Blog Entry

Habs get back to basics in Game 2 win

Posted on: May 2, 2010 5:01 pm
By Erin Brown

The defense that was largely absent during the Montreal Canadiens' conference semifinal opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins is back.

Jaroslav Halak stopped 38 shots, and his teammates blocked 15 more in the Habs' 3-1 win over the Penguins Sunday afternoon.

Even more impressive is the fact the Canadiens shut down NHL leading scorer Sidney Crosby . A 51-goal scorer during the regular season, Crosby was held to just one shot on net and finished with a team-worst minus-2 rating.

The Penguins captain showed his frustration late in the game after being rubbed off the puck by Canadiens defenseman Hal Gill . Crosby turned around and swung his stick at one of the Montreal goal posts, breaking it in two.

"He's the best player in the world, everybody knows that," Montreal's rookie defenseman P.K. Subban said. "When I am out there against him, I just try to pay attention to where he's at. I've got a lot of respect for him, and so does everyone else in the hockey world.

In addition to keeping one of the league's best in check, the Canadiens got discipline and penalty killing back on track. Montreal did a good job avoiding the penalty box -- they were whistled just three times -- and when they were shorthanded, killed off each penalty.


Since: Apr 25, 2007
Posted on: May 4, 2010 5:41 am

Habs get back to basics in Game 2 win

Well, doczie, I'm glad you are enjoying all the hockey you can get. It's been an interesting playoffs this year. I certainbly wasn't "taking anyone to school." I was simply pointing out a few things that might make people believe the Montreal defense has improved over their regular season play (and over their game one performance). As for being tired. I think they will Montreal will be tired until they stop playing. I don't think they gained much in the way of rest coming back in less than 48 hours to play game two. They may have had time to adjust a bit mentally to what was going on. That may have made a slight difference. Plus, you look a lot better as a team when your goalie stops 38 shots. 

The oddsmakers would definitely favor the Pens. But like you said, that's why they play (and it's so fun to watch) the games. Good luck.    

Since: Apr 3, 2010
Posted on: May 3, 2010 7:43 pm

Habs get back to basics in Game 2 win

Not sweating at all, KGB.  I'm enjoying all the hockey my eyeballs can absorb.  And thanks for the little lesson about team defense... I never knew any of that before, and thanks to you taking me to school I feel like my opinions can FINALLY be based on sound facts.  The Habs played a good, smart, simple game (kind of like NJD trap) and pounced on their few opportunities and made them count.  Did their defense suddenly get better?  No.  They were tired in game 1.  
As for the game outcomes?  I'd say any oddmaker and most fans would say if the Pens put up similar offensive efforts in every game, the outcome will favor Pitt more often than not.  True enough that everyone said that about Washington too, but that's why they play the games.  

Since: Apr 25, 2007
Posted on: May 3, 2010 5:06 pm

Habs get back to basics in Game 2 win

Sweatin' a bit there, doczie? You know you can't judge a team's defensive effort based on the number of shots they allow alone. How is there defensive zone coverage? Is it lacking? Well then, are they making intelligent plays in front of their own net and clearing rebounds to much safer areas of the ice? Are they tying guys up in the crease? Are they getting in passing lanes to eliminate even better scoring chances? Are they blocking shots when they need to? Are they giving their goalie a chance to see the puck?

I'd argue that when Montreal's defense is sound, they are perhaps allowing too many shots... but I think they do most of the other things mentioned pretty well. Of course, Halak has a lot to do with Montreal's success. But the team is playing smart defensively for the most part as well. All you have to do is work hard enough and smart enough to end up with more goals than the other team after 60 minutes. Pens fans might not like it, but that's what Montreal can do right now. Stick to the plan.

Maybe Crosby will complain a bit more, break another couple of sticks, trash talk the refs a bit more until finally... on the tenth occasion... he will be called for a penalty almost any other player in the league would be called for. More importantly, though, he'll be knocked even further off his game. So long as Crosby is frustrated, and Montreal plays a smart defensive game, Montreal stands a chance to beat another much more talented team.    

Since: Apr 3, 2010
Posted on: May 3, 2010 4:28 pm

Habs get back to basics in Game 2 win

I can't say that the defense of Montreal was THAT much improved.  I think Halak was in the zone, but how can you call a team defense that allowed something like 40 shots, many of them great chances, a 'much improved' defense?  The Caps are playing golf right now asking that same question, so I can see the argument, but I watched almost every Caps game and they blocked as many shots as the Caps took.  Not so in Game 2.  

Since: Feb 26, 2008
Posted on: May 3, 2010 3:53 pm

Habs get back to basics in Game 2 win

I haven't seen either of the games, but I have a feeling that the Habs were a bit tired in Game 1 and also were facing a new and fresher team.  I think they must have made some adjustments for Game 2 and settled down into locking down on the Penguins' offense.  It could get really interesting from here on.

(I'm a Caps fan.)

Since: Jun 5, 2007
Posted on: May 2, 2010 6:35 pm

Habs get back to basics in Game 2 win

the capitals forced halak to make much better saves than he made today in games 5 and 6. this game was similar to the caps-habs game 7. penguins need to play at least at the caps level of games 5 and 6 to make things interesting. halak may just win himself another series.

Since: May 2, 2010
Posted on: May 2, 2010 5:38 pm

Habs get back to basics in Game 2 win

The Hab goalie is just fantastic like a robot - never out of position it was amazing all the stops he made. I can see why caps are saying WTF happened. You almost do not even need the other 5 guys. Pens lack the killer instinct until they go on the road. I don't mind if it goes 7 games so I can watch more games and the Pens can win a series at home for once.

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