The first period was a thing to behold. Coming off a seven day break, the EOTP community had been discussing whether we would see a different iteration of the Canadiens than we've been seeing in recent games. The first period surely gave us all hope that this was the case.
The Canadiens went in utter domination mode for the entire first period. I was all over extra skater last night, and I can tell you that they were over 60% Corsi and Fenwick that period. The powerplay sucked on a level that I can't even begin to describe, but the even strength product was absolutely phenomenal. The Habs dominated the flow of play, and outside of the abysmal special teams play, they looked like the Habs that I expect to see night in and night out. They had several excellent scoring chances, but the gargantuan Ben Bishop stood tall and kept the score even going into the second. It is noteworthy that the Lightning took over ten minutes to register a single shot on Carey Price. The Habs were as good defensively as they were at the other end of the ice.
And so we moved on to the second frame with the Habs dominating. I already mentioned the excellent fancy stats that the Habs were boasting heading into the second frame, and I expected more of the same in the second. For the first little part of the period, I got what I expected for the most part. Just over five minutes into the period, Tomas Plekanec took a Brian Gionta feed in the Tampa zone, and one-handed a goal past the aforementioned behemoth Ben Bishop. Alex Killorn was all over Plekanec on the play, and the ref had his arm up for what I can only assume was a holding penalty, but Pleks is a boss. I figured it was smooth sailing at this point, and even had one of my patented Liam Neeson memes ready to warn dummies not to use the word shutout.
Martin St. Louis made sure I wouldn't need to use the meme, capitalizing on a turnover to wrist one past Price and tie the game. The turnover was essentially Lars Eller failing to retrieve a routine zone exit pass from P.K. Subban, leading to good transitional play from the Bolts. I'm willing to give Eller a pass on this because he's awesome in general, and video evidence has me believing that the puck was fluttering somewhat. Nonetheless, we headed to the third period with a deadlock at one goal apiece.
The third period was somewhat ho-hum if you ask this blogger. The chances were pretty much even on both sides, with the Bolts holding a slight edge overall in my eyes. The Bolts heavily outshot the Habs by a mark of 14-6, a stark contrast to the shot advantage enjoyed by the CH in the previous two periods. It was all for nothing, because Carey Price was his usual self, and made damn sure that the Lightning didn't put the puck past the goal line. At period's end I prayed that the David Desharnais from the Nashville game would come and save us all.
Overtime it is. I personally hate it. Outside of DD's herocs against the Preds, I generally hate the extra frame on an ongoing basis. Scoring chances were somewhat limited, and shots were recorded as one for Tampa, and zero for the Habs. Towards the end of the frame, the Habs generated some good pressure, but couldn't generate a legitimate scoring chance. On to the tirs de barrage. Shootout for you uni-lingual people.
Lars Eller led things off for the Habs with a sweet dangle to beat the wall that is Ben Bishop. Carey Price was his usual self, and shut the door for the good guys, giving them the shootout win. Price stopped all three Tampa shooters without blinking to secure the victory for the CH. I've been one to give Price high praise ever since his World Junior win. I've never stopped, and my opinion of his play right now is of the utmost regard.
Price was his usual brilliant self all night. How Steve Yzerman could start anyone other than him in Sochi is so far beyond me I'd require a rocket ship to get there. In fact, I don't see how he could start anyone else even if this game never happened. Price has rounded into a form that we can all be proud of, and one that makes Pierre McGuire look like a complete idiot for criticizing his selection during the 2005 draft. This is the best tendy we've seen since Patrick Roy, and he is carrying the team. He's going to Sochi, he'll be starting, and you can take that to the bank.
I'm not sure how I feel overall about last night's win. They won, which is great. On the other hand, I noted some pretty clear lapses that concern me greatly. Extra Skater has the Habs at 48.1% Corsi and 51.9% Fenwick. Take of that what you will, but I'm inclined to call it even overall. That said, on seven days rest and going up against a club missing it's best player, it's not as good as I'd like to see. Price was exactly what I expect, but the rest could be better.
I shouldn't complain, because we won. But, I'm an insatiable fan who always wants the best of my team. This was fine, but it's not their best. I'm hoping to see a better outing tonight, against the Florida Panthers, than the one put forth against the Lightning last night. I'm not saying it was bad, I'm just saying it could be better.
We'll see tonight if the Habs can put forth a more convincing effort against the other Florida team. Go Habs Go.
- Habs prospects scoring statistics at the 2014 World Juniors
- Top Six Minutes: Eat it, Bishop
- World Juniors 2014 Game Recap: Czech Republic upsets Canada 5-4 in a shootout
- On the possibility of a Francis Bouillon - Douglas Murray defensive pairing
- Complete coverage of the Habs' shootout win over the Lightning
- Canadiens at Lightning: Game Preview
- World Juniors 2014 Game Thread: Canada vs Czech Republic
- World Juniors 2014 Game Thread: United States vs Slovakia / Sweden vs Finland
- Friday Habs Links - Collberg, Lehkonen & de la Rose