I'm thinking of taking a little holiday away from the Habs over the next couple of weeks, because of illness and fatigue. Basically, I'm sick and tired of watching the same crap, game in and game out.
I've had it. I've been trying my damnedest to be tolerant of this team, to try to find something enjoyable about it and have hope things will get better. It started out with the inevitable 20-game waiting period. We have to wait for this new team to come together, we said. Then there were the injuries. We have to wait for the hurt guys to come back, we said. Well, we can't wait anymore. Thirty-four games into the season is more than a third of the year, and the Habs are not getting any better. Most of the hurt guys are back, and the problems are still so massive, you wonder how Brian Gionta or Andrei Markov can possibly be enough to fix them.
This team has one scoring line. Kudos to Plekanec and Cammalleri who've been bringing it all season, especially Plekanec who's spending half his icetime killing off the stupid penalties taken by his teammates. If there's any justice, he should be a Selke candidate this year. Props as well to Spacek and Hamrlik, Price and Halak, for doing the best they can to stop the bleeding every night. Andrei Kostitsyn gets a pass for coming to life this month.
Now for the rest of them.
Ryan O'Byrne. What the hell is he doing out there? He started out with a great camp and immediately got hurt. When he came back he picked it up again. In the last ten games, though, he's taking himself out of the play to make pointless hits, and he's handling the puck like it's a vial of nitroglycerin. Crappy chips up the boards, intercepted by everyone, every time. Honestly, if Georges Laraque played for someone else (we can only dream), HE could stop one of O'Byrne's clearing attempts. And the stupid penalties O'Byrne's been taking are enough to make you wish you had an extra defenceman, just to be able to bench him.
Josh Gorges. He's doing his best, but he's not big enough to be a shutdown D and not offensive enough to be a two-way guy. And how many times does he have to fall on Carey Price before Price goes down with an injury? Honestly, Gorges falls at Price's feet more than the cowgirls at the Calgary Stampede.
Hal Gill. The big battleship is a good bottom-pairing D in a stay-at-home, PK role. But he has a turning radius of about a kilometre and the mobility of a cement truck. His outlet passing is as effective as an inside-out umbrella. When the team is relying on him to play a bigger role, it doesn't work.
MAB. If he was on a bomber crew in WWII, he'd be the tail gunner. That's what he does. He shoots. He can't fly the plane. He can't navigate. Unfortunately, the Canadiens need a fighter pilot who can dogfight AND fire his own guns.
Matt D'Agostini. The kid was what? A sixth-rounder? It's a festivus miracle that he's even skating on NHL ice without a shovel in his hands, when you consider how few guys taken that low actually make it. When he first came up, he was a feel-good story, popping in the goals with his hot shot and talking about how going to the net made all the difference in his game. Unfortunately, that wore off quickly, and now D'Ags is a feel-bad story. I feel bad every time I see him give the puck away, or turn away from a check.
Georges Laraque. Just...ugh. People will say other teams behave themselves more when Laraque is out there. That's the single argument in favour of his holding an NHL job, and I'm not buying it. Laraque can't skate, he can't score, he takes stupid penalties, he's been losing fights against non-heavyweights and he's become a caricature off the ice. All this for the low, low price of 1.5 million bucks a year.
And speaking of gigantic wastes of money...
Scott Gomez. I hated the trade. HATED it. Gomez is a shifty number-two centre with speed who'll put up lots of assists if he's paired with a goalscorer or two. That is NOT good enough to be worth the outrageous salary he makes. But, salary aside, he's not producing like a top-line centre must produce if a team is going to win. The arguments in his defence include the fact that his linemates have been kids and pluggers since Gionta got hurt. Well, Scotty, welcome to Tomas Plekanec's world. Until Gomez got hurt, Plekanec was skating with friggin' Lapierre and Latendresse half the time, and STILL managed to put up the points. Gomez has four goals and twelve assists in 29 games. Not even close to being good enough. He's also sarcastic and reluctant with the media and gives every appearance of not really wanting to be in Montreal.
Maxim Lapierre. What a difference a year makes, in a really crappy way. Last year he was flying around the ice, agitating and popping in seriously timely goals. He killed penalties like Chuck Norris too. This year he's rarely seen on the PK, does more pointless yapping than agitating and appears to have packed his scoring touch in Guillaume Latendresse's lunch bag. This guy is a year and a half removed from Hamilton. How quickly he's forgotten the ten-hour bus rides.
Sergei Kostitsyn. Didn't he used to be able to score? If this new Sergei is playing the way Martin wants him to play, I don't like that way. Sure, he's not taking the stupid penalties he took regularly last year, and he's more aware of the concept of backchecking. But he's completely lost his ability to finish. He's like a nervous virgin in the O-zone.
Travis Moen. Can't complain too much. He's not contributing to the general stupidity, and he's doing what he's paid to do...hit, play the PK and generally shut down the opposition's attack. If that exciting little show of early-season offence got us all worked up, that's not his fault.
Glen Metropolit. I love the guy. Really. But the downside of his game is Steve Begin-ish. Remember when Begin cost the Habs the playoffs with his dumbass double minor with three minutes to go against the leafs three years ago? That's what Metro's been in the last two games.
Tom Pyatt. After a a quick start, he's fallen into obscurity. I like Ryan White better, but neither of them is putting this team over the top anytime this century.
Perry Pearn. I don't know him, or very much about him. But I hate him anyway. It seems to me his major qualification for the job is being Jacques Martin's buddy. He's supposed to be running the PP, like he was in New York last year. New York, where the PP ended the season 29th in the league. Yay, let's bring him to Montreal!
Jacques Martin. I hate The System. There. I said it. Whatever the hell Martin is teaching them is NOT working. If you can tell the difference between what Carbo had them doing last year and what Martin has them doing this year, you probably qualify for a PhD in Hockey Analysis. Hemmed in their own zone for half the game? Yup. No transition game to speak of? Uh huh. One-man forecheck? Check. Weak on the boards? You bet! Either this "new" team is as dense as the "old" one when it comes to processing simple instructions like "go to the net," and "shoot the puck," and "keep your sticks down," or the system does not suit them for some reason. It's Martin's responsibility to adjust the system to minimize his team's weaknesses, and he's not doing it. Or, if he's to be absolved from responsibility, we must believe the players are completely without talent and/or brains and/or interest in winning.
I'm getting a new LCD TV for Christmas, and I'm thinking of sending it back. I don't really want to see this season fizzle away in all its high-def glory. And, with the freakin' leafs two points back, you can hear the fizzle all the way in the basement where the Habs are heading if they don't smarten up. Even the idea of a true-blue star draft pick leaves me disconsolate. I want playoffs! And I want GOOD playoffs! And I already know we're most likely looking at another eighth-place squeak and first-round dispatching...if we're LUCKY.
Ugh. I can't watch the "dump it in, chase it in, chase it out, watch the other team cycle in your zone, chip it to the blueline, get it blocked, watch the other team cycle, chip it to centre directly to an opponent, back up into your zone, watch the other team cycle, take a penalty" routine for another sixty minutes. Wake up, you boneheads!
I have to go look at the NHL stats now. Seeing Pleks and Cammy in the top thirty is the only thing giving me any comfort at all right now. And it's the kind of comfort you get from hugging a stuffed animal after your dog dies.