Smart, passionate and somewhat biased commentary about the Montreal Canadiens (HABS) from a lifelong fan now living in Toronto (LeafLand).
Oct
21
2011

Anemic Performance Has Finger Hovering Over Panic Button

So get this. My brother who lives in Chicago came to town on Thursday and we watched that night’s game against the Penguins. He enjoys hockey and goes to see the BlackHawks every once in awhile especially when the Habs are in town, but he leads a busy life and has other pursuits.

Aaron Asham scores on a borderline highstick for Pittsburgh’s 3rd goal October 20, 2011. He always seems to get one of his 5 per season goals against the Habs. The Pens won the game 3-1.

And although he still is (and always will be) a Habs fan he doesn’t really follow them, yet he still offers some strong opinions. Some in fact may be just as valid as Red Fisher’s or Yvan Pedneault’s given he’s bringing at this point a somewhat outsider’s objectivity to his views.

Lately it’s been the unfortunate case that when we seem to get to watch a Habs game together, the bleu-blanc-rouge lay an egg of a game (games against Tampa Bay and Nashville from recent seasons come to mind). And unfortunately last night’s game continued that trend with the Canadiens’s anemic (his words, not mine) performance, falling to the injury-plagued Penguins 3-1.

Although they had a few flourishes and a few early scoring chances (namely Mathieu Darche on a short-handed breakaway and Erik Cole in front from a nice set up by Lars Eller) the Canadiens really were a flat team on this night. No passion, no fight, no clutch plays, no luck and no goals until just under two minutes left to play in the game, thankfully breaking Fleury’s shutout.
Can’t blame Price on this one — he played well and gave his team a chance to win. All three Pens goals were kind of flukey if you ask me…

The expression goes, you make your own breaks. And I believe it. The Habs need to start making their own breaks.

And it’s not as if one player stood out as being terrible or whatnot — just the team as a whole came off as uninterested and flat. Or anemic as my brother put it. It was an anemic performance, the powerplay is verging on the pathetic and the team needs to find answers very soon otherwise they’ll find themselves sitting at the very bottom of the Eastern Conference.

My brother doesn’t know some of the newer Habs and I of course told him to look out for Max Pacioretty who in my mind at least has by far been the best — and most consistent — Habs forward so far this year. And he agreed. On a night where most of Montreal’s team did their best not to stand out, my brother was impressed by the big winger and commented how he was a presence on the ice.

So how come Erik Cole is not being the same presence?

I don’t want to kick him while he’s down, but Cole, as well as Gionta and the now-injured Gomez once again were shooting blanks last night. (Maybe Gomez’s injury will be a blessing in disguise?)

Hey, if the team lost with an effort like the previous game against Buffalo, I could live with it. But to lose in such a boring, bland and lack-of-any-fight way, that could say quite a bit about… THE COACHING STAFF!

Uh oh!

On October 16th, an “Anonymous” poster left the following comment after the team’s 6-5 shootout loss to the Avalanche:

…Head Coach Jacques Martin is on the block….3 more games…maybe as much as 5…quote me.”

Well well well I am now officially quoting you Anonymous (are you GM Pierre Gauthier?). And I’m starting to believe that I may be quoting you again very shortly.

Has Jacques Martin lost the room?
And if he gets the axe, who will replace him???

My brother and I laughed: “Hey let’s bring back Scotty Bowman! One more time!” If he could win the cup with this team, he really would be the best coach ever! Not that he isn’t of course.

But Scotty is too old… and too smart, to take this job. But seriously, after running through the options with another Habs Fan in LeafLand, you heard it here first that hair boy Marc Crawford is probably starting to lick his chops and readying his coiff for the big show once again, falling into a long line of former TSN panelists to jump back into action (Torterella, MacTavish, Burke).

Makes the most sense. He’s won the cup as a coach, he’s available, he’s tough, his wife is a Quebecer, he coached the Nordiques — and what I really love the most — he’s got a great head of hair :)

And speaking of heads, fans are calling for Martin’s head. On a block with a little sauce, please.
Now I’m a supporter of Martin, but now even I have to admit, I’m not liking what I’m seeing:

– I don’t want to see Plekanec on the point during the powerplay. It’s been tried and doesn’t work. He’s best down low. Give it up and find new solutions. As my brother said last night, if the point men are being pressured on the powerplay, it’s up to the coach to give them options to do something about it.

– I don’t want to see line-tinkering with lines that are clearly working, like the Desharnais-Pacioretty-Kostitsyn line. Leave them alone will ya!? Poor Frere Andrei… and give some time to the others before tinkering. This team needs time to gel and you keep disrupting that process!! When you make a souffle, if you open the oven too soon, it gets ruined!

– Make up with Erik Cole and give him the minutes and the powerplay time — jeez he couldn’t be worse than Scotty G. You lost this guy from the get-go, we need him and his use by you from the start of the season has been questionable.

Love (but not kisses),
Habs Fan in LeafLand

Habs play the Toronto Phil Kessels tonight in Montreal. Lose this game and Anonymous may just be heralded as the official cryptic fortune teller for Habs Fan in LeafLand.

Here’s an interesting read about the team’s slow start and reactions from Yahoo’s Puck Daddy:

One comment on “Anemic Performance Has Finger Hovering Over Panic Button

  • Anonymous

    Team has to be on board with the coach….I don’t think the Habs players respect Martin. This is the main reason for the passion-less play. A really big front office shake-up is coming that may see a few heads roll and a distinct possibility that the over zealous Sir Patrick Roy could be coaching the CH???? Just A sick rumour…..but don’t be shocked if it happens…..and don’t be shocked at the shake-up if we don’t get the two points from the leafs tonight. GO HABS GO !

    Reply

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