“Before beating Atlanta we had lost five games in a row, but in the three games before that win we limited the other team’s shots, we gave up fewer chances to score, but we had sequences that prevented us from getting a win," Martin said of a stretch where Halak saw most of the action. "You can't control the result of game, but you can control how you play. Same thing with Carey, he can only control the way he plays, continue working to improve and eventually a win will come."
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Yes, the answer to the Canadiens funk lies in today's recall of centres Tom Pyatt and Ryan White from Hamilton. Wrong.
This will do nothing to help cure the Canadiens of what ails them, other than to send a message to the regular group of forwards that they need to improve their backchecking to help the team's heavily depleted defence corps. Because if there's one thing the two guys who were called up are known for, it is that.
Martin did not mince words after Tuesday night's loss to the Kovalchukless Atlanta Thrashers that the Habs defensive breakdowns in fact started in the neutral zone, when forwards were allowed to cross the Montreal blueline with far too much ease and speed. That puts the defence on its heels, and the result is what we saw.
I'm not too sure who will sit out in Boston on Thursday to make room for one or both of Pyatt and White (even though Brian Gionta missed practice today, I'd be shocked if he missed the game), but someone I would like to see on the ice at TD Banknorth Garden is Carey Price. This guy is owed something from someone this season, because while I wouldn't argue he's been spectacular (that would be ludicrous), he hasn't been nearly as bad as his 3.64 GAA and.883 save percentage would suggest.
In half of Price's starts this season the Habs have been a defensive trainwreck, and if there's any team in the NHL that should be a welcome sight for this defence right now, it's the Boston Bruins with no goals in their last two and only three goals over their last four. As bad as your Habs have been of late, the Bruins have been far worse all season.
Jaroslav Halak has had the benefit of a lot of cream puff starts this season, and while the last one should have been one for Price, his teammates didn't make it so. If I'm Martin, I come back with him for a whole slew of reasons, to give him a chance to erase the bad taste in his mouth from last year's playoffs and to prove to him that he wasn't to blame for the loss to Atlanta being tops among them.
While the Habs were sweating over their defensive ineptitude at practice today, CKAC was revealing that Bob Gainey had a little chat recently with his former teammate Chris Chelios, who will be 48 in January. Watching Marc-Andre Bergeron attempt to play defence the other night would lead you to believe that Chelios could not be anywhere near that bad, especially when you consider he has five points in as many games and is a plus-7 with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL so far this season.
But there remains another potentially available defenceman playing in Chicago these days, one promising, young power play quarterback who is being grossly overpaid considering the minutes he's getting, and if I were Gainey my focus would remain squarely fixed here. Cam Barker played only 12:28 in his last game, that 3-2 win over the Habs in Chicago where he notched a goal and an assist. He hasn't played 15 minutes since Game 4 of the season nearly a month ago.
The more he watches his own defence play, the more I would imagine Gainey would be willing to live with whatever Barker deficiency leads the 'Hawks to play him so little in even strength and penalty killing situations.
Posted by Arpon Basu at 9:52 PM