Game Within the Game: Subban might be trying to do too much


P.K. Subban shuffles his feet at the centre of the dark arena, standing with his helmet tucked in his right armpit.

Only a digital projection of the American flag illuminates the players as the Star Spangled Banner resonates across the ice and into the stands.

While most of them bow their heads and sort of lumber left and right, Subban’s skates are really going: they’re cutting into the ice like he’s tunnelling his way out of the Bell Centre.

He can’t just stand still, there’s something inside him, some manic energy that just won’t allow him to.

Even during the pregame ceremonies, nobody moves quite like P.K. Subban.

That energy usually translates into the game but, these past two games, Subban has struggled.

In fairness, just about everyone on the Canadiens is searching for their game this past week, but Subban’s tribulations will always draw more attention. Tuesday against the Chicago Blackhawks, he was on the ice for three goals against, managed only one shot on net and took a holding penalty in a 5-0 loss.

“Am I guilty of not being my best, yeah I am,” Subban said after the game. “I don’t think I have too big of an explanation for that, does it matter what my explanation is? It doesn’t. You can say whatever you want, nobody cares. They want to see you play better. If people want to point the finger at me, that’s fine, I’ve got to be better.”

Ever since he broke into the league, Subban has been pulled in two directions.

He’s expected to play an unhinged brand of hockey, pushing the limits of what we expect from a puck-moving defenceman. Goals, Hail Mary stretch passes, 20-second episodes of dominance whereby he places one hand on his stick — controlling the puck — and another on his defender’s arm, creating just enough space to skate circles around the other team.

But, the naysaying chorus goes, he also needs to rein all of that in, to play it safe, to celebrate less boisterously, to make less noise, have less fun, to keep his head down and be just like the other kids.

On Tuesday, he played like someone attempting to be both of those people at once, trying to force a long, low percentage pass during one shift but then playing overly conservative during the next.

In the offensive zone, he rarely pinched in to help the forwards, didn’t take control of the puck, opted to stay behind in case of a turnover. It’s never a good thing when players get inside their own heads.

“Right now we’re thinking too much, we’ve just got to play,” he said.

During the power play, Chicago would place two forwards in his shooting lane, making it nearly impossible for him to get a clean slapshot to the net. It must have been frustrating and its something more and more teams are doing against the Canadiens’ power play.

He will almost certainly take flack for being on the ice during three of Chicago’s five unanswered goals. That one of those goals took a freak bounce off Rene Bourque’s skate and another off Brandon Saad’s body will not matter. That the third came while Dale Weise was beat to the net by a streaking Patrick Kane matters even less.

Subban was in the right position for those plays, between his man and Price’s net, generally playing against the Murderer’s Row that constitutes Chicago’s top two lines — players like Kane, Jonathan Toews or Patrick Sharp to name a few.

Still, Subban was on the ice and the team was on its heels. He’s supposed to prevent that from happening — so are the other four skaters who play with him, but he’s the guy they look to, the guy that’s meant to set the pace, to take control of the game.

People see the sort of performance the Habs turned in Sunday and Tuesday and they worry. It’s normal.

Perhaps what sets Subban aside is that he’s trained himself to look forward, to look at his mistakes, punch them into his brain for future reference but not allow himself to be haunted by them.

“I feel good because I know we can play a lot better than that. … There’s plenty of hockey left.”

Not a lot of people could say that after suffering a humiliating defeat in front of 21,000 people and probably about another million viewers watching from home.

The Canadiens are in Buffalo Wednesday night and then back in Montreal on Saturday and there are another 67 games to be played after that.

Perhaps that’s the one positive to be drawn from an otherwise dreary eight days in Habs nation.

(Photo by Dario Ayala/Montreal Gazette)

Blackhawks’ big guns hand Habs third straight loss, by Montreal Gazette’s Pat Hickey

Plekanec nails ugly truth on the head, by Montreal Gazette’s Dave Stubbs

‘We know we’re better than that,’ Subban says, by Pat Hickey

The awakening,

Patrick Sharp injured in Blackhawks’ win, Chicago Sun Times

Habs vs. Hawks photo gallery,

Blackhawks top Habs with Toews, Kane reunited,

Canadiens head to Buffalo looking for answers,

Let’s cross Maurice Richard bridge when we come to it, by Montreal Gazette’s Peggy Curran


  1. Ron says:

    New thread is up..

  2. Slack says:

    So I’ve sifted through the comments of the day; the “look-how-clever-I-am” groaners; the knee-jerk finger pointing; the “blame-the-coaches-cuz-thay-ar-franch!!1” nonsense; the “bench-Bourque/DD/Parenteau/Beaulieu” angry limb flailing; and the well thought out, coherent, and relevant discussion buried amongst it all. There’s great posts, and then there’s the drivel, but in the end we are all passionate fans (the most passionate perhaps) and we are all united towards the same goal. Our team is being outplayed by hungrier teams but it will not last. Gardez la foi! Keep yer chins up. We can get through this!! We can and we will!! Remember who the good guys are! GO HABS GO

  3. shiram says:

    So if they lose tonight, with Sekac in for Bourque, and Bournival in for Moen, whom do we want to replace next?

    My bets are Prust for forwards, and Weaver for D.

  4. Jeffster911 says:


    Now thats what i call a 3rd line … full of size, speed, fore-checking

    Now lets see if MT has the guts to let the rust wear off of sekac and build some chemistry from there.

  5. John Belushi says:

    Can we trade for Kirk Muller so we can get our PP back?

  6. jimmy shaker says:

    I keep hearing “We know we can play better” from PK to patch to Carey. I’m kind of done hearing that line and just want the on ice product to mirror that. I don’t expect the habs to win every game, but I do expect them to be involved in every game. 3 blowout losses already early on in the season is a bit worrying. Thankfully Sekac, Tinner and Toker are in tonight. Not saying Price is to blame, but he needs a rest for his sanity! Thankfully I PVR’d the game on sports net and it ended up being blacked out in Windsor here for some reason, so I didn’t have to watch that horrible display. I better just stick to RDS from now on if I have to PVR anymore games.

    Shaker out!

    • New says:

      Unfortunately Price is pretty good. Tokarski isn’t bad either.

      When you glance at the production, just points production, of the Canadiens players over their NHL years you’ll see most of these guys are right now producing more than, or as much as they always have.

