Earlier today, Sam Armenio on Facebook sent me his excellent rundown on this year’s Canadiens. He also asked me to share my views, which I do after you read Sam’s really well-written and well-thought out essay.
Here’s Sam –
I just viewed your website and I think you’ve done a
great job…I find some of your commentary entertaining and in some
cases quite interesting. So I thought perhaps we can share some views
as we both enjoy the feats/blunders and all thing Habs…how did that
loss(Leafs) strike you? Some people didn’t think (I’m one of them) that
the Habs couldn’t turn things around this season…and pleasantly I was
wrong. The Habs actually played a quality type game and I thought they
should have won. Directly pointing to a less than appealing power
play…especially during the last 40 seconds and then into the
overtime…but the chances throughout the game is a far switch than what
would have been last year.
I still feel the team didn’t get the push they needed…sort of what we witnessed in the Superbowl, where the defenses really shut down the offenses and then 1 team taking the bull by the horns and making something happen and a blown coverage or soft play would eventually decide the fate of the game.
Here classically, we have Price
again…yes he played a super game focused well throughout but after a
mishap at the Leaf’s blue line getting caught and then the subsequent
attack by the Leafs, catching the defense off guard…Petry late in
getting to Marner and then the smooth pass to Tavares and Danault taking
the wrong turn and giving Tavares the space and time to flick the puck
up over Price’s glove… where I think Price just under played it…yes
if only he moved up a foot before dropping to his knees…His glove was
right there!! Ahhhh…. such has been my view that he almost never
bales out a teammate who makes a blunder and leads to a sudden rebound
attack on him…this to me is a trait that I don’t believe he will ever
shake and not sure because of that…if ever the Canadiens will hoist
the cup while he’s there…yes I hope I’m wrong and he’ll shake this out
and we will eventually land the Stanley Cup…the only other way is to
have the offense score more goals than the other team…which is really
what the Washington Capitals did last year.
But at least the team is exciting…definitely missed Byron’s quickness on this night…generally he can provide some sudden attack and catch the other team…I still think the coaching has been better too…why the power play sucks?? I mean look at what the strong teams in this area are doing and replicate it…practice it…you know the rant by Allen Iverson…it’s only practice…well that doesn’t apply here…they need to do it until it’s fluidity applies and the quicker the puck movement and the better decision making then will there be success (I think Kotkaniemi needs to be there as a second trigger point to Weber (which will give him more space and time) kinda what Galchenyuk did sparingly)…There were times also that the players just didn’t shoot…why? Where’s the hit the net…mantra?…are the coaches doing their best behind the bench…I always said throughout the last 3 seasons where’s the adjustments made as the game progresses?? With Therrien there seemed to never be any adjustments…players with short limited skills always doing the same obvious plays, no setting up…dumping the puck in…missing teammates that are open or soft passes that get picked off going the other way…poor decisions by not choosing the opposite or open space areas and forcing the puck in the area where the other team is in good position to get the puck and a quick transition to the offense and catching the Habs defense for a strike on Price…Oh well!!
What about the Marc Bergevin reign…what’s your thoughts on his tenure? Management’s finally put a better effort on the big center dilemma…I still think they need a strong type defenseman to match up with Petry and another strong winger…here don’t think Shaw fits in…yes he scored that early goal but really it was a deflected shot on Anderson…which is another factor that the Habs cannot do well…that is getting in front of the other team’s goalie and distracting him on the play…get rebounds….break the obvious play and get to rebounds or cause deflections…this is a coaching issue!! I would sure like a guy with tenacity and soft hands…thinking of a Duchesne or even Jeff Skinner…yes both of these players are of the smaller type (and surely can’t have too many of the short kind) but they bring another dimension of speed and soft hands which the Habs don’t have enough of…
Till the next time…
And now me –
Good stuff from Sam, eh?
This gives me a chance to say what I think about the team, as I haven’t really done it yet this year, and I also haven’t done many game recaps lately either. So Sam has kind of motivated me.
I only saw half of the first period of the Habs and Leafs battle at the Bell, as I was sitting in the Puerto Vallarta airport with my iPad, and then I had to get on the friggin plane just as the second period was about to begin.
Maybe it was good that I missed it. Seeing Tavares score in overtime would’ve drove me to the dark side, or at least to the pub a couple of blocks away here in Powell River.
I agree with what Max Domi said. This team can beat any team in the league (as least when they’re looking sharp), and with all the orgasms and giddiness we’ve had to endure from Toronto media about the Leafs, it would’ve been unreal to see the Canadiens win that game.
I’ve mostly been an optimist about the Habs. It’s been that way every year since the 1950s, and for the most part, even if they were down 4-0 after the second period, I’d always hold out hope that they’d come back and win the game. I never said they were tpoast when it was still possible to win. And if they can make the playoffs, what if we see magic happen?
