About last night …

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?

Jaro Spacek?

Andrei Kostistyn?

Benoit Pouliot?

Scott Gomez?

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?

Much commitment?

Any heart?

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!





  1. Wayne says:

    I like Spatch, he has a great attitude and is funny as hell but man, some of his brainfarts has me redoing drywall from time to time.

  2. oshawahabsfan says:

    Not entirely sure how they’ll do it, but this team has to figure out how to bring their home game to the road. When they play at the Bell Centre, the majority of the games they seem to be coming in wave upon wave of attack, line after line, constantly skating, moving the puck crisply. On the road the wingers flee the zone too quickly, passes are of the longer lower percentage variety, and time after time are standing still at the blueline, which accomplishes nothing other than giving the puck right back to the opposition. The team seems so stagnant on the road. The only game on the road trip in which they have been skating, moving the puck as a five man unit was the Carolina game, and…. they won. Even that game wasn’t quite a home game replicated on the road, but it was a heck of a lot closer than the rest of the recent road games. This road trip can’t end soon enough!

  3. LatheDog says:

    With Jacques Martin’s coaching woes these last ten games, you’d think Kirk Muller who is supposed to be Jacques’ right hand man would be able to assist Martin with some fresh strategies to solve this slump.  Could it be that Kirk is hoping for Jacques’ position?  I’m just speculating of coarse, that’s all.  I think Kirk Muller is a very capable assistant coach so I’m just surprised that the slump has lasted so long.

  4. oshawahabsfan says:

    Well he’s got more points and goals than anyone on this team, so I’d say he’s exactly what the team needs. He’s still an elite forward, who gets his nose dirty to score goals as well as scoring with that booming shot of his. Add in previous chemistry with Cammalleri and you’ve got an ideal situation in my eyes. Him and Cammalleri on the powerplay, available for one-timers on their off wings, hello! I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t rather have Iginla in AK’s spot on the Pleks line, maybe it’s just me…

  5. SHUTTemDOWN says:

    It hurts to watch the homeboys(les Francophones) smack the shi*t out of “Les Glorieux” almost, if not, everytime they meet… even worst than this roadtrip. You want guys who play w/ passion for their team, don’t wait for Les Nordicks to come back and take ’em all. Scouts… honour this plea.

  6. Josh says:

    JM led the team to the conference finals? He rode a hot goalie and sniper all the way there and when those two players became average then what happened? The same thing that’s happening now when the goalie becomes average.

  7. Josh says:

    Bowman would have more than half a system in place and would be able to adjust it as needed.

  8. Dunboyne Mike says:

    Agree, except I think Gionta is a Cup player too. Your test-tube analogy is me in Grade 8 chemistry! Hmm, doesn’t look right, give it a shake, worse and worse; “see me after class”. 

    I guess surprise no-shows (Gomez) and less surprising ones (AK) have obliged JM to shake more than is good. But I just think he needs to consolidate those lines — now with Desharnais in the mix — or will continue to fail to score.



  9. FormalWare says:

    Happy New Year; Erin Go Bragh!

    RE: Off(ense): Grim, but accurate. In reading that paragraph, it dawned on me: The Habs have perhaps three forwards that would be starters on a true Cup-contending team: Pleks, Cammi (just for raw ability; they are legitimate stars), and Halpern (key faceoffs and PK specialist). Every other forward is fodder – for trades, tinkering, or “development”. Occasionally (though not lately), JM appears to have shaken the test tube just the right number of times, and poured out a winning mix. Most often, though, it’s just a congealed mess.

  10. Dunboyne Mike says:

    Depends how much credit you (one) allowed to JM for the ECF at the time. I’m postponing a full turning-on until we see whether he can find better ways to capitalise on the roster he has.

  11. Dunboyne Mike says:

    Fully agree. But there’s no way we take even 4 from 7 without some kind of significant change to the team that has sucked so badly on the road. Realistically, I wonder what that change can be.

  12. Dunboyne Mike says:

    WOuld take Mike Knuble in a heartbeat. Exactly what we’re missing? Weren’t there rumours last year? Also Langenbrunner. But what are the odds?


  13. Timo says:

    Oh lookie lookie… turning on JM aren’t we? Hmm… how can it be? Didn’t he lead us to the ECF last season? Boy, how quick people forget.

  14. joeybarrie says:

    I would take Pleks over Iginla. And we already have him. Our problem right now on attack is a top 6 forward. Yes Iginla will help us, but his contract hit is not worth what he could bring to us.

    As much as I defend Gomez, and of course this is not his fault. The problem here is Gomez’ contract. We can’t afford to overpay for someone else. In this case we NEED to get a 30 goal scorer for AK money in order to make it work. And if we use AK we need to get a 40 goals scorer for Gionta money, and no one is giving that up.

    Dubinsky, Eriksson, Giroux, Brown, Stastny and Duchene. These are the guys we need, and will never get them. Our best chance is to pick up a guy like Knuble, Langenbrunner, or Brunette. Hope that Eller, Max Pac, and the rest of the younger guys learn from this season.

