Thursday, April 8, 2010

This is where you earn your dough

No, I'm not talking about Scott Gomez, who looked like he approached Thursday's crucial 5-2 loss to Carolina like it was a big game of shinny. I'm actually not talking about any of the players. I'm talking about the coach, the guy who took a big money contract to be pried out of the general manager's office in sunny Florida and come to Montreal, back to his "first love" of coaching.

Well now, Jacques Martin, you have some coaching to do.

I'm not going to go into the depths of what was wrong with the Canadiens in Raleigh tonight. You're not stupid people, and you know that the team was outworked, outexecuted, outsmarted, outpassed, outchecked, and, worst of all, outcoached.

There's little time to dwell on that, because the task at hand is a great one. To have a team look so completely devoid of any purpose two games in a row against lesser competition with a playoff spot within its grasp means there is a message that is simply not getting through. Either that, or the players are being told to simply take it easy because a spot in the playoffs is just going to be handed to them.

After looking so impressive in handling the Sabres at home Saturday night, that team has disappeared completely. Where did it go? That is an impossible question to answer for any of you or I, because we are not in that room. We don't know these players intimately, even though we like to think we do. No, the man whose job it is to find that answer is Martin, and he better do it in a hurry.

Not because the Canadiens playoff lives will necessarily come down to Saturday night's game against Toronto at the Bell Centre. It still might, it might not, but that's not the point. The point is that the last two games should have been approached by everyone on that team, from the coaches down to the stick boy, like playoff games. Like Game 7's. You win this, you move on, so give it everything. 

Some might say that at this time of year, the players shouldn't need the leadership of a strong coach to get up for these types of games. You would be right. I've defended Gomez all season long, insisting that this is the player he is, and if you disregard his salary he's not a bad guy to have on your team. Also, he has a strong recent history of raising his game in the playoffs, with 45 points in his last 42 post-season contests. But Gomez tonight was the epitome of cool, in that aloof, annoying way. Loose on the puck, careless turnovers, unimaginative play, he was just horrid when the Canadiens needed him most. That could be said of a lot of guys tonight, in fact most of the team except the goalie and a couple of defencemen.

So when that's the case, don't you need your high-profile coach to rattle the cage a little? To step in and do some coaching? I'm not saying Martin should have done more than he did in tonight's game, because he did shake up the lines and shorten the bench in an effort to get at least to overtime. But sometime between now and Saturday night, Martin has to find a way to take this suddenly reeling team and turn it around 180 degrees.

Let's just look at the first periods of the last two games as an example of the deep malaise that is now engulfing this team. On Tuesday night, the Canadiens were outshot 15-5 in the first and down 1-0 after 20 minutes. If the league kept track of how often teams touched the puck, it would be documented proof of how embarrassingly bad the Canadiens really were. Tonight, same thing. The disparity in shots was not nearly as flagrant, with the Canes up 10-7, but were it not for Jaroslav Halak bailing out his sleepwalking teammates, that game would have been a rout far earlier. The first period has been an issue all year, the Canadiens have the fifth-worst goal differential over the first 20 minutes in the league at minus-15. But you would have thought that in these two instances, the first period would be a case of a pack of lions being released from their cage. Instead, what we got were little kittens, content to play with a ball of yarn.

Martin has less than 48 hours to figure something out. Anything to get his talented players up to their potential. Because even if the Canadiens qualify for the playoffs Friday with a Rangers loss, there's very little point going into the playoffs like this. The team I saw Saturday night was the one I though could pull off a first-round upset, and then who knows how far momentum and goaltending takes you. 

The team I've seen ever since is ripe for a four-game sweep.


Andrew Berkshire said...

I didn't see Halak doing much bailing out tonight. He had a couple good saves but he was FAR below his average this season. It's unfair to harp on goaltending when the forwards do **** all to help out, but Halak wasn't exactly confidence inspiring after the first goal.

That said the only person I blame for tonight is Jacques Martin. The benching of Sergei is just another example of his stupid vendetta against a guy who's been one of the best 3 or 4 forwards on the team since before the olympics. He's an idiot, and doesn't understand that O'Byrne is better on defense than MAB, that Pyatt, Moen and Lapierre aren't bigger offensive threats than Sergei Kostitsyn, and Gomez having a HORRID game shouldn't be playing more than any other forward.

The guy wreaks of pre-lockout thinking, and he doesn't understand the team he has. Bob Gainey was stupid for hiring him, and the organization was even dumber for letting him ruin the team for this long.

Anonymous said...

Molson boys should have shown absolutely no allegiance to the complete failures who have been running this team for the last many years - NONE of them. The lot -Boivin, Gainey, Gauthier all who have run this team since 2003 should be fired and completely out of this team(Gainey is still in this organization). Bring in new blood, new thinking, bring in a winner like Patrick Roy!

Anonymous said...

@Andrew Berkshire

gainey did NOT hire martin. as red fisher said right from when martin was hired from out of the blue, fisher said "gauthier's fingerprints are all over this". martin was his coach when gauthier was gm in ottawa. timmons worked for him in ottawa too. NEITHER had any prior work under gainey.

boivin and gauthier went to school together. this organization needs a complete housecleaning right from the top. all of boivin, gauthier, timmons, martin and whatever gainey is still doing there - ALL SHOULD BE FIRED THE DAY AFTER (IF THE RANGERS DO LOSE A POINT) THEY SHOULD ALL BE FIRED THE DAY AFTER THE 4 GAME SWEEP BY WASHINGTON ENDS.

Arpon Basu said...

I was referring to the first period, but really, the only one Halak had a chance on was the LaRose breakaway, and that was still a breakaway. Goaltending has not been and is not now the problem. It's not fair to expect the goalie to win by himself every night. Sometimes, it should be enough to keep your team in the game even when they are getting grossly outplayed, which is what Halak did tonight.

