Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Monday Musings: ... On Tuesday; Sochi Recap

Greetings Habs Addicts!

Photo Credit: CTVnews.com
It was a golden weekend for Team Canada, wrapping up the Olympics with a stifling defensive performance in the Gold Medal game against Sweden. Carey Price notched his second straight shutout in the a 3-0 victory. In the semi-finals, it was the Battle of North America again, as Canada squared off against the United States. Carey Price was sensational in stopping 31 saves and out-duelling Jon Quick who had 36 stops of his own in a 1-0 shutout win to advance Canada to the final. In order to get to that point at all, Canada had to first get past Latvia. Sounds easy enough, but this game was extremely close in score due to a career-defining performance by Kristers Gudlevskis, the Latvian goaltender - and Tampa Bay Lightning prospect - who made 55 saves including many difficult ones in the 2-1 Canada win.

Carey Price was named the Top Goaltender of the tournament. The Montreal Canadiens goaltender finished the tournament with a 5-0 record, a 0.59 goals-against average and .972 save percentage. He allowed three goals on 106 shots and finished with a shutout streak of 164 minutes and 19 seconds - the longest of his career to-date. What can we say, maybe the rest of Canada woke up to the greatness that is Carey Price, but we've been privy to these performances all season long and we always knew the potential for greatness was there. Keep Calm and Carey on! (Yes, I know. Shameless plug. Sorry, not sorry).

Photo Credit: TheChronicleHerald.ca
P.K Subban finished the tournament as Canada's best cheerleader, developing quite a bond in the press-box with goalie Mike Smith.  Subban only appeared in one game - Canada's only game in which they scored more than 3 goals - which was a 6-0 drubbing of Austria. Mike Babcock preferred to dress Dan Hamhuis over Subban. Hamhuis played 1:06 against Team USA and did not leave the bench in the finals. Canada's power-play struggled and Patrick Sharp - a right-handed shooting forward - looked horrible playing the point, as many of his shots hit defenders and he rarely got the puck through traffic. I spoke at length last week about Subban's lack of use in the tournament. We won the gold medal. I'm not going to beat a dead horse. I'm simply going to reiterate what I said all tournament long: Why do you have the Norris Trophy winning, right-handed shooting, power-play point shot specialist sitting in the press box in order to play a forward at the point and dress a 7th defenseman you will not use. The point is moot, as Canada won the tournament. The logic behind that move just does not make sense. Subban was a great teammate and clearly savored the moment of being on the podium (SubbieCam strikes again) as well as the opportunity to be a part of the team. Subban should be a force in 2018 if the NHL players are allowed to participate.  Congrats to both PK and Carey!

Rounding out the medal winners was Finland, who soundly defeated a hapless United States team 5-0 in the Bronze medal game. Back in July, when Montreal Hockey Talk had us provide Olympic previews, I took on the task of predicting the Finnish team's roster and ultimate finish. While I was wrong with some of my roster predictions - Saku Koivu should have been on the team, I don't care what anyone else says and injuries to Pekka Rinne and Mikko Koivu certainly played a part with some of my wrong choices - I had the core of the team correct. I gambled incorrectly that youngsters Alexander Barkov and Olli Maata would take the necessary leaps to find a place on the roster, but both rookies have been extremely solid this season and both played a big role for the Fins. Finland's Teemu Selanne had two goals against the United States and was also named tournament MVP in what will be his final Olympics. Congrats to Team (Grumpy Old) Finland on a well played tournament. Finland surpassed my prediction of a 4th place finish by winning the bronze medal game instead of losing it and taking home the medal. My Canada vs Russia final was also wrong, but to be fair, I made the predictions in July. I correctly predicted the participants of the bronze medal game as well as the gold medal winner. I'll take that! Watch out, Wiarton Willie. I'm coming for your job next!

With the Sochi Olympics wrapped up, it was nice to see the host Russian squad get eliminated from the tournament in the quarter-finals even if it meant my Olympic prediction would be crushed. The early knock off allowed for our veteran workhorse Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin to get some much needed rest before returning to North America. Sorry, Russia. Purely selfish Habs reasoning here. Rounding out the Montreal presence in Sochi, Tomas Plekanec had a great tournament playing with Jaromir Jagr (Hey Marc Bergevin, trade deadline is approaching...) for the Czech Republic and Max Pacioretty played very well with linemates Paul Stastny (Hey Marc Bergevin, trade deadline is approaching...) and T.J Oshie for the United States. Peter Budaj only appeared in one game; in relief of a shelled Jaroslav Halak in the opening round. He'll be ready to resume wearing the ball-cap and pom-poms on the bench and dominate when called upon to play.

Coming up this week: The NHL season resumes!

P.K Subban will get to show Mike Babcock exactly how he really feels about his lineup snub when the Detroit Red Wings come to town on Wednesday. Personally, I'll expect Subban to dominate down the stretch and take the playing-time snub as an added motivational chip on his shoulder. The Habs travel to Pittsburgh on Thursday and take on Team Canada captain Sidney Crosby's Penguins before wrapping up the week at home with a rivalry showdown against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Three very tough match-ups against three very good teams. Great way to jump right back into the action.

Welcome back, NHL hockey!

Three Questions From My Musings:

A) Will P.K Subban use the playing-time snub as added motivation to dominate down the stretch?

B) Will the Habs be affected by having so many key veteran players participating in the Sochi games?

C) With only 23 games remaining to be played, what do you think the Habs record will be from this point forward?

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Nick M. is a transplanted Montrealer, currently living in evil LeafLand. He is a contributor here at HabsAddict.com and give him a follow, as he can often be found rambling on Twitter.



Past Monday Musings 

5 comments:

Dear Habs management, After 20 years without even visiting the Stanley Cup finals, after 12 years of Trevor Timmins as our scouting director, after all the years of free agency, and trades, please tell me How Come the Montreal Canadiens in 2014 will have only One Foward (Pacioretty) finish with just FIFTY POINTS this year?? How sad an organization are we??

@ Guy Smith: You would know its a great post, you wrote it just like all the others.

Great wrap up of the Olympics Nick. As for our Habs' finish, that is a good question. It depends on which team shows up; the team firing on all cylinders heading into the break or the sad, pathetic team before that surge. I guess we will have to wait and see.
And what MB does at the trade deadline.

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