About last night …

PopeMikeI

Pope Michel I?
Hey, why not?
Through the first third of this short NHL season, Michel Therrien definitely has the infallibility thing going.
Seriously, name one wrong move Therrien has made in coaching your Montreal Canadiens to a position in the standings 14 spots higher than where they finished last season.

Exhibit A: Lars Eller. A healthy scratch for the second and third games of the season, Eller has been excellent – playing on the wing and at centre, in all situations, in all three zones, with a variety of linemates.

Exhibit B: Ryan White. Called out by Therrien after a series of brain-dead penalties, White spent seven games in the pressbox and did not get back into the lineup until Brendan Gallagher was concussed by Luke Schenn on Saturday. So did you notice who was taking – and winning – a defensive zone faceoff with Henrik Lundqvist on the bench and six Rangers skaters looking for the tying goal?

Exhibit C: Raphael Diaz. Opening night against Toronto, the Swiss sophomore played 14:49. Against the Rangers: 21:58 – more than Andrei Markov, more than P.K. Subban, more than Josh Gorges.  And who was on the ice  to protect that slim lead and score an insurance goal?

Answer me this, peeps: Where did you have Raphael Diaz on the Canadiens depth chart before the season began? And where is he now?

Why did Diaz top the ToI chart, including 2:47 when the Canadiens were shorthanded?

Because Michel Therrien coaches a meritocracy. Play well and you play a lot.

But the coach is not rigid.

Play not so well, and Therrien will give you time to get your stuff together. See DESHARNAIS, David.

Plus this:  Therrien’s careful spoonfeeding of ice time to Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher. And his deployment of surprisingly versatile Brandon Prust (plus-3 against his old team) as their protector.

And this: P.K. Subban is less flamboyant, more effective.

If Jack Adams Trophy voting were held today, Therrien would definitely be part of the conversation. And that may be the case when the real voting happens, a ways down the road.

 

Are your Canadiens an all-conquering juggernaut?

Of course not – as evidenced by 40 minutes during which it was only necessary to Zamboni the end of  MSG ice defended by a team being forechecked to death. But the beleaguered Canadiens – who didn’t get a shot on goal until the game was 16 minutes old and were held shotless for an eight-minute stretch of the second period – hung in and played rope-a-dope.

And despite playing their second game in as many nights, the Canadiens picked up their pace in the third period to bag two more unlikely points.

The team doesn’t quit. They battle, they play a sound defensive system in front of a great goaltender (and his backup), they’re disciplined (two minor penalties, despite chasing the puck for long stretches of a tough game in New York).

Unlike too many teams of  too many recent seasons, this edition of the Canadiens has character. And that’s a tribute to the coach and his staff.

There are 32 games to go. And let’s be honest: a Canadiens collapse is not inconceivable.

But the only NHL teams with more wins than the Canadiens’ 11 are mighty Chicago and surprising Anaheim. The team is halfway through a killer portion of its schedule – six games in eight nights – and they’ve won all three and five in a row, dating back to the Florida trip.

Beginning next Monday, the Canadiens will play 11 of 15 games on the road. It will be difficult, probably impossible, to maintain a pace that has them 4-1-1 away from the Bell Centre.

Injuries will happen. Key players will have off-nights.

In an interview during an English Premier League soccer telecast this week, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said in any given game, he didn’t expect more than eight of his players to perform well. The key to success, Lord Ferg added, is to a system and players who can rally and pick up the slack for guys who are having off-games.

The Canadiens have that esprit de corps going. With the exception of Tomas Plekanec, everyone on the team has had bad nights. Some have had many.  I’m looking at you, Erik Cole.

But with the exception of the Leaf Lashing, we haven’t seen a game in which the whole squad sucked. Someone always seems to take up the slack. And their readiness to rally is a tribute to that guy behind the bench.

But I don’t think we’ll see Therrien in papal vestments … not after what happened when he wore the mustard-coloured jacket for a playoff game.

• Hey, check out this honey of a goal by Pavel Datsyuk, who shakes off a forecheck and goes end-to-end:

 

662 Comments

  1. podbay says:

    Here’s an idea. Let’s NOT trade Gallagher, and instead, let him and Galchenyuk develop into the brilliant players they will become if coached and mentored properly. I cannot process why anyone here would want to consider Brendan Gallagher as possible trade bait, FFS. One step at a time!

