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» 2013 » February

  • Game 12: Habs/Bolts

    The roller-coaster that is an NHL season is fully upon us. We’ve had highs: A win against Ottawa last Sunday brought the Habs record to 6-2, challenging for top spot in the North East Division. Starting with a game the Montreal could have won against the leaders at that time, The Boston Bruins, we also started feeling the lows. A loss that Wednesday was the first of three consecutive which have changed the mood of the season drastically.

    It turns out that when you don’t score 4 goals a game and on every powerplay, the holes in your game are magnified. Who knew.

    Still, the Habs are neither as good nor as bad as the cruel lady called momentum would have you believe. The 6-0 loss to the Maple Leafs was one of the most thorough beatings the Habs have taken in decades. The fact that it happened against the Leafs certainly made it worse optically.

    But if I told you at the outset of the season that the Habs would be 6-4-1 11 games in, and sitting in 7th place ahead of the Rangers, Flyers, Capitals, and Sabres – would any of you have complained? I would have been pleased as anything for that. And so I choose to remain that way.

    The team for their part are trying new tactics to shake themselves free of the memory of that huge loss to the Leafs. Coach Thierrein has re-jiggged the forward lines sending Max Pacioretty to a line with Galchenyuk and Gallagher, and Brandon Prust to the wing with Desharnais and Cole. It will be interesting to see how the ultra-talented Pacioretty will complement the kids. Certainly he represents an upgrade offensively over Prust – though you can just about forget about seeing that line starting in the defensive end.

    Tampa is in a dog-fight for the South East division lead – meaning that unless they win the division, they will probably miss the playoffs as the South East continues to be the saddest division in the sport. Still, the always seem to find another level against the Canadiens given the Montreal ties for so many in that organization.

    Puck drops at 7:30 ish. If they haven’t given up a goal by 7:31 consider it an upgrade over last game.

    Go Habs Go!

    ~Mats

  • Game 11: Habs/Leafs

    I didn’t actually get to watch all of Thursday’s game against the Sabres. I did get back to the house in time to catch the end of the third period. Ryan White had already taken a penalty to allow the Sabres back into the game – so I won’t comment too much on that, but I did tune in with enough time to see the curious ending to what never should have ended in a Canadiens loss.

    I say that for many reasons. Buffalo had no business being able to send that game to overtime.

    Blame Montreal for starters. Its incredible to me that a guy (Ryan White) who had been benched for two games for taking dumb penalties that have already cost the Canadiens a game, could take another costly penalty with the game on the line. Forget any of the circumstances surrounding the situation – the third period is the time to play your smartest game. White didn’t – and frankly, I’d be surprised to see him play a game any time soon.Blame them also for not simply taking a penalty in order to clear the crease on the game tying goal with 2 seconds left. There is no reason to waive at the puck with your stick. There is no time left on the clock – take your man out! Josh Gorges was the only guy trying to do that. What would it matter if you take a penalty at that point!?

    Secondarily, I should give Buffalo credit for not giving up on a game that they could have easily let slip away. The tenacity that Vanek (what a year he’s having) and Ott showed in particular on the game-tying goal is exactly what you want to see from a team that needs points desperately if they want a shot at the post-season.

    But most importantly – blame the moronic referees who have given Montreal the league’s most goaltender interference penalties – while missing one against them at the most critical juncture of the game. If you didn’t catch the game, I’ve attached the link to the goal here.  The replay shows two players, Steve Ott and Tomas Vanek both interfere with the goalie on the play. Granted there was a loose puck and many bodies clouding the view of the officials, but given how the rule has been applied throughout the league this season – airing on the side of the goaltender, there is simply no way to see this call as consistent. I’m not alone in this assertion.

    Kerry Fraser wrote about this play in his “C’Mon Ref” blog over at TSN. He agrees that the puck was only loose to begin with because Budaj was interfered with by Ott when he crashed the net. At 1:03 in the video linked above, Fraser notes:

    As the Referee was appropriately repositioning himself below the goal line and behind the net Steve Ott backed into Peter Budaj knocking the Habs goalie off the puck and pushing him into the net. The once frozen puck was now exposed and available for Thomas Vanek to get his stick on and push over the line with Referee Peel now in a position behind the net to signal the goal.

    The blown call allowed the game to be sent eventually to a shootout which the Habs subsequently lost – awarding 2 points to the team who benefited from a referee’s mistake and only 1 point to a team 2 seconds away from a victory. You can say that its karma, that Montreal benefited from a call against Ottawa – but my point is ultimately this – why can’t they get it right? If you can review the goal to make sure it went in off of a stick – why in the world can’t you check to see if it was legal all together? Why shouldn’t the booth be able to review all goals scored when there is a goalie interference call? Ottawa got screwed royally on this call. If you’re going to review it anyway – why not actually get the call right? It bothers me that points in a shortened season should be decided by blown calls that by every measure could have been caught at the time by using the tools that are already available to the officiating crew.

    I hope that going forward we don’t see too many more of these types of situations. The Habs have a big game tonight against the Leafs – and are going to be fairly desperate to be able to get back in the win column after a couple of stinging losses during the week.

    Go Habs Go!!

    ~Mats