      So we all blame coaches, or circumstances, or luck, or refs, but generally a Chev is a Chev and a BMW is a BMW.

      The team is not that strong. They have a big time goalie who tries to hold them in and a kid named Galchenyuk who will be looking for another nest five years from now.

      That doesn’t mean the players are bad players. But there are no Crosbies, Toews, MacKinnons,or other game changers available when you draft 15-30th. Most years there aren’t any at all.

      The hope for the Canadiens is just what the GM told us all. Get into the playoffs and anything can happen. Usually that anything is an accidental injury to the critical cog in the machine, Price.

      Because other teams have a better grip on what the Canadiens are than the media and fans do.

  7. arcosenate says:

    It’s the Champlain Bridge.

  8. DipsyDoodler says:

    The angriest posts originate from Hamilton, Windsor, Winnipeg and Calgary.

    Day after day.

    Win or lose.

    A stream of vicious invective.

    What gives?



  9. Prop says:

    Looks like Bourque is sitting out and Sekac is in.


  10. CJ says:

    Tokarski, Tinordi and Sekac in…..

    • Phil C says:

      Other than Price, who’s out?

    • Forum Dog says:

      These changes are all kind of no-brainers, and I’m glad to see them.

      If Tinordi shows well again tonight, after a couple of games in the presser, I would suggest he stay in barring a complete collapse in his play or injury. He brings a physical confidence that no other player on the team can offer. Beaulieu has not shown any indication that he is ready for a full-time job here, and I’m not sure what the next step is with him. Maybe the press-box for a few and then on to Hamilton? Hopefully he keeps a positive attitude, because I think this is going to be a bumpy year for him.

      I am glad to see Sekac getting a shot again. Hopefully he plays well and can solidify a spot. It was time for Bourque to take a seat anyway. It’ll be interesting to see where they line him up. Will it be LW on the 3rd with Eller? Or will he get a shot at RW with Plekanec and Galchenyuk?

      • CJ says:

        I want to see Nate stick, but he’s been in the lineup for our four worst games this year. Tinordi was also dressed in Tampa, but otherwise he sat out 0-3, 2-6 and 0-5 losses. Maybe it’s just bad luck, but Nate is finding himself in wrong place at the wrong time.

        Sekac is 6-1 while in the lineup. Again, maybe it’s purely coincidence, but I’d rather take my chances with him then Bourque. Bourque on the pp last night was a last ditch effort to get something going. Instead of going to the net, he settled in the high slot. He just doesn’t get it….

        • Forum Dog says:

          I’m betting on a Tinordi scrap and a Sekac goal, both of which have the potential to fire up a squad that has shown no fire for about a week now.

          • CJ says:

            Yep. I love the tough guys but wonder what’s up with Prust? Tinordi needs to step up tonight. He can handle anyone in the sabres organization.

  11. Mattyleg says:

    A big element to our winning ways at the begining of the season was our D-corps pinching like a doberman.

    They kept the puck in the o-zone, kept the defenders on the back-foot, and really allowed our guys to put concerted pressure on the goal.

    With our slide has come a lack of pinching. Numerous times last night, I saw the defence backing up from 50-50 pucks leaving the zone. D-man should be taking a couple of strides to keep it in, or at least give it a go, and lay out the oncoming forward if he loses the race.

    Bring back the pinch!

    —Hope Springs Eternal—

  12. D Mex says:

    Being curious about what might be happening with the team off the ice, I’ve been trying to watch facial expressions on-bench during games. With Price, the opportunities come on-ice during stoppages, including those that follows goals against.

    Last night, it appeared to me the only GA that seemed to put him a bit off balance was the wraparound play in which he got caught behind the net. Other than that, he appears unfazed, and has seemed unfazed, despite ‘ events ‘ of the past few games.

    So, what say you HI/O : Team room OK, or Team room not OK ??

    ALWAYS Habs –
    D Mex

    • HabinBurlington says:

      Maybe the team room is too okay. Is it possible they all get along too well, not enough inner competition for ice time. Players complacent with the lot they have been given.

      Might not hurt to have a leader with big cahoona’s kick over some garbage cans and call some people out even if it hurts their feelings.

      • Mattyleg says:

        I think that there is an element of complacency after last season and our good start.

        That’ll change with this period of sh!t.

        It’s bad-tasting medicine, but it’s good in the long run.

        —Hope Springs Eternal—

        • D Mex says:

          I tried to blame last night on you – you were at the game, weren’t you ? It got no traction last time I checked, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t step up here to set things straight.

          You could start with ‘ haven’t been at my best ‘, rub an ear, and just let it flow from there … 😉

          ALWAYS Habs –
          D Mex

          • Mattyleg says:

            I think that my .500 regular-seaon record speaks for itself.

            Can I yell louder? I doubt it.
            Can I drink more? Not without compromising my performance and the attire of the people sitting in front of me.

            If anything, I believe our team’s lack of confidence hinges on the woman sitting next to me who yelled “OH GOD, OH GOD, OH GOD,” every time the Hawks touched the puck in our zone, from the first shift onward.

            —Hope Springs Eternal—

          • D Mex says:

            Crazy lady in the stands – that’s what you’re going with ? OK, fine …

            ALWAYS Habs –
            D Mex

    • Canus says:

      Didn’t Malhotra say he has never been in a room where everyone is so close compared to other teams. And, he also said there are no clique’s on this team.
      That’s gotta be a good thing.

  13. HabinBurlington says:

    I agree with the Gist of responsibilty player wise being the 4 – A’s (wonder how long before the A stands for something else) and a few others like DD, Prust and Emelin.

    P.A. needs to step up and others, but our best players need to be our best.

    That means top forwards and top dpairings.

    Bourque/Eller etc… is far from the problem on this team at present.

    Galchenyuk and maybe Price are the only two top talents showing up every night with some passion.

  14. ooder says:

    it’s not the losses that bug me. The losses I can live with. Bounces not going your way, shoot outs, ill timed penalties can all explain that. It is the complete lack of structure that bothers me. I don’t know if it’s coaches or players just not executing. When DD misses a wide empty net, or eller tries to go on 1 vs 4, it’s not the coaches faults

  15. Habfan17 says:

    For me, the cause of concern is not the loss of Gallant, or the play and salary of PK, he will get things going. It is the utter inability of the coaching staff to address the terrible power play that has been that going all the way back to the beginning of last season!!

