Opener Goes To Tampa

Hockey puck crossing red goal line. Close view

A game of thrills and spills, of hit posts and pucks near goal lines, of guys skating like the wind and bumping and creating fine chances  in a tough, hard-fought affair. All in all, a fine game one.

Except the Canadiens lost 2-1 in overtime to the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning.

It’s a heartbreaker but not disheartening, because Montreal, for the most part, looked just fine, and there’s no reason not to think that the series is for the taking.

For me, one of the better games the Habs have played all season, aside from the fact that most of the guys seem to have forgotten how to score.

My advice, from a guy who was a smallish-yet-shifty right winger for Orillia’s Byers Bulldozers midgets? Shoot the puck at the net. And sometimes ring one off Bishop’s face mask for good measure, like what happened tonight. More of that would be good.

I also liked seeing the game go into the second overtime period. The Lightning had just come off a hard-fought seven-game series against Detroit that ended just two days prior, and fatigue should begin to show as things wear on. Especially when these two teams play back-to-back games in Tampa next week.

If the Canadiens are in tip top condition, which they should be, they’ll soon wear these buggers down. I remain completely confident about the outcome of this series. But a few of the scorers need to score of course. Is it asking too much?

It took until the third period before the lamp was finally lit, when a tip from a point shot eluded Carey Price. That was it. A one-goal game. And the way Lightning backstopper Ben Bishop was holding the fort, odds were that not a single puck would find its way behind him.

Some of Bishop’s magic was pure luck though, as in the case of Tomas Plekanec while killing a penalty, having a wide-open net, and  what looked to be a spectacular save by Bishop. But I’m saying the puck was shot right into the goalie’s glove.

Patrick Roy would’ve raised his catching glove high into the air in dramatic fashion on a save like that, like he’d pulled off something just short of the greatest save ever made. In reality, if the glove is positioned properly, often pucks will zoom in and people will ooh and aah, even though the goalie was basically full of shit.

With just 5:13 remaining in that frame, Max Pacioretty, who looks 100% after recovery from his head-into-boards incident back on April 5th against the Panthers, sped in and sent a wrist shot that Bishop gloved and then let drop, with the momentum of the puck crossing  the line, and suddenly the game was tied.

A glorious moment for Habs fans from Powell River to Pacaraima. Playoffs baby!

Tied until 2:06 of the second overtime period. And then, just like that, it was over.

Looking good, though. Sunday night the boys even the series!  I’m pretty sure about this.

Random Notes:

Habs outshot the Lightning 44-35 and won 55 faceoffs to Tampa’s 34. They also went 0 for 3 on the power play. Can you imagine the day when Montreal might go 3 for 3 or 4 for 4 on the power play? The thought scrambles my remaining brain cells.

Although Tampa was 0 for 4 on their man-advantages, so both teams sucked equally in this regard.

Alex Galchenyuk took three penalties, played a semi-par game for the most part, but also came close to ending things with 40 seconds left in the first overtime frame. But he didn’t.

Dale Weise also came close to being the hero, in the second OT period, just before Nikita Kucherov sank the dagger.






24 thoughts on “Opener Goes To Tampa”

  1. Damn that was close. I hope the doudle-overtime lose doesn’t delayed our Habs. . How many times did that puck almost go in? It’s been our curse all season. I liked the way we played. More of that, please.

  2. We put in a good game against Tampa. Bleary-eyed with sleep, I thought for sure Weise had scored haha 🙂 alas it was not to be
    Go get ’em on Sunday !

  3. Not to sound like a poor sport but the 2nd OT goal was scored when Tampa entered our zone offside. I’ll be fair though the 1st OT non-goal was a gift to the Habs. Lets get them Sunday!

  4. Sure was, Marjo. I liked the way they played too, and it’s a great sign. We haven’t seen them like this often, mostly it’s been the Carey Price Show. It’s just the lack of scoring that’s not great – guys like Plekanec and Galchenyuk for sure need to contribute more. Galchenyuk had a rough game and maybe, if he’s a proud guy, it’ll fire him up.

  5. Weise was almost the hero again, Travis. It would’ve been a beautiful moment. Now it’s on to Sunday to see if they can play as well as they did in game one, only with more scoring, and of course a win. Definitely a win. We don’t need them going down two games. But I’m confident.

  6. Mike, I woke up this morning to see the offside all over the internet, but that’s fine. I didn’t realize it last night. At least it’ll shut up Habs haters about calls that go our way. The bottom line is, one measly goal from our guys, and it was a lucky one. They need to get more from different guys. I hate this drought.

  7. Well we almost got that ever important first blood as they say…but not to be. Our Habs desperately need someone to kind of step up and light the lamp on a regular basis. While very difficult to find I am certain MB will be looking. Too bad Chucky hasn’t lived up to the expectations most had for him….he really looks like he has a confidence issue.

  8. Hi Cliff. Maybe it is a confidence issue with Chucky. He seems to do two thirds of things in fine fashion but ends up giving the puck away, making the wrong play etc. I don’t know. We’ve been waiting for him to blossom into a superstar and although he’s still young, other big stars often showed much more at their early stages, and all I can say is, maybe next year he’ll break through. We keep waiting. The team’s lack of scoring is really starting to get old. I’m tired of this. And I expected much more from Plekanec this post season. Maybe on Sunday we’ll be much happier campers, although I think they played really well in game one. Just not scoring.

  9. Wish there was something else for P.K. to do rather then get set up for a slap shot—– getting boring,predictable and quite useless. And it mostly rebounds back to our end—– now THAT’s sustained pressure on offence. Coach Thornbush sure have de ‘magination of——–just shut up Peter!

