberty, as all 5 skaters stood around watching Jagr stickhandle between them and then dish off to Straka who one-timed a wrist shot passed Huet.

Petr Prucha converted an absolutely gorgeous set up provided to him by Nigel Dawes. Dawes was heading back towards the blueline when he decided to spin around and whip a beautiful cross ice pass directly onto Prucha's stick, who was standing atop the crease for the easy tip-in (which he unnecessarily put TOP CORNER for added thrill/beauty) passed Huet.

Finally, New York's 4th consecutive goal came with :22 to go in the 2nd, as Dawes skated in from the side-boards on a poor scoring angle and fooled Huet 5-hole. Sure, that one shouldn't have gone in, but in my opinion, one bad goal allowed by a goalie is fine, whereas 4 bad goals allowed by a lazy group of forwards & defsnsemen is a huge cause for concern.

Halak started the 3rd, and paved the way for a minor comeback, as the Kostitsyn's combined on the powerplay to get the Habs on the board. Andrei, standing near the boards, waited for Sergei to streak in back door, and sent a beautiful tape to tape pass directly onto Sergei's stick for the tip-in.

Bryan Smolinski was visible to me last night in many ways, all of them bad. He was the centerpiece of Straka's goal, in which Jagr froze 5 Habs, particularly Smolinski. He was used for 1:42 on the powerplay (1:42 I consider to be wasted) as he failed to set up anyone, shoot a decent shot, or hold the zone properly. He won 4 faceoffs, while losing 7, going 36%. And, he was a -1, which on a night like last night wound up being one of his better stats.

The team is off until Tuesday, where they will head to Long Island for a date with the Islanders. I expect Jaroslav Halak to see a start in goal Tuesday, as he was able to stop all 13 shots he faced in relief of Huet. I will also GUARANTEE Tom Kostopolous to be back in the lineup to face the Isles. I would expect Smolinski to be the healthy scratch.

2 comments:

sasabainga said...

BILO SAID...

I woke up this morning feeling like some one cross checked me into the boards... I looked at myself in the mirror and noticed I have what some would call "the playoff beard"... I started thinking what happened last night after leaving the strip club... why do I feel like this?? Suddenly, flashbacks started resurfacing... I saw a stat of 11-3 shots in the 1st period ... Finally it hit me! The Habs got their asses handed to them... The Rangers did to us what WE did to Boston just a couple of nights ago... they body checked us... they had great passing... they were bringing the puck up nicely...they had solid goaltending...they just wanted it that much more then the Habs... Now.. I'm not the type of fan that likes to judge the Habs on a per second basis like 99.9% of the Quebecois population.. but it really is starting to mind buggle me.. how can we play such a phenomenal game against Boston... but then get hammered so badly last night... I noticed Carbonneau pulled Huet as if it was his fault... I think he played an ok game but he had nooooo defense in front of him... so punish the team .. not the goalie... and PLEASE bring back Price and Chipchura... some of our best future talent...... Anyway this site is cool man... you're doing a great job... i'll be dropping lines from time to time... BILO from the pool

January 13, 2008 10:17 AM

sasabainga said...

Bilo...

We all felt like we were cross checked last night, because it was down-right MEAN of the Habs to put on such a fan-pleasing performance in Boston, only to put on such a fan-irritating effort against the Blueshirts.

Consistency is going to be the key to the Habs playoff drive. For us to make the post-season, we're going to need 3 key things to remain consistent:

1) The offensive output of Kovalev, Plekanec and Kostitsyn.

2) The solid goaltending we have had thus far for the better part of the season.

3) The structurally sound play on the back end from our defensemen (foremost) and backchecking forwards.

Obviously, last night, all of those were missing. That's what will happen regularly when all of those are missing, and it could happen often enough if even 1 of those keys are missing. The Habs will need to bring their A-game every night, as they naturally should as NHL players, so there basically shouldn't be any excuses for what we were forced to watch last night.

The Rangers did want it much more than the Habs, as you said, as they were in search of their first win in 2008, and 1st in 6 contests.

I would have pulled Huet too, A) to rest him up for some key games down the stretch (carbo clearly knew that this game was out of reach from the get-go, so why needlessly tire our #1?) and B) to get Halak some much deserved playing time (I will always say it...he got us to that final game against the Leafs last year, and should have played in it!) Not to mention, prior to his call up to Montreal this week, Halak was the AHL player of the week.

Thanks for the inupt Bilo! I hope to hear more from you consistently here... and luckily for you, Heatley is out 4-6 weeks, so i won't catch you in the pool! I KNOW YOU WERE SCARED!! Lol..