    I am also concerned with the inability of Therrien to make in game adjustments and reach the players when they are struggling! This has happened too many games this season and the first periods as we all know are abysmal!! I know Bergevin said a step back to move two steps forward, but it isn’t inexperience that is hurting this team. It is the lack of compete to start games and the inconsistent level of compete throughout the games so far! That is on the coaches!!

    DD and Patches need to look in the mirror as do others. This team needs to have the drive and pride to prove to other teams that they are a top team and a play off team. They are not doing that.

    They all need to sit down, coaches and players and have a soul check. It wouldn’t hurt to show the players some video with examples of second effort and commitment. I remember DD last season in overtime chasing an opposing player from behind, stripping him of the puck before he could leave his own zone, spinning and scoring a goal. Second effort and commitment. So far, he has not played to that level this season. He is not alone!!

  16. Phil C says:

    Prior to the start of the season, in his 30 Thoughts article from 8 Oct, Elliot Friedman described the systemic changes the Penguins were making to the offense. Their old offense of stretch passes, chipping it deep, etc, sounds a lot like what the Habs are doing now. Their new system is nothing like what the Habs do. I remember reading the article and thinking if the Penguins execute this well, they are going to score a lot. So far they lead the league in scoring despite only playing 11 games so far.

    In particular, the net drive described below is something missing from the Habs’ offense. I like Therrien a lot defensively, but I’ve never liked the offense under him because of examples like this.

    8. If you’ve spent much time watching the Penguins during pre-season, you get an idea of some of the systemic changes the team is making. Pittsburgh liked the stretch pass, tipping it in deep, creating a race. Now, in transition, you can see John$ton wants his forwards to aggressively circle back. “If the puck is in the neutral zone, come back to it…so if the defencemen want to give it to you, you can accelerate through.” He will encourage his forwards to go back deeper than the defenders, if they can. That should allow even more speed.

    9. The other offensive change comes once a puck carrier enters the offensive zone. At their height, the Penguins terrified opponents between the blueline and the top of the face-off circle. John$ton compared it to giving a quarterback six options, “depending on how many receivers there are.” Basically, he will demand a hard mid-lane drive from a teammate in order to give the player with the puck more choices. How the defence reacts to that attacker will set up Pittsburgh’s offence.

    10. When Adam Oates was in studio last year during the Penguins/Rangers series, he explained how, when opponents dumped the puck into the Pittsburgh zone, Dan Bylsma wanted the defenceman on the opposite side to come over and retrieve the puck. That set up a quick reverse to evade forecheckers. New York was able to disrupt that, but John$ton won’t eradicate this philosophy, because Bylsma taught it well. “Our guys are very good at that,” the new coach said. He will, however, add some new options to spread out forecheckers.

    • HabinBurlington says:

      Do remember reading that, and it makes sense. Does help when two of your lines are centered by Crosby and Malkin and perhaps explains Bylsma’s dismissal. With that talent, why chip and chase etc….

      Obviously right now it is really really easy to crap all over MT and the other coaches, and it could be completely warranted.

      I’ll wait a few more games before I get the full size sh&t cannon out of storage though.

    • krob1000 says:

      You will still get the odd break by having forwards occasionaly leak early for the stretch pass and that should always be an option if they read it…however the idea of the forwards corcling back is something that used to be the norm and has disappeared…Montreal is not built for puck retrieval…they are built for skilled puck movement which requires speed. At the very least MOntreal should be coming back to the puck at “standard breakout depth” anywhere on The rink….so imagine the hash marks relative to wherever the dmen are in the neutral zone…that should result a d to d, pass up and a center curling and the weak side winger moving as well with a lot of stationary defenders.

      • Phil C says:

        Exactly, nothing new, just fundamentally sound puck support.

        When the Habs played an aggressive forecheck in 2013, even though this was a defensive scheme, I think it had a side effect of benefiting the offense because all the forwards were already at top speed so when a turn over happened, the transition was deadly.

        Now that they play more passively defensively, even when they cause a turnover and get the puck, they are flat-footed and can’t do anything.

  17. Congrats to Team Canada says:

    So im headed to the game tonight, anyone else here making the trek from the Golden Horseshoe.

    I have very mixed emotions going into tonight’s game.

    First the negatives. One undeserved win, and 5 goals scored over the last week and a half. There PP is non existent. There also near the cellar in the league when it comes to 5-5 scoring also, at just under 80 percent, when you should be looking at 100 to 120 percent in that category for great to elite teams. They are scoring almost a goal less a game then allowing. There being outshot close to 5 more a game.

    Ill leave it at that for now.

    Positives. The PK is holding on despite remarkable penalties surrendered. Faceoffs are also and area of consistency. This team has oodles of talent up front, and perhaps one of the best tandems on defense.

    So whats happened from last year.

    To me, only one word to explain it.


    Its not only fair to say, but accurate that this team of disinterested pampered players has yet to play a full 60 minutes in any fashion used to describe what the word TEAM means.

    Some games, there effort can be shown in a set of shifts on a single minute of forecheck presence.

    Thats it! And some of those games they won.

    Dont need to change the coach, make a trade, nor change lines, where PK centers Tokarski, or DD plays net.


    That goes for everyone. Its nice to see consistent effort from a few players that have been mentioned time and time again on this forum. And thank god, but 3-4 guys don’t make a TEAM, never have never will unless its Curling.

    If the HABS don’t score a bunch of goals in Buffalo tonight, I may be forced to start another tradition, throwing the road team Jersey on the ice.

    Its my birthday on top of all that. So show THE FRICK UP!

  18. The Puckhound says:

    Former captain Brian Gionta and assistant captain Josh Gorges should be stoked to play the Hab’s out. Money will be on the board in the Sabre’s room.

    Trade #14

  19. Luke says:


    Let the hate flow through you…

  20. 5wings says:

    Morning All,
    Last night was a game to forget!!
    The team has to move on..
    PK has to forget about his contract and play like he can..he is chasing in his own end taking penalties by retaliating..beaking off too the game hard and keep your nose clean..IMO he has so much talent but he seems to get distracted very things he should leave alone..
    HABS still need to shop for another DMAN..they are thin with talent.
    And a net front guy like VANEK was in the regular season..
    the 1st and 3rd HAWK goals were tips from guys in front of Price,,he had no chance.. 2nd goal he was out of position left the post to early..and Kane’s goal everyone knew where the pass was going but he didnt react to get across..Toews wasnt shooting the puck from that angle..
    Shoot the puck get traffic in front, that is the gameplan against the HABS.. It seems to work for the other teams..The HABS rarely get tip ins or garbage goals!!

