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New Habs Blog> M.R. d'Awe

May 3, 2015, 3:26 PM ET [569 Comments]
Habs Talk
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La Vie en Tri

Oh dear. It's hard to write otyad. 'But it's only five letters', you say. 'It can't be that hard to spell!'

*checks dictionary* ....T-o-d-a-y

Ok, that was easier than I thought. But don't think too much, especially about last night.

What a heartbreaker for Les Boys. They came out flying. Like, The Flying Frenchmen, and 'every kid over the boards listens for the sound'* kinda flying. From left and right, from the slot, the crease, the line, and even halfway across it, the Habs peppered Bishop. They just didn't fly high enough to get past his menacingly gigantic face. Ok, that's not fair- his face looks proportional. But I digress.
Ben Bishop was incredible. He absolutely has the Habs' number (11-1-2). He was good enough that the Habs seemed to be completely deflated after Tampa's first goal. You could see them sag. Bishop was just not letting one in last night... until he did! What??

So Patches breaks in off the wing and fires a wrister literally right at Bishop's high glove. It looked completely benign, even to Ben, but it popped out of his glove, fell to the ice and rolled over the line for the equalizer. Elation! And with under five minutes left. It was the kind of goal you couldn't even hope for. Like shades of Tommy Salo’s Olympian sized blooper of 2002. Hello to any Belorussians out there!
Somebody must have said 'shutout'. I maintain that Youppi laid the karmic smack down on Bishop. It may be that believing so means I don't understand what karma really is, but what sense does that make?
In any case, overtime ensued and the Habs ended their evening down a game. What an awesome game to watch, though. Who needs higher scoring games when skill like that is on display? Ok, well, yes, the Habs probably (definitely) need more scoring. So what did we learn, other than the obvious?

3. Therrien can adapt systems! We'll see if the counter-adaptations bear the same type of fruit. Unfortunately, his choices on power play deployment are still questionable. Sure, PK can take a two minute pp shift, because he's a stud, but IT'S NOT WORKING. Also, his line combinations, while creative, seem to miss the mark. By this I am asking 'Why hasn't he even bothered to put Galchenyuk at center, his natural position?' Personally, it’s driving me nuts. He's bigger and should be able to do better than Desharnais has so far. He couldn't do much worse!

(+) Not even the most creative system will win games when your team only scores on 2.69% of your shots, as the Habs are. Maybe we could try the psychological shutout system. That’s where you don't actually say the word 'shutout' out loud, but say it a billion times in your head while praying to get one by that goal mouth behemoth. That's a pretty neat system, but maybe a bit too unconventional. Needless to say, we won't be playing in the third round if Bishop pulls a .970+ save percentage on us, regardless of systems.

2. Tampa's power play is worse than ours. That's a little hard to believe. But its true! You'd have to think one of these teams will get it unglued here. But who, how, and when remain a mystery. Also, Bishop is 6-0 vs Price this season. If I math that up properly, that means that Price is 0-6 against Bishop. That's terrible! So Carey is tasked with going at least 4-2 against the Bishop-Backed-Bolts the rest of the way.
(+) Hmm. I don't think I'll harp on all this 'verifiable data' stuff much longer. It makes the Habs look bad. But there are exceptions. They dominated possession most of the game, and outshot Tampa. But that shooting percentage (2.69%). Ugh. Is that even sustainable? Unfortunately, over such a short span, it really is sustainable. But it's also possible to completely reverse it. Ok, fine. We threw out the systems analysis, now we'll throw out the data.

1. So what would be the best plan? Throw out line combinations and ice time management too?? Whoa, settle down, of course not. But certainly the players can't beat themselves up because of the grossly, disgusting, nasty numbers they've compiled. That kind of negativity will lose you a game before you even get to the rink. I also don't think they need more practice. All they can really do now is maintain intensity and focus.

(+) Clearly, these guys can play hockey. They've been a highly consistent club all year, in both effort and result. There have been good stats to gush over, and poor ones to forget.
What Montreal will need if they want a chance at winning this series, is to not take even one shift off. They have to keep the intensity at a maximum, and continue to drive hard. Anyone lagging, out of step, or making poor decisions, could be the catalyst for a loss. Everyone has to answer the call when they go over the boards and always be willing to turn it up another notch. Did I say Cliché? Well I’ll say it encore… cliché, boys, cliché after cliché.


MR d'Awe
*For the best hockey song ever written, and great Canadiana folk music, check out Stan Rogers' 'Flying'.
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