Monday, December 14, 2009

If You're NOT Mad At the Habs Right Now, Don't Read This

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.


Unknown said...

Boy do I feel your pain. That's two games in a row Met has cost us with a late penalty. I was telling my wife this morning there's just not much joy anymore in watching the games -- I don't know why I do it.

As for your comments, I hated the Gomez trade too, but I keep consoling myself that it was a "lost leader" type of deal, where the only way we could get guys like cammi and gio to sign was to have gomez. So Gomez is costing us 4mil more than he should, but we're getting really good value out of cammi. He should probably be making more than he is, and we've got him for 5 years.

BG took a three-pronged risk in signing Gomez:
* It would bring other high-profile players here -- Done
* He would turn things around and return to the form of previous years -- not looking good right now.
* The salary cap would go up in the next few years and his hit wouldn't be so bad -- remains to be seen.

(sigh). So I try to tell myself the verdict's stll out on the trade, but it's really not looking all that good, is it.

Oh, and did you mean Hammer instead of Markov in "Props as well to Spacek and Markov...?"

Anonymous said...

I have watched 32 full games and 2 perdiods of another out of the 34 and I turned to my brother last night after Buffalo scored on their PP and said the same thing. I need a break from this and I am sick and tired of seeing the same thing over and over!
Although, if they somehow beat NJ on Wednesday, I know I will have no choice but to tune in for Thursday!
The life of a habs fan...ulgh

P.S. Love your blog, keep up the great work!

Unknown said...

At this point, I'd be happy if we just scored one goal against NJ to prevent Brodeur from breaking the shutout record against us.

Austin Strong said...

Im a die hard HABS fan, and im with you all the way. They need to figure there shit out there to good of a team with the potential to contend for the cup. Do they not care its the 100th year anniversay? they dont play like they have any passion for the team, themslefs, or the "DYNASTY!" or what once was a "DYNASTY!" And what bugs me about them is they play 1 out of 5 good games when they play like they do that one game i really dont think any team could beat them. But as i said they need to take more pride in playing for THE MONTREAL CANADIENS!

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain & know the agony of watching the last few games.Maybe Metro is getting burned out,he is not used to so many minutes.How many times lately have we heard the announcers say that the other team's 4th line just had a great shift and lots of chances ? Have we ever heard it about the Habs,not likely with the current crop of duds.I love the blogs but if you decide to take a break,who could blame you

Brian said...

They are just not a very good hockey team. Habs fans are going to become the Cubs' fans of the NHL.

dusty said...

You said it all! Simply outstanding, Pulitzer material. As a Habs fan from the 50's I cannot understand young people following the Habs. I can remember Harvey, the Rocket, Moore, Beliveau, Geoffrion, little Henri and on and on. The Habs have been crap since Scotty Bowman left. That's a long time. Just to let you know how bad it's gotten, I start out watching Montreal and after a period (sometimes less) I switch to the Leafs. How bad is that?

Anonymous said...

Very good description of "Habs Reality Show".

But in spite of what you said I keep a small flame somewhere in the attic ready to burst when Markov and Gionta will be back. It should change the team when D'Agost and OB will be benched.

But I won't buy any hope for guys like Pouliot, I think shit smell shit no mattere where you are. But I hope we can see PK Subban next March gives a hand to our D crew.

Thanks for all your great comments and have Happy Hollidays J.T.

Anonymous said...

"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."

That last thought itself is worth every turnover/bad penalty/missed shot/ay-yi-yi we've seen so far this year.

HoustonHab said...

Yeah, I said a while back that I wouldn’t “cheer” for Habs success until Bob is gone. Until then I’m strictly negative and I only cheer for there failures.

I seem to cheer for both Price and Gomez a lot.

I’m looking forward to cheering for Halak’s cup run.

DB said...

The Habs are driving me crazy (even if it is a short drive these days). Last year the Habs were terrible in clearing their own zone, but were half-decent in generating offense. This year they're terrible at both ends despite having a new coach who is known for getting his teams to play sound defensive hockey.

So the question is how much of the problem is the players, how much is injuries, and how much is the coaching?

My estimate is that 20% of the problem is the players. Gomez, Lapierre, Lats, and (AK46 for the first month) have underperformed. While Pleks, Cammi and Hamrlik have stepped it up.

I'd say 5 to 10% of the problem is injuries. Losing Markov certainly hurt, but injuries do not explain constantly being outshot, outworked and stupid penalties.

That leaves 70 to 75% as coaching. Martin certainly had good results in Ottawa, but his record after the lockout was not nearly as good. Florida had seasons of 85, 86 and 85 points under him and missed the playoffs every year. Young players like Weiss and Horton did not progress as well as expected (They look better in their second year under deBoer). This sounds a lot like the current Habs.

Some say the Habs lack of an effective forecheck is caused because the players are too small. Rubbish! If the Leafs can forecheck effectively with such giants as Grabovski, Kessel, Blake and Stajan then there is no reason the Habs can't. The difference is in coaching style. Wilson wants a team that goes to the net; Martin wants a team that plays rope-a-dope hockey - sit back, let the other team punch itself out and take advantage of any mistakes the other team makes.