    GO HABS GO!!

  21. Congrats to Team Canada says:

    So im headed to the game tonight, anyone else here making the trek from the Golden Horseshoe.

    I have very mixed emotions going into tonight’s game.

    First the negatives. One undeserved win, and 5 goals scored over the last week and a half. There PP is non existent. There also near the cellar in the league when it comes to 5-5 scoring also, at just under 80 percent, when you should be looking at 100 to 120 percent in that category for great to elite teams. They are scoring almost a goal less a game then allowing. There being outshot close to 5 more a game.

    Ill leave it at that for now.

    Positives. The PK is holding on despite remarkable penalties surrendered. Faceoffs are also and area of consistency. This team has oodles of talent up front, and perhaps one of the best tandems on defense.

    So whats happened from last year.

    To me, only one word to explain it.


    Its not only fair to say, but accurate that this team of disinterested pampered players has yet to play a full 60 minutes in any fashion used to describe what the word TEAM means.

    Some games, there effort can be shown in a set of shifts on a single minute of forecheck presence.

    Thats it! And some of those games they won.

    Dont need to change the coach, make a trade, nor change lines, where PK centers Tokarski, or DD plays net.


    That goes for everyone. Its nice to see consistent effort from a few players that have been mentioned time and time again on this forum. And thank god, but 3-4 guys don’t make a TEAM, never have never will unless its Curling.

    If the HABS don’t score a bunch of goals in Buffalo tonight, I may be forced to start another tradition, throwing the road team Jersey on the ice.

    Its my birthday on top of all that. So show THE FRICK UP!

  22. AliHaba says:

    Hey! Hey!
    Whaddya say!
    MT please bench PA!

  23. Paz says:

    Oh, another thing.

    I love the idea of naming the bridge after Maurice Richard.

    You have the guts to cross the bridge, you want to come into this town, you should know that this town belongs to the Rocket!!

  24. Ian Cobb says:

    Gallant is gone, and my Hab’s seem to have left with him to sun themselves on the beach!

  25. Paz says:

    You want to blame Subban? You want to blame his 9 million cap hit?

    Well, ask yourselves the following;

    1) if Subban was playing Great, what difference could he make alone? Plekanec has been crap. Desharnais crap. Parenteau crap. And the list goes on and on and on.

    Subban’s play alone can not change this. The whole team sucked farts once the score went to 2-0.

    2) if we have 4.1 million in the bank, and we paid Subban 9 million instead of 7, what freakin difference does it make?

    So we would be a better team if we had 6.1 million in the cap bank to spend instead of 4.1 million? Really? Please explain how this would have made us a better team these past 5 games?

    It seems easy to blame Subban. It’s the lazy argument.

    • knob says:

      Can’t blame Subban entirely. He doesn’t go without fault though. He is now the face of the franchise and perhaps he is trying to do too much or compensate for others. Subban has played bad lately but he isn’t the only one.

      • Timo says:

        I agree, but still… Subban hasn’t been a 9 mil player. Then again… they all play like crap so I agree with Paz too. Subban alone wouldn’t make any difference.. .and the reason that perhaps he is trying too hard is that no one else does.

    • bwoar says:

      The cap hit’s not to blame. If he were being paid 6.5M or 7M I’d still blame him. The 4 captains need to play better, period. Subban’s the biggest target just because he’s earning the biggest paycheque; as far as assigning actual blame his is no more or less deserved than the other ‘leaders’.

      Who or what gets us out of this funk – that’ll be very telling in terms of leadership. A Captain-in-Waiting might like to do something useful, right about now.

    • WindsorHab-10 says:

      Cowan’s headline baffles me. It’s like the whole team is great but Subban is sinking the ship. Give me a break. Place the blame on the coach and his moronic decisions to stick with useless veterans like Moen & Bourque, yes even Prust, while hungry wolves like Sekac, Bournival and Christian Thomas are dying for a chance.

    • krob1000 says:

      I have not blamed Subban….but before and after he signed that contract I said that he was going to alter how he is perceived. Even if he wins the Norris trophy….he is earning his contract….anything less and he is underperforming. The other aspect that is totally subjective is that perhaps it is not the most well received in the room….I hope this not to be the case but I worried about it fromt he onset of the negotiations. When teh teams best players have all traditionally taken good deals and not gouged the team it has to create some jealousy at some level. Is he worth 2 of Pacioretty? I know this is not fair and nor do I claim it to be but once he signed taht mosnter contract he opened the door for this type of rollercoaster ride for the next several years. When things go well he will be a king…when they go bad? He will be pointed to first.

      Personally I love Subban but I NEVER thought he was worht 9 million dollars….I thought paying him as much as PRice would have been ideal….then out came the next wave of crazy contracts and then I had to accept he would get more…but 9 mill? too much.

      We do not have a choice anymore and while some will wish to ignore the cap the reality is it is there…and it is a factor. Would htat extra 2 million dollatrs help that much? It is 2 million dollars every cap year for the next 8 seasons…it is 2 million dollars that at trade deadline is the equivalent of a supertstar with prorating….but it is he way things are now…PK personally made the right choice …but it will come with it’s share of expectations fair or not…and all we can hope is that he is not the type of person who gets eaten up by the pressure…and given his past ability to rise to the occasion….I still think he will deliver just fine.

      From a hockey perspective I have maintained all along tha tlast year Markov outplayed PK and think he will againt his season….PK still makes crazy decisions (some I attribute to his overusage…not minutes but shift length which has a greater impact IMO). I also do not like his apparent demanding of the puck on the pp….last night I saw Gilbert walking the line twice and doing a great job looking for a lane to shooot the puck through…was text book…..head up, waiting for a seam, giving guys time to get to the net…but PK was practically hopping up and down again wanting the puck when Gilbert was in the middle…..and he got it….that ticked me of because Gilbert was making the right play and was doing something that was much needed and I would like to see more of…he walksthe line very well The positives about Pk’s game? there are too many to list.

    • Alvin says:

      No. Subban is playing like crap. Period. And with a 9 mill cap hit and a 7 mill salary playing like crap is not part of the job description.
      And citing Toews and Kane and Sharp as his awesome opposition is just plain silly. I could be mistaken but I think he is getting paid more than them and therefore should at the least be up to the task.
      “I’m happy my family is taken care of ” says P.K.
      I guess there’s one reason to be under performing.
      In so much as financial concerns go PK and family is set for life.
      Now PK will have to change his raison d’etre to pride in himself and the crest. PK has got to get his head around it and work out of it which he will, in due course of time.

    • Jocko says:

      I agree with you Paz. I actually think Subban is feeling the pressure of that contract, and doing all he can. Too bad some other guys are not feeling the same pressure.

      I don’t want to see Maurice tonight, I want to see The Rocket!

  26. AliHaba says:

    Say “NO” to Parenteau!

  27. knob says:

    I’m not sure why people are worried about the fourth line having zero goals or the third line having very limited offensive contributions so far this year. If a hockey club is going to hang their success on the third and fourth line then they are in for a disappointing year. How about we look at the top 6 forwards? Line 1 guys should be at least 65 point players and that is minimum for a first line player. Second line guys should be in the 55 point range. Max will likely hit 70 points. Plekanec and Galchenyuk will likely hit the 55 point target. Where is the offense from Gallagher, PAP, DD?

    The Habs troubles don’t stop at the top six forwards though. What universe is PK and Markov playing in? Lately they have been terrible.

  28. bwoar says:

    Here’s an idea:

    How about we get someone on our team who can fight?

    I know, it sounds crazy. The goalscoring, poor PP, bad penalties and overall lack of commit from the “captains” is what’s really bringing us down.

    But sometimes, once in a while, a good scrap can help energize a team that’s going through the motions. I’d like to see MT try that, and I’ll bet he would, but his GM isn’t willing to spend money on a guy to do that. They think it’s the New NHL, and are mistaken.

    How about:
    1. Putting in the offensive player he’s got sitting in the pressbox into the next 10 games.

    2. Benching DD, which would send a message to both him and his flaky girlfriend. (Don’t worry, I won’t call him a punk this year.) You’d think putting Weise on that line would’ve done that job. If we don’t do this, then the guy from #1 needs to jump onto this line for those 10 games to see if he can stick. Or both of the Sedin sisters on that line need to sit.

    3. Calling up a D man, since they couldn’t do much worse.

    4. Calling up Christian Thomas and giving him some top 6 minutes instead of Gallagher.

    5. Bench Prust since he’s no longer interested in earning that overpayment.

    Any one of these would send a message. MT needs to try something since his current messages aren’t at all being heard.

    • mrhabby says:

      why put an offensive player in the presser when they cant score goals.

      • bwoar says:

        The only player on that line playing to their game and ability is Dale Weise. No way am I gonna bench him.

        The alternative, to my eyes, is swapping Galchenyuk and DD, but, this also gives Max an excuse. Rather then sending a clear message.

        Benching Max would be my honest preference but as you say, with goals hard to come by, I’m not gonna bench the only pure goalscorer on the team.

    • frontenac1 says:

      I’d rather see an Enforcer take an Instigator penalty than a soffff player take an Embellishment. But then again, I’m Old School and this is supposed to be The New Improved NHL.

    • adamkennelly says:

      great idea…team looks pretty pathetic. pretty sure our opponents are laughing at how bad we are – how soft, all the f-ng diving penalties…

      guys are getting paid a lot of money – go do something when you’re on the ice..start a fight, face wash a star on the other team, crash the goalie…

  29. Say Ash says:

    MT for Roy. Do it!

  30. Timo says:

    One thing I notices about the power play (may be obvious for all you analytical gurus, but I am a simple people so when something dawns on me it’s like an epiphany)… anyway… when a shooter in the slot gets a puck the Habs players, what seems like purposely, scurry away from the front of the net back to the perimeter. I noticed it on at least 3 occasions. So even if Subban could get a shot through, it’s a clear line of sight for the goalie. Can we bring the Perimeter pu$$ies term back?

    • bwoar says:

      Pussies is exactly the right term for this team. Cravens also works fine for me.

    • Phil C says:

      To the stats guys, whether the player stays in front of the net or not, it counts as a shot. One of the flaws of current analytics is that the value of the shots are not weighted. This is how Gomez could have amazing corsi numbers while playing on the perimeter.

    • HabinBurlington says:

      The Politically Correct police will go nuts! Heck you can’t even call Phaneuf by his nickname here without shorts in full knottage.

  31. shiram says:

    All 4 centers are above 50% on faceoffs, the team is actually first in the League for faceoffs %.

    The team is average in hits, coming in at 16th with 272.
    Blocked shots continue to be a great component of the Habs strategy, coming in 4th in the League with 232.

    Very telling possession wise is the Habs being second in the League for giveaways (126), only Edmonton having more.

    Take aways are low as well, 22nd in the League with 71.

    • ooder says:

      imo if you have a lot of blocked shots, it means a lot shots are being directed to your net… not a good sign.

      • shiram says:

        I agree, and a blocked shot does not mean it will be retrieved by the team blocking it.
        And then there’s the issue with blocking Price’s view.
        I never liked the idea of the Habs being a shot blocked leader.

        • ooder says:

          same here… when JM was here people were talking about how we blocked so many shots.. i was always thinking: fantastic! we don’t have the puck.
          That’s why I thing Tortorella is a terrible coach. No defensive system, just block shots

  32. New says:

    This is how it starts. Everyone turns on PK.

    The Canadiens chose to give PK 9 million. They could have chosen to give MAB 9 million. They could have remembered Souray. They could have done a thousand things. But they chose to pay PK 9 million. It is not PK’s fault they pay him 9 million. Get past the hype and the money that brought. See him for what he is and get off the kid’s back.

    PK is no different that he ever was. Yes he’ll get PO’d and chase a guy to give him a little slash, forgetting about Richards altogether. PK gets tunnel vision. PK takes stupid penalties. PK shoots a lot but most times doesn’t get it to the net. PK isn’t all that and a bag of chips. He is just PK and the Canadiens are lucky to have him. What PK is not is Shea Weber or Doughty or any of a dozen other top defenders. Can he be? Maybe, but probably he will never be.