    There may be other teams, but only ONE Club De Hockey…

  15. habs001 says:

    hopefully some of our prospects will be the type of scorers we need but they are probably minimum 2 years away…for now our gm has to find the players..it will not be easy but that is why he gets paid well …sometimes a name player will not produce with his new team or a 25-27 old underachiever player produces when traded…we can throw out names but is hard to predict but generally the good gms trades work out more than not…

  16. joeybarrie says:

    Asking me for a deadline is a mistake. Cause that deadline would be LAST NIGHT. I hate Toronto, and Boston. I hate Philly… BUT I HATE LOSING TO TAMPA AND WASHINGTON THE MOST… For me this is the lowest.

    But if I tried to be unbaised… Saturday January 15th. We play 5 important games in the beg of Jan. 2 vs Pens, and the Rangers, and one against the Bruins. We absolutely need to win against the Bruins. We need to take 4 of 7 and the one against the Bruins at the very worst. Anything worse than that and we enter the second part of our season competing to make the playoffs.

    After getting to the 3rd round of the Playoffs I think competing to win a place in the playoffs is a step down. PG has done his share to get this team to the next level, now it’s on Martin.

    If we end the season going 6 out of 10 games we should end up in 3rd to 5th. Where I believe our team ranks. I think this is exactly what we will see. But this losing streak or slump must end soon. And we need to be on a different track TONIGHT. Otherwise we have to go on a 8 out of 10 winning streak for awhile to catch up. We should be done with catching up.

    I estimate we are 3 wins away from where we should be.

    There may be other teams, but only ONE Club De Hockey…

  17. Dunboyne Mike says:

    Anyone in mind? Hopefully not Iginla — beautiful player, but just can’t do it anymore. He IS the kind of guy who PG may well find is available, but probably he should resist. Bumped into a guy from Calgary here in Dublin Christmas Eve. Big Flames fan, said we were welcome to Iginla.

  18. GrimJim says:

    A small correction Boone: The Jan game against Calgary is at the Bell Centre. The outdoor game is in February

  19. habs001 says:

    we need at least 2 proven forwards who score 25-30 goals but dont get their goals in hot streaks..and much more offensive support and contribution from our d…

  20. habs001 says:

    this is the talent we have on scoring…it goes thru stretches when it has trouble scoring more than 1-2 goals..than it scores 2-4 scores and than reverts back to scoring problems…most of the of players we have their personal scoring history is also like this…they get hot than they do not score …than get hot again…we have enough data on most of our forwards to know what they are and what they will remain…there is no indication that the present forward line up will be anything more than what they have been.  

  21. Dunboyne Mike says:

    So what’s the solution? New system, new players, new coach, all of the above? If Gionta and Camm start scoring again, everything changes. Teams start treating us differently, start focusing on Gionta and Camm, thereby creating space/opportunities for others, incl Pleks, Max Pac, maybe Eller, and even — if someone in the organisation can solve him — AK.

  22. habs001 says:

    the team had major scoring issues all of last year…in the playoffs the combination of unbelievable goaltending and camm and gion turning into scoring machines(about 50% of our goals were scored by them) saved us…if they just scored at their reg pace we would have been just as bad in scoring as in the reg season..our scoring this year is the same as last year…this line up when it starts to win again the scores will be 2-1…3-2…the scoring issue will surface again with this line up..

  23. Dunboyne Mike says:

    Although he hasn’t used up as many second chances as AK, Gomez does beg the question, how long should a team be prepared to wait for a guy to produce? To earn his salary? No doubt there are complications (not just legal but also personal, for example his closeness to Gionta perhaps) which mean that an offload is never a straightforward solution. Don’t believe the press box or Hamilton would work either. Glad I’m not coach/GM. Do you remember John LeClair? Another American Hab, scoring machine, especially against Montreal, the moment he left. Always makes me nervous! Cheers.

  24. Dunboyne Mike says:

    Joey, reckon we’re on the same wave-length. WOuld you set a deadline for “righting the ship”?



  25. joeybarrie says:

    So we hopefully are at the end of our slump. Beat Florida today and come back home to lick our wounds. January 2011 will hopefully be a month like November and December.

    You can’t write this team off yet. We have alot of good components. BUT in the end we have 2 different teams. If we don’t get back to the other team soon, we are done.

    There are alot of holes. Wiz will hopefully plug one of them, and I didn’t really expect anything from him last night, as he has travelled the country from top to bottom and then played for the first time with players he has not even had a single practice with.

    HOWEVER, all the doom and gloom is not what it seems to be. Wiz hit the post yesterday and Desjardins had some great saves. It all came down to these problems.

    -2 too many men on the ice penalties. (honestly this is really bad)

    -1 wrong play by our rookie defenceman leads to St. Louis’ goal. (But players make mistakes)

    -1 hooking play against Stamkos. I know its instinct, but having faith in your goalie and not taking the penalty would have been better.

    -Wiz hitting the post. If we had not have taken the 5-3, and Wiz put the puck in the net. Completely different game.

