Monday, April 19, 2010
Well, wasn't that a great display of overall stupidity last night? Bruce Boudreau said after the game he thinks Jacques Martin is one of the smartest coaches in the league. I think that's how an opposing coach soothes a guy like Martin into continuing to make the same stupid decisions that helped the Caps win Game Three. Sure, the Habs had a great first period, but one period, as we've seen from this team all season, isn't enough to win a hockey game. Especially not a playoff hockey game. It is, however, more than enough time in which to lose a game. Right from the starting lineup and into the second, dreadful period, the Canadiens were generally trading helmets for dunce caps, their coach wearing the pointiest one.
Okay, yeah, Sergei Kostitsyn can be maddening. He can try to be too fancy and give the puck away. He can try to duck a hit and end up costing a turnover. But you know what? He can also score important goals, and he'll kill penalties and fight for the puck, doing creative things to get it out of trouble. So, instead of playing Sergei Kostitsyn, Jacques "The Genius" Martin decided to play Mathieu Darche. Okay, fine. That's the coach's choice, and he obviously sees things in the room and in practice that we don't. BUT, and this is a big but, WHY did he play the guy he chose over Kostitsyn for less than three minutes in the game? This, my friends, is stupid coaching.
If Darche isn't good enough to play a regular shift, then Kostitsyn has got to draw in. It's common sense. You cannot put all the pressure on three lines and expect last night not to happen, not in the playoffs. Then again, Martin isn't accustomed to winning in the playoffs, so who are we kidding here?
It's also stupid coaching to have Marc Andre Bergeron, who can't keep an NHL job with any one team because the only NHL-level skill he owns is a point shot on the power play, in the lineup alongside your best defenceman. Markov is great, but he needs someone who can stay at home and give him a bit of offensive freedom. Komisarek did that. O'Byrne can do it. I admit, OB isn't yet the most consistent of defencemen, but if you give him a simple job he can do it. He'd have a damn sight better chance of controlling big wingers than little, easily-pushed-around Bergeron. Markov needs to be on the ice a lot, and he needs a steady partner who can play those minutes without hurting the team. MAB was on the ice for three of the Caps five goals last night, and even Markov couldn't save him.
Beyond the stupid coaching, the team fell into a lack of discipline after the Caps started scoring. Gomez taking a ten-minute misconduct was inexcusable, especially when the team had power plays without him. I don't know what Pleks said to the ref or did to the goalie that got him an unsportsmanlike minor, but that was stupid too.
Also stupid was Roman Hamrlik's play for much of the night. He's making panicky passes, fumbling the puck and not skating well. He's not the same guy who filled in for Markov in the fall, and he looks terrible. If he and Spacek were competing to see who'd get traded in the off-season, Spacek stays. That's despite the fact that the Caps' short-handed goal, which broke the Habs down, came on a particularly stupid play in which Spacek backed right into his own goalie and fell on him.
Carey Price looked decent for being called in cold, and he'll start Game Four, barring yet another stupid Martin decision. Halak didn't deserve what happened to him. He was rough in Game Two, but the team let him down in Game Three. I hope Price can pull the next one out of the fire, because, after three games, it's clear the only way the Habs are winning this series is via divine intervention. And so far, it looks like divinity is not on their side.
I feel sorry for all the fans who came out in their innocent joy to watch their team compete. They got it for twenty minutes, then the Habs collapsed and looked wretched for the other forty. I think everyone who was at the Bell last night, and all RDS subscribers, should get a 66% discount for fraud, caused by stupidity.
They told us we're getting the Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs. Instead we're getting a badly-coached bunch of overwhelmed hockey players who've managed to play four good periods out of nine. Still, give Guy Boucher or some other young, progressive coach the same group to manage and I think they'd be better than what we're seeing, even if only a bit better. If this team fails, it's because they're just not good enough to sustain the level of play needed to consistently beat an offensive powerhouse like the Capitals. That, and the coach is an idiot. It's just too bad the faithful fans are taking the abuse.
Posted by J.T. at 2:54 PM