Monday, April 19, 2010

Recovery Mission

A few of you have been expressing your belief that the Habs are in a great position in this series and have every chance to win it, despite the horrible shock of Saturday's loss. With twenty-four hours to recover from that heartbreaker, I'm feeling a little bit better about the situation as well. Hope's a funny thing. It can drain out of you like the sand running through an hourglass until you feel empty and desolate. Then you pick yourself up and flip the glass over and you can almost feel hope trickling back. I think situations like Saturday's might be harder on the fans than on the players in some ways. We can do nothing but stand by and watch and hope. The players are the ones with their fate in their own hands. They can get out there and fight back, if they're prepared and focussed.

That's where the veterans and coaches come in. A guy like Hal Gill, who won the Cup just last year and wears the "A" well, or a coach like Kirk Muller, who captained a Cup winner in Montreal himself, needs to stand up and get the team ready. The question is, what do they say? How can they get a team that just got an emotional kick in the nuts back on its feet and ready to rumble tonight?

I'd start with a video session showing all the things they did right. There's lots to show, too. Spacek and Gill are playing some great shut-down defence. Moore and Moen are forechecking machines. Both of the top lines are playing fast, aggressive, skilled hockey. Then I'd contrast the "good" video with lowlights of the third in the last game...not to rub it in, but to illustrate the difference. I'd show them how the D was backing in in the third, when it had been challenging more earlier in the game. I'd point out how the fourth line started using their sticks a lot more than their bodies once the Habs had a lead.

In my pre-game speech, I'd say a loss like Saturday's sucks, but there are lessons to take from it. Washington was the more desperate team because they couldn't afford to give up both home games. Yet, the Habs stayed with the most talented team in the league, which was extra-primed by the necessity of winning, and got them to OT. That's really something. They also learned to keep a closer eye on Backstrom, and never let up against this team because even a big lead isn't safe.

I'd tell my team they can do it and if they stick to basics with hard work, they *will* do it. The most important thing to remember is never give up. If they keep fighting, they'll always have a chance. And I'd reinforce the dream of winning in Montreal, a city that will love them more than any other if they can pull it off.

I'd tell them if they're mad about the crappy officiating, that they should put that anger into skating harder, shooting more often and hitting everything that moves. I'd remind them that everyone's talking about the crappy officiating, so they might actually get a break from referees who are paranoid about looking biased. I'd finish up by telling them I believe in them and I believe they can do it. Then tell them to go out and kick some Crapital ass.

So, what would you say, if you wanted to get a team primed for tonight?


V said...

Just reading the players comments, it feels like they know what they need to do. BG assembled a team of pros with proven play-off success.

Other than your comments about the referees - to take frustrations there out on the Caps - I would just be tempted to ask them what they think they need to do. Have the players tell the coach what the 3 keys to winning are and only comment if they miss something - which I highly doubt they will.

The players need to own and align to what is needed and the best way to do that is to have it come from them.

Anonymous said...

If Bruce gives Theo another chance Habs can win this one. If not Habs are history. Crapitals are just too big and too talented. Also, Habs don't play well at home. As far as what to say - just go out and have some fun. Nobody gives you a chance to win so you have nothing to lose.

Anonymous said...

Remember the lyric "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose?". The Habs have so much less pressure and expectation to win. I think it makes it easier to carry the puck to the other end. We are in the same skates as the leafs were during our last reg. season game. I'd tell the team to go out there and play with the notion of not letting the Craps get passed this series as opposed to us trying to win the Stanley Cup. If you look at it that way, doesn't the challenge seem easier?

And I'd also suggest that our players shove their gloves in oBITCHkin's face every chance they get.

I'm ready!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

pierre said...

They dont need to get pumped as it will be their first home game of the series...... they all heard about the Bell's atmosphere during the playoffs so for alot of them it will be like a baptism of sort..... its a beautifull spring day in Montreal and the whole town is in playoffs mode and its all theirs for the taken.

They already know the method and they watched tapes yesterday reviewing the moment they shifted away from it in the later part of the second period when S.K. had a brain cramp which lead to the Capital's second goal bringing the score at 4-2 barely minutes after A.K. had scored his third goal of the evening.

As Hill said after the second game..... we know how to play them..... now we have to be consistant.

Being consistant with a capital C is not an easy thing to do but its possible, if they do I believe they will keep advancing as the serie goes on....... Washington is such a power house, they can errs here and there and still win any series.... not Montreal.... not against them anyway.

Anonymous said...

Varly made his NHL debut in Montreal on December 12, 2008, stopping 31 of 32 shots, becoming the first goalie to win his debut in Montreal in more than 30 years. Prior to Saturday night Varly had two starts against the Habs and won both, boasting a 1.94 goals-against and a .930 save percentage. Quite simply, the Habs haven’t beaten him.

Let's pray it's Theo.

V said...

Not sure I understand the fear of Varlamov. He could be great for them yet there is a good reason why he was playing behind Theodore. He has struggled all year and hasn't played much in 2010.

The winner of this series is the one that can overcome the fear of losing in the moment. Game One our expectations were extremely low - very little fear of losing and very little pressure to perform. Same thing in Game two until we were up 4-1 in the second and we collapsed under the weight of the our own expectations - suddenly Washington had nothing to lose by just going for it - they loosened up and we tightened up under the expectations we had created for ourselves.

I think the pressure is back on Washington tonight - they are expected to begin asserting themselves and we should be looser. I think Game Four will be tougher than tonight - unless we lose tonight. Then we will be looser in Game Four.

Biggest problem for us is the notion that we have tightened up all year whenever we should win. If we don't overcome that tendency - and its a learning process - we lose the series. If we do, I think we have the talent to go a long way.

DB said...

Damien Cox wrote today that one of the Pen's biggest playoff assets is their poise.

I immediately thought he's right and that one of the Hab's biggest problems this year has been their lack of poise.

They get a lead then for some reason they lose their poise. They stop skating, the defence starts backing up, players try to do someone else's job instead of their own, and the coach benchs some players. The result - the team gives up the lead as it did in Washington or narrowly escapes doing so because of great goaltending.

My question is there anything Martin can say or do to help prevent the Habs from losing their poise or does the team lose its poise because of Martin?

Derek Donais said...

Metro's in, by most accounts. That says a lot about him, and our team. We may not be the biggest, but you don't measure heart with a jersey size. We have the warriors who'll play hard and fight - even when they're supposed to lie down and die. That was one of the best moves of the offseason and the trades - get some more North American skaters who aren't afraid to go into the corners to add to the European skills (okay, that's a couple of stereotypes, but what the heck). GO HABS GO!!!!

MC said...

The Habs have to look to their veterans of Stanley Cup victories like Meon, Gomez, Gionta, Gill. They will know the right tone to set. The Habs now know if they play their game, they can beat the Caps. It is just a matter of execution and who wants it more.

Wouldn't you love to be at the game tonight? It will be electric. Go Habs!

Anonymous said...

JT can we nominate you for JM's job? Maybe be his speechwriter?? Loved it