Nothing to add to Quick Hits, except this:
I don’t think the Canadiens will be playing for their coach’s job this afternoon in the ironically-named Sunrise, Fla.
But if they lose to the lowly Panthers to complete a 1-6 road trip, the Bell Centre is going to be a very tense place on Sunday afternoon with Atlanta in town.
Who will draw the loudest boos?
There is no shortage of worthy candidates for the ire of passionate fans who see the season melting away like dog doots down a sewer in a thunderstorm.
Maybe Jacques Martin will walk out and wave to the adoring crowd.
How does a professional hockey team get caught with too many men on the ice twice within 45 seconds?
Granted, it’s a long change in the second period. But where was the concentration needed to play hockey at a professional level.
With a two-man advantage, Guy Boucher summoned his guys, drew up a play and Bingo!
P.K. Subban was caught on the wrong side of Ryan Malone, with the result that Carey Price had to cheat a bit in anticipation of Martin St. Louis feedin Malone a pass out of the corner.
Price’s positioning opened a wee door for St. Louis, and Tampa Bay was on the board.
Hey, St. Louis is an ageless future Hall of Famer. Stuff happens.
But the Canadiens, who had not opened a game’s scoring since this horrible road trip began in Colorado, folded. The goal gave Tampa Bay momentum, and the Lightning took over, their speed and tenacity causing the penalties we’ve become accustomed to seeing on this trip: seven minors last night, seven (including Too Many Men) in Washington, eight against the Islanders.
What is happening to this team?
Don Cherry, who is not always wrong about everything, has said the easiest thing to accomplish in sports is getting a hockey coach fired. The players just stop trying, and that’s fatal in a game demanding so much energy and commitment.
Are you seeing much energy from your Montreal Canadiens?
The team will complete four road games in six days today – a hellish schedule in winter, when travel is difficult.
January is easier: only 11 games. But there are three sets of back-to-backs, and this is how the schedule begins:
Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Boston at the Bell Centre; then a back-to-back: at Rangers/home to Penguins.
A home game against the Rangers is followed by the outdoor game in Calgary and a visit to Buffalo the following night. A Friday trip to Ottawa on the 21st is immediately followed by Saku Koivu’s return to the Bell Centre. After the All-Star break, the Canadiens visit Philadelphia.
Unlike October, January features opponents who are playing above .500 hockey. And if the Canadiens play like they did on this road trip, they’ll be looking up at playoff teams in the dog days of February.
Having praised Jacques Martin’s coaching acumen when the season began, I’m not going to join any groundswell calling for his head.
Let’s be honest: cotty Bowman couldn’t turn this lineup into an elite team.
But they should … indeed, they must make the playoffs – for the psychological health of Montrealers and for Geoff Molson’s bank account (which Jaro Halak was nice enough to boost by $25 million last spring.)
Pierre Gauthier acted decisively in acquiring James Wisniewski, who was one of the few Canadiens earning his salary last night.
The general manager is not going to let this season slip away
• • •
Hopeful analysis from MathMan:
They don’t play like a team that’s given up on
their coach. They play like a team that’s been walloped with bad luck
and whose confidence has suffered as a result.
Once things start
going their way again they’ll be fine — and I think we’re in for a nice
suprise because their underlying stats in December were very strong (so
much so that it’s almost a travesty that they lost so many games and by
so many goals, but then again, after last year’s playoffs the Habs
really can’t complain about luck.)
But a less sanguine view from CHasman:
In all my years of watching hockey I have never
seen a team take two terrible ‘too many men’ penalties in quick
succession. The extra man wasn’t even near the bench in either case.
Missing the net on quality chances way too much.
Spacek and Hammerlik making more giveaways than rookies.
Plekanecs, Cammy and Ak46 playing great together and then separated.
Halpern, Darche and Pouliot playing great together and then separated.
Eller, Darche and POuliot playing great together and then separated.
Players playing like they’re afraid of making mistakes, passing when they should shoot and shooting when they should pass.
the worst thing I’ve seen this year. Taking a player that was exciting
and having me believe I was watching a star being born and beating him
down, blaming him for mistakes that a rookie makes when two veteran
defensemen are making the same mistakes every night, but at least the
coach made his point, try not to be a star.
The Habs will turn it
around, even with JM as a coach because they are not as bad as they are
playing now. I, however hope they do it with a different bench boss.
He’s making our team boring and stifling their talent!