Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Game 46: Canadiens 3, Stars 2

Watching the Canadiens 3-2 win against the Stars on RDS' condensed "Canadiens Express", having been blacked out by the new fan-friendly TV contract that gives the insipid Sportsnet and TVA a 12-year monopoly (thank you Gary Bettman), I didn't get a sense that the Canadiens were dominated to that degree, until the third period, where the edited segments had Pierre Houde and Marc Denis marveling at Carey Price's performance.  Until then, I felt the game was more evenly pitched, with both sides failing to convert on many opportunities.

I posted as much on HockeyInsideOut.com after the game against the Predators:
One of the advantages of being forced to watch the Habs on RDS’ “Canadiens Express” is that you miss out on a lot of the little things, like the flow of the game. The only sense I got, while watching this condensed version of the broadcast, that the Canadiens were struggling against the Preds were the occasional mentions by Pierre Houde about the shot count.
“Mon cher Marc, les Prédateurs ont un net avantage au chapitre des tirs au but, car ils ont maintenant 18 tirs contre seulement 4 pour les Canadiens!”
“Ben alors, c’est maintenant 22 à 4 pour les Prédateurs.”
“Marc, les Canadiens n’ont pas dirigé une rondelle qui a forcé Carter Hutton à faire un arrêt depuis le milieu de la première période, et tirent de l’arrière 26 à 4 dans la rubrique ‘tirs au but’…”
So for the obliviousness and reduced stress level this provides me, I have to thank Gary Bettman. I do feel better served as a fan by this new TV contract. Now with Moar Kypreos!

One thought I had during the game was that Kari Lehtonen looked weak enough that maybe we had a chance to trade them Dustin Tokarski and steal a Brett Ritchie or Jamie Oleksiak in return.  That goal by Alexei Emelin was unforgivable.  He should be tending goal in the ECHL.  Or for the Oilers.

Lots of talk in the post-game press conference about Michel Therrien’s decision to send out Manny Malhotra to take the faceoff in his zone with 2.7 seconds left in the first period, but not a second centre in case he got tossed, which he did. The coach explained that he wanted to have Manny to have a good chance to win the draw, and Michaël Bournival and Brendan Gallagher, since they’re quick and gutsy enough to block shots if he lost it.

Also, he explained that Brendan takes a lot of faceoffs on his strong side, so there was that fallback option if Manny got tossed, which he did. But Gally lost the draw clean, Jamie Benn got a clean shot off and beat a screened Carey Price.

Earlier this season, when questioned on his faceoff prowess, Manny spoke about how it’s not just a physical contest, there’s a lot of mental gamesmanship, lots of strategy involved. He explained that in some situations, he’s not so much trying to win a faceoff, but rather ensure that he doesn’t lose it cleanly, he’s trying to mess it up more than win it.

On that period-ending faceoff, that’s what Brendan should have been doing, instead of trying to win the puck and put it harmlessly in the corner and waiting for the horn to sound, he could/should have tied up Tyler Séguin and his stick and muddled the play and prevented that clean pass backwards.

It’s not a slight at Brendan, just an observation, and a situation where a young winger was beaten where a grizzled vet of a centre would have done the job.

We talked about Gabriel Dumont a little bit over the All-Star break, he just got called up from the Bulldogs.  I wonder if they’ll try him at centre on the fourth line and sit Manny, or send down Christian Thomas.

Big win, over a team we need to beat at home, we need to bank these points when playing games at home against this season's also-rans.  We'd like the wins to be a little more convincing, a little more decisive, but if you're going to trip over your own member, it might as well be so as to cause you to fall ass-backwards into a win and two points.

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