Monday, April 19, 2010

Aftermath: Fan Abuse and Dummies

Well, wasn't that a great display of overall stupidity last night? Bruce Boudreau said after the game he thinks Jacques Martin is one of the smartest coaches in the league. I think that's how an opposing coach soothes a guy like Martin into continuing to make the same stupid decisions that helped the Caps win Game Three. Sure, the Habs had a great first period, but one period, as we've seen from this team all season, isn't enough to win a hockey game. Especially not a playoff hockey game. It is, however, more than enough time in which to lose a game. Right from the starting lineup and into the second, dreadful period, the Canadiens were generally trading helmets for dunce caps, their coach wearing the pointiest one.

Okay, yeah, Sergei Kostitsyn can be maddening. He can try to be too fancy and give the puck away. He can try to duck a hit and end up costing a turnover. But you know what? He can also score important goals, and he'll kill penalties and fight for the puck, doing creative things to get it out of trouble. So, instead of playing Sergei Kostitsyn, Jacques "The Genius" Martin decided to play Mathieu Darche. Okay, fine. That's the coach's choice, and he obviously sees things in the room and in practice that we don't. BUT, and this is a big but, WHY did he play the guy he chose over Kostitsyn for less than three minutes in the game? This, my friends, is stupid coaching.

If Darche isn't good enough to play a regular shift, then Kostitsyn has got to draw in. It's common sense. You cannot put all the pressure on three lines and expect last night not to happen, not in the playoffs. Then again, Martin isn't accustomed to winning in the playoffs, so who are we kidding here?

It's also stupid coaching to have Marc Andre Bergeron, who can't keep an NHL job with any one team because the only NHL-level skill he owns is a point shot on the power play, in the lineup alongside your best defenceman. Markov is great, but he needs someone who can stay at home and give him a bit of offensive freedom. Komisarek did that. O'Byrne can do it. I admit, OB isn't yet the most consistent of defencemen, but if you give him a simple job he can do it. He'd have a damn sight better chance of controlling big wingers than little, easily-pushed-around Bergeron. Markov needs to be on the ice a lot, and he needs a steady partner who can play those minutes without hurting the team. MAB was on the ice for three of the Caps five goals last night, and even Markov couldn't save him.

Beyond the stupid coaching, the team fell into a lack of discipline after the Caps started scoring. Gomez taking a ten-minute misconduct was inexcusable, especially when the team had power plays without him. I don't know what Pleks said to the ref or did to the goalie that got him an unsportsmanlike minor, but that was stupid too.

Also stupid was Roman Hamrlik's play for much of the night. He's making panicky passes, fumbling the puck and not skating well. He's not the same guy who filled in for Markov in the fall, and he looks terrible. If he and Spacek were competing to see who'd get traded in the off-season, Spacek stays. That's despite the fact that the Caps' short-handed goal, which broke the Habs down, came on a particularly stupid play in which Spacek backed right into his own goalie and fell on him.

Carey Price looked decent for being called in cold, and he'll start Game Four, barring yet another stupid Martin decision. Halak didn't deserve what happened to him. He was rough in Game Two, but the team let him down in Game Three. I hope Price can pull the next one out of the fire, because, after three games, it's clear the only way the Habs are winning this series is via divine intervention. And so far, it looks like divinity is not on their side.

I feel sorry for all the fans who came out in their innocent joy to watch their team compete. They got it for twenty minutes, then the Habs collapsed and looked wretched for the other forty. I think everyone who was at the Bell last night, and all RDS subscribers, should get a 66% discount for fraud, caused by stupidity.

They told us we're getting the Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs. Instead we're getting a badly-coached bunch of overwhelmed hockey players who've managed to play four good periods out of nine. Still, give Guy Boucher or some other young, progressive coach the same group to manage and I think they'd be better than what we're seeing, even if only a bit better. If this team fails, it's because they're just not good enough to sustain the level of play needed to consistently beat an offensive powerhouse like the Capitals. That, and the coach is an idiot. It's just too bