Thursday, December 17, 2009

Mixed messages

The Canadiens did a few good things in their 3-1 loss to the Wild Thursday night, starting with outshooting their opponents and getting more power plays than their opponents for the first time in 10 games.

When a team has lost five games in a row, sometimes those are the things you need to look at to avoid a downward spiral of misery.

But when I brought it up with Mike Cammalleri after the game, he didn't share the same viewpoint at all.

“I was waiting for someone to bring that up," Cammalleri began by saying. "Moral victories suck in this business, I’m not going to sugar coat it. It’s a results-driven business, all out fans and all the people who care so much about this team want to see it win and so do we. When you talk about the process and working towards a goal, they’re things that we can look at. But they don’t really hold much weight as far as I’m concerned.”

Power to Cammalleri for calling like it is, because he's 100 per cent right. Moral victories do suck, because they are only brought up when you lose. And losing, by its very nature, sucks royally.

Except the man guiding this ship doesn't appear to feel the same way. Jacques Martin watched the same game we all did, and yes, the Habs got some shots and stayed out of the penalty box. But really, did they play all that well? I would say no, but not Martin.

"It was a hotly contested game," Martin said. "We worked better than we did over the last four or five games and created more chances to score."

Hotly contested? Really? Maybe it was contested, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it hot. Neither team looked like it had much gas in the tank, to be honest. The Wild were playing their fourth in seven nights, the Habs their third in four nights, and it showed. Just not to Martin.

"I thought our intensity was better tonight," he said. "We still have things to work on, but it was better."

The Habs play their next seven games on the road, a trip broken in two by the Christmas break. And in discussing the defeat, Martin finally evoked how badly some of the injured players are missed, which would have to mean Andrei Markov because he's really the only injured player that's close to a return. I ran into Roman Hamrlik after the game, and he said he was day to day, nothing more.

"With the return of certain players," Martin said, "it should allow us to classify players in their proper place."

Cammalleri was asked the same question earlier, whether the team was kind of waiting around for some of the injured guys to get back.

“We’ve had success with a lineup that was more depleted than the one we have right now," he said. "So I think we’re more looking within and looking in the mirror right now.”

Isn't that how it should be? Is it ever healthy to be using injuries as an excuse, no matter how valid an excuse it might be? Is it not strange that a player is saying all the right things and a coach is saying all the wrong ones?

I leave the answer to that question up to you.

I can't write about this game without mentioning poor old Guillaume Latendresse, who had a bit of rough one in his return to Montreal. He admitted afterwards that he was overly nervous at the start of the game, and he never quite recovered. But he made it clear that no matter how badly he thought he played, he got everything he wanted out of his return visit to the Bell Centre.

“Satisfied? I must have had no shots and maybe three hits (he actually was credited with five)," Latendresse said. "But the important thing is that we got two points even though we didn’t play well tonight. We’re a better team than that. But the only thing that was important to me tonight was to beat the Canadiens at home.”

Good for you Guillaume, you got what you wanted, but the boo birds that greeted him clearly hit home a bit. He told Mathias Brunet of La Presse last week that he would be hurt if he got booed, and it happened, though it wasn't all that vicious (a pocket of fans in the cheap seats took to chanting "Ann-ie Ville-neuve," his pop starlet girlfriend he left behind in Quebec).

“The positive is that I must have had an impact of some sort over my time here, so I’m not too worried about it.”

I highly doubt that, but he was right about one thing. There's no better way to stick it to a team than by beating them on their home rink. I'm sure Guillaume is still smiling over that.


john deere said...

The fans at today's game seemed very unhappy with the present state of affairs. If this team doesn't start playing better by the time the Olympics roll around me thinks Gainey or Martin are toast. Restless fans are trouble.

pmk said...

Well Jm has turned us into Montreal panthers - unwatchable hockey - so count me in as a restless fan.
Where's PFhabs? I'm a convert - I have lost my faith. Gainey's cap mismanagement has handcapped this club for the next four yrs.

looking forward to WJC and the olympics though.

V said...

Lats apparent bitterness is probably one of the factors that will hold him back. In the long term, it is seldom an effective motivation. Here's hoping he gets over it for his own sake.

As for our team, I'm keeping my head and faith up. There are good things in their play if you are open to them and the injured are returning.

I am very curious to see if it will make enough of a difference for this year. I feel a bit like I used to when developing pictures in the darkroom years ago (before digital photography)... there was this great sense of anticipation for what might be. The finished product often did not measure up to your expectations, but for a magical moment you were suspended between nothing and something and there was just possibility - that's where I feel like we are with this team.

nk said...

martin isn't a soft coach and he has no trouble calling out the team when it doesn't impress. i thought he gave them a bit of a break last night by saying what he did, because the fact is they did stay out of the box and when they managed some sustained pressure the boys looked pretty darn good. ak alone could've had a hattrick last night.

if cammalleri is any indication, the boys are already beating themselves up. i don't think offering some positives implies that martin is delusional just rewarding his team for finally doing something right - without gionta, markov and hammer no less.

pfhabs said...


-funny that V would describe the current state of this club-- described by some analysts this past summer as a "chemistry experiment"--as an exercise in film think you did everything correctly when you exposed the film, there's anticipation, hope and then there's reality

-for me; to use V's analogy, if for years you continue to use old film, continue to under expose or over expose the film and have terrible composition skills, no matter how expensive the equipment used you cannot expect a Picasso result.

-even switching to digital which has the facility to correct a lot of errors even after the shot is taken means little if the basic foundation of your photographic skill is limited

-after 6+ years it is my humble opinion that management's capability of creating that Picasso is limited...some elements are fine, some even great but the overall result is disappointing to ugly if you include the style played in the last 2 games

-even additional equipment (Markov & Gionta) doesn't aleviate the basic lack of skill and the problems will continue

-in short we need a new photographer ! if not we'll continue to suffer V's darkroom anticipation, hope and then reality---disappointment

Anonymous said...

Gomez < Koivu
Why bob?

V said...

pf... this could go in many directions but ultimately just two because it won't stay the same... up or down.

If circumstances dictate it goes down, I am completely OK. I will honour BG for who is is and what he's done - his best and the team will move forward and I will support them.

If it goes up, I will do the same. And we will put you on suicide watch ;)

V said...

Too early to judge the photographer pf.

I know, it's been 6 years and all that. But let's be patient. Afterall, this club has been around 100 years... no need to jump the gun.

We'll know how this turns out before summer 2011.

Arjun said...

One: Cammy needs to be the Captain. This team needs a man with a C on his chest and Cammy is it.

Two: Markov's return means O'Byrne sits and people like Gill play 15 minutes a game and not more than 20. If anything Markov's return creates a natural order of things. Minnesota game aside, we've been giving up too many shots.

Three: Jacques Martin is a bad coach.

pfhabs said...


-I understand your words but do not share your sentiments. for me, w free agency, the amateur draft, trades and other possibilities of movement 6-7 years is not a lifetime in hockey but is sufficient to see forward progress in the parent club

-there has been forward progress in the quality of players and coaches in Hamilton and progress in the quality of prospects

-however this team is still a bubble team fighting for 7-10th place much like it was before Bob took it over. they have yet to win a second round in the playoffs and although the Carolina series was sideswiped by a stick to Saku's eye they have not been close since then and missed the playoffs 1 year

-Bob has tried and the word I get is if there isn't any appreciable positive movement forward over the next 7 road games there will be player changes. dare I say a 3rd plan within less than 1 calendar year by Bob and Gauthier

-I understand your position but I disagree w it. for me Bob is done because the composition of this team may make the playoffs as a bubble team but will not last very long in the playoffs