Thursday, November 18, 2010

Brotherly love(?)

A young Andrei (left) and Sergei Kostitsyn argue over who has to play goal

Brothers fight all the time, and I should know; I'm a twin.

Growing up, my brother and I would scrap over anything. Toys. Clothes. Who got to use the cool high chair for dinner. It was inevitable; put the two of us in a room where there was only one of something, and watch the fists fly.

There's only one of something up for grabs tonight at the Bell Centre, and that's a win. There'll also be a set of brothers on the ice tonight, as little brother Sergie Kostitsyn (B-cup) comes into town for the first time with the Nashville Predators to meet older brother Andrei (D-cup). Will it degenerate into name-calling, hair-pulling, and the odd low blow at centre ice? As a brother, I could only hope...

In case you forgot what Sergei Kostitsyn looks like, here's a helpful hint on spotting him: he'll be the one cherry picking next to the blue line.

Nashville is coming off of an epic collapse against the lowly Maple Leafs, having surrendered 5 goals, including 4 on the power play (3 of those of the 5-on-3 variety) after having surged out to a 3-0 first period lead. The the Leafs scored late in the first, and the Pred's house of cards fell in on them. One wouldn't expect that the same thing would happen to them two games in a row.

The Habs look to add to their 4-game win streak, all at the expense of difficult teams: Vancouver, Boston, Carolina and Philadelphia. The last time these two teams met, Nashville horribly outplayed the Canadiens, and Carey Price was forced to make 53 saves on the way to a 2-0 loss.

Also of note, ex-Hab The Cube returns to the Bell Centre (I always had a soft spot for Frankie Bouillion) and P.K. Subban promises to not keep his mouth shut, regardless of what Mike Richards thinks.

2010-2011 Regular Season, Game 19: Nashville at Montreal

  • Good news: both Gorges and Halpern are playing. After the latter cracked his head on the ice against Philly, I was sure that he'd miss at least a game.
  • Man, I hope that Carey doesn't have to make 53 saves tonight
  • Considering the game that Rinne had against Toronto, I'd fire lots of rubber at him
  • Pucks bouncing in the crease make me nervous
  • Partway through the period, and my wife figures that this is a good time to instruct me on how to wash the filter for the vacuum
  • PK with an open-ice hip check. See? You don't have to headhunt to throw a solid, effective body check
  • Time to get some shots on goal. Just two so far...
  • The Predators are playing like the team with the 5th-most victories since the lockout
  • Welcome back, SK74. He takes the first penalty of the game, a tripping call.

An entertaining period in which both goalies had to come up big to keep the game scoreless, though Price was the busier of the two, making 16 saves to Rinne's 9. At this rate, Price would have to face 48 shots. What is is about Nashville and high shot counts? Steve Sullivan has 5 already; last game against the Habs he had 11.

  • That's what happens when you leave a man all alone in front of the net. At least the Cube got an assist. 1-0 Nashville.
  • I wonder how much Sergei put up on the board for a win over his brother. The Preds are playing like they need the money.
  • A 3-on-1 shorthanded? Ugh...
  • I'd be happy if they were to stop passing the puck into the slot to nobody. It's an automatic turnover
  • We're getting killed 16-9 on faceoffs
  • Ever get the feeling that NOTHING is going to go in for them?
  • That's the kind of night that it's been... Spackek of all people finds himself alone in the slot with a tremendous scoring chance, which he of course flubbed
  • I don't like that Bell graphic of Markov on the boards. It looks like he's getting injured all over again.
  • They're getting a lot of pucks at Renne, but no traffic in front to make it difficult for him

The Habs had three opportunities on the powerplay to tie it, including a partial 5-on-3, but weren't able to create enough traffic in front of the Nashville goal to make a difference. Shots now all equal at 21. The difference has been one missed defensive assignment in the Montreal end.

  •  Stamkos with 19 goals already! Without him that team is nothing.
  • 118 minutes since the Habs have scored on the Predators. Yikes! That doesn't bode well...
  • Habs need to press hard here without giving up tough chances. Sound two-way hockey is the key
  • Rinne's giving up some decent rebounds... just need to jump on one of them
  • Nashville has blocked a lot of shot tonight. They've made life easy for Rinne, which is the key to any goalie's success
  • They just haven't been able to get to loose pucks in the slot. Except for Spacek, of course
  • Price with the first save, Spacek misses his check and the puck is in the back of the net. 2-0 Predators.
  • A screen shot through Gorges' legs high blocker side catches Price off-guard. 3-0 Predators.
  • Ouch! Spacek does a face plant onto the dasher boards, and gets a 2-minute penalty for his trouble

Well, they got pucks past Rinne, but couldn't get any of 'em into the net. Not a great way to send crowd home. Not even one goal to cheer for! Each team ended the night with 30 shots.


Nashville doing what they did all night to the Habs: beat them to the puck. Photo: Phil Carpenter/The Gazette

A great road game by the Predators matched with a couple of defensive breakdowns and a lack of finish by the Habs was the story of this one. Missed checks in each of the last two periods directly in front of Price was the difference; the third goal, a screen shot through the legs of Gorges 11 minutes into the 3rd period had Price fooled; the puck was almost by him before he reacted.

The Predators did a great job of protecting Pikka Rinne; he had to make but a few difficult saves, and most of his work was from long range. When pucks did get by or through him, the Nashville defense did a great job of tying up sticks and bodies to deny secondary scoring chances.  

On the plus side, the Habs are still the only team to have yet given up more more than three goals in regulation time. Price continues to give the offence a chance to win every game, and responsible defense would have kept this to a one-goal game. But if you don't score, you can't win. Hopefully they got the lacklustre effort out of their system in advance of their rematch with the Leafs on Saturday night.

For the first time since their inception, Centre Hice has made adjustments to both the Mood Indicator and the Loss-Severity Indicator. Basically, the Habs got caught unawares tonight by a lower-ranked team that out-played them, so the Loss-Severity indicator gets bumped up to "Rick-Rolled"; being caught unawares by a lower-ranked team that out-played them means that the Mood Indicator drops to a solid "Facepalm". 

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