Powerless

The Imperial March?

Or maybe you prefer Thunderstruck? Truth is, both of these songs are pretty cringe-worthy right now. I’d rather have bees sting my ears. Repeatedly. Why would I be so adverse to these cherished classics?

Because the Habs powerplay s u c k s.

I’m starting to get more of a feel for this team 5-on-5 and short-handed. Scott Gomez likes to try and steal pucks in the neutral zone, Mike Cammalleri likes to hang out near the low slot and Brian Gionta tries, and sometimes succeeds, at being everywhere. Between the trio, we’ve witnessed some crisp passes and good scoring opportunities. They’re small players who not only play big, but play smart. They know where to be and when to be there.

That’s at even-strength.

But on the powerplay these same intelligent, cool and collected players turn into a barnyard of crazy, headless chickens. There’s a lot of scrambling around, a lot of back-and-forth passing, and a ton of desperate perimeter shots.

Why’s the team struggling? Because our powerplay has got no p-o-p.
4-for-31? 12.9%? Are you kidding me?

Remember the good ol’ days of the PP? Even when we weren’t scoring, we at least knew where everyone would set-up… Kovy would be circling near the face-off circle, Koivu would be done low, Higgins would be in front of the net, Souray/Streit/Schnedier would be ready to blast from the right side, and Markov would be trying to sneak in the backdoor.

Now think back to the Senators game on Saturday… how many perimeter passes resulted in someone sitting down to compose a thoughtful telegraph to Ottawa’s penalty-killers so that they could get in the lane and block the shot? If I remember correctly, the Sens had something like 400 blocked shots. And that was just in the first period.

And Tuesday’s game was much of the same.

Both the Sens and the Thrashers were feeding off of Montreal’s poor powerplay and getting chances short-handed. And as our struggles continue, the other team’s belligerence will only grow. We’ll get no respect.

I know that there’s a lot working against the PP right now. His Holiness, Andrei Markov, is our injured quarterback. The Notorious MAB has just arrived and was more concerned last night with trying to remain conscious.

One man I was hoping more from was Jaroslav Spacek. He helped lead a capable Buffalo PP last season and I thought he’d do the same here. He hasn’t quite found his groove yet. I was also expecting Cammy to have potted a couple PP goals by now. He was probably expecting the same.

What makes me nervous is that I don’t see the powerplay getting great anytime soon. I haven’t seen many set plays or alternatively, any creativity. Pretty ordinary pass and shoot. It might be more exciting if pucks were reaching the net but, well, that’s not happening. Blocked or off the mark. And worst of all, our best powerplay player is gone until February.

If Jacques Martin is indeed a man with a system, I’d like to see some structure when we have the extra attacker. A strong PP makes everyone’s job easier. Before trekking to Siberia to recruit SK-74 as a top six forward I’d make tuning the powerplay the priority.

More powerplay goals will bring more confidence for our top players, more timid defenders on the opposing team, more space, more possession, better play and better results.

And that’d be music to my ears.


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