  2. hooliganpants says:

    playing prust was a wrong move by therrien.
    calling “great” and “a leader” and the “solution” to cole’s “slump” was totally wrong. wrong enough that i don’t think therrien is infallible at all. why didn’t he bench prust after the toronto blow out like he did with white prior? send him back to pittsburgh to continue teaching matt cooke how to be the most horrible pro hockey player of all time, and let muller step in and take us to number 25 and beyond.

    leafs suck
    suck it leafs

  3. Did Ruff really get fired? Tortorella should be next. What an idiot!

    I watched his team totally dominate the Habs for 2 periods only to lose a really hard fought (granted it was a really boring game).

    Then he has the nerve to call his team really bad and the Habs (number 1 in the east) really bad. If these teams are really bad, which teams does he think are any good?

    I can’t believe anyone would want to play for that guy.

    Ch EJ

  4. punkster says:

    I just learned this from another site:

    Cole last season after 16 games…3 goals, 3 assists.

    Cole this season after 16 games…2 goals, 2 assists.

    ***SUBBANGIN’ NOW BABY!!!***

  5. 2mins4lookinsooogood says:

    “Step Right Up, Step Right Up … Today’s Waiver Wobbler for Disgruntled Habs Fans is …….. “Cody McCormick”

    “Today’s 4th line dreamboat is sure to drop the gloves and your team’s position in the standings with his never can stop blend of staged fights and missed assignments”

    Shop now, because this offer won’t be repeated … but if you are looking for a little more under the hood, we are expecting a slow footed Edmonton defenceman to come on the market very soon”!

    “Don’t crush that dwarf Alex Henry, hand me the pliers”

  6. Mattyleg says:

    Hey, while we’re talking about trading everyone for anyone, let’s trade Gallagher, Eller and a 4th for Zenon Konopka!

    (That seemed like a good idea to a number of posters on here not too long ago… are we still good with this?)

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  7. HabinBurlington says:

    Okay, since we are in fantasy trade land, lets switch gears to fantasy UFA land.

    Corey Perry, from Peterborough, first question, anyone here from the Peterborough area know if this kid grew up a Leaf or Habs fan? It seems highly doubtful Anaheim can re-sign both Perry and Getzlaf, Getzlaf has a married a girl from the Anaheim area also, so easier to re-sign. Perry it is rumoured wants to go to a bigger market.

    Probably would require a 7 year contract at near max. money. Would you do it? I do realize we would have to dump some salary in order to make this happen, Kaberle would obviously be gone, and perhaps a Gionta or Cole.

    • Loonie says:

      I’ve lived in and near Peterborough for the majority of my life.

      Perry is an interesting question. He’s grown up a little bit but likes visiting watering holes VERY frequently and every once in a while finds himself in trouble.

      I think the point is moot though. They signed Fasth today, I don’t think they’ll be trading anyone or letting guys walk without putting up a fight.

      If he does happen to get to free agency he’ll easily get $7 million annually as a former Hart winner and prolific scorer.

    • HabFanSince72 says:

      3 goals in 15 games on a good team. That amounts to a 16 goal regular (82 game) season.

      • HabinBurlington says:

        Okay then, so his past is clearly in the past. Got it. I am glad you are able to seperate the wheat from the chaff so easily.

        Edit: So as of two days ago Max Pac never scores in the NHL again. Again got it. Understand the logic better now.

        • HabFanSince72 says:

          In fairness, goals scored is a decent measure of a goal scorer’s performance. And his have been declining steadily since his Hart season.

          If he will get $7M / year then let Glen Sather sign him.

          • Loonie says:

            Funny how his goal production has coincided with Getzlaf’s poor play over the last season.

          • HabinBurlington says:

            Okay, that makes sense. I am not sure if I would want us to entertain signing Perry, but he has proven to be an excellent player. If however, he is starting to slide then one has to be very careful about overpaying for him. Seems to me though he is a very competitive guy.

    • neumann103 says:

      Gerry

      From the Ducks website “a Closer Look” feature on Corey Perry
      http://ducks.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=44324

      “Favorite NHL team growing up
      Montreal Canadiens”

      Let the hopeful speculation begin!

      “Et le but!”


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