We’ll See Soon Enough About These Wild And Crazy Habs

By the time the siren sounds on Wednesday night, we’ll know whether the Montreal Canadiens, the team we’ve cheered and cursed and loved and also wanted to tar and feather, will have either given themselves a swift boot in the behind, or have flushed themselves three quarters down the toilet and pretty well stopped playing for themselves, the fans, and coach Jacques Martin.

It doesn’t take a TSN or RDS analyst to see this. After two incredibly lousy efforts on the weekend, first against the Senators and then in New York the next night, you just know there has been some sort of soul-searching, probably at a team meeting or two, maybe some yelling and pointing of fingers. Maybe even the wives and kids have given them proper shit.

And maybe, as we speak, there’s a hard look being given by the brass at the merits of the coach.

This isn’t even an elite team, these Blues, that the Canadiens must deal with in fine fashion. St. Louis has a similar record to the Habs – 49 points to Montreal’s 50 and have played two less games for goodness sakes, but are mired in 13th place in the Western Conference and going nowhere fast. Unfortunately, the Habs will reach 13th faster than a speeding locomotive if they don’t pull up their jockstraps, starting now.

The Blues haven’t been an overly dangerous bunch, but of course, Montreal may make them look like it. St. Louis’ leading scorer, Brad Boyes, has all of 32 points, compared with Tomas Plekanec in Montreal who sits with 18 more than that. The next two leading point-getters – Andy McDonald and Keith Tkachuk (who will be celebrating his 75th birthday soon), have 28 and 27 points, while the Habs have Mike Cammalleri and Scott Gomez with 40 and 32. And Paul Kariya plays when he’s not in the hospital or resting at home with a concussion.

However, lack of production and injuries aside, the St. Louis Blues might look like the best team in the history of the world on this night, compliments of the Montreal Canadiens.

None of this is meant to be nasty to the Blues. Not at all. No, it’s only about Montreal and who will show up on Wednesday, the listless, non-scoring, mistake-riddled bunch with mediocre goaltending, or a swift-skating, high-flying machine with a goalie doing handstands and a power play to behold.

Talk about interesting. If the Canadiens smell like week-old cabbage after Wednesday’s game, then it’s time Bob Gainey steps in for real and removes the coach between phone calls to his GM buddies around the league in preparation of pulling the trigger that sends a couple of real surprises elsewhere. There are no untouchables on the Montreal Canadiens. Not now, when the natives (us) are getting restless and the hockey gods are creating havoc with the weather.

What a team. Geez, they’re harder to figure out than the opposite sex.


24 thoughts on “We’ll See Soon Enough About These Wild And Crazy Habs”

  1. I don’t think Gainey can remove the coach. I think he needs to consider it, in a pure hockey world perhaps he should, but Martin has signed a hefty four-year contract at a time the Habs are already paying two former coaches, and the “only gotten 50 games” card will get played, so I expect Jacques Martin to remain at least until the end of this year and a good chunk of the next. I don’t necessarily things will improve during that span, but I think we’re kind of stuck with him.

    Maybe Martin, who is otherwise a good coach (Arpon put it best — a good coach doing a bad job) needs to be told in no uncertain terms that he’s to alter the system into something that will work, maybe something that pays more than lip service to the concept of puck possession, something that involves a transition game and utilizing the team’s strengths.

    It’s really telling that individually the players haven’t done really badly, but collectively, this is nonetheless one of the worst 5-on-5 clubs in the league. It really speaks to a systemic problem, and that starts with the coach.

  2. Mathman, thanks. These contract legalities are something I don’t always have a handle on. I’m not even fully convinced he’s a good coach doing a bad job. There’s not been a whole lot of overall success in his resume and I know many Florida fans are really happy he’s not there anymore. I’m sure Ottawa fans don’t miss him much either. You’re right, Mathman, it’s one of the worst 5-on-5 clubs in the league.

  3. Hey Dennis;Something has gone amiss,I’m not exactly sure of just what it is but I’m willing to bet that there are still problems happening in the dressing room.Someone is pissing off the rest somehow.I cant understand a great effort for two or three games and the go flat ,it doesnt make an y sense.Bring back Carbonneau,bring back Claude Ruel just bring back the cup with ya.

  4. Derry, I wonder. Could it be a problem in the room? If that’s the case, they need a great captain, a Jean Beliveau, to straighten it out. Can’t wait for Wednesday’s game.

  5. I think that makes the most sense is a lack of leadership. Hard to believe those guys making the money they’re making and they cannot find leadership. They should all take a paycut. The next CBA should have a clause to return some money if they have a bad season. Plekanec should pay back some from last year by signing another year with the habs. I doubt Gill and Mara are worth what we’re paying them. I guess the list should go on and on. Maybe we need parents like Alex Burrows to step up and smarten these kids up. Maybe some angry Mommy’s and Daddy’s need to file a complaint with the habs ownership. Maybe a spark will be lit.

  6. Yes you could be right in saying that,someone to stand up and take control out of the hands of the coach.Injust dont know how you can go on the road and be 6 for 7 and come back and come up with nothing.Maybe, just maybe all this pressure to succeed because of the centenial season isnt finished just yet.I say make Markov captain,if he declines make Hammerlik the man.

  7. They’re the Jekyll and Hyde of the league, Derry. One of the biggest problems is we don’t know who the number one goalie is.

  8. I remember Bob Gainey saying they didnt want to bring Carey Price into the pressure to soon,which they never had a problem doing in the past.Maybe he cant take the pressure that is being put on him,hell knows it must be a great burden on him and he is having a hard time dealing with this.I dont know but maybe this is distracting the team,I’m just trying to come up with the correct answer to try and give them some help

  9. Knowing who’s the starting goalie is not the biggest problem. It’s a one rare non-problem on a team that has lots of problems. A lot of ink has been wasted writing about the one thing about the Habs that is most definitely not the problem: goaltending. Both goaltenders have done very well, and if Halak is slightly in the lead statistically it’s not because Price has been bad (as some media types would have us believe in the face of all objective evidence), it’s that Halak has been extraordinary. Goaltending is often the only thing keeping them in the playoff race, and both guys have been very good. Figuring out who’s #1 is a non-issue, and, frankly, it’s IMHO unnecessary. What they have right now seems to work well.

    I don’t buy the dressing room problem. I’m not sure I buy the effort difference explanation either, I think it may be just a matter of execution for both teams and whether the other coach can figure out how to exploit Martin’s style.

  10. I’d bet that there is a little problem with Pricce moving to the big leagues too quickly (in some eyes). Halak has worked his way through the system and Price has been hailed as the second coming. I think we have a lot of guys who went the same route as Halak which is why they may be perceived to be playing more for him. Hw many games did price do at the AHL level? He helped win a cup but did he get enough experience and proper development. I’m not convinced he did and it may be too late to change this. He will develop into a #1 but he has some things to work on that Halak has likely already developed (i.e. pro maturity).

  11. I think Price is holding his own considering what he has had to face. He either becomes the hero or the bum as he gets little help from up front. He’s not only into the pressure but into the pressure cooker too often. May a visit from Dr. Phil or Dr. Ruth is what’s needed for the team.

  12. You want wild and crazy? Since we’re still paying Carbonneau, lets get him back and have him and Martin as tandem coaches just like the goalies. You win, you get to coach again next game, you lose, you sit. Or is that just too stupid.

    I think part of the leadership problem is that the top-paid player is 9th in goal scoring. He makes so much that the top point getter may end up leaving due to lack of cap-space. You’d think the Rangers would owe us a bit more and should have spotted us a few more goals.

  13. Gomez is not paid mainly to score goals, and evaluating him on that basis alone is pretty silly. He’s paid to create offense and he certainly does that. He also makes the Latendresse-Pouliot trade look less bad. Mind, Havlat is helping the other side of that equation so fair’s fair right?

  14. Yes I may have been a bit unfair regarding Gomez. He plays many roles well, but in the end he’s a top-flight 2nd line centre. At a bit over $4M he’d still be well paid for his role and worth it, but instead he’s the 6th highest paid player in the league. That money is reserved for a player you can build your team around, the player we desperately want to lead our team to the Cup. And that he ain’t.

  15. Gomez is a first-line center. Don’t be too obsessed with points production with him; he’s a guy that can go out against the toughest opposition the opponent has to offer and outscore and outchance them, drive offense, and generally get positive results out of the toughest minutes the team has. He’s a puck possession ace, which would mean more if the team actually played that style.

    He’s overpaid, but it’s more of a two-million overpayment, than say a four-million overpayment.

  16. I think Gomez has played much better in this last little while and has really stepped it up. He’s such a great puck-handler. But what’s surprised me most of all is his penalty-killing skills. He takes charge, can rag the puck, and is such a great skater. So he’s doing the job, especially short-handed. He’s overpaid, but he’s also a quality player and Montreal needs him in a big way. I’ve grown to really appreciate Gomez.

  17. There is no way on God’s green earth that JM will lose his job over a team that had such a massive housecleaning during the summer. You have to look at this season as experimenatal while Bob busily takes notes and figures out what is what.

    As for problems in the room, that’s insane. I kept hearing that crap about last year’s squad. This is a brand new team with no baggage. The guys are still getting to know each other.

    The real problem is lack of depth and certain players not stepping up. If Markov has a bad game or two, and he has, who steps up? With AK46 being out, who has stepped up? We have no secondary scoring and the third and fourth lines aren’t contributing. They’ll be changes coming, I’m sure, if not this season then for next year.

  18. Hi Dennis – I really like Chirstopher C.’s thoughts: You want wild and crazy? Since we’re still paying Carbonneau, lets get him back and have him and Martin as tandem coaches just like the goalies. You win, you get to coach again next game, you lose, you sit. Or is that just too stupid.

    Ole Ole!

  19. Moey, you sound all riled up. I thought that nice trip downtown was going to be good for you. But you make sense of course. The only thing that doesn’t completely sit right with me is the experimental season part. I’m too impatient for experimental stuff. We’re all just trying to figure out why they can look good sometimes and suck other times. There’s been lots of ideas. And they are certainly a hard team to figure out.
    Anyway, have some wine and hopefully we can all enjoy a solid win tonight.

  20. Dennis,

    Apart from a few teams, the rest of the NHL and our Habs look good one minute and suck the next. I agree, it’s frustrating and I’m tired of mediocrity. But what can you do? What really irks me too is they managed to stay in the mix despite the injury situation and now that everyone (except AK46) is healthy they’ve started to go to hell in a handbasket.

    Wine is mandatory to watch this team, I’ll be having a couple of glasses for sure!

  21. Beatnik, if they don’t get their act together soon the only doctor who will be able to do anything for them is Doctor Kervokian.

  22. So it’s an experimental season? Great, is Martin experimenting with a passive puck-concession system to test the hypothesis that it’ll lead to lots of losing and premature aging of his goaltenders? I could have told him that, but now that it’s been demonstrated, can we move on to a real system now please?

    I don’t think Martin’s job is in real jeopardy because of the circumstances and financial considerations, but I think that in a perfect world, it bloody well should be. Improving the 5-on-5 game should have been job one but despite having better 5-on-5 players than Carbonneau had, he’s actually got a worse 5-on-5 team somehow — and Carbo was no great coaching luminary. Bottom line is, he’s having the roster underperforming right now, badly, and he’s shown no signs of being able to fix the systemic problems. Frankly, his system looks much more like it’s part of the problem rather than the solution.

    I think that Gainey needs to look long and hard at whether he made the right choice of coach. But I’m afraid it’s likely we’ll spend the next season making the same experiment we are this season before deciding that no, his system really does not work.

  23. Dennis,

    Im currently watching your Habs play the blues right now and Cam Jansen just took a run at Carey Price. A little scrum came of it and some character was shown. Im going to go out and make a prediction the habs win this game and go on a winning streak.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *