For our new readers and members, the Top Six Minutes is a continuation of the discussion in the game thread. We try to keep it light and entertaining. Full recaps are up the morning after every game.
Last night's shootout victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning was either a rejuvenating, hard fought victory long overdue for our heroes, or a reflection of the team's lowered bar for success. If you subscribe to a belief in turning points, you may have viewed it as the Habs' most important game of the season. If you don't, well, I hope you're looking forward to this one.
Tonight the Habs face the Florida Panthers, the team that boasts the league's most interesting player in Jaromir Jagr, and the team that shares first in the Atlantic with les Habitants. Let's turn that turning point into the beginning of a streak, shall we?
- Jaromir Jagr. Has there been a player whose popularity has swung so wildly over the course of his career? We've seen him go from beloved young phenom to lazy European to the toast of the league in the last few decades.
- Those Florida Panthers jerseys remind you of anything?
- There are only two professions that allow you to regularly employ the word "paraphernalia," One is hockey announcer, and the word is used whenever the puck falls into the equipment. The other gig is the commanding officer of a drug bust.
- Ben Scrivens absolutely robs Jaromir Jagr. Carey Price can stay hurt! We're fine! Ha ha ha!
- Scrivens has had to face some intense scrambles early in this game, and has been aggressive in facing shooters. I've always found him to be a personable human and an adequate goalie, and I'm hoping he can be a stabilizing presence for the Habs. Word is he's good in the room.
- PK is going to score tonight.
- Patches! PK can have his goal later - Max Pacioretty takes a pass from Subban in the slot, takes a step to his forehand, and rifles a PPG past Roberto Luongo. 1-0 good guys.
- Florida's transition game is as fast as Montreal's, but the major difference here is how quickly they get shots off. It's making for a trial by fire for Scrivens, who has ten stops through fifteen minutes, and Montreal has to get to those contested pucks more efficiently to prevent chances.
- Eller takes a holding penalty, and Aleksander Barkov fires a one timer past Scrivens as the PP time expires. Jagr provides a screen. 1-1.
- I don't know much about Florida's middling centre Derek MacKenzie, but I will tell you that he is significantly impacting my opinion of his team. Putting your shoulder into the jaw of PK Subban on a questionable hit is simply no way to better your reputation with Habs fans.
- PK drops the gloves but nothing materializes, thank Gord. He grapples with MacKenzie before sensibly going to ground, because if he got hurt, I just wouldn't get out of bed tomorrow.
- The period ends. Scrivens looks good. The game is quick, and it's in Montreal's best interests not to keep it at this pace and physicality against a big and strong Florida team.
- Jaromir Jagr, mullet in tow, dangles his way to Scrivens and roofs it past him. It's 2-1 Panthers and it's hard to be mad about it, because Jagr gonna Jagr and I'm ok with that.
- Physicists will forever marvel at how that Trocheck shot stayed out after hitting Scrivens' shoulder, popping straight up in the air, and dropping behind him.
- The Habs are being thoroughly outplayed, to the point that any notion of last nights' game being a wake up call can be thrown out. This game will serve a better lesson: consistency and hard work are going to be required to win. It's not enough to play well and hope for the best. The killer instinct has to be apparent.
- Jeff Petry flips it over the glass for two minutes. Dammit, Jeff.
- The Habs kill it off, but it says a lot about how this game is going that the special teams play doesn't look especially different from the 5-on-5.
- A big battle in analytic circles is the idea of comparing the eye test to statistical analysis. I encourage you all to employ the smell test tonight. This game stinks.
- I wrote a few days ago about where the Habs are being tripped up, and tonight the issues with deployment are coming to the fore. The Desharnais line is getting run over for the second consecutive night - to the tune of a 0% Corsi through two periods - and DD has more ice time than Galchenyuk.
- Can Ben Scrivens score? We might need him to.
- Right now, the Habs are not playing with fire. They are coasting; but I don't want a team that is going to coast into the Winter Classic. I want a team that is going to storm the opposition and rip the game from their wanting hands. There's no consistent, visible drive to score outside of the Galchenyuk line.
- The teams trade penalties for a bit of 4-on-4, and it's the Panthers capitalizing as Barkov showcases his silky mitts to put one past a helpless Scrivens.
- Bergevin made the case for his coach earlier this week, and it's naive to think he doesn't hear fans and pundits calling for MT's head. Does Therrien feel secure, I wonder? Does anybody not named Carey Price?
- Down about the losing streak? Just remember, Simple Plan is playing the Winter Classic! We'll pretend that it's 2002, the outdoor game is still a novelty, and that this season is a wildly successful surprise for the Habs.
- Finally the game ends.
Another night, another frustrating loss for the Canadiens. The team will have a few days to think things over before facing the Bruins in the Winter Classic, but man, something has got to give here. It's not bad luck anymore.
It's bad hockey.
EOTP 3 Stars