Thursday, March 26, 2009

Top Ten Things I Hope I Don't See Again for the Rest of the Season

Nine games to go and we're in the home stretch. Hopefully at the end of it, we'll see the Good Ship Canadiens tucked safely into a nice, comfortable playoff berth. In the meantime (at the risk of murdering a perfectly innocent metaphor), we can expect some choppy seas and stormy weather as the team tacks home. Nothing's ever easy for the Montreal Canadiens. But at least some of what troubles them is self-inflicted. To that end, here's the top ten things I hope we don't see again for the rest of the season:

10. Chris Higgins giving a post-game interview about how the team needs to work harder and how Montreal is a really tough place to play when you're losing. I appreciate the fact that somebody has to talk to the press after losses, even when they don't want to do it. But I'm sick of Higgins and his excuses. If we're going to have excuses, at least let us have different ones from different guys. Besides, with any luck at all, maybe there'll be no cause for a loser interview after the next nine games.

9. Carey Price crying. He's young and fragile, but it scares me when the guy we've been calling the franchise saviour cries after a loss. I like my goalies impenatrable in the net and inscrutable out of it. Hopefully, he'll have no reason to cry anymore, but if he does, I hope he keeps the tears in check until he gets home...or at least until the cameras are off.

8. Defencemen attempting to clear their zone under pressure with weak backhands along the boards. I don't know how many times I've seen that play in recent games, but I know it's way too many. It's a move that not only reeks of desperation, it NEVER works. It's one of the main reasons why the Canadiens have such trouble clearing the puck out of their own end. There's no excuse for having the puck on your stick with time and space and then giving it away.

7. Five red sweaters facing the net. When the team is in a panic in its own end, everybody suddenly forgets the guys they're supposed to be covering and they start chasing the puck instead. Lots of times we've seen the puck go in the net after the opponent has three or four whacks at it as all the Canadiens stand around looking for it instead of clearing bodies out of the crease. That has to stop, immediately.

6. Alex Kovalev standing still on the right boards during the PP. The powerplay worked so well in the Atlanta game because everyone was moving. The Koivu/Kovalev/Tanguay line with Markov and Schneider were constantly changing positions and passing the puck quickly as they did it. It stretched the Thrashers' PK box and opened lots of holes for shots. They have to keep doing that if they want to be a threat. So, no more stagnant standing around waiting for the perfect shot, Kovy!

5. Mike Komisarek arguing with the ref after he's taken a dumb penalty to cover for the fact that he's lost his man. I don't know what's wrong with Komisarek this year, but he's looking very lost on the ice much of the time. If he's not giving the puck away, he's being beaten one-on-one at least a couple of times every game. He's making up for that by hooking or tripping the guy who beats him...then whining when he gets caught. He's got to pick up his game: cut out the mistakes and cut out the complaining.

4. Andrei Kostitsyn meandering back to the bench as his line changes "on the fly." Bad line changes are one of the things that have burned the Habs for odd-man rushes so many times this season I've lost count. Kostitsyn is one of the worst culprits.

3. Lack of effort against lower-ranked teams. The last nine games should offer some cushion points if the Canadiens show up and play properly. The losing to worse teams because they just don't seem to care has nearly cost them a playoff spot, and WILL cost them a spot if they keep doing that in this last stretch.

2. Fans booing and jeering at the Bell Centre. Yes, the Habs deserve to be booed. They've been awful, embarrassing, shameful and distressing. But even if they deserve it, I think it doesn't help to actually boo them off the ice in their own rink. As much as they've been sucking, they're still young guys with egos and slamming them that way is more likely to make them slink off in defeat than come out firing to win the next one. A little support from the stands might help fuel whatever turnaround the team has in it.

And the number one thing I hope I don't see again for the rest of the year:

1. Patrice Brisebois. I know the Breezer has filled in when the team's been desperate for blueline help. But he's bad. He's really bad. The other night against Atlanta, the Habs scored six goals and allowed three...and Brisebois managed to be minus two. And it wasn't one of those cases where a guy has the bad luck to be stepping on the ice as a goal against is scored. It was entirely deserved. He was awful on both goals against, AND he blatantly gave the puck away in the slot right in front of Price, who then bailed him out. Unfortunately, the guy who was hired to be the number seven, insurance defenceman has been playing top-six minutes and he can't do it anymore.

Honourable mention: I really don't want to see anybody over 35 years old or with less than twenty points leading the team in icetime. Maybe it's just me, but those guys should be the supplement to your core...not the core itself.

On the other hand, the number one thing I do want to see: A major push into the playoffs with the team gathering some convincing wins and getting on a roll as the season winds down. The Habs are not as bad as they've been playing. And, as they say, once you make the playoffs anything can happen. It starts tonight.


James said...

