Thursday, May 20, 2010

Aftermath: Hammer Time, To the Max

Well. The Habs' two biggest weaknesses in the first two games of this conference final were the inability of the defence to move the puck efficiently in order to spark the offence, and the inability of the forwards to get second chances by going to the Flyers' net. Somebody (Muller) looked at some tapes and got Les Boys playing the style they need to play to beat these guys.

The first weakness, on defence, was addressed by Roman Hamrlik. I don't know what it is about Markov going down hurt, but whenever it happens, Hamrlik plays like he was drafted first overall once upon a time. What a game he played last night! He hit, he skated hard and he passed the puck quickly and accurately. He did everything you need your top-two defencemen to do. And, best of all, partnered with PK Subban, he helped the kid out enough in the defensive zone to free up Subban on offence. The result? Three assists for the rookie. I'm among those who thinks Hammer's contract will have to be moved this summer, if possible. Yet, last night he reminded us why Bob Gainey signed him.

Spacek also had a strong game last night, and Gorges and Gill were their usual steady selves. Bergeron was scary, as always. O'Byrne, playing his first game in the series, had the misfortune to make a couple of early errors and spent the rest of the night on the bench. I really hate Martin's culture of punishment. How can he expect a young defenceman, coming in cold, to be perfect? And, even if he did, how stupid is he to not give O'Byrne some minutes to get his game back up to speed when the Habs had the game well in hand? The fact is, Bergeron won't be back next year because he's terrible on defence. O'Byrne will be on the roster, so Martin needs to nurture him NOW.

Now, back to the kudos. The other glowing, shining point of light in Game Three was Maxim Lapierre. The guy annoyed the Flyers to the point of instigating them to take penalties in an effort to shut him up. On top of that, he skated like the Roadrunner and drove the net like the Rocket. I can only imagine what it must be like to be the other team's fan and see that smirking asshole yapping at my favourite players while he's beating them on the scoreboard too. When he's doing that FOR my team, though, it's great. There's something about the home crowd that really fires the guy up and prods him to raise his game to a level of spectacular pestilence.

While Hammer and Lapierre were the shining stars last night, there's a lot of honourable mention to go around. The whole team skated like they were driving the bus in Speed. Halak found his mojo again and made some fabulous early saves to set the tone. The team collectively decided it wants more hockey this spring, and went out to do what needed to be done to make it happen.

Now they just need to do it three more times. That suddenly doesn't seem as difficult as it did yesterday.


V said...

Great win.

Can't help but notice you infer Muller deserves credit for a change in their style and Martin gets the credit for ruining O'Byrne.

Could be the other way around. Only the Canadiens know. And if Muller is having a positive influence, Martin deserves credit for creating the environment where assistant coaches can have that kind of impact.

Every other coach we play against seems to get full credit for their role in their team's success... Boudreau and Bylsma are acknowledged for good work in a losing cause. No one questions Laviolette's influence even though he has just one more win than Martin in this year's playoffs against easier competition.

Does Martin instil me with a sense of passion and promise? No. But he's getting the job done and deserves lots of credit for the calm and steady way the team deals with adversity. As for his game plans and in-game adjustments, they have resulted in a winning record against superior competition. And he is overseeing the most cohesive dressing room we have seen in Montreal in many years.

Thankfully, as long as the people who really know what is going on behind the scenes recognize his contribution, it shouldn't matter what anyone else thinks. Including me.

pfhabs said...


"I really hate Martin's culture of punishment."

-says it all in terms of the new style of enlightened coaching in the league vs what Martin brings to the table much too often vis-a-vis young players making mistakes

-the world has changed even in sports and outwardly denigrating individuals for mistakes made doesn't engender loyalty nor improved performance

-just one of a few JM qualities that I hope land him a promotion away from the bench making way for Guy Boucher a much praised coach by players and competitors as getting the max out of his players while still being firm but fair..

