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» 2013 » February

  • Game 10: Habs/Sabres

    I wrote yesterday that I didn’t really feel like the season was in full-swing because of a few different reasons: the Habs great start, the feeling of a sample size too small to analyze, etc. With Montreal’s loss to the Bruins last night, I’m ready to announce that I take it back. In a way last night felt like an extension of last season.

    It felt eerily similar to watch the Habs dominate a period and have nothing to show for it. It felt very familiar to see them blow the game in four minutes to start the 3rd period. It felt exceptionally familiar to see the Bruins shut a 1 goal lead down to walk away from a game they could have easily lost with 2 points.

    Make no mistake, I think that this season’s team showed that they are a different club than the lifeless pile of crud we watched last year. The loss was disappointing mainly because the game was so winnable for the Canadiens. I counted at least 4 “open-net” opportunities where pucks dribbled by the goal line. There were a few break-aways, and odd man rushes that could have changed the game. Though the exact same could be said for the Bruins.

    The powerplay that had been the Habs best feature in the first 8 games, struggled monumentally (despite a goal from Subban), to gain entry to Boston’s zone and to manufacture sustained pressure. Frankly, I credit the Bruins and their very solid penalty kill. Starting in the 2nd period, as soon as a Canadiens player touched the puck he was swarmed by the Bruin’s defensive pressure. This led to turnovers and rushed passes by the Canadiens. I thought Raphael Diaz and Alexi Emelin in particular struggled in this regard.

    Still, there was nothing to be all that upset about following Montreal’s loss. As I noted, they could just as easily won that game had bounces gone their way. I don’t want to read into one loss too far, especially since the team will have another opportunity to collect points tonight against the Sabres.

    Speaking of tonight, isn’t it crazy that this will only be Montreal’s 3rd game away from the Bell Centre in 10 games so far this season?Its not something that I have written about here so far, but luckily the Habs have taken advantage of their home ice so far. In a short season, the ability to start at home is a boost, but it also means that Montreal will face some stiff competition on the road as the games get “more important”. Including tonight 6 of the next 11 and 12 of the next 20 games will be road games. We’ll see how the team can adjust once they need to start playing on the road, and the coach can’t optimize lines to keep the kid line away from tough defenders.

    Go Habs Go!!

    ~Mats

  • Game 9: Habs/Bruins

    I don’t know whether it is because of the lockout, or because the Habs have started off so well, but I still don’t feel like the season is really in full swing yet. Am I waiting for the other shoe to drop? Am I waiting for the season to get to 20 games (as I normally do) to make a judgement? That may have worked in past seasons, but having played 8 games the Canadiens are actually already 1/6th of the way through the regular season! The team’s hot start has them sitting in a playoff position and currently only a point back of the Bruins and Senators for top spot in the North East Division. It doesn’t feel real yet.

    If there is anything in the world that could help me to feel “Game ON!” about this season, it would have to be a visit from the Canadiens’ top rival, the Boston Bruins. No matter how crazy the games get, I can’t help but love playing the Bruins. There is nothing like a game against your worst enemy to bring a playoff atmosphere to an early season game. Without overstating the importance of a single game, this will certainly have the atmosphere of the Canadiens’ most important game to date.

    The Bruins are also off to a great start to the young season, sitting atop the division with a 6-1-1 record and 13 points. As always, they ice a tough team this year with a balanced scoring attack. Tuukka Rask has been solid in 7 games, posting a 5-1-1 record to go along with a 2.10 GAA, and a .919 Sv%. Montreal is going to need to continue to generate lots of shots on net to have a chance in this game and will need to skate hard in the offensive zone to draw penalties in order to generate powerplay chances. The Bruins made the trip to Montreal without Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille, who are both currently recovering from injury. They did get good news that Brad Marchand will be in the lineup, after he injured his shoulder on Saturday against the Leafs.

    Here’s to a rivalry game to really get the blood going on this season.

    Go Habs Go!!

    ~Mats