Your other points, to use a favourite Jacques Martin term, are bang on.

Anonymous said...

Martin and Gauthier

why do they call up a Pyatt but have a Trotter and Desharnais tearing it up in Hamilton when this team's problem is they CAN'T score goals? And why isn't Subban here NOW. Actually from after the Olympic break on?

These are total incompetants just like that dufus Bob Gainey. 7 years now these idiots have run this once proud franchise.

Patte said...

why isn't halak blamed when he loses games? people say it's the team's fault when he loses. Why wouldn't Price get the benefit of the doubt also? clearly, the team plays poorly every once in a while. Goalies are there to block shots, not be redeemers. Osgood or fleury or theo don't win games by themsleves..

About Martin. There's so much a coach can do. If the players don't believe, if they simply don't care enough, if they've already accomplished more than they were expecting to this year, if they're not ready sacrifice themselves for the next guy.. Then it's not the coachs fault. He's not the one holding the stick on the ice. The players determination levels can't be blamed on how good a motivator a coach is. Everyone loved Martin 3 weeks ago.
I blame the team for lack of professionalism. lack of will. they should watch that Herman Edwards Vid.

Anonymous said...


"That was a disgraceful performance"

Anonymous said...

Hello? Carolina is an amazing team who have had our number for years now. I would take Cam Ward and Eric Staal for anything the habs have going - minus PK Suban, watch out!

pfhabs said...


-as the voice of "doom" I took a **** kicking from most this year in this space but seems I was close in my assessment

-I'll just echo what Andrew and the others have said above in terms of the required ennema

-the solution is simple but it'll take emmense courage from the owner to admit his mistake and say goodbye to Boivin, his former classmate, the shadow GM and their coaching buddy from Ottawa...

-personally I'd keep Timmins because although some mistakes have been made his group have made some excellent choices

-I await V and others to dump on the suggestion but then I expect excellence and effort from the CH management group and not the mediocrity that others are happy with

Arpon Basu said...

@ Patte - If you've been reading this blog for a while, and you're welcome to refer to the archives, you'll see that Price is never blamed here for his losses unless he deserves it. Same goes for Halak, who played well enough to get the Habs to a position where they could get a point last night, even though they didn't deserve one. I don't care about the Price-Halak drivel that goes on elsewhere, I'm of the mind that Halak should play for now but that Price should be kept long-term. I stand by that now.

@ PFHabs - Yes, this is your shining moment. But I'll ask you this: if the day after it was announced that Andrei Markov would be lost for nearly half the season, someone would have told you the Habs would be in a position to make the playoffs with a single point in the final game of the season, would you have believed them? Not sure I would.

MathMan said...

Still think this is a good coach doing a bad job, Arpon? ;)

Two no-shows in two crucial games, I'm really starting to wonder if the coach hasn't completely lost his room. It would seem to be an odd time for that, though, with the playoffs just aroung the corner. You'd think they'd just grin and bear it until the end of the year.

I've been railing about the coaching ever since the "system" started to cripple the Habs' promising 5-on-5 game from the beginning of the season. He's also utterly terrible with young players, as his vendetta against Sergei Kostitsyn and his driving off of Latendresse shows (and we're, unfortunately, starting to see what looks frighteningly like the real Pouliot now). Martin's been part of the problem, not the solution, for a while now, and I still don't see how the Habs can improve from their 87-ish pace with him at the helm.

pfhabs said...


-to be honest I thought coming into october they were a bubble team. the moment Markov went down and based on the estimated length of time to return (after January) I thought they were definitely out

-that they are within 1 point is partly credit to the players and partly credit to the other teams in the east who, except for the top 4, have also played like crap in long stretches

-who would have guessed that the idiots in Philly would go through 7 goalies and not one of them be any better than a 2nd stringer at best

-you will also recall that I've always said that 'just making the playoffs' is mediocrity which has become manna for the masses. I also said that they are simply not a contender for anything more than 7th-12th spot and that Bob did his best but it wasn't good enough for me and a clean slate of managers was needed

-well pushing Bob to the consultative sidelines (whatever that means) and promoting the fool that got Bob into most of the hot water is simply not cleaning the slate. it is simply putting a bow on a turd. even with the nice Boivin spin it still looks and smells the same

-so unless the long odds of the Rangers getting 4 points, Philly an OT loss point, Boston another point in the next 2 games occur the Canadiens will back into 7th or 8th position. I expect the Leafs are salivating at the thought of adding to the CH losing streak and will probably succeed

-in the end the Ch will be one and done; as in 1 round and out with the biggest decision of his short tenure being left to Molson because eventually even the drunken fools up in the Molson Zone will realize what's up and the 21,273 will start to dwindle

Patte said...

who decides if a goalie deserves the blame? My point was simply that usually the habs lose as a team. We're witnessing it this week. I don't think Montreal, since I was born, has ever been a team counting on an elite hero player to make them win. But yet. Whatever they've produced in the last two decades, they've done as a team effort. simply because they haven't had the richards, orrs, lemieux, or crosbys in a few decades. A bad effort from one player or two doesn't really affect the outcome usually for the habs.. it's usually a team thing. HOping for amazing goaltending, calling up Subban, firing the coach is NOT the way to win a cup.
Those are quick fixes. or attempt of a short term fix should I say. and it last only for a period sometimes.
Bringing in a new management team is not necessarily the solution either. Build the team.. accumulate one good player at a time.. Detroit like. right now, they all just need a big slap in the face, or two.

pfhabs said...


-my point is that the current crew are not capable of building one player at a time like Detroit

-they've been at it for 6+ years how many more do want to give them

-they need a new mgmt team from Boivin to Martin