    You luved the guy when he was paid 2 million, or 875K, or 3.75. There is no reason to get all Gomez on him now. PK is doing nothing different. Your expectations rose. You are what changed. Not PK.

    Any PP that revolves around getting a puck to the point for the big shot is useless in the NHL. The Bruins had to learn that the hard way with Chara, then it gave them a Cup. NHL goals are scored from the slot inwards, (unless you are fortunate enough to have Bourque push Price out of his crease for a shot at the empty net) and the Canadiens are a perimeter team.

    Think of it this way: Gorges and Gionta were big minute players with the Habs last season. This year they are big minute players with Buffalo. Between them they have an assist, 10 penalty minutes, and are -12. They didn’t change. The team did.

    Get back to earth because you will only make yourselves, this site, and the Canadiens organization a miserable experience for everyone who happens by to look.

  33. gumper says:

    Regarding the embellishment issue, the Habs have acquired a reputation for it. Whether it is wholly deserved, instigated by Claude Julien, or part of some NHL conspiracy is irrelevant. If the officials are “over-calling” the Canadiens, this too is irrelevant. The team must find a way to get rid of its embellishment reputation. It’s the only thing that can be done to improve matters at this point. Complaining to the league will almost certainly only support the prevalent opinion that the Habs are a bunch of “whining, diving embellishers”. Having said all this I do not understand why our players continue to employ anything even slightly resembling embellishment behaviour (arms in the air, looking to the ref with an outraged expression, yapping, complaining, falling with flailing arms etc.). Better to have some missed calls than to be constantly embarrassing yourself, your team and your fans with this immature, dishonourable behaviour. Sure there is going to be some unfairness in the short term, but eventually the refs will see that a concerted effort is being made to clean this up, and the team will get out of the embellishment doghouse. How hard can it be to discipline yourself in this regard? Hell, it’s not like the power play is doing any good anyway. To me the fact that this sort of thing continues reflects on the coach who may just be a bit of a whiner himself.

    The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.
    Mark Twain

    • Mustang says:

      Totally agree. Absolutely no need for embellsihment but many players throughout the league are guilty of this. I don’t think that the Habs are any worse than most other teams.

      • gumper says:

        You’re probably right, but I’m not sure the refs would agree, and therein lies the problem.

        The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.
        Mark Twain

        • Mustang says:

          Just like any fan, I do have a slanted opinion on this so I may not be the best judge of what is happening out there, especially if the opponent is Boston or Toronto. 😉 😉

    • Cal says:

      That penalty on Prust for being hooked was bleeping ridiculous and demonstrates the league-wide bias against the Habs.

      • gumper says:

        I agree Cal. My point is that the players only have two choices. They either continue to complain about unfair treatment, or suck it up and move on. The complaining, I submit, will get them nowhere.

        The rule is perfect: in all matters of opinion our adversaries are insane.
        Mark Twain

  34. B says:

    Over their last 5 games:
    Beaulieu 0 pts -4
    Emelin 1 pt +0
    Gilbert 1 pt +1
    Markov 1 pt -7
    Subban 2 pts -6
    Tinordi 0 pts -3
    Weaver 0 pts -4

    Bourque 1 pt -3
    Desharnais 1 pt -1
    Eller 1 pt -4
    Galchenyuk 1 pt -6
    Gallagher 0 pts -2
    Malholtra 0 pts +0
    Moen 0 pts +0
    Pacioretty 2 pts -2
    Parenteau 0 pts -4
    Plekanec 0 pts -5
    Prust 0 pts -3
    Weise 2 pts +1

    –Go Habs Go!–

    • Mattyleg says:

      Plus/Minus is a terribly flawed stat.

      A player that jumps on the ice as a goal is scored has had no influence in the play, and the player leaving the ice probably has more to do with the goal.
      Also, a giveaway in the defensive zone or goaltending error hurts forwards who are far away from the play, and for all intents and purposes, doing their job well.

      —Hope Springs Eternal—

      • shiram says:

        Well the teams goal differential is bad, and that is not something to dismiss.

      • HardHabits says:

        Yours is a terribly flawed argument. Plus/minus is an indication of goal differential. Yes there are cases of a player jumping off the bench and a goal gets scored either way that had nothing to do with, but as shiram says the accumulated +/- is still telling.

        I think +/- is a significant indicator of an aspect of the game. As are take aways and give aways, hits, blocked shots, shots directed at versus shots directed to, quality of opposition, etc.

        To dismiss +/- as insignificant is dubious. To suggest that +/- tells the whole story equally so.

        Stats on their own are merely quantitative data. I also think it is dubious to make qualitative assumptions or conclusions based on quantitative analysis.

        The crap +/- is a result of poor play, not the other way around.

  35. Forum Dog says:

    Missed the ALN, so bear with me if I am repeating what others have gone over ad-nauseam.

    Habs played alright for the first 10 minutes. I know Boone said 20 in the ALN poster, but I would say that they were good until that phantom hooking call on Emelin, which led to the Hawks first goal. Not scoring when they were given the first 2 PPs of the game didn’t help either. They really needed to bury one first.

    We have been pretty hard on Eller and Bourque so far this year, but I think it is really time to shift the focus to the guys who are supposed to be leading this team.

    Pacioretty didn’t lay a solid check until the game was already 0-5. Too late. He needs to seriously try and engage that big body in the first 5 minutes of a game they still have a chance to win, not the last 5 minutes of game they don’t. His leadership has been effectively non-existent.

    PK is all over the map. His decisions are not very good, and he is making it hard for other players to read off him. That Richards goal, both he and Markov are trying to play the puck, Eller is on the half wall, and Richards is ALL ALONE in front. PK should not have left his post IMO. I’m no coach, but two d-men in one corner looks like a breakdown to me.

    Plekanec, God love him. He is a wonderful second line centre who can play a 200 foot game. But he is soft, and his offensive skills are mediocre. I know, I know, he leads the team in goals and points. But it is pretty easy to see that he was getting a lot of those points off of Galchenyuk’s ability to own the puck in the offensive zone. Not all of them, but at least 4-5 of his goals/points were pretty much a direct result of Galchenyuk’s work. So now that Galchenyuk has cooled off, Plekanec has not registered a point in 5 games, and has looked pretty passive doing it. He needs to step it up and lead by example.