-a new age manager and given the youth to populate this team in the coming years one I hope they do not lose to Howsen the GM in Columbus who is waiting for the Hamilton playoff run to conclude before interviewing Guy for the Columbus head coaching job

-the depasse JM vs Boucher w his PhD in sports psychology from McGill and a AHL coaching award in his rookie year ? contest give me the new guy

-as for the in game adjustments during the WSHDC series that started this magical ride---all due to Muller. take it to the bank

NorCalVol said...

They figured the Flyers out and the fabulous crowd didn't hurt a speck either. But, man oh man, scoring first seems so huge - put the Flyers back on their heels just a bit and gave the Habs the confidence to crank up the pace even more.
The Flyers' size advantage simply evaporates when the Habs play like their hair is on fire, sending bodies in for rebound opportunities and having the courage to push them back (and move them back to create some space for positioning).
J.T., I was thinking the same thing last night - if Lapierre was on the other side, I'd hate him like cancer. He really adds just the right touch of a royal pain-in-the-ass to the free-flowing game that the Habs showed last night.
That's as good as it gets.
Scoring first on Saturday will be huge again.
I love this team.

Anonymous said...

I could NOT agree more with what V says. Neglecting to give credit where credit belongs has got to stop. Are you overtly critical of Martin in this post? No. No, but the omitting to mention his achievements and putting Muller in the spotlight says a lot.

If it's about benching OB, what can I say, we have NO knowledge of what happens behind the bench or in the dressing room. But we DO know that a bunch of men got us this far. And that bunch of men INCLUDES Martin.

At this point in time, we need to be a SUPPORTIVE fan base. Period.

Also, kudos to our GM Pierre Gauthier for picking up Moore. What good sense he had as he stepped up to replace Gainey.

Anonymous said...

I'm still thinking about the OB vs. Martin thing. Reading it here and elsewhere it has me bothered. I'm wondering, how we would have played better, how the game would have been different if we kept OB in the game? Would the final score have been better? Is 5-1 not good enough? We were down 2-0. One minute elapses in game 3 and OB gets a penalty. I don't know, I think with the way things ended, Martin made the wise choice. We don't have a crystal ball. If he stayed in the game, we don't know what would have happened. I guess what I'm trying to say is that with this win we have, why in the hell is there ANY complaining about pulling him out??? It's not the appropriate time.

DB said...

I'm not sure that Martin is punishing O'Byrne. I think he just doesn't have much confidence in his defensive play.

Martin seems to love players who can skate and check. Players who fit this bill (Pleks, Gomez, Gionta, Moore, Metro, Gionta, Pyatt and Moen) have Martin's confidence and are allowed to make defensive mistakes.

Players who are weak skaters, checkers or both (Lats, Chips, Darche, Stewart, D'Ags, Maxwell, SK, Spezza in Ottawa) worry Martin. As a result he keeps them on a very short leash - make a defensive mistake and sit.

Pouliot and AK have defensive problems, but as long as they were scoring Martin was willing to live with the lapses. But once they went into scoring slumps Martin lost confidence in them and defensive mistakes would result in reduced ice time, relegation to the 4th line or sitting on the bench.

O'Byrne and Bergeron both have defensive issues, but Martin has to play one of them. He picks Bergeron because of his offensive skills.

Sitting players he doesn't trust because they've made a defensive mistake worries me because it hurts their development. The message these players gets is that they can't make mistakes. This worry can put a player off his game because all he is thinking is do not make a mistake rather than focusing on playing the game.

Martin certainly deserves credit for getting The Habs this far in the playoffs, but that does not mean the fans complaining about how he sits players he doesn't trust aren't right.

V said...

Based on what we have seen in Boucher, I think he would be great in Montreal. Also think Muller will make a good coach based on recent reports.

But I'm not a hockey person and don't have any insight into the team beyond what is evident to 99.9% of fans... so, what do I know? Just enough to leave assessments of Martin up to people that do. And simply don't feel we need to denigrate Martin to support Boucher and Muller. They are all doing a good job.

Pf... As for taking your assertion (to the bank) that in-game adjustments are all Muller's work, with respect I'll take a pass instead. You have been steadfast in your dreary prediction of this team's demise since the season's opening... all stated with similar certainty. You could not have been more wrong if someone paid you to be and I suspect this latest assertion is based on similarly slippery logic.

pfhabs said...