    But in the end we did hit the post, we did make stupid mistakes. And this is what kills our team. I know we are gonna pick it back up, and I know we will compete. BUT, when we play like this, we are done for.

    So I am gonna say this now. IF JM DOESNT RIGHT THIS SHIP, it is time for him to go. I think he is a very good coach. But here is where he has to prove it. I doubt he will go. I doubt they will want to pick up yet another coach while paying this one, and the last one… But PG clearly wants to make good decisions, and do his best to make this team a winner. So its anyone’s guess…

    This is truly our low, and it does not feel good. We have to end it ans start back up to the top, cause this is depressing.

    There may be other teams, but only ONE Club De Hockey…

  26. Dunboyne Mike says:

    I agree —  but was too busy penning my endless post above to see yours first.


  27. Dunboyne Mike says:

    Yikes, a shocker last night. Reluctant to speculate (cuz that’s all we can do) about morale, tensions, tanking, vets and rookies etc. But some thoughts about what we can see on the ice:

    Nets — very positive. CP is not unbeatable, but is holding up his end despite major problems in front of him. But for God’s sake, coach, rest him. I was only a kid at the time, but I thought Bunny Laroque spelled Dryden a lot more often.

    Def — the main guys can deliver with the right pairings and no injuries. Coach must help old Czechs accept that their talent and experience are optimised if they play less and don’t get tired. Personally, I like the Gill and PK pairing, from a mentoring perspective. And I would unleash PK who has the potential to be the x-factor. Wiz a really good addition, I hope not too little too late. Weber seems out of his depth.

    Off — all other problems are rooted in the lack of scoring. Forgive the truism – can’t score, can’t win. Further, can’t keep opposing teams honest. I mean, when coaches read that we have never once come back from conceding the first goal, what does that say to them? That’s an incredible stat. We HAVE guys who score — that’s how we beat Caps and Pens in the playoffs. Why aren’t they scoring now? Answer that, and fix it, and we can compete in our division again. If the problem is terminal, then Gauthier must get busy. What we don’t have is a Shutt-Lafleur-Mahovlich line, but then again neither did the 93 champs. And please, find a way to optimise AK or else off-load. How many chances does a player deserve? Pouliot does not belong.

    Coach — Can we separate System and personality for a second? There are good things in the system, but there is a cost in terms of individuality, and that is surely a factor in our lack of scoring. Also, systems can be studied and prepared for by opposing coaches who then figure out how to stop us scoring. And no ‘system’ can produce when lines are being juggled so continuously — players have to find their chemistry and blend. The lines need to be sorted urgently.

    Then personality. When posters say that players seem scared to play, to make a mistake — is that real or are we projecting? If it’s real, it has to change or JM has to go. Also, if he is a slave to his system, and wants to enslave everyone else, the season is over already. 2 options: 1) JM goes, Muller takes over (in Montreal in recent seasons, nothing novel about mid-season changes behind bench. Not sure if Muller is ready, but if 2) following is not possible, then ANYTHING would be better; or 2) JM modifies ‘system’, softens it, does a better job of identifying the team’s strengths — particularly on offense — and encourages the boys to play hockey.

    He has never won anything, but my preference would be option 2 until a Babcock, Bowman, or Boucher becomes available.

    Sorry for long post. Been saving it up. Happy New Year from Ireland.


  28. Barts says:

    “They don’t play like a team who’s given up on their coach.” Really?????? I think you’re wrong.

  29. habs-hampton says:

    I’ll say it again. JM is a great technical coach and has developed a solid system that matches the players we have, but GET HIM OFF THE BENCH!!  He is not a good bench coach. I don’t know if Muller or Pearn could fill thwe role, but JM has proven that he can’t do it. He doesn’t seem to be able to make the “in-game” adjustments needed sometimes. Halfway though the 2nd period he should have called a timeout and REAMED his team, but he did nothing except watch the game get away from him.

    I like the system he put in place, but now its time to get out…

  30. DearyLeary says:

    Two too many men penalties back to back… how on earth do you send out 5 guys on a penalty kill?  It wasn’t just a bad change, we had 5 guys skating around…  that was the end right there.

  31. Shiloh says:

    It’s pretty easy to call for the firing of a coach as a solution – and not always right. In this case, however, it may be the correct option. It’s a shame we let Boucher go, but that’s water under the bridge.

    Gomez is not just under-producing on the scoresheet. He’s coughing up the puck with alarming regularity – sad little dribbling giveaways which kill our infrequent rushes. PG has to take the bull by the horns here. It’s time to do something major like putting Gomer on waivers.

  32. JF says:

    I don’t often post simply to register disgust, but last night was too much.  A lucky goal to start the game, the best first period we’ve played in a while, then two incredibly stupid, needless penalties, the Lightning tie the game, and the Habs simply collapse.  This is unacceptable.  It’s more than time for the team’s leaders to step up and take control before the season spirals down the drain.  I can stomach losing when the players give it their all, but not the gutless performances we’ve been seeing lately.  What happened to the discipline, the tight defence, the opportunistic goals we saw earlier in the season?  This team is unrecognizable. 


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