    Finally – Therrien. We can blame the players and say they are not working hard enough, or not making the best decisions, or trying to do too much, or that he doesn’t have the right personnel to work with. All of these things have some legitimacy to them. But what troubles me most at the moment is the complete lack of cohesion, the constant breakdowns in positional play, the lack of an effective forechecking strategy, the complete and utter failure of the PP despite the presence of guys who can get it done, and the lack of confidence and attention to detail by the players. I mean, for the last 5 games they have looked like they don’t know what the hell is going on out there!

    To me, those are all coaching issues. The players can be as skilled and tenacious as you want, but if they don’t know where to go, why to go there, and how to support each other properly, it’s because someone is not instructing them. I fear that the loss of Gallant has created a bit of an imbalance. Gallant was a likeable guy who did quite a bit of the talking during timeouts and TV breaks. He was far more a “players” coach than Therrien, or so I believe. With him gone you have Therrien and Daigneault running things, and I am not a fan of that. Both seem (to the untrained eye) to be pompous a-holes who prefer to punish players than prod or encourage them. Not a recipe for success, especially with a young lineup that is bound to make mistakes. Those are teaching moments, and I don’t think Therrien is a good teacher.

    • bwoar says:

      I am very worried that you may be 100% correct. I’ve been holding off thinking too hard about the coaching but you’re starting to sway me.

    • Phil C says:

      Interesting point about losing Gallant as the communicator. That would not surprise me as he was a great communicator and very positive and upbeat.

    • ACF says:

      I totally agree re: absence of Gallant and the brutal performance of the existing assistant coaches. I’ve been very surprised that no one was making the connection between the dismal PP and the absence of Gallant. I really think that the assistant coaches need to take some heat for this team’s brutal performance.

    • New says:

      This is exactly what happened in Pittsburg. Things going swell, up and coming team, then the coach starts to lose and begins having pressers where he starts saying things in public he shouldn’t.

      When you hear comments about what a great room it is, what a great team atmosphere, how everyone gets along, then you have trouble in River City spelled with a capital T.

      Gomez was a great team mate and the room was solid. That brought the Canadiens Galchenyuk.

      The wins have all been float for 40, turn it on for a few minutes. The losses? They weren’t in the games most times.

      Chalk that up to luck, bounces, or attitude. Hint.

      • Forum Dog says:

        Agreed. Habs are 4-4 in regulation, 4-1 in extra time.

        Goal differential in regulation:

        – Wins = +6
        – Losses = -18

        So when they win, they are winning by one, maybe two. When they lose, they are losing huge. Like, not even close.

  36. WindsorHab-10 says:

    As long as MT keeps shuffling lines & players around as well as parading Prust, Moen & Bourque, we’re doomed. Where’s the accountability of the coaching staff? People blaming Subban and others where most of the blame should be directed at the guys running this team including Bergevin.

    Detroit Red Wings have a very young team but Babcock has them competing hard game in/game out. Even in losses, they look good. We had a 7-1 record & I wasn’t impressed a bit. Our special teams are a joke & the coaching staff gets a pass. A bunch of bullcrap.

  37. 24 Cups says:

    A well written article that takes a logical look at where Subban’s game is at right now. I’m sure PK will get his mojo back.

    As I said earlier in the day, there are many factors that fans might be analyzing right now but I still think it comes down to the guys with the A’s on their sweaters. This slump ends when Montreal’s leaders and star players elevate their games to the highest level.

    24 Cups

  38. twilighthours says:

    Another analytics post. You know what to do….

    (all numbers are 5v5)

    A lot of analytics guys think that, over the long run, fenwick (which is corsi less the blocked shots) is the best predictor of long term success. It has been shown to correlate very well to win% and playoff success. Just like with corsi, it is often expressed as a percentage. Remember that corsi and fenwick are just indicators of puck possession – or so the theory goes.

    Last season, for fenwick we had:

    30: Tor (42.2%)
    29: Buf (42.9%)

    24: Mon (47.9%) (2nd lowest fenwick of teams that made the playoffs, only Col was worse)

    2: Chi (55.4%)
    1: LA (56.1%) – Stanley Cup Winner

    So far this year, we’ve got:

    30: Buf (34.9%)
    29: Col (42.6%)

    19: Mon (49.9%)

    2: Chi (56.1%)
    1: Min (57.9%)

    (see for yourself, and play here:

    Now check out this 3.5 year picture of the Habs’ fenwick. This goes right back to the start of the 2011-12 season – Martin and his notebook.

    (the chart represents a 20 game moving average. If you’re interested in playing with it, go here:

    You’ll notice that Martin – as much as we all hated him – had the team firing more shots at their net than were fired at ours. Cunny took over and the team went from bad to worse. What a crap season.

    Therrien, in 2013, had one of the best fenwick teams in the league. We finished first and were poised for a long playoff run, but injuries or shabby goaltending or team toughness was our undoing. Whatever the reasons, the team underperformed in the playoffs.

    But since 2013, the team has been slowly getting worse and operating near the bottom of the league for fenwick. (It’s actually slightly improving this year, but still negative).

    One theory is that, were it not for Price, that this team would be worse. That it’s Price that keeps an average team looking better than it is.

    Another theory is that the team has mediocre players and Therrien or Price or both are making the best of an OK situation.

    Yet another theory is that the team has good players but Therrien is using them improperly.

    Still more: Therrien is employing bad systems.

    To be honest, I have no idea where the truth lies. And I’m not going to try to sway you (especially not you, Cal). But certainly the team has sucked recently, and it’s not a stretch to suggest that the team hasn’t played as well as the record indicates. I’d buy that argument.

    With regards to the “Therrien is a bad coach” theory, I do wonder what he had the team doing in 2013 to make it so great but not doing more recently. Really, why the huge drop off in possession metrics over the past 2.5 years? I find it hard to really pick out the nitty gritty of a team’s system over the TV, but the two biggest system changes that I have notced are: we swarm less, and we pinch more. Anyone else want to weigh in here with what they see?

    Player usage is also a hot topic – we see no end to the DD/Eller/Galch/Plex debate. And the D pairings….

    In addition, we have had some player turnouver: maybe Gorges and Gionta are missed more than we thought they’d be. Halpern was an excellent 4th line centre for advancing the puck – have we replaced him? What about Diaz? I know, right? I wanted him gone. Maybe it was a good move, but the team was very good when he played regularly.

    Listen, I don’t have answers. I’m just providing what I hope is a slightly different look. And maybe some fodder for thought.

