has the Habs Voodoo doll, quit screwin’ around! I don’t think I’ve seen a game
where so many bounces went one teams’ way. Now don’t get me wrong, Edmonton
worked hard to get the bounces and Montreal didn’t, and the Oilers deserved the
points more then the Canadiens did, but this game was so ridiculous it was
laughable. This game was a kick to the gut by the Hockey gods on a team that is
already down. Way down. So what do the Habs take from this? Resolve, hopefully,
but also an "us against the world" mentality that the whole team buys into. A
lot has gone wrong for Montreal lately, but after a 7-2 loss, it can only start
to go right.
I’ll be going
with a slightly different format for this game, ditching the usual system and
going with "What Worked," "What Didn’t" and "What Needs to Happen." The only
reason for this is, simply, individuals aren’t winning or losing games right now.
Yes, I will mention individual players, but the general focus right now should
be on the entire team. It’s so bad that the blame is spread everywhere.
New Blood: Mathieu Dandenault comes in off the IR
and everything was working for him. I’m not saying it’s a direct connection, but
it seems interesting that the guy who has been out of the locker room for 27
games suddenly comes in and is the best player on the ice. Hopefully he helps
clear the air before he also gets infected with whatever anti-good hockey
disease is going around. Georges Laraque has also played fair hockey despite a
lengthy stay in the IR. Too bad Koivu bucks the trend.
No Expectations: When the 5th goal went in, no one
in the Habs organization wanted to be in the building. When the 6th goal went
in, players started to get pissed. When the 7th goal went in, who wasn’t
laughing? Everything that could go wrong did go wrong, and when the other team
gets every bounce going their way, especially by goal 7, it loosened the team.
Montreal actually played good hockey when no one expected them to win, and it
may just help bust the slump.
Blue Collars and Lunchboxes: Tom Kostopoulos,
Mathieu Dandenault, Josh Gorges, Ryan O’Byrne These guys get it. Each of them
had 3 hits or more, and you could see they wanted to change the game.
Kostopoulos crowded Dwayne Roloson’s crease, Dandenault won his battles and
never stopped skating, Gorges was breathing smoke and spitting fire all game,
and O’Byrne did Komisarek’s job while Komisarek phoned it in. More Habs need
this kind of work ethic and emotion.
"Woe is me!":
something goes wrong, this team doesn’t have the character to shake it off.
Mistakes stick to this team like the proverbial substance that hit the fan when
the slump started. The Habs have come out strong in the 1st period the last two
games, but once faced with a little adversity, the team just crumples. Weak
character has crippled the Habs.
D-Man Deflections: No
one appears to want to let Carey Price make a save, including his own
defensemen. The best thing Price could face right now are unhindered shots from
low percentage angles. Let the kid feel some rubber! Instead, the goalies have
been seeing redirected shots off their own teammates sticks. It’s time for the
Habs to put their trust back in the goalies (as ludicrous as that may seem right
now) and let the pucks through.
The only thing offensive about the Habs
lately has been the quality of their play. The guys that are supposed to score
the goals, well, aren’t. The guys that are supposed to be game breakers, well,
aren’t. Kovalev? Andrei Kostitsyn? Koivu? They need to step up for the last 1/3
of the season (and that’s the entire 1/3 of the season, not just a few games
They sure were special! On how many teams
does the powerplay actually cause a loss of momentum? The feckless PP has
generally been deflating for awhile, but add a shorthanded goal to the mix? Guy
Carbonneau appears to be better off taking an immediate bench minor, having his
team play 4 on 4, and spare his team the ludicrously belittling experience of
playing with the man advantage. A ridiculous suggestion for sure, but I’m
frustrated watching these guys panic with the puck when faced with the slightest
amount of pressure from their PK unit.
The finger is pretty much solely pointed
at Tomas Plekanec for this one. At first I didn’t mind him taking Grebeshkov
into the boards, but then, after watching him the rest of the game, I soured on
it fairly quickly. You want to show you care about your roster spot? Get
coincidental roughing penalties. Don’t slew foot a guy into the boards because
you can’t win a battle. I appreciate he’s angry, but trying to injure guys is
not how I want to see his emotions manifest into his play.
What Needs to Happen:
A Lucky Break:
A temporary solution, as it could give the
team something to rally around, but in far greater likelihood it would just
encourage the same behavior that led to the slump, so instead I’d rather see…
It’s time to get angry, it’s time to take
nothing for granted, and it’s time to work for every inch of the ice. I assume
the current team motto is, "Meh." The new team motto should be, "No quarter."
They aren’t getting breaks and they don’t deserve them, so it’s time to absorb
some of this Western Conference philosophy that’s embarrassed them twice. Don’t
stop working, even when the game isn’t going your way.
This article was written with deep rooted frustration and a glimmer of hope
by Tristan Tapscott