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Game 73: Habs/Sens

  • As all good things tend to do, our winning streak was snapped by two good dekes in a shoot-out against the Leafs on Saturday night. You’re not going to win every game, but we’re used to it damn it, and that our first defeat in 7 came at the hands of the Laffs is all the more salt in the wound. That said, we took away a loser point and with it squeezed ourselves into another log-jam tying the Sens and Flyers with 79 points after 72 games played respectively. The race truly is on now that everyone has caught up to the Habs with respect to games played, and tonight the Habs will begin the final 10 game stretch that will decide (essentially) whether Montreal plays Pittsburgh, New Jersey, or Buffalo in the first round of the playoffs.

    Earlier last week I asked the question, but I’ll repeat it here:  Who do you want?

    Personally I would prefer the Habs to begin the playoffs on a winning streak. Who they play when they get there is less important. If they can pull of a winning record over their final 10 games I’ll be very confident regardless of their opponent. The team we saw over the course of our last 9 games is a team that can compete with any in the league in a 7 game series. I think they match up well against the Devils and Sabres, although I’m not so sure about the Penguins.

    The first step begins tonight against the Sens. Win and we leap frog over them for 5th. Lose and we remain in 7th. The Senators have been incredibly erratic of late. Their 11 game winning streak before the Olympics has been nullified by their 5 game losing streak since. We’re catching them at a low point, but as we’ve seen before, a team facing dark times can be a dangerous opponent. The Habs need to come out early and really try to fire shots, something they struggled to do in the third period against the Leafs. The best way to get on teams with goaltending issues is to fire shots, and let the law of averages kick in. If its good enough for the 50+ shot Red Wings (what a last second goal against Vancouver), then its good enough for us.

    Big time game tonight. You thought you were frustrated with Kovy as a Hab? He’s currently riding a 9 game pointless streak. You know he wants to end that vs his old squad. Get those feet moving early and get pucks on the net – those are my keys. If we fall in love with our passes we’ll kill all of our own powerplays, and struggle to generate offense.

    Go Habs Go!!!!

  1. #1 Mats Naslund says:
    March 23, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Huge bummer last night in a game Montreal “needed” to win. Needed gets the rabbit ears because they didn’t really, but their position has suffered as a result of the loss. The likelihood of moving into 5th place has suffered, but most important and alarmingly there is cause for concern for the hearing of the players and coaches as the deafening thud of those jumping back off of the bandwagon rings through Montreal after consecutive losses to Ontario opponents. Montreal came up lame in two winnable games against weakened opponents, comforted only by the fact that Toronto is suddenly doing this to all opponents, and Ottawa is as capable of 10 game winning streaks as they are 5 game losing streaks. Regardless, with little more than a handful of games remaining Montreal has tough work ahead of them.

    Paramount among our issues would be figuring out how to put the puck in the net on the powerplay. Our success as a team this year has often stemmed from our ability to score with the man advantage. If Montreal scores on the powerplay in the past two games, who knows whether they pick up wins. One thing is for certain, when our powerplay lacks movement and pressure, we have a very difficult time creating offense in 5 on 5 situations. When that happens we spend a lot of time pressing which leads to defensive breakdowns.

    The injection of MAB and Cammy back into the lineup couldn’t come soon enough. Montreal desperately needs two guys who can shoot the puck from the point and side wall. As we have all noted, our PP unit looses all of its dynamic effectiveness when guys are simply passing back and forth. Our best PP opportunity last night came as desperation was setting in, which resulted in shots, and most importantly traffic in front of the net which forced Elliot to move from side to side in his crease which is often the catalyst to easy goals.

    Speaking of goalies, Jaro had a decent night in net. A tip on the first and all kinds of traffic on the second was all that Ottawa needed. It was talked about last night, but you have to wonder when Carey Price will get his next start and whether Jacques Martin waited too long to go back to Carey. Again, Jaro had little to do with the Habs losing last night. In fact he made some spectacular stops to keep the Sens at bay, but it has been a long time since we talked about Jaro stealing a game for the Canadiens which for most is enough of a reason to switch it up in nets.

    Other than goals last night, the stats sheet was relatively even. Shots were 29-27 MON; Hits were 17-14 OTT; we had 6 giveaways and 7 takeaways to their 3 and 3 which was a function of them playing with a lead; faceoffs ended at 30-29 MON. All in all it was a frustrating game to watch because it was in reach for until midway through the third. Neither team was particularly efficient in any zone, although credit must be given to Ottawa’s penalty killers who forced Montreal to move the full length of the ice to gain PP possession, and kept most of Montreal’s chances to the outside.

    Next up for Montreal is Buffalo at HSBC. Who knows what team will show up there. Carey committed absolute highway robbery there in the second game of this season, keeping the Sabres at bay for a circus goal by Brian Gionta in OT. It will be interesting to see if Martin notices he’s stopped with the “win-and-your-in” and puts Carey in net for that game. Its a tough call this time of year – as they all are.

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