"we have NO knowledge of what happens behind the bench or in the dressing room"

-well in the age of instant communications, player agents and players being human that axiom is no longer true. will agree not PUBLIC knowledge but unknown? that is no longer a hard and fast rule

-as for Moore yes interesting & useful for kudos well not sure. you see when Dominic Moore was unemployed way back before the season it was suggested to him that he call Bob Gainey because DM's playing style perfectly fit JM's playing philosophy. the CH declined but had second thoughts later in the season and got him and his $1.1 million salary for a 2nd round choice. so rather than just paying the player somewhere between league minimum $550K to $1.1 million at beginning of the season they paid the salary and a 2nd...a 1st & 2nd for Tanguay, a 2nd & 3rd for Schneider a 2nd for Lang etc etc....kudos or crazy asset management---you decide

-btw; does being "SUPPORTIVE" mean being deaf, dumb and blind without any critical review or penetrating questions ? just asking

-as for OB; what did he learn and was he afforded the opportunity to correct his earlier mistake ? based on OB's punishment MAB should be banished to the CHL for his repetitive error syndrome over the last 16 games

-at times its good not to drink the 'kool aid' and just ask questions

pfhabs said...


-correctly reading the written word is a prerequisite to a discussion...I mention only those in the WSHDC series and it was precisely the 5th game..."as for the in game adjustments during the WSHDC series that started this magical ride---all due to Muller"...that this point escapes you and your analysis is unfortunate but routine. as an individual with free will you are free to believe whatever you like--it's of no concern to yours truly as that fact has been stated in other fora and I'm just repeating it. even JM himself thanked the staff for those changes.

-I've steadfastly said they are a bubble team--a few points in or out of the playoffs...that's not dreary that's a fact. as demonstrated in games 1 & 2 vs game 3 against Philadelphia some days they are on top of the world some days not so much

-that they beat WSHDC is no mystery when you consider that Ovechkin stated he thought the series was done after 3 games...when you work hard and your opponent totally disrepects you hard work beats talent everyday...add that to outstanding goaltending and the upset was there to be had and the CH earned that

-some day V when you stop 'working' for the Canadiens' PR department you may become more realistic in your views in the meantime continue to spread the gospel according to Boivin...

-as for your self proclaimed lack of knowledge of what is going on and further assertion of not being being a 'hockey person' your own words say it all

MC said...

I agree with the sentiment that JM was not punishing O'Byrne, he was just going with the players he thought gave him the best chance to win. This was still a 3 goal game with over 11 minutes left, I am pretty sure JM did not want to risk a bad goal to turn it into a 2 goal game in which anything could happen. The Habs are 7 wins from a Stanley Cup. Player development is important, but at this point in the season, it has to come second to putting your best team on the ice. Whether or not O'Bryne deserves more ice is a different discussion.

My favorite commentator quote of the night was when they were showing Lapierre yapping at the Flyers bench, and Glen Healy said something like "The Flyers are starting to get frustrated and this guy is All-Night-Long". Lionel Ritchie baby!!

The Flyers really looked outmatched in that game. Lets hope the Habs can keep it going. That last series for the Flyers must have been emotionally draining, lets hope they are running out of gas.

Anonymous said...

Hey Pfhabs, we all have our own point of view. V's comments were subjective, but fair. You don't need to come down hard. We all are after all, on the same team.

V said...

pf... you steadfastedly said the team was terrible, management was terrible. The team was going nowhere. You are steadfastedly wrong.

They are not a bubble team. They are conference finalists - ahead of 26 other teams. For further reference, that my friend is an actual 'real live' fact and no amount of your criticism can change it.

As for hockey knowledge... you have consistently claimed your criticism is the sign of higher thinking and my support the sign of a PR rube. And here we are... conference finals baby. You remind me of those guys standing on the sidewalk predicting the world is going to end tomorrow, laughing at all the fools who don't know better -waking up shocked and dissapointed every morning, having a coffee and going out to do it again.

Try being a fan. For once this year, be on the right side. You really will feel better and we promise not to laugh at your unabashed enthusiasm.