I'd add something, somewhere in that list though I'm not sure at what position:
When on the power play, do NOT chip the puck in the offensive zone when all 4 other guys are standing at the enemy's blue line waiting, stationary. It NEVER works. Ever.
Invariably, the defenders get to the puck first (huh, maybe because the forwards have no speed and need to start from a standstill?) and manage to ice the puck.
That seems to be Gorges' favorite play... skate up ice from behind his net with the puck, slowly angle towards the left board, and fire the puck down the o-zone AT THE LAST possible moment, while the other 4 guys are just waiting on the blueline, kinda hoping for a pass.

I've watched a good amount of Detroit games and I concentrate on their powerplay - because it's #1 in the league, over 25%. And they don't have a booming shot from the point. It's ALL about puck control, and it starts with gaining the zone.
I don't think I've ever seen a Wings player dump and chase while they're on the PP. One of the guys will make a play to enter the zone, and if he sees there's no play, he's not gonna create a turnover like Kovy has a tendency to do when forcing a play that doesn't exist.
No, he'll pass back to the defenseman, skate back, and make another try. There are no dumps. Because it DOESN'T WORK.

The guys need to stop doing that, it's infuriating.

Unknown said...

I have never booed the Habs at the Forum or at the Bell Center. Since I have retired, I have chosen to buy food and other necessities and stay home, rather than spend a few hundred dollars and cross a freaking bridge to go and see our boys outdo themselves. Considering how they have played since (except for a few months, last season) I certainly have no regrets.

When I hear Higgins, Gainey or anyone else ridiculed the people that boo at the Bell Center, I can't help but think that these guys have never had to pay a damn penny to watch a hockey game. And like most hockey players, they are probably used to have their drinks, foods, entertainement and whatever else offered to them on a platter, wherever they show up, in town.

If they had to spend 10 -15% of their monthly earnings to watch a bunch of players who, without a doubt, would rather find themselves Chez Paree than at the Bell Center, perhaps they could start to have a clue.

Imagine a rock star or a CĂ©line Dion or any other international star offering a lousy performance. Would the spectators be expected to sit still and don't show how they feel ?

I realize the booing is not helping the team. But what are unhappy customers supposed to do. Leave in the middle of the first period ? Start singing La Marseillaise ? Start making out with the neighboring cutie ?

darren bifford said...


I miss your between period analysis that used to appear on habsinsideout. You should post them on your blog throughout the game. They were great.

J.T. said...

@Darren: Thanks! That's not a bad idea. I think I may start doing period recaps here on the blog. I love writing them, but some of the rude comments I get in response on HI/O make it less fun.

James said...

J.T.- you can't pay attention to at least 50% of the commenters on H I/O... the comments there are a perfect example of the good and the BAD of the internet.

On another note, I second daren in that it would be nice to have your periods/game recaps here, as they were excellent.

J.T. said...

@James: Yeah, I ignore the dumb comments on HI/O for the most part, but after a while it just gets tedious to post there for the "Yeah, but you're an idiot!" crowd. Why put the effort in? Thanks for the nice comment on the period summaries though. We'll see how it goes here.

jew4jah said...

Your period wrap-ups are the hi-light of boone's blog.
i'll check it out if you post it.

twocents said...

JT, I am really sorry to hear that you have also decided to stop doing your between period posts at HI/O. I was hoping you were just taking a break, since you did continue after leaving the "Otherwing" for a little while. HI/O has become a lesser place over the course of this season and the loss of your regular input is a big part of that. I do understand your reasons on both matters though. The quality of discourse and atmosphere at HI/O has deteriorated significantly. I have been reading here faithfully since you have been more active and that's been great, but I do miss exchanging with you at HI/O. You should know that the lack of your presence is often lamented by many posters. I have been meaning to comment here for a while now but had lost my log-in information for this google account. I had only used it once before, when I set it up to make a comment on your blog last summer.

The last time we did have an exchange at HI/O I was giving you a hard time about being enthusiastic toward Pacioretty. Later that day I thought my comments were unnecessary and useless. Since you no longer show up there very often, I have thought regretfully of that exchange whenever I am here. I hope it wasn't some sort of nasty straw for you. I also teased you a wee bit the last time I saw you do game thread comments, I have no clue if you saw that comment but, again, in light of the fact you haven't been around much since, I am sorry if it contributed at all to your distaste for HI/O. Anyway sorry for the ramble. I just wanted to say hi, let you know I have been enjoying your stuff here and say sorry in the case I may have offended you.
Take care,

J.T. said...

@twocents: Thanks for your kind comments. And, no, you've never been offensive. I have no problem with argument if it's done reasonably...quite the opposite. It's fun to debate with smart people. The people on HI/O I find annoying are those who defend a position mindlessly and without the people who jump down your throat if you dare say Carey Price might not be having the greatest game of his career on a particular night. I understand people love certain players (I've got a Plekanec bias myself) but I can't stand it when their affection for a player blinds them to any possibility the player might have faults. When it degenerates into childishness with comments like, "You're just a Price-hater," I get sick of arguing.