Regular season game #17
As the proud father of a boisterous two-year old who just got her first pair of safety scissors, I now understand what other parents feel when they see their children darting around with sharp metal objects. For the most part, it turns out ok, but it only takes one slip to cause real damage. Sound familiar?
The Habs had the Islanders on the ropes early, building a 2-0 first period lead and outshooting them eleventy billion to two. Slowly but surely, the old undisciplined Habs returned and the Isles made them pay. As the third period began with the Habs clinging to a precarious 3-2 lead, there was the distinct feeling that Carey Price was going to have to perform miracles if the Habs were going to walk away with two points. Unfortunately the one piece of Price’s game that is still missing is the nerve to refuse any more goals despite how porous the defense may be in front of him. It’s the one thing that prevents him from being truly great, though there’s not a lot he could have done about the overtime winner.
Therrien’s challenge tonight was in recognizing the struggles of his top defensive duo of Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin, who have been showing signs of slowing down for a few games now. Where containment was once Markov’s strength, he has lost the mobility that allowed him to keep elusive forwards under wraps. Emelin may bring the boom, but his effectiveness hinges on Markov managing the puck in all three zones well. When that doesn’t happen, Emelin is average. The time for Subban to take the reigns as the team’s time on ice leader is right around the corner as Markov is suffering badly at even strength.
This game was the closest we’ve seen to last year’s abominable bunch. A quick lead followed by a series of lame icings in an attempt to kill the clock…a strategy that failed last year on numerous occasions, and failed again tonight. Far be it for us to complain about a team that has earned 11 of a possible 12 points in the last four games, but the Habs have no excuse for not extending their win streak to 6 games. Once the game became tied, many Habs swallowed hard, with a sense of foreboding after having witnessed this many times. And then when Max Pacioretty blew his chance at a hat trick by firing the puck in to a prone Nabokov with an open net, you had to know that would come back to bite the Habs in the rear end, and it did.
With the tables about to turn on the Habs in terms of proportion to home and road games, this was a point that may be sorely missed. Seven of the Habs next 10 games are on the road, and while their 4-1-1 record says that this isn’t necessarily a death sentence, their last two games leave much to be desired.
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