Congratulations, Harditya Banthia.
A Habs fan living in Brampton, in the heart of Leafs Nation, posted my favourite Comment of the season:
Holy crap I am only 15 and if the Habs keep playing this way I will need pills.
WAKE UP HABS!!!
Pills, alcohol, herbal tea, transcendental meditation, shiatsu massage … Canadiens’ fans may need the full arsenal of medications and relaxation techniques before the season is over.
The team won a four-point road game in a tough rink, climbed into sixth place, pushed the wretched Flyers into eighth place …
And EVERYONE is miserable.
You, me, the gang on L’Antichambre: we’re all enjoying this W about as much as someone who’s watched his dog get hit by a train.
Having quoted a Comment, I’ll offer a couple of astute e-mails.
From Steve Kerley, who posts as 24 Cups and is soaking up the sunshine in Florida:
Two things were painfully obvious. Halak has become the face of the Habs yet they still don’t seem strong enough to make any noise in the playoffs despite his heroics. Regardless, it was a hell of a game. It will certainly be an interesting summer for Gauthier and company. His next few moves may well define the franchise for the next five years. Gainey’s legacy may well hang in the balance.
And from a Canadiens fan in Europe:
Halak was insane, but we can’t play like this. Not a shot in the last 15 minutes, not a scoring chance in the last 30 minutes. Totally outplayed. I don’t think it’s the forwards, our D is terrible in breakouts and outlet passes. This team needs PK Subban. This teams need an infusion of something.
Jaro Halak stole the game. He’s got 25 of the Canadiens’ 38 wins this season.
It’s scary to think where the team would be without him.
The Canadiens aren’t scoring: four goals in their last three games.
• Benoit Pouliot has one goal in his last nine games. Benny’s confidence, rendered fragile by his experience in Minnesota, is shot.
• Mike Cammalleri has not scored since Jan. 23. Unlike Andrei Markov, Cammalleri has not come back strong from his injury.
• With Glen Metropolit out, no one on the third or fourth line can put the puck in the ocean.
The Canadiens played horribly in the third period: a 14-3 shot advantage and total territorial domination by Philadelphia, 17-10 by Carolina on Wednesday.
With the exception of two empty netters against Florida, the Canadiens haven’t scored a third-period goal in six games.
I’m not an Xs-and-Os guy like my guru, Pierre McGuire. But if a team is consistently being dominated during crunch time, surely there’s some tweaking to be done.
Evidence suggests Jacques Martin is not the best coach in the league for in-game adjustments.
Give Martin credit, however, for an astute late-game game move. After the Flyers had idiotically iced the puck with 40 ticks left, Martin dispatched Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta and – crucially – Tom Pyatt for the O-zone faceoff.
A wonderful skater and ferocious forechecker despite his lack of size, Pyatt helped ensure the Flyers would not get out of their zone in time to pull Brian Boucher (for a second time) and exert sustained pressure on Halak.
If Jaro Spacek is ready to go against Buffalo, does Marc-André Bergeron move up front and force Pyatt to the bench?
Another positive: the only goal of the game was a beauty.
Andrei Kostitsyn outmuscled Mike Richards behind the Philadelphia net and found Tomas Plekanec standing amid FOUR PHILADELPHIA DEFENDERS.
Pleks buried the chance, and that was the ballgame.
Why can’t AK46 play like that all the time?
And why can’t more forwards get into the dirty areas for the kind of high-percentage shots that produce rebounds and second chances.
The Canadiens have one player who goes to the net consistently: Brian Gionta, who’s too small to get into half the rides at La Ronde.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the rink, Scott Hartnell spends each of his shifts camped in the blue paint … with his linemates not far away.
The Canadiens have no one like Hartnell … and not just because none of our guys looks like the bassist in a Slayer tribute band.
Anyway, we could piss and moan and nit-pick till the Easter bunny comes home.
A W is a W, and this one was huge.
Jaro Halak made it a very good Friday for Canadiens’ fans, and we’ll see him at the Bell Centre against Buffalo.
As the coach said in his post-game press conference, the Canadiens have done well against the teams they’re battling for a playoff spots.
They’ve beaten the Rangers, Flyers and, twice, the Bruins.
Three of the four wins have been on the road.
So put down that Valium bottle, Harditya Banthia.
You’re too young … and the Canadiens aren’t that bad.
• • •
Tony Marinaro made an interesting point on l’Attaque à 5:
It’s essential that Canadiens have a polayoff spot sewed up before next Saturday’s game against Toronto.
And given the history of unhappy games against the Leafs, Marinaro would not start Jaro Halak or dress Andrei Markov and Tomas Plekanec.