That sort of thinking changed a few years ago, when they became absolutely dreadful, with not a hope of doing anything remotely good near season’s end. They were incredibly boring, I’d find my mind wandering and my eyes looking at the wall, and they were small and star-less, and did I say boring? Where is that 50- goals scorer? I thought Max Pacioretty was a lousy captain, and although he could be a sniper at times, he avoided physical contact even though he’s a big man. I hated that. Brendan Gallagher has shown from the get-go that’s he the real deal because of his heart, and imagine if Max had even a decent chunk of what Gally has.
I had originally thought (or hoped) that Galchenyuk would blossom into a superstar and the next great hero of the CH. But it turned out he was just a young kid who, even with great talent, apparently could be easily distracted by the ladies and such, and he pissed me off to no end about what could have been.
Carey Price, over the course of his career, has been either unreal between the pipes, or a true sieve who seems to let things get into his head from time to time, even though he told us all to chill out a few years back. I remember a game in Vancouver when he’d been in the league just a few years, and he was as brutal as can be. Just a horrible night for him. The pucks he let in were, for the most part, terrible goals that had us all wondering. Then, years later in the Sochi Olympics, he was unreal, the best in the world, nothing could get by him.
So when I see Sam mentioning that the overtime goal might have been stoppable but many on different websites say the tic-tac-toe play was unstoppable, I have to agree with Sam a bit, even though I didn’t see the goal. Price can be as brilliant as can be, but there are times when he doesn’t stop something that maybe Terry Sawchuk or Jacques Plante or Vladislav Tretiak or Martin Brodeur might have stopped, when we really needed him. He’s been good this year, though. At least for the most part.
One thing I’d like to say about the Canadiens of the last few years, the ones who sucked royally. At least they weren’t the smurfs of the years prior, with wee Gionta, Cammalleri, and the guy who stills makes me grind my teeth – Scott Gomez. It’s hard for me to even write his name. And I don’t care if sometimes Gionta and Cammy contributed, it was the fact that the team was so friggin small it was embarrassing. Did you ever look at the Habs and some of the teams they were playing against from back then, lined up for the national anthem? It looked like fathers on one side and sons on the other.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi makes me smile several times every game. This guy could be a real beauty in a few years. He’s got great style, nice centreman height and he shows surprising confidence for being only 18. He’s smart, and he seems to have good hands. I think he’ll be what Galchenyuk couldn’t be. Taking KK in the draft was a fab move by Bergevin.
Jonathan Drouin reminds me of Saku Koivu the way he handles the puck, he’s got 17 goals so far this season, and is a terrific skater. Lots of people complain that he’s too hot and cold, and maybe he is, but he’s still only 23, which people forget. And it’s not really an honest comparison, but people whined about Frank Mahovlich, especially when he was with the Leafs. They said he was asleep half the time. But he wasn’t asleep, it was his style, and there were those nights when the magic happened.
Phillip Danault has been a solid centreman who is smart, with good size, and good hands. He’s the skilled kind of player would help any team, and he’ll be a key guy if the team makes the playoffs.
I think Jeff Petry is getting better and better. I remember when a TV commentator questioned Petry coming to Montreal in the beginning, saying he wasn’t at all impressive in Edmonton and too soft. But the guy’s turned out to be excellent, even though he sometimes coughs up the puck near his goal.
My favourite Bergevin move? Just after he was hired, his first order of business was to buy out Scott Gomez. I was a big fan of Bergevin after that.
I’m not always a big fan of our GM, though, but I will say one thing. I completely agreed with the Weber-Subban trade. I think Subban was a distraction, and I think he could be an asshole sometimes in the dressing room. I remember on one inside-look TV show when they showed him throwing sticks around the room and swiping tape off the table, as kind of a rah-rah thing. The cameras showed other players nearby looking bemused, and you could almost read their minds. And Subban knew he was on camera. It’s been said many times by people that PK is all about his brand, and I firmly believe that. And from Brendan Gallagher’s comments to the media last year or the year before, he thinks the same thing. Gally’s probably not the only one either.
Saying anything bad about Subban isn’t a popular thing with a lot of fans but I don’t care, I’m too old to let that bother me. I’m glad he’s gone and I think Weber is dominant in many ways – his shot, his hard-hitting, his leadership, and the respect his teammates have of him. And of course, a much better captain that Pacioretty.
I think the future looks bright for the Habs, and maybe, just maybe, young KK will be the big star we’ve all hoped for every year but an elusive one for sure.
I think they’re going to make the playoffs, and who knows what could happen after that? Isn’t it great!