Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I take it back

Caught up in the booing of the crowd, the Carbo chants, the listless late-game power play that could have tied it up, I think I was unduly harsh on the Habs in my post-game blog hit.

Because really, playing without Andrei Markov, Alex Tanguay and Mathieu Schenider, not to mention Robert Lang or even Francis Bouillon, the Canadiens played their hearts out Monday night in an effort to extend this series and maybe give some of those guys time to get back.

Unfortunately, they came up short against a team that plays such a tight system, they don't get rattled easily and stick with their game plan even when their opponent is dominating them in every facet of the game.

Bob Gainey said after the game that all of his injured players will be re-evaluated for Game 4, meaning all or some or one of Andrei Markov, Mathieu Schneider, Alex Tanguay and Robert Lang could be in uniform Wednesday night. But honestly, Monday was the Canadiens last stand, and while I still believe they came out for the third playing as if they had already lost, their effort up until that point needs to be commended.

It's 12:30 and I'm wiped, but I invite you to read what I wrote for the CP and for cbcports.ca. I'll check in Tuesday after the Canadiens and Bruins practice.


Ted said...

Good Morning Arpon,

I had a boss once tell me (back in the days of letter writing) that you should always write the angry letter and then put it in the draw and read it again the next day. Rarely do you send it. I guess for a journalist that would be defeating the purpose.

I think all fans felt a let down after that game because it is the first time one really realizes that hockey may be over for the season at least in the way we love to watch it - with our own team participating and playing with the intensity and commitment that the play-offs deserve. Don't get me wrong, I think they played the best they could. The heart break comes when you realize it isn't good enough. But the one thing I do know for certain, in two of the three games they've played they scored 2 goals and that should be good enough to win in the playoffs.

In my mind this speaks to the need to re-evaluate the defense and goaltending. While the loss of Markov is a huge loss it should not affect the team to the degree it did and goaltenders need to stop more then the guy at the other end.

Finally, the preparation for this team was last night and throughout the year - miserable.

Sorry for the rant - I should of wrote a letter!!

Sliver24 said...

You had it right the first time.

Almost all of the important guys that led this team to a first place finish were present and accounted for - at least in body - in this series.

The only notable exception was Markov which, I will grant you, is a big one.

Lang, Schneider and Tanguay played no part in getting the Canadiens into first place in the East on 07/08. Two of the players whose roles they filled - Smolinksi, Streit and Ryder respectively - had little to do with last season's success either (Streit being the obvious exception).

Andrei Kostitsyn has absolutely sucked all series long. I can honestly say he didn't have a single good shift in the first three games.

Plekanec has been horrible too but at least it looks like he's been trying out there.

Kovalev couldn't make a pass last night but he did play pretty well in the first two games.

Koivu always seems to show up when it matters most and these last few games have been no exception. But watching him chase down Kobasew in vain last night really drove home the fact that he's getting pretty long in the tooth. It's becoming more and more obvious that his best days were squandered by the likes of Reggie Houle.

Komisarek used to be a force. He would crush opposing players with regularity and some nights it seemed like he was blocking more shots than the goalie. These days those hits are few and far between, and while he's still blocking shots his overall impact on the game is nowhere near what it used be before his spirit was crushed by Lucic. I'm surprised you can't see a yellow cloud following Komisarek around the defensive end with all the brain farts he's been producing of late.

Chris Higgins has gone from aspiring 40-goal scorer to fourth liner in record time.

Carey Price played one of the more horrible games of his career last night. I don't know if he stopped a single shot cleanly - talk about juicy rebounds! (Halak has done nothing but stand on his head when called upon all season long and he should have played last night.)

Roman Hamrlik, while he hasn't played horribly, certainly hasn't been the player he was last season. Hamrlik's hasn't been a flashy game since he came to the Habs, but his defensive game was beyond reproach and he had a pretty good offensive upside too. Both facets of his game seem to have dropped off significantly in the last calendar year and he's been making horrible decisions - with and without the puck - with regularity.

My point is this: despite the injuries the Canadiens had the horses to at least make a series of it against a very good (and very well coached) Bruins team.

The problem is a bad working environment - it has to be. I've seen it myself in the workplace and the finger can almost always be pointed in one direction - management.

It pains me to say so because he is my all-time favourite Hab (as a player) but the problem was most likely Guy Carbonneau. It's easy to be a good manager when everything is going smoothly. It's how you handle the rough patches that defines you as a leader.

Carbo's gruff, direct, silent-treatment style was fostering a poor working environment, and these things tend to spiral out of control when left to fester.

Bob's late-season ascension may have had more of an impact had it be done earlier in the year but he simply didn't have enough time to right the ship before the playoffs started. He may have been too close to the situation anyways.

The good news is that all you need is a fresh start with a leader that's more in tune with the needs of the players.

It's too late this season but I'd like to see the team start training camp next year with a young but seasoned career-coach behind the bench. Someone in the vein of Cory Clouston in Ottawa, Dan Bylsma in Pittsburgh or Peter DeBoer in Florida.

I'd like to see that Habs play a more aggressive style, offensively and physically, and I'd like to see the character of the team become a little more North American (okay, a lot).

As I wrote earlier this season, the Habs have players with heart and players talent. There simply aren't enough that have both.

Then again, who knows? Maybe they'll win the next four and all this will be moot.

TK said...

wow... nice rant Sliver. I say you pin this to the doors of 1260 de la Gauchetiere.

You struck a chord and I spilled chamomile all over my tea-cozy.

pierre said...

If the fans had payed more attention to the Bruins's season they would have had to admit that the pundit's predictions about BOS winning our series in 5 were grounded in the stark realities that BOS is in a class of its own this season..... a previledged status shared only by two other NHL's teams.... Detroit and San Jose.

The only difference between the Bruins and those two other superb teams is how fast it took the Bruins to reach such high level status..... a little too fast for most CH's fans in realising who they were up against at the beginning of this series.

Our team which had toppled 23 points less than the Bruins this season were in a different league altogether and knowing about the CH's past records without Marcov in the line-up one knew all to well that our chances to win more than just one game would amounted to be something miraculeus.... a miracle never to happened when Tanguay and Schneider failed to be part of our starting home series yesterday.

Except for the few players taking a few stupid penalties at the wrong time I have no negative worthwile things to say about specific players and the series...... they did fine under the circumstances.

Our season was a wastfull affair and need to be looked at...... our playoff on the other hand was as predictable as the sun showing up tomorow.

Our season's problems were created in large part by mismanegement from Gainey and Carbo...... and its fair to say that Bruins upsurged this season came in large part as a result of their excellent manegerial men in Boston..... something Charielli and Julien should be proud of.