About last night …


Make that About tonight …
I can’t sleep on the Canadiens’ latest ignominious loss.
It will give me nightmares.

Two more troubled sleeps until Save-the-Coach’s-Job Night in Canada.
A tad hysterical?
The Canadiens are 1-4-1.
They started 0-5 in 1995, and …

After a 2-0 loss to the Islanders in New York, General manager Serge Savard and coach Jacques Demers were fired and replaced by Mario Tremblay and Réjean Houle.

The Canadiens reeled off six straight wins for Tremblay.

Then very bad things ensued.

OK, Geoff Molson is not going to panic like Ronald Corey.

And no matter what happens, Carey Price won’t be traded to Colorado.

But make no mistake: if the Canadiens play a nationally-televised game against the Leafs the way they did in Pittsburgh, they will lose to the Leafs.

And Molson won’t wait until Monday morning to start asking some very pointed questions in the seventh-floor executive offices of your Montreal Canadiens.

Pierre Gauthier would be well-advised to prepare some answers, just in case.

A word to the wise: “Injuries” won’t cut is as an explanation of the woeful start to the Canadiens season.

The National Hockey League is an experiment in brutal Darwinism. It’s survival of the fittest – and the luckiest.

Everyone has injuries.

Pittsburgh, for example.

Until a goal with 96 seconds and a flurry (no pun intended) of garbage-time pressure, the Canadiens couldn’t muster anything resembling a challenge against a team missing the greatest hockey player in the world, another player who’s in the world’s Top 10 and  defenceman who will be part of Norris Trophy discussions when the season is over.

By which time the Canadiens will have scored another power-play goal … maybe.

The PP took yet another 0-for. The Canadiens have scored twice on 26 man advantages this season (oddly, never 5-on-4).

But a pop-gun power play wasn’t the problem in Pittsburgh.

Lacking three of their best, the Penguins sucked it up and blew it out, all over the hapless team in white jerseys.

Did a Canadien win a puck battle or a foot race all night?

Not that I noticed.

Hits aren’t always a reliable indicator of the flow of play, but they offer a pretty good take on intensity.

The Canadiens, who had 27 hits at the Bell Centre against Buffalo, mustered 15 in Pittsburgh. Mathieu Darche, a player of limited gifts who knows he has to work hard, led the hit parade with four in a shade over 13 minutes of ice time. And three of those minutes were on the power-play.

Erik Cole, signed as a free agent to bolster the Canadiens at power forward, had one hit  – and one shot on goal.

The Penguins had 26 hits. Deryk Engelland and Ben Lovejoy had 10 between them, and Craig Adams added four.

They say hockey is a game of emotion and intensity.

The Canadiens displayed neither against the Penguins, and it made for a grim spectacle.

There’s no point dwelling on individual performances in the loss.

The whole team sucked – with the exception of Carey Price, who’s getting no help in his quest for a 100th NHL win.

Maybe he’ll get it after the Deecember trade to Vancouver.


But this stumbling, bumbling, fumbling season start is no laughing matter.

The Canadiens and Winnipeg, the only team they’ve defeated this season, are tied for fewest points in the Eastern Division.

No, the playoffs don’t start in early November.

But if the Canadiens continue to fall behind the Conference’s top eight, they will need a winning streak to get back in the hunt.

Does this team strike you as one capable of reeling off a string of Ws?

And check out the rest of this month’s schedule.

After playing host to Toronto in what is sure to be a Saturday Night Passion Play, the Canadiens have improved Florida at the Bell Centre Monday night, then Philadelphia visits on Wednesday, followed by a visit to Boston the next night and the Bruins at the Bell on the 29th.

When October ends, the Canadiens will have played seven of their first 11 games at home – where they are still in pursuit of  their first W since April 26 … and that streak of ineptitude includes the preseason.

After the loss to Buffalo, Jacques Martin praised his team’s performance. If the Canadiens played that way in every game, the coach said, they’d win more often than lose.

They didn’t play that way in Pittsburgh.

And if they play this way against Toronto … well, there will be more than a few pundits and fans suggesting Geoff Molson pull a Ron Corey.

Just remember what happened in 1995 – and for too many years thereafter.


  1. sc says:

    And I know I’m pointing out the obvious by saying coaching will b an issue this year. Too bad, boucher and muller….

  2. sc says:

    Gauthier should be canned for markov deal. Love markov, but absurd.

