Bulin Wall Rides Again

The high flying Edmonton Oilers were the visiting team in a packed bell Centre and they skated away with a 3-1 victory.

The first period was an even affair with both teams playing well defensively. The shots on goal were 6-4 in favour of the younger Oilers. The passes on both sides were not crisp and precise and the penalties were even at 2 apiece. 

The trend in Habs games this year has been to play not to give up the first goal in the first period then start skating in the second. This game continued this trend, with the Habs giving the Oilers all they could handle in the second period.  

The re-emergence of Nikolai Khabibulin - the Bulin Wall was once again in evidence in the second when there was a virtual parade to the penalty box for the young Oilers and the Habs could not capitalize on the many chances. The Habs power play once again featured Tomas Plekanec on the point. The Oilers continued to put pressure on him and were rewarded with the best pass of the evening - from Plekanec to Jones who scored on Carey Price through the five-hole. The second wave of the power play did a bit better however they failed to score on the rejuvenated Khabibulin. The shots on goal in the second period were 13 to 4 for Montreal, but on the scoreboard it was 1-0 Oilers. 

The third period featured the Habs once again on the attack and Khabibulin just putting up a wall and the young Oiler no name defense corps clearing the pucks from the zone with precision. There was also a fabulous shift from the visitors top line that hemmed the Habs in their zone. The Oilers extended their lead with a point shot that deflected off Weber and Gorges.

To their credit the Habs rebounded a few seconds later on an innocent looking play when Max Pacioretty potted a backhand through the five hole on Khabibulin whom I am sure would like that one back. The Habs pulled Price for a sixth attacker and came close on a couple of occasions only to have a pass from Plekanec picked off and Ryan Smyth scored on an empty net.

This time I believe the Habs played well enough to win however to beat a scorching goalie on a night like this one they would have needed some more creativity, and crisp passes to the players wearing the same jersey colour.

The good  news for the Habs is that Emelin played very well after sitting in the pressbox for a number of games - all seven of the Habs defensemen were dressed for this affair. The forward lines were not complete with the fourth line hardly playing at all. 

Cole, Cammalleri and Eller were undoubtedly the best forward on the ice on this evening with Cammy playing the best game of the season although he was not rewarded with a goal. 

Now the Habs travel to the cold climes of Phoenix where they take on the Coyotes on Thursday...Hopefully there are enough healthy forwards to ice four lines.

11 Comments

Tyg's picture

Just amazing how the "hot goalie" excuse - 3 times now since the season started in October so a little over a month - never gets old. And the power play is a work in progress. So every time a goalie is on a hot streak we should just concede defeat then, since they can't overcome him. I mean, why even bother to play the 60 minutes if it's so justified in a "hot goalie"?

George Prax's picture

Did you watch the game? Khabibulin was ridiculous. There were at least 3 chances that would have surely been goals if it was someone else between the pipes.

That said, the Canadiens couldn't pass for shit last night, and it didn't help that the guy who's supposed to be their best passer and playmaker had arguably the worst game of his career. Plekanec was the main reason for all three goals. Weber was pretty terrible last night too, I don't understand why J-Mart seemed to play him more as the game went on and put him back on defense. 11 minutes and -2. Either play him as a forward or a d-man, not both, it obviously confuses him.

Also, is Blunden still being punished? He only played one shift.

Godamnit I'm going to have to write another fire J-Mart blog this week, aren't I?

Tyg's picture

My point exactly "the Canadiens couldn't pass for shit". Maybe if they could we wouldn't have 3 hot goalies in a month. Also, they still can't finish for shit either. 2+ years under JM and this team has NOT improved. Their first responsibility is defense, so any creative offense happens only as the clock is running out and panic mode supercedes his stupid system. Desharnais sucked ass too. Apparently 44 seconds of Blunden is no doubt supposed to build character.

George Prax's picture

Offensively I can't blame them much because most of the 28 shots that Khabibulin stopped were chances, not to mention all the posts. They actually played a good offensive game, as they did in New York and when they lost against the Panthers. The passing thing is something that needs to be addressed by the front office I think, if they can't pass, that's not something that can be fixed by coaching I don't think. Cammalleri's passes are too hard, Pacioretty and Cole aren't known passers, Gomez is useless, Diaz and Weber are only good at slapshots, Subban isn't a feeder either. So if Desharnais and Plekanec are having a bad night this team isn't going to get much done, in terms of passing.

This is where Markov's absence hurts the most.

It's funny, because the Habs had absolutely no problem getting around the Oilers last night and into the zone, it just seemed like they didn't know what to do when they got there. THAT is a coaching issue.

Jason Pietroniro's picture

They aren't skating deep ( system ) . They arent supporting their puck carrier (system). there is -1 passing option once crossing the blue line (system). U can't score goals by looking over ur shoulder. Also, news flash. lateral passes on the ice don't work. Pass laterally but on a slope. This is 2011, not fuckin 1960's hockey. Lift the fucking puck. I agree the Habs played somewhat decent offensively, but I think it was more the Oilers sucking than the Habs playing well.

Jason Pietroniro's picture

And IMO, this was the first time we met a hot goalie. Miller and Jacob Markstrom looked hot. Habs threw every puck at their chest. Miller more than Markstrom but still, Markstrom was flopping around and our midgets couldn't crash the net.

Tyg's picture

The problem is this team as it is constructed, the same old coaching failures, and they have always had trouble finishing. Khabibulin is due his credit, but at the same time it's the 3rd time I've heard this excuse in a month and if it's going to be their new get out of jail free card this year then we are in for an awful lot of "hot goalie" excuses. They can't pass, finish, win a dump and chase and they're so busy trying NOT to get scored on that they inevitably do.

If everything rests on Pleky and DD (IMO he's good but overrated) then we're in for a rough season. Markov is a non-factor to me and has been for the better part of 2 seasons so using his injury as an excuse (which JM is doing this morning - along with every other injured player) means he can't overcome because he doesn't have the players and what players he does have he fails to get consistent good performances out of. He certainly doesn't pep them up before each game or help them to overcome.

This is a mediocre constructed team lead by a coach with a mediocre career record. But at least he speaks French so that's some consolation I guess.

Jason Pietroniro's picture

If Markovs injuries were actually a concern, the admin should all be hung for doing nothing to fix an obvious problem. doncha think.

George Prax's picture

Markov and his agent basically lied to the Habs about his injury so I'm trying not to fault them on that, but at the same time it was obviously a risk to sign him and let Hamrlik go. They did all they could in the meantime to replace him but there's really no excuse not to try and pull a deal now that the needs of this team are clear in terms of a playmaking defenseman. Easier said than done but Gauthier hasn't done a thing since the first week of the season.

As for the goalie excuse, even if it's been made 3 times, the Habs still have 9 losses, so it's not exactly like anyone's writing off their suckitude because of it. Sometimes you play a good game and lose, and that was the case both this past weekend and against the Sabres and Panthers. Last night though, as well as they played offensively, there were clearly other problems.

Jason Pietroniro's picture

No idea why blundens ice time was so scarce. I really have liked that 4th line since his call up. Showed a ton of spunk. I dont see why we dont roll that line more often.. but a big hole without AK. Don't care what anyone says. Goalies know he's dangerous and he adds that dynamic to our offense.

George Prax's picture

Blunden's being punished for costing us the game Saturday. But it's ridiculous. And AK has always been underrated in my eyes. Hope he's fine for tomorrow.