Friday, April 18, 2014

Playoff Preview: Canadiens at Lightning (Round 1, Game 2)

HabsBolts_Playoffs 
Match Up:

After a back and forth Game 1 that finished with Overtime heroics by Dale Weise and Daniel Briere, the Canadiens and Lightning square off for Game 2 Friday night in Tampa Bay. The match starts at 7:00 and can be seen on RDS and CBC.

The Canadiens went up 1-0 in the best of seven series with a 5-4 OT win on Wednesday, but despite out-shooting the Bolts 44-25 and looking dominant for most of the match, the game stayed tight the whole way through. Neither team was able to build more that a 1-goal lead in the game, and the longest a team was able to hold onto their lead was a shade over 3 minutes.

What to Watch:

The Canadiens got contributions from all 4 lines in Wednesday's game, and defenseman Alexei Emelin chipped in with a pair of assists. Lars Eller and Brian Gionta found a bit of chemistry on Wednesday, collaborating on a pair of goals, including a shorthanded marker that erased Tampa's second and final lead of the game. Daniel Briere assisted on Dale Weise's OT winner keeping Briere over the point-per-game mark in the playoffs, he has 110 points in 109 career playoff games.

In Game 1, Steven Stamkos did what Steven Stamkos does best, score goals. The 24-year old potted a pair of goals for Tampa, including one of an a play that started with Stamkos collecting the puck behind his own net and charging down the ice to create the opportunity. Alex Killorn picked up a goal and an assist in his NHL Playoffs debut.

What's at Stake:

The Canadiens looked dominant in Game 1 but still gave the Lightning ample opportunity to steal a victory. If the Habs can maintain their dominance through Game 2 and return to Montreal with a 2-0 series lead, the Bolts will be hard pressed to come back.

Who's Out:

Travis Moen (concussion) is close to a return but won't be back for Game 2. Alex Galchenyuk (knee) has been ruled out for the opening round.

The Lightning are still without Ben Bishop (elbow) who could return to action late in the series but will miss the next few starts. Ondrej Palat (upper body) left Wednesday's game in the third period and will be a game time decision on Friday. Ryan Malone has been de facto suspended after being charged with a DUI and cocaine possession. Any future discipline will be determined based on the terms of the NHL's Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program.

What Else:

The Canadiens' power play woes continued on Wednesday, they haven't scored with the man advantage since Daniel Briere potted a late power play marker against the Buffalo Sabres on March 25, 10 games ago. While Brian Gionta did score on a penalty shot in Montreal's last game of the season, the Habs have gone 0-for-26 on the power play in their last 9 games.

Thankfully, as bad as they've been with the man advantage, they've been just the opposite killing penalties. The Canadiens finished the season fourth overall on the penalty kill and opened up the Playoffs by holding the Bolts 0-for-2 on the power play and even scored a shorthanded goal in the process.

The Question Mark:

After some unlikely heroics from Dale Weise, who do you think scores the winner in Game 2?

Let us know what you think, leave us a comment or send us a tweet with the #MTLHockey hashtag on Twitter.

Be sure to tune into the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show an hour before the puck drop and the Post Game Show 5 minutes after the final siren. Join the live conversation by using the #MTLHockey hashtag on Twitter.

6 comments:

Vanek with the winning goal for us. Carey will be better. Our mistakes will be fewer. Centre Bell will be a mad house on sunday.

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Difference now compared to earlier matchups is that A) We have Vanek/Pacioretty playing together, B) They lost St. Louis C) They lost Bishop.

We played close without a true stud forward, we now have Vanek. Vanek balances out Stamkos, Subban balances out Hedman, Price trumps Lindback and our depth is better.

But Cooper trumps Therrien, so this will still be a close series, even if we do dominate.

You can't stop Stamkos, you can only try and slow him down. Key on the depth and Habs win tonight 4-2. Like playing Ovechkin. He'll always get his points, key on the players around him and you win.

If they keep playing like they did, I don't see a problem. They dominated possession, and kept up the pace throughout which is great to see.

Price will definitely play better tonight. No doubts in my mind.

These habs are playing well. Hope they keep it up!

Anything can happen. Tampa could own MTL 7-0 tonight. On the long run, logically, MTL should win this serie.

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