Thursday, March 25, 2010

Aftermath: An Unfortunate Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, in a tiny western hamlet far, far away, there lived a little boy who wanted to be a goalie. His dad was a goalie and he did everything he could to help the boy become one too. As the little boy got older, he grew tall and quick. He spent his summers in goalie school and his winters winning hockey games. By the time the boy became a young man, he was a star. He was a gifted athlete and a proven winner. Everyone wanted him on their teams.

When the holy city of hockey came calling and sent him on a quest for hockey's Holy Grail, the young man answered with goodwill. It was no more than he expected on his charmed rise to prominence. Then the darkness descended. What had been right and perfect in his uphill journey became cursed and flawed once he reached the summit of his sport. Pucks he would have once snagged effortlessly out of the air instead bounced off the glass behind him and into his net. Playoff series he once would have dominated ended in embarrassment and criticism. Injuries happened, and the once-adoring public began to respond with censure and accusing eyes.

In the third year of his quest, the path grew darker. Nothing went right. Games in which he should have starred were ruined by weak goals. Games in which he did star were ruined by his teammates mistakes. He was pushed into the background and became an unhappy shadow of the promising emblem of hope he'd been once.

Then came the clash with Sabres. After working hard in obscurity for weeks, the young goalie finally got a chance for redemption in his darkest of seasons. It was a big game; an important game against a strong opponent. It was a curse-breaking kind of game in which a struggling hero might once again prove something to himself. He grabbed the chance with both hands and played a fantastic game. His teammates, for once, responded and gave him the chance to shine he needed. The scorers scored and the defenders stood their ground. Everyone believed the mysterious curse shadowing the young goalie might finally be broken.

It was not to be. For reasons known only to the hockey gods, the team got caught high-sticking with three minutes to go. The Sabres halved the lead. Then, the curse struck again when the coach inexplicably decided to send two of the team's worst defensive forwards out to protect a one-goal lead while outmanned with less than a minute to go. Predictably, they failed to clear the puck and the heroic goalie was beaten. Equally predictably, the deflated team failed to redeem itself in extra time. The complete collapse in what had been a perfect game proved the curse continues to linger.

The tales will say other things were responsible. Some will blame the awful coaching decision to send Cammalleri and Andrei Kostitsyn out in the final minute. Others will say perhaps the Sabres goalie was better and held his team in it when they should have been down by more than two. Maybe they'll say the stronger team finally woke up and proved its mettle when it got desperate. Or that it could have been due to tired penalty killers who were obliged to defend a steady string of calls against when they were wearing down in the third. True believers know the real reason though. It's the curse. The poor, benighted young goalie is the victim of a malevolent force that's spoiling his every moment of success.

His brothers in arms must now find the way to break the spell, because no one man can do it on his own. Nobody knows if they'll find the answer before it's too late. That's a tale for another day.


Anonymous said...

I totally blame JM for having the wrong players on the ice at the end.....I blame him for a lot of bad decisions.Other teams must love it when the Habs go on the PP-they are so easy to defend against,does JM have any vision? If something isn't working-why use the same units time and again? Even a child makes adjustments after getting hurt with something but not JM. He is too thick or stubborn or..???
Ruff surely out coached JM last night as did Clouston the other night.
The next few days will not be easy for us as fans...........

Paul B. said...

Great post.

How can an NHL coach convince anyone that he knows what he's doing when he has AK46 on the ice in the last minute of play of that game ?

Anonymous said...

I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Halak had a night off so he should be good for another 6 game win streak.

DB said...

If the old saying "What doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger" is true then Carey Price must be getting close to being Superman strong.

pierre said...

With a full roster our team looks really good and using BUF as measure for the Eastern Division I feel our team would have been its leader had injuries been less overwhelming to our season than it did..... the injuries made everything for everyone more difficult.... it was the mother of all curses.

Despite last night's disapointing turn of events I couldn't help feeling good about the point we had managed to preserve..... the return of Cammi and Bergeron to our team for our remaining season was just better news to me than the single point that had escaped us at the end of a well fought and entertaining game.

The sour note to me was Martin's selection of players at the end..... I could understant why he sended Moore ( face-off ) on the first PK wave but why send S.K. with him when Plek is still a better choice..... than of course send Gionta-Gomez as the second pairing..... we never made it to that point with S.K.-Moore getting scored on by a 6men to 4 BUF advantage.

With a minute left why did Martin send Cammi, who hadn't play for a month and a half and A.K. which is the single worst choice under such a circumstance ?

Was he rewarding A.K. for his two goals and wishing he'd scored on an empty net to get his first hat-trick in the NHL ? Was he wishing Cammi a similar feel-good fate upon his long awaited return with the Club ?

Whatever the reasons he might have had, his choices were, I hate to say that..... wreckless and stupid choices.

Yet, as it stand, I am not giving-up on him as a good coach...... eventhough I hate it when ANY coach does something THAT conter-intuitive.

Anonymous said...

Good observations by JT and the posters.

Is it possible that coaches can have bad games as well?

Personally, the moment the Habs failed to clear the puck along the blue line on the left side (I think AK or Cammalleri was the culprit), you JUST KNEW a goal was coming even if it happened 15-20 seconds later.

Too bad for Price: even when he's good, he's been unlucky. However, bad-mouthing teammates after the loss probably sealed his fate as a backup for the rest of the year.