Defensively the Habs seem to have only one play - clear the puck off the boards right to the other teams' point man and then collapse to the middle of the ice and try and block the shot. I have to assume the players keep doing this because the coaches want them to.

Finally, when I watch the Habs play they remind me of the Senators under Hartsburg, last year's Penguins under Therrien, and the Capitals under Hanlon. They look like a team that is not buying what the coach is selling.

gimmie gums said...

i here ya guys. Price is playing good so no one else is.i just hope broduer dosnt set another record agains us. i say get a really pissed off coach that will go in there and slap the bitch out of these pussies. i want to see our guys in the corner first. and lets make gomez ride the bus in hamilton for bit, and get him a new stick that has a big enough blade that he can pass without losing the puck.

pfhabs said...


-4 points to make re your post

1. can we dispense with the notion that Gomez 'is a loss leader'. Neither Cammelleri nor Gionta came to MTL because Gomez was's simply NOT TRUE. both have indicated exactly that point in interviews on TV. so the Gomez lovers who continue to post this falacy will have to find other obscure rationale to justify his bogus salary and non production

2. Gomez; 30GP; 4G 12A = 16 pts; $7.357 cap hit
Koivu; 27GP; 5G 11A = 16 pts; $3.250 cap hit

3. Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin

4. a new GM

Anonymous said...

Welcome to Thankingville folks! I've been living there in the early 00's for a few years and it felt pretty lonely. Cause you do like your 8th seed playoffs spot and your first-round loss, no?

Well, I hate it. So I'm going back to Thankville. Who's coming with me?

Anonymous said...

If the on-ice antics aren't entertaining you, do you at least enjoy the endless off-ice soap opera?

Denise T said...

Don't blame you, JT. The team is in rebuilding mode AGAIN. Gainey's lab experiment isn't designed to reap any fruit this year. Seriously, how could it? Any teams' success is based largely on what's between the players ears. This team may have some moxie - an improvement from last year's edition - but their line to the penatly box is sinking them and with it, goes the confidence down the toilet.
Enjoy the break but please come back soon and help us all survive another year of this.

Anonymous said...

Hey JT,

I'm as frustated as the rest of the posters here (my girlfriend can attest to that), but despite this I refuse to throw in the towel, and instead focus on the positives.

First, let me agree with you on the negatives in my mind:

- Lapierre has been a let-down, but he would still be a solid 4th line player. He's just VERY disappointing when you see him on our 2nd line.

- D'Agostini - I put him in the same boat as Chipchura (except Chipchura was seen as having more potential because of being a 1st round pick). We gave him a shot, now time to send him back down to Hamilton to work on his game. Might as well give another guy a shot (Desharnais would be my choice).

- LARAQUE. Can't agree with you more. Every time he's on the ice I curse and swear and scare my girlfriend. Put him on waivers, buy him out, sit him in the pressbox. Just keep him off the ice. I don't care if we don't win another fight this year, I just can't stomach watching him try to skate and protect the puck in the corner anymore.

- Stupid penalties. Drive me crazy and they need to stop. I believe they will....Martin will not put up with this much longer.

Now, the postives, which outweigh the negatives IMO:

- Jacques Martin and Perry Pearn. Everytime I read about how much people think they're doing a horrible job, I want to puke. They have taken a team where half of the guys have never played together before, been hit with countless injuries including our best player from game one, and have made a team that is seriously lacking in talent (due to the reality of our roster, underachievers, and numerous injuries to key players), and have kept us at or around the .500 mark almost half way into the season. That's incredible in my mind! And yes, there have been a couple of blowouts, but for the most part we've been in a lot of the games we've lost. The PP and PK has been lights out of late, despite the key injuries. How can you possibly complain about the coaching??

- Gomez: Fine, hate the contract. Hate the trade. But stop hating Gomez. He's been playing better of late, and that's with nobody around him to play with. Just wait until Gionta is back and all of a sudden our second line is Gionta-Gomex-SKots. Mark my words, we're about to get some secondary scoring once that line is together.

Gill and Gorges: Gorges might be a little small on size, but he's got the biggest heart of any guy I've ever seen. He works his butt off night in/night out, and to me has been one of the unsung heroes this season. Ok, he's fallen on Price a few times. But I'm disappointed to see you come down on the heart and soul of this team. Gill has been A LOT better lately, and has proven his worth on the PK alone. Once he's playing 5-6 dmen minutes, he'll be a solid contributor to this team.

- Our third line. It's sort of come out of nowhere, but it's exactly what a third line should be. They work hard, they backcheck, and they create the occasional good scoring chance. Pax is developing nicely, Moen works his butt off, and Metro makes a lot of smart plays (despite his stupid penalties the last 2 games).

- And of course the positives you mentioned...Camm, Pleks, Hammer, Spacek, AKots (of late), and the ridiculous goaltending we've been getting.

I know it's depressing that our hopes going into tonight are 'just score a goal', and not 'let's take it to the Devils', but don't give up hope. What doesn't kill you will make you stronger, and I think the same thing will hold true for the Habs this year.


Anonymous said...

No analysis on Bob, JT?