Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Aftermath: Down the Terlet

Last night's game reminded me of an episode of "All In the Family." Remember when the show would be getting a little bit too serious? There'd be an intense discussion about race or God or the war in Vietnam, and suddenly, someone would notice Archie wasn't in the room. "Where's Ah-chie," Edith would ask. And from up above, the perfectly-timed flush of the upstairs terlet would echo through the house, breaking the tension and cracking everyone up.

So last night I saw Carey Price left all by himself while a Tampa forward sneaked to the side of the net for an easy cross-crease tap-in, completely undetected by anyone on the Habs side. "Where's the defence?" I asked. FLUSH.

I saw the Habs struggle to score at even-strength. "Where's the power play?" I asked. FLUSH.

I saw Canadiens players walked around, intercepted, stripped on the boards and forechecked into the ice in their own end. "Where's the System?" I asked. FLUSH.

I saw the eleven Canadiens forwards dump the puck in and fail to retrieve it. They made huge cross-ice passes that never found their targets. They took bad-angle shots rather than pass to the open man. "Where's the big line?" I asked. FLUSH.

And down the terlet with the crap the Canadiens called a game last night went another little bit of hope that this team can put it together and be a playoff factor. We have to accept they won't. They are wasting their time and ours with this pointless wheel-spinning.

I'm the last person to say they don't care or they're not trying. I think these guys wouldn't be where they are if they didn't have tremendous determination and pride in what they do. They care. But, they look tired, frustrated, disheartened and, in the end, just not good enough.

We talked here before about whether the Habs should or should not tank for a top draft pick. I think most of us agree no professional team worth its salt would ever lose games on purpose. Bob Gainey would never give up to the point where he'd start playing less than the best players he's got available in the hope of losing more games. But I think the tank debate is over. The Canadiens don't have a choice in the matter. They are being completely outclassed by the other bubble teams they need to beat. That tells me there's something seriously wrong with this group. I suspect it has a lot to do with coaching, but since Jacques the Knife is on a four-year deal and the Habs are already paying Carbonneau to not coach them, we can expect him to be in the job until at least the end of next year when Carbo comes off the books.

When a team loses nine one-goal games in regulation, failing to even take advantage of the OT loser point, it's not going places. When it hasn't been more than two games above .500 all year, it's in trouble. When only Toronto, Edmonton and Carolina have more regulation losses, you're looking at a lottery team when everything shakes down.

After last weekend, I had hope this team was finally coming together and turning things around. Now I ask, "Where are THOSE Canadiens?" FLUSH.

Yup, it's just like an episode of "All In the Family." Except when the Habs flush the off-screen terlet just when things are getting tense, nobody's laughing.


Topham said...

The pendulum swings, and we're back to being terrible. Have we been outclassed by all teams in the race? Well I guess that depends if we're on the manic upswing or the depressive downswing.

The Rangers are in the race... We've beaten the Isles a few times, Panthers too.

Tanking would be a fine option, I agree. if it wasn't also just a crapshoot. Ask Atlanta, Phoenix, Florida, Edmonton, Columbus and the others how it goes when dreams of Taylor Hall cups don't quite pan out.

Better to keep competing. You never know what might happen. Someone might be dumb enough to trade their star goalie, start a rookie, and suddenly that team that beat you 4 straight times in the regular season is a sitting duck...

J.T. said...

Topham, I agree it's a pretty bipolar experience to be a Habs fan these days. My point regarding tanking is I don't think the Habs have a choice. They're 21st in the league right now and the schedule doesn't get any easier.

So, by all means, they should compete. I'm just not convinced it's going to change what seems to be the inevitable result this year.

Lyse said...

Brilliant post. I did smile while reading. I do miss Edith and Archie, Meathead too. I'll go out and buy myself the DVD sets. Bittersweet substitute to another awful spring.

And I say compete, at least try. Am I convinced? Not really.

Anonymous said...

This team need only play out the season, they don`t have the talent to end up anywhere else but in the lottery. Heres to a #1 pick.

Raphaƫl P. said...

Knowing the habs luck I'd wager that they wont even manage to tank properly and end up in purgatory.

DB said...

The top ten reasons Montreal is mediocre this year:

10 What do you mean mediocre isn't french for excellent.

9 It's exhausting keeping up with all the excellent Hab blogs. J.T. we don't know where you get the energy to write all those great posts.

8 Who doesn't slack off on the job. I bet you're reading this blog at work.

7 Who cares about hockey when there is all that juicy gossip about Tiger Woods.

6 You mean two-way hockey isn't being good half the time and bad the other half. Who knew.

5 It's tough juggling hockey, millions of dollars, fancy cars, and all those puck-bunnies.

4 Got to give the fans something to bitch about all year.

3 Learning how to spell Cammalleri was exhausting.

2 Trying to see if they can get Gainey to change his expression. Is he stoic or what.

1 You'd be asleep half the time too if you had to listen to Jacques Martin drone on and on and on.

Anonymous said...

Just wait this Saturday end of the afternoon IF our heroes (or zeroes) blast the Senators, Jacques The Knife will be back as the Genius (misunterstood) coach, Robert Bob as the DG of the year and everybody behind the parade leaded by "HALAKoupe Stanley"... And if we look closely we are not the only team playing yoyo, that's the parity we were looking for !

Anonymous said...

Watch them beat Ottawa and Vancouver to seduce you into the bandwagon, just to lose three straight afterwards.

Anonymous said...

I know, its grim and painful, but I still think they can turn it around. The Florida game was bad, no defending that. The Tampa Bay game was different, Montreal actually started strong and they did get 33 shots on net for a change. If they score on that first power play or on Pouliot's breakaway, it may have been a different outcome. As well, I think Tampa looked stronger than their record shows,so its not exactly a big upset to lose on the road like that. Lacavalier was dominant in the face off circle and Niittymaki played well. It is concerning that they could not even score one though.

Anonymous said...

I though the habs crapped the bed this week, not the terlet...