You don’t have to be bilingual to understand the adjectives flying around L’Antichambre to describe the Canadiens loss:
“Lamentable” “Inacceptable” “Épouvantable”
OK, the last one is a bit tricky. Épouvantable translates as “frightful, dreadful, shocking, horrible, appalling”.
I hope the Antichambre guys have saved some good adjectives for tomorrow night, when the Canadiens visit Washington. It will be the teams’ first meeting since the Capitals were knocked out of the playoffs in April.
Think the Caps will be hungry?
Think Bruce Boudreau may drop an f-bomb or two in his pre-game pep talk?
Think Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom and Brooks Laich may be scarier scorers than Blake Comeau, Michael Grabner, P.A. Parenteau and James Wisniewski?
Be afraid, peeps.
Be very afraid.
And be certain there will be lineup changes, because the team is in trouble.
The Canadiens are 0-10 when trailing after the first period and 0-13 when facing a deficit after 40 minutes.
Only Minnesota matches the Canadiens’ 0-for futility.
These are not the Comeback Kids, and you don’t need a French-English dictionary to know that translates to enormous pressure on Carey Price.
If the goaltender isn’t great, if there are breakdowns on D or a couple deflections beat Price early, the Canadiens lose.
Think Washington will get some first-period bounces?
Because the Habs Inside/Out server performed worse than Alexandre Picard last night, I had a chance to suck a beer and watch L’Antichambre from beginning to end. The panelists – my man Frnçois Gagnon, Michel Bergeron, Tony Marinaro and Gaston Therrien – made some interesting points:
• Citing his own coaching experience, Bergeron wondered how a team trailing 4-0 in a hockey game can play with so little emotion. Maybe it’s because no one ever called Jacques Martin Le Grand Tigre. Nor do the Canadiens have a Dale Hunter to take someone’s head off and spark a rally. Max Pacioretty may turn into a power forward, but he’s no Hunter … or even a Patrick Kaleta.
• Gagnon tallied SoG, blocks and misses to point out the Canadiens had 73 to 43 for the Islanders. But the team had poor execution, no finish and the snipers blew chances.
• Puck possession and speed. This is supposed to be the Canadiens’ game, right? But against Colorado and Detroit, the Canadiens were the slower team and couldn’t complete two straight passes.
• Enough penance already! P.K. Subban has to play. The Canadiens gave Yannick Weber enough rope, and he’s hung himself. You can no longer sit a Top Four defenceman in favour of two guys, Weber and Picard, who would be number six and seven on good hockey teams.
Nor can a player with Subban’s skill set be omotted from a defence corps that includes three guys aged 35+ and an injured Josh Gorges.
• Marinaro says Lars Eller belongs in the AHL, where he can play 20 minutes a game. He’s with the Canadiens, Marinaro asserts, to save face for Pierre Gauthier on the Jaro Halak trade.
I don’t always agree with my friend Tony, who can be a bit bombastic, but he’s got a point. Up till now, I’ve thought they were right in bringing Eller, an abvious talent, along slowly. But on a team that can’t come back and sonsequently shortens its bench when trailing, the kid has two goals, four assists and is average a shade over 10 minutes ToI.
• If the Canadiens are getting nothing from their 12th forward – Hello, Tom yatt! – maybe they should dress and rotate seven D to give the aforementioned geezers and Gorges few minutes.
• Gagnon talked about the puck-support system Jacques Martin has precahed since the beginning of training camp in 2009. When the puck is in the Canadiens’ end, you should be seeing five skaters in close proximity.
This works well for the Detroit Red Wings, who pass like a basketball team and have puck-moving defenceman who make superb first passes.
It would work well for the Canadiens if Andrei Markov (and maybe, eventually, P.K.) were snapping off 40-foot tape-to-tape passes.
Or if Andrei Kostitsyn could backcheck and play transition as well as Pavel Datsyuk.
• The Canadiens are averaging 31.8 SoG per game. They’re allowing 29.8. They protected Carey Price well enough through October to ensure the goaltender got off to a confidence-boosting start.
But again, the system is great for protecting 2-1 leads.
Erasing deficits? Not so great.
The sports phone-ins – including Marinaro’s – will be fun today.
On to Washington.
• • •
Guest Comment from Bill:
This is no longer a slumping team, but a team in real trouble. They
get plowed by a team as terrible as the Islanders … and the Islanders
banged up too!
It’s a team characterized by terrible defensive
lapses and absolutely zero finish. The latter has been a problem all
year, as the Habs have had a hell of a time scoring goals. The former
has probably been a problem all year too, but had been masked up to this
point by unusually hot goaltending. With Price slumping – bad numbers
the past eight games – all the team’s warts are showing.
am not the biggest JM fan – okay, I don’t like his style – I am not
willing to blame him for the nose-dive his team has taken. The Habs have
good playmakers and good finishers on both the top lines, and AK and
Pacorietty provide size in the slot. Goals should be going in, but they
haven’t been all year … nobody except Plekanec willing to pay the
price? I don’t know.
Maybe it’s just the Markov trickle-down
effect. It actually could be that simple. Only thing I know for sure is
that Martin has proven unable to right the ship, and I’m not expecting
anything more from him. His “system” in Montreal has only ever worked
with lights-out goaltending. If Price can get back on track, he can
carry this team again. If not … the rest of the season is going to be
uglier and hairier than half-price night at a Peruvian bordello.