  10. The Habs played well but they had to swallow the same bitter-tasting medicine they’ve been giving to the other teams all season long: Getting beaten by a good goalie. The Habs have to find some cracks in Big Ben’s wall and soon.

  11. Very predictable, Peter. PK should be absolutely dominate on the power play and he’s not. Only here and there. And often during the PP they look confused in the neutral zone. I think it’s a combination of coaches and players for this ridiculous situation. We’re not asking for the best PP, just a normal one.

  12. For sure, Danno. They have trouble scoring at the best of times, but when they run into a really good goalie, they’re in big trouble. I keep hoping the next game will change things. Been hoping this way all season. Next game, next game…..

  13. I ditto your reply Dennis.

    This series is going to be a goaltenders’ duel and Carey Price will prevail in the end.

  14. I have to say this site has a certain feel of calmness to it. I read the posts and it’s like a discussion between people who think and act maturely. I like it.

    Dennis to your thoughts on Chucky he probably will at some point reach close to what we had hoped for…he is young and the system he plays MT’s is defence first it looks like and that must put many restraints on him considering how he played in junior. He just seems to try stck handling in high risk situations…once in awhile he pulls off this flashy play and we get excited and then more likely he doesn’t next try….and the next….confidence shaken for sure. You kind of feel sorry for him because if you look real close he is not happy with failure and crazy excited when he produces. So let’s hope he solves his issues.

  15. Thanks Cliff. This site has always received a nice amount of traffic, but never a lot of comments. I don’t know why. Maybe when I talk about goings-on from years gone by they’re not all that interested, there’s not really much to comment about for them regarding certain things, and they find a site that’s mostly current Habs and nothing else and it’s a better fit. I’m not sure. There’s a lot of Habs sites to choose from. Been doing it for almost 8 years though, although I miss the odd day now which I never did before. One thing’s for sure, the folks who do comment are all smart and friendly and they’ve been a delight all the way through. Of course from time to time someone new will come on and treat it like it’s a forum for trolling or nastiness, but I’m able to block them if I so choose. But it rarely happens. I think you nailed it about Chucky. He has restraints on right now and doesn’t play the way he once did. I’m hoping Therrien’s methods will make the kid a great one but it’s hard to know exactly. But I think he’ll be a beauty soon and I remain patient, although we need some production from him right now. Maybe a big game from him tonight.

  16. Dennis….hope you continue to discuss/post events and happenings from the not so recent past…that’ s what drew me to this site. It may be an age thing perhaps seeing those powerful Habs teams from the 70’s for example….leaves one realizing that it will never happen again with the salary cap era now ruling the day. However w e have a respectable team now and just maybe one more big centre we could make it interesting for the big boys…again great site.

  17. Thanks Cliff. What a feeling it is to have a good and respectable team now, after so many seasons of mediocrity, with names like Gomez, Kostitsyn etc. The team this year could go far, but only if it’s all hands on deck. Technically we have four good lines, but not everyone shows up on the same night. We need veryone contributing. And the odd power play goal. But if key guys remain in slumps, we’re screwed. And oh yes, a big centreman with great hands and a bit of a mean streak would be perfect. Maybe one of those young studs in Edmonton could be pried loose.

  18. Habs are doing very well considering the mess that is their top 2 lines. I remember Lafleur making a comment about 5 years ago that the Habs were a bunch of 4th liners being scrambled about before every game. It was hyperbole but I understood the frustration. We need a center with size and talent. But we’ve needed that since Bobby Smith came over in a trade. The Habs will plateau at their present level if they don’t find two more legit top 6 forwards and another puck moving Dman if they can’t afford Petry in the offseason. How they do that will be either make the blockbuster trade that decimates you of prospects or you get incredibly lucky in the draft. Something has to happen though..I like our present team but it’s not a true contender. And no..I don’t expect them to get by TB..not with this PP and this popgun offense. But I’ll be hoping…lol

  19. It’s too bad Bournival and de la Rose don’t seem to have the great hands, because they seem to have pretty well everything else. I think you’re right, Rob, that the team could plateau without a couple more tweaks. And I hope they do everything possible to keep Petry, who’s added a nice dimension to the blueline. I like to think they are a true contender, but only if all the guys are going, which hasn’t been the case. I think they can get by Tampa, mostly because of Price, but with lots of guys stalled in neutral they won’t go further than that. But I keep hoping and expecting that things will happen in miraculous fashion, like in 2010 when they got by the much stronger Pens and Caps. I truly believe in MB, and they have to find a way to keep Petry for starters.

  20. Unfortunately, I think the only way to keep Petry is to lose Emelin and/or Markov.

  21. Dennis: I prefer your optimism..hope you are correct. We need someone to impersonate Cammalleri during that terrific playoff run. I thought Galchenyuk would blossom this year but for a variety of reasons (position change from C to W and back again etc, MTherrien’s adherence to defense before all) that hasn’t happened. He looks like a man who has lost a little confidence. He is KEY to our hopes.
    Christopher: I would lose both if it came down to that scenario. Markov is very near the end and these playoffs have shown us that. HE is making errors he never did in the past. First it’s the speed, then it’s the reflexes and all is takes is a split second off your timing at that NHL level to turn you from a great to a has been. Emelin would be hard to take..he’s one of the few who brings that physical side consistently. But I feel Petry is that good and we are unlikely to find another like him in the near future. Unless Nate develops…still have high hopes for him etc. But we need the vet now during Price’s and Subban’s prime. WEll,,should be a heck of a game. Nice chatting with you people.

  22. The trouble will be finding takers for either of them. Emelin makes way too much money for his few big hits, I can’t imagine there being many takers. Markov makes even crazier money, but at least he generates scoring. I wouldn’t be surprised that there would be more interest in him, but he has a no trade clause this year and a limited one next.

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