S-P-E-E-D

Read it. Spell it. Say it out loud.

Then write it down and mail it to Jacques Martin.

Priority post.

 

If the 2010-2011 Montreal Canadiens have anything going for them it is their speed. We’ve given up inches and pounds for torque and acceleration. Brian Gionta, Scott Gomez, and Mike Cammalleri weren’t brought into the Canadiens’ fold to pound guys into the boards but rather, they were brought in to vex opposing defensemen with their speed and skill.

Tomas Plekanec, Tom Pyatt, Maxim Lapierre, and P.K. Subban are all guys who can drop the clutch and take off in three strides or fewer. But it seems to me that the Habs are burning rubber less and less often.

How often do the speedy Habs have an honest-to-goodness breakaway?

Why does it seem that every morning on TSN I’m watching highlights of another Ovechkin breakaway, or Stamkos, Havlat, Kane, Kessel, Carter?

I want to see Mike Cammalleri shooting up ice by himself.

Et.

Le.

But.

Instead of that highlight, however, I see Joel Bouchard or Don Cherry showing a freeze frame of all five Habs’ skaters clustered around their own net in a defensive shell.

Sure, we block a few shots and maybe clear the puck away from the net but then what? All-Star defensman Andrei Markov or rookie sensation PK Subban take a few strides, look up ice to make a break out pass only to see… NOBODY AT ALL.

Instead of putting guys like our captain, our playmaker, or our sniper in a position to use their speed, they’re forced to work the boards and fight guys like Zdeno Chara, Tyler Myers, and Dion Phaneuf for the puck. Maybe they dig a couple out but it’s exhausting work battling against guys who are over a foot taller and have 80 pounds on you.

If our powerplay was at all functional, I might not be complaining as much. For the past few years the man advantage was our way of beating teams. Bread and butter. But we can’t pot one on the PP if a life depended on it. If the lives of all the children in the world were at stake I don’t think we could even break the zone.

Our 5-on-5 play would be satisfactory if we were scoring on the powerplay. We’re not, so we need to change the way we play at even strength. We can’t sit back, deep in our zone and continue to play unimaginative hockey. We need to be pro-active and make the other teams react to us.

We have to start taking some risks. We’ve got the skill to cash in.

We need to play to our strengths and our strength is speed.

 

 

Since I’m already telling Jacques Martin how to do his job, I may as well offer up these gems as well:

- Scott Gomez has been underperforming and highly criticized this season but he still is our best puck-handler. He needs to be on the first wave our the powerplay because he is the only guy who can consistently break into the offensive zone.

- Mike Cammalleri is not a puck handler so please stop having players pass him the puck in the neutral zone.

 

- Josh Gorges and Hal Gill have said their vows and must never be apart from each other again. Ever.

- When a guy like Andrei Kostitsyn is on a hot streak, DON’T put him on another line to get other players going.

- Give Max Lapierre a kick in the derriere. He plays best when he has something to prove so call him out during practice or make him a scratch. He’ll thank you for it when he gets a contract next year.

- Markov is looking a bit gassed out there, reduce his minutes until he’s found his form.
 

- First wave PP: Gomez right side along half boards, Plekanec right side by the net, Gionta in front of the net. Spacek at right point with Subban on the left side, with option to sneak in back door.

 

- Second wave PP: Halpern and Pouliot in front of the net, Cammy right half boards, AK46 left half boards, with Markov working the blueline.

 

2 Comments

  1. baruch says:

    great analysis as ever Chris.  ”unimaginative hockey” is cruelly accurate, but do you think it all comes down to Jacques Martin? I can’t help but remember how Gomez and Cammalleri turned it on during the playoffs last season. Don’t you think its possible they’re saving it a bit now? The season’s long, and, as long as we make it through into the playoffs (barely takes a .500 record), largely irrelevant. Its frustrating for a fan to watch these guys not give 100%, but look what happened to the indomitable Capitals last year….think they might have been exhausted by their great season?  Of course I would rather watch a team give 100% every game and win the cup (like the 72-72 Habs).

    Martin is a ‘veteran’s coach’, so maybe he’s just shuffling around waiting for them to warm up… Though I wonder what Guy Boucher would have got out of this team by now.

    Really glad you’re still chirping in here on HIO, don’t you think they can make your posts a bit more prominent? I almost never click the ‘other wing’ link, it is way off under the normal loading window length and on the wrong side of the page, since your posts have been intermittent, I am just as likely as not to miss them…

  2. Chris Aung-Thwin says:

    You’re right – Gomez and Cammy haven’t been playing to their max but I’m still not on the JM bandwagon. The Pleks, Cammy, AK line was doing pretty well to start the season and he broke it up. Now AK is cold. The entire team looks a little slow, like their heart isn’t quite in it.

    Against Vancouver there was a REALLY bad line change that resulted in a 4-on-2. That’s just lazy, not-paying-attention play. One could argue that they won that Vancouver game but I’m not thrilled with the way they won it. Again, we got both goals from unlikely sources (defensemen) and very often we had to rely on our goaltender to bail us out.

    Maybe I’m completely wrong but even in that shutout I don’t see the Habs playing up to their potential. I’m sure that JM is here to stay so the players will just have to find a way to score goals and keep the coach happy with defensive play.

    Oh, and thanks for the kind words! Sometimes I feel like I’m talking to myself here – nice to know there’s a visitor to the crazy house.


    The Other Wing


Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.