Saturday, November 13, 2010

Protective eyewear... check

The Man.

I still miss Saku Koivu.

Captain of the Habs for nine of his thirteen years in the CH (not counting that little lockout thingy) he bled for the Habs. Literally. When I think of Saku, I think of triumph over tragedy, including his return from having kicked cancer's ass, and the night of April 26, 2006. That was the night that Justin Williams of the Carolina Hurricanes attempted to remove Koivu's left eye without an anesthetic. The most obvious high stick in NHL history wasn't called, Saku spent the rest of the playoffs in the hospital with a detached retina, and the Hurricanes went on to win the Stanley Cup. And I've never forgiven them for it.

Tonight, the 8-8-0 Hurricanes again visit the Habs. The Molson Bell Centre has been kind to the 'Canes since the lockout: 8-0-2 isn't shabby regardless of how you slice it with the business end of a hockey stick. 

All indications lead to this being a tight game. The Canadiens sit 23rd in the league in goal scoring, while the Hurricanes are 23rd in goals against. Carolina is 5-2-0 after suffering a loss, and they were absolutely pummeled to the tune of 8 goals in their last game against the Flyers. They've been licking their wounds and will be looking for retribution. However, The Habs are a perfect 7-0-0 when playing after one day off. On Thursday the Habs played a fantastic road game in knocking off the Bruins, and earlier in the week a 2-0 shutout of the Canucks. 

Carey Price has been hot, with a 0.50 goals against average and a .986 save% over the last couple of games. Carolina goaltending over the last four games has posted a SV% of just .857. Both teams are healthy, with no injuries to report.

2010-2011 Regular Season, Game 17: Carolina at Montreal

NOTE: I've either got to start leaving work earlier, or invent some sort of teleporting system. Once again I've missed the first period. Just switched on the game at the siren to find that Plekanec and Cammalleri have scored. The Hurricanes lead in shots 15-10, so I'm guessing that Price has had to be sharp in the period. Just checked the stats page to see that Montreal has dominated the faceoff circle, 16-5.

  • They've got to start the second period killing a penalty. Saw the replays of the goals; sweet passing!
  • Not sure who the referee is, but that's one cheesy Mo-vember moustache
  • Cam Ward fell pretty easily there to draw the goalie interference penalty against Lapierre
  • Habs need to release their shots a little quicker. Too many telegraphed and getting blocked
  • Man, those 'Canes fall easily. Cammy nailed for a featherweight cross-check behind the net
  • Aaaaand... Hurricanes tic-tac-toe on their 5th powerplay. 2-1 Habs. Cammy has words for the ref on the way out of the box
  • Damn. Kostopolous with a quick one from the slot. Did he pick a corner like that when we was with the Habs? Some weak coverage there by Georges. 2-2.
  • Habs have had some shots this period, but they all meet to be from a distance and easily seen. And as I type that Gionta works a nice give-and-go in close an snaps one just inside the near post. 3-2 Habs!
  • Lapierre breaks in alone, almost over skates the net, recoups with a spin-a-rama in front of Ward, and beats him along the ice. 4-2 Habs! Ward pulled, Peters in
  • Free wings! Peters down an out on the powerplay, Spacek from behind the net finds alone in front, open net. 5-2 Habs!

The Habs came out pretty light in that period, and couple that with a two moments of indiscipline (one penalty, one missed coverage in the slot) and they found themselves back on their heels and in a tie game. But credit them for being opportunistic and not sitting back in a defensive shell, replying with three unanswered goals. Shots that period were 16 for Montreal (26) and 7 for Carolina (27).

  • 'Canes look like they're going to forecheck their little hearts out this period. Habs are going to have to play some disciplined defense, and that doesn't mean sitting back on their heels
  • Both teams have had a couple of chances in close
  • So far the Habs have dominated the faceoffs 32-17
  • Not many whistles. Quick period to this point
  • Price just made the best outlet pass of the night
  • Holy SH*T!!! If that Price save isn't the highlight of the night...
  • Uh-oh... Markov down in the corner. His knee again? At least he was putting a little weight on it as he came off the ice
  • 4 minutes left in the game, and all I care about is that Markov, ain't hurt bad
  • Game out of hand, not here comes the chintzy stuff. Habs with a 5-on-3 powerplay for 2 minutes
  • And there we go! Pleks to Kostitsyn in the slot, PPG, 6-2 Habs!
  • Did I just see a replay? Gomez from behind the net to Darche in the slot, another PPG. 7-2 Habs!
  • Hurricanes have how given up 15 goals in their last two games

Lots of rough stuff towards the end of the period, as to be expected in a blow out. Lapierre and Kostopolous get misconducts a various other penalties which led to a Montreal 2-man advantage on the powerplay... and the Habs promptly potted 2. Shots in the 3rd were 8 for Carolina (30 and 7 for Montreal (33)... seemed like both sides had more.


Cammy and Moen help Pleks celebrate his first period goal. Photo courtesy John Kenney/The Gazette

Save for the first 10 minutes of the 2nd period, the Habs dominated against the Hurricanes, ending off a tremendous three-win week in which tough teams Vancouver and Boston were also victims. Tomas Plekanec had another tremendous game with a goal and three assists. Brian Gionta had a goal and and assist, and after a slow start the captain has now scored in three straight. And how about that goalie? Carey Price ends the week going 3-for 3 with a GAA of 1.00 and a SV% of .970. And consider this: both goals against tonight were completely doe to a couple of boneheaded Hab plays; one poor penalty and one defensive breakdown in the slot. If those don't happen, Price numbers for the week would have been 3 wins (2 shutouts) a GAA of .333 and a SV% of .990. Awesome.

Sharing the love, Cammalleri, Gionta, Gomez, Kostitsyn and Spacek all ended the night with 2 points. Gorges, Hamrlik, Moen and Pouliot all chipped in with a point. Only two Habs--Gill and Georges--didn't register a shot on goal. Additionally, the Habs didn't have to do a lot of excessive puck-chasing tonight. They won 38 of 64 faceoffs, which translated into a high amount of time with the puck in their possession.

There's only one concern from tonight, and that's with the health of Andre Markov. He went down awkwardly on a knee after leg-on-leg contact with the 'Canes captain Eric Stall. The good news: Markov was putting some, if not a lot of weight in the leg as he left the ice. Hopefully it turns out to be nothing to serious; it would be devastating to again have him out of the lineup for any length of time. If that's the expectation, then we may have to move the Centre Hice Mood Indicator down to a Code Orange.

Geez... is it too late to get O'Byrne back, just in case?

Next week the home stand continues with games against the Flyers, Predators and Maple Leafs.

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