    But I think we can all agree that the team looks really bad right now.

    • Phil C says:

      The Habs started the 2013 with an aggressive forecheck system, always two men on the puck, not yielding the redline easily, swarming on defense. The 2013 was partly undone by injuries IMO. Emelin was playing great until he blew out his knee and they really had no one to replace him. Even Diaz missed a bunch of games and was not the same when he came back from his concussion. Hard to lose two players from your top six without a drop-off.

      At the start of 2014, they went away from the aggressive forecheck and started trapping again. Not sure why, maybe the loss in the Ottawa series made them lose faith in the system as they dominated the Sens in everything except the scoreboard and fights. Maybe teams were adapting to it and it wasn’t as effective anymore. Maybe they thought it couldn’t be sustained for 82 games. Who knows.

      But the aggressive system led to many lop-sided games in the Habs’ favour. I remember a few games where you could count on one hand the number of times the opposition had possession in the Habs end of the ice in the 1st period, yet alone a scoring chance. That hasn’t been the case since. You could argue that they ultimately had more success in 2014 with a more passive system, but I think that fails to take into consideration the injury situation in 2013.

      • shiram says:

        Plekanec something similar to this, how the second forward on the forecheck is either always late or just not there, and so they have one guy battling out 2, and that’s not a recipe for successfully retrieving the puck.

  39. JUST ME says:

    From the great words of the late sir John Gielgud in the movie Arthur.

    One must go to a bowling alley to meet a man of your stature !

  40. JUST ME says:

    Hey guys ?

    I am working on forming a pessimistic club are you in ?

    Forget it it won`t work anyway…

  41. Thomas Le Fan says:

    PK needs to realize that he can’t win the Norris on one play. He needs to just play his game. That goes for everyone . McDavid can’t be gotten with just one loss. It’s going to take many more. 😉

    Hockey isn’t everything … it’s the only thing … except for beer and guitars!

  42. habs001 says:

    Eller and Borque now -9…..16 players on the roster with 2 or less goals…Habs may be on the way to having the lowest scoring 4th line in NHL history…lol…..The Habs will have to win most games on D because they are just not a goal scoring team…Habs won a lot of games in the regular season last year where they did not play great but pulled off the win..Wins like in Calgary this year or Washington…

  43. --Habs-- says:

    I just turned it off! No way I could watch that effort!

    “Habs” Watch and learn….! Or Not!

  44. habs001 says:

    PK looks like just an above average D who makes about 5 million…Based on his salary scale he should be noticed on 80% of his shifts in a positive way..He does not stand out most times in hids D zone and provides little offense 5 on 5…He has to show why he is making 9m not 5m….

    • CJ says:

      Ever watch Pawn Stars? Rick often says that if the deal isn’t right you just need to walk away. PK is a $6.5-$7.5 million dollar defenceman who is being paid additional money for a combination of potential and marketability. No we couldn’t lose him, but worst case scenario you do a short term deal or go to arbitration.

      Bergevin is extremely generous with his deals. Emelin, Prust, Moen, Eller, PK. Sure, perhaps the context upon which those deals were finalized was different, but are these guys not overpaid by 10-50%?

      In closing it’s always unfair to measure deals following back to back lopsided loses. I suspect that if we assessed these deals following a 6-2 and 5-0 win than our take, mine specifically, would be noticeably different. But, I’m a Habs fan and I live and die with wins and losses. That and I’m just not sure we will win back to back games by 6-2 and 5-0 scores this year.

      • FlyAngler says:

        C. J. you raise a good point but the Montreal tax situation has to be factored in to any discussion about contract inflation as regards the Habs. I think that contract dollars should be based on net amounts instead of the gross which would be a much fairer system of maintaining equity if that is what the league is intent on doing.

        “Gardez la Foi! Keep the Faith!”

      • Phil C says:

        With an 8 year deal, if you take $7.5M defensemen, apply a 5% revenue growth over 8 years, you end up with about $9M cap hit over 8 years. The cap hit is a penalty right now, but we should benefit at the end of the deal. That is the nature of 8 year deals, especially when the agents know a big windfall of TV money is coming.

        That being said, $7.0M would have been a better starting number, which would have put his cap hit at $8.3M.

  45. shiram says:

    Lack of effort and cohesion is fragrant on the Habs.
    Discipline is also another major issue.

    But I think they are a better team than they are showing in the last games.

    And for those clamoring for heads to roll, keep in mind Therrien has a 4 year deal in his pocket, and Bergevin stated before the season they were prepared to take a step back.

    Plain mediocrity will likely have to continue for a while before Therrien’s position becomes tenuous.

    But in all this, what annoys me most is that I want to watch entertaining hockey and it’s just not on display with the Habs this season. I can take losses, but the lack of effort, intensity and temerity makes it a bore to watch.

    • FlyAngler says:

      There is no incentive for any player on this team to be disciplined as long as the 9 million dollar man can take penalty after penalty in the offensive zone and not have his butt stapled to the bench. Right now, sadly, P. K. is the ultimate countersign of good leadership………

      “Gardez la Foi! Keep the Faith!”

      • shiram says:

        I agree that PK needs to lead by his action, and not by smooth talking reporters after the game.

        • FlyAngler says:

          Spot on Shiram, and in fairness we know that we can’t expect P.K. to carry the team on his shoulders every night but at the very least he needs to try his best not too hurt the team by taking bad penalties and lack of discipline…..

          “Gardez la Foi! Keep the Faith!”

  46. Jean Q Publique says:

    Analytics finally used for good.

  47. habsfan55 says:

    The PP sucks….no one in front of the net and this shooting or standing in the corners. Don’t know where they learnt that, I was always told to go to the net if I didn’t have the puck. It’s just frustrating to watch them on the PP.

    habs fan but will cheer for any team that beats the leafs

  48. JUST ME says:

    Yes obviously P.K. is trying to do too much and is also petrified about the idea of taking penalties. There was a play in the first period when he made a weak pass on the opponent`s stick with a nervous move of a guy that does not want to give the puck away and hesitates… That play stuck in my mind and really illustrates that now one must go back to the basics and errors will diminish certainly. As our high earnings player is trying too much at the opposite, some are invisible and late late late…

  49. CJ says:

    Well, third game in four nights. A rested sabres team with something to prove. Surely we win by two, right?

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