  3. New says:

    This group does strike me as capable of churning out a long win streak, several of them. There is a surprising amount of underachieving talent on the ice. They require probably a leader. Not surprisingly they have little idea what a leader is, likely because they have never seen one. Leaders are a spot of trouble to management you see. They stand up, they state their piece, and they are usually correct. Can’t have that when you’re marketing “plastic crap”.

    The coach juggles his lines because he is smart. He recognizes when a player doesn’t have it, usually after the first shift. So he juggles ice time. Now a lot of folks think it is better to motivate and encourage young men and women to achieve the best. Other’s think rules and ultimatiums are the ticket.

    The concept of “my way or the highway” is usually accurate. At least in terms of a coach’s longivity.

  4. andykirstein says:

    NJ devils style hockey…….problem is we have the Keebler Elfs instead of Scott Stevens and friends. Hey Gauthier, any more small Swiss guys available?

  5. andykirstein says:

    Great one “anitho”
    Your forgot to add we have the star of the movie “weekend at Bernies” as our GM

  6. Antho says:

    We don’t hit puck carriers on the boards
    We don’t force puck carriers at the blue line
    We don’t take away the point shot
    We use Darche on the powerplay
    We play cement boots gill
    We don’t have a grinding line
    We don’t put Cole on the powerplay
    We screen Carey price on almost every shot
    We all play goalie in our own end
    We don’t move people from the front of the net, we just join and worsen the screen
    We never change our game plan/style
    We don’t dump pucks in and double up on the boards, instead we shoot at the goalie from center
    We play cement boots Gill, wait I said that already
    We don’t have Saku Koivu, instead we have Gomez
    We don’t have a defensive coach with a brain, I don’t know what rock Perry crawled from
    We change lines on a 3 on 1
    We don’t know how to make appropriate line changes at all
    We don’t know how to come back from a goal deficit
    We have a Harry Rosen manikin behind the bench for a coach
    We juggle the lines if the other team scores first
    We try and protect the 2-1 or 2-0 loss just so it appears that the game was tough
    We turn 40 goal scorers into 10 goal scorers because we prefer them standing between the blue lines

    We are your 2011-12 Montreal Canadiens and we are coached by Jacques “The Count’ Manikin and will finish 9th

  7. Stephen York says:

    I know we’re only 6 games into the season, but I think it’s safe to say that this team, in its current state, is doomed to missing the playoffs and continuing its Cup drought for years to come.

    Patrick Roy was our Babe Ruth; the curse is firmly upon us. Thanks Mario, Rejean and Ronald!

    To say the Canadiens lack emotion, motivation and drive is an understatement. Halfway through the 3rd yesterday, perennial underachiever Big Tits actually hid his head in his arms, leaning on the boards. If I were a coach with an ounce of pride and emotion in me, I would have benched him for the rest of the game and for the entire game afterwards.

    The departure of Kirk Muller is very apparent, and it’s quite obvious JM has COMPLETELY lost the room.

    Furthermore, the team sorely lacks grit. Who can blame them? The Habs last line of defense when dealing with the league’s bullies is Travis Moen. We don’t even have a Lappy to play punching bag when our smaller, skilled players get pushed around. I’ll say it again: not signing Wizz to make room for a questionable Markov was a colossal mistake. Don’t get me wrong: I love what Markov has done for the Habs in the past, but I think we absolutely needed a gamer (for the same amount of $) like Wizz instead. His cannon right hand shot from the point, hard hits, and fighting ability are all components the team needs at this point in time. More importantly, Wizz brought passion and fire to the team; he did not allow our players to be pushed around. Can we say the same for Markov (if and) when he returns?

    The first course of action is to fire JM and hire a coach that can motivate this team to lay their emotions bare on the ice.

    Laugh if you want, but I think St.Patrick would be perfect for the job. Who better than Roy to cancel the curse that has plagued the Habs since ’95???
    Bench Gomer. It’ll (re)build character.

  8. Chris Higgins says:

    Bold prediction: Phil Kessel will have more goals tomorrow night than the entire Habs team!

  9. Thomas Le Fan says:

    Clearly, we suck, at the moment. I think perhaps it’s the pressure of Price winning #100 but it could be we just suck. Where are the tankers?

  10. durocher says:

    Boone, a fantastic, compelling posts, one of your best on this site.

    The lack of emotion and energy is in large part due to a 4th line that doesn’t crash and bang, like Begin, Kostopolous, Ewen, Roberge, etc., would do.

    Okay, sure, the Habs don’t want to employ some tougher people because they want to play a speed, skill game and not signal to Boston and similar teams that we want to compete on a tough level. But we’re doing ourselves a huge disservice by not having players who can help change momentum and get energy going on the bench. Plus, any decent NHL coach knows we’re relatively soft, that Price can be run, and that our stars can be targeted without facing any real pushback.

    The lack of grit (not a goon, there is a difference) is a fundamental problem in my view. Another question that must be addressed is the future of Gomez on this team. DD and Eller display more drive and interest that Gomez does. Gomez has not scored in 45 games. He has not set up others for success. Max Power is doing fine without him. That $7m could be put to much better use. The opportunity cost is enormous.

    Third, does Martin have the proper disposition to lead this team into the playoffs and beyond the first couple of rounds. He is a veteran coach, but one who has not won the Cup. His mild personality stands in stark contrast to those who have led us before, like Demers and Burns. So, either on a metric of success or attitude, Martin is lacking.

    I would rather make the hard choices now, than putter along and prolong the fantasy that we are truly competitive.

    The Bell Centre will sell out, Molson will make his money. But this is about something far greater, a legitimate chance at the Cup. Our early start may not be cause for panic, but is one for concern and consideration of the three problems I’ve identified above.

  11. hoffska says:

    We all know who was really pulling the strings and making this team work the last few years.
    The guy is a true leader and motivator and the players on this team will believe in and play for him no question.
    Get it done PG before its too late!

  12. SPATS says:

    Call Milwaukee, send them Gomez and a Brinks truck, bring back Muller and hire a translator in an assistant if necc. The boys won’t play hard for JM any more. Too much tinkering


  13. andykirstein says:

    Can someone please explain why PK mans the right point on the PP? His strength on the PP is his right shot from the Left Side. Martin completely took away his effectiveness on the PP. Maybe someone should remind Martin about his howitzer in game 7 against Boston last year and other similar goals he scored from that side. Just one of many mind boggling decisions the coach and gm continue to make.

  14. Arrow77 says:

    I think what we’re seing this season is the perfect mix of bad luck and bad decisions. The team was certain Markov would be back so they let Hamrlik and Wisniewski go. Markov isn’t back and his replacement got hurt immediately. And Emelin isn’t as ready as we thought he was. And Subban still has some growing pain to go through. As for the forwards, Cole is a disappointment (so far), Gomez isn’t more productive than last year (so far), and the team’s decision to wait so long to play the full team in pre-season, mixed with the coach horrible habbit of never keeping the same line for more than one game is creating this perfect storm of crappiness.

    The team will definitely play better at one point this year but I’m not sure Jacques Martin will still be a coach by then.

  15. ZimHabwe says:

    The day was going to come when our team would be among the bottom teams of the division and we have never been ready for that. We are the worst fans when it comes to taking losses and eats at our emotions to see our team with such a losing streak. Not that Toronto, Ottawa or Edmonton don’t feel anything but I think they’ve been able to stomach bad teams better than we have. I am positive things will get better and most of you will change your thoughts like a chameleon changes colour.

    Suppose we don’t get better and our team ends up at the bottom:
    Then I say let it be. At the end of the year, they can clean up house and rebuild from the bottom up. Besides, I’d rather hear someone tell me “Habs suck” now than “Habs are always mediocre” forever.

  16. RetroMikey says:

    Yup yup…we are a team that the cracks are starting to get bigger to show we are not a very good team that everyone here believes we are!
    Millionaire midgets like Gomez, Gionta, CAmmalleri, Plekanec, etc.. just don’t cut if for me on this team as well as over the hill DMen like Gill. Spacek and overrated DMen in Gorges and Subban to name a few.
    Even with the firing of Martin, this team is fragile and weak.
    We are like a soap opera series….”As the stomach turns”
    Send the whole team down to Hamilton and ship the Hamilton boys to Montreal.
    Just perhaps, they would fare better and entertaining hockey.
    Yup yup, things are looking just dandy for our team and for the fans.
    No surprise they are playing crappy hockey….and more to come.
    “We will win the Cup one day only with ? in the nets “

    • DEANDALLEY says:

      Mikey, you never ever gave the Habs credit when they did & have played good. Just stick to watching the Bulldogs!

      “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”

      • TommyB says:

        Give Hamilton an NHL team and watch how quickly they become Mikey’s team. Mikey, I got a news flash for ya…HIO doesn’t stand for Hamilton Inside/Out.

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