Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"I don't know what to say anymore"

Honestly, I'm starting to feel sorry for Tomas Plekanec.

I know a lot of Canadiens fans don't, and I don't blame them. But if you were able to see with your own eyes just how much this guy cares about how horribly he's playing, I think you would also have a tinge of sympathy for the guy.

Plekanec was the first one on the ice in Brossard today, spending a few minutes skating alone before six more of his teammates plus the two goalies got out there for Tuesday's optional practice. The others? The Kostitsyn brothers (with their dad watching from the stands), Mike Komisarek, Yannick Weber, Gregory Stewart and Matt D'Agostini. That's right, no Ryan O'Byrne. Why would he need to practice?

Plekanec was one of the last off the ice today and got to his stall in the dressin room only to find a group of reporters waiting for him. He smiled, kind of the way you smile at that hated neighbour who you know is stealing tomatos from your garden, but you just can't prove it.

The first few questions he was asked were easy enough, but then the inevitable arrived. It started nicely enough, "Not to say you played a bad game last night Tomas, but...you were a minus-3."

"I don't know what to say anymore guys," he said, looking up at the ceiling (or the heavens beyond it) with a grin. "I go into every game to try and stop the bleeding. I don't know how to describe it."

Plekanec, throughout his struggles, has always been accountable for his play. Believe me when I tell you the same cannot be said for some of his teammates. There's never a menacing scowl thrown in the direction of a critical questioner, never hiding behind the screen of a slump, never making excuses about ice time or line combinations or anything. I respect that, even though I don't particularly respect the way he's been playing of late.

But Plekanec is only one guy who needs to wake up and suddenly find his game in order for the Habs to have any hope of pulling off the impossible and erase this 3-0 deficit against the Bruins, a team that has weaknesses, but just haven't been forced to show them in this series.

Andrei Kostitsyn could provide a much-needed boost to the Canadiens attack with some inspired play, even if it were only a period. Everybody has to start somewhere.

Mike Komisarek was downright awful in Game 3, one where he needed to be at his best. He played only 18:15, compared to 27:06 for his defence partner Roman Hamrlik and 26:45 for Josh Gorges, and was a minus-2 on the night. It was his errant pass that led to the back-breaking tip in by Phil Kessel at the end of the first, a goal that might very well have lost this series for the Habs.

There are others who need to improve, in fact just about everybody needs to improve, but those are the three most glaring examples in my eyes.

Bob Gainey didn't come right out and say it, but I would guess he's going to go back to Carey Price in Game 4. If he does, I feel it would be a mistake, just as I felt it was a mistake not to go with Jaroslav Halak in Game 3. What the Habs need right now is for a goalie to come in and not only win, but steal four straight games.

Take a look at what Halak did from Feb 21-28. He stole four straight games where the Habs were outshot 167-106, but still outscored Ottawa, Vancouver, Philadelphia and San Jose 15-8. It's become very clear that while Price isn't playing poorly, he's not able to steal a win. He's been given three opportunities, enough is enough.


Topham said...

Enough was enough a long time ago, Arpon.

Gainey's infatuation with the boy wonder has now cost us a mentor to the young goalies, a year, a coach, and quite possibly the GM and the prospect themselves.

It's baffling. He's a captain bailing water into his own ship as if he's determined to go down into the abyss rather than face the people who will say I told you so on the shore...

pierre said...

I sympathise with Plek just as you do Arpon and I consider him to be a good exemple of how athletes, even when driven by the best of intentions can sometime struggle through long stretches sometime VERY long ones.

Some people are sugesting that using Price in our first home game was an aberration but it wasn't.... the reasons beind the decision to use him were rational.... one might not agree with the logic of it but it obviously had one.

The " game shape " factor is what made Bob decide to use Price over Halak which hadn't seen action for quite a long while.

From his own evaluation of Price in Boston he felt no significant reasons to believe that Halak would give him something substantially better..... if they were some doubts in his mind as I am shure there was..... then the " game shape " factor was in the end what tipped the balance in favors of using Price over Halak.

Price was in no way related with our previous lost in Boston and never gaved a softies of the kind we saw Thomas giving Higgins in the third game....... Gainey though that Price was the better horse to use in those circumstances..... it was a rational decision and once again Price wasn't a factor in our lost that evening.

The true of the matter is that most people are asking for a miracle to happens in an instant while Boston has been working at their miracle since the beginning of the season.... there was no way we could have ever stopped such a locomotive.... yes we could have slowed them a bit with Marcov in.... even scared them big time if you added Lang to the Marcov equation..... it certainly wasn't our year thats for shure.

Jody Kliffer said...

I've always liked both Price and Plek for their composure and apparent earnest desire to do better, while not blaming others for their abysmal play along the way.

The difference? You can give Plek more time to iron out his wrinkles and the team won't suffer too badly. Price, unfortunately, doesn't play a position that is favourable to "buying time".

I would also add to your sympathy-post the effort of Halak. He deserves much better treatment than he's getting. I really feel bad for the guy... but at least he's in a city of 2 million people who know he deserves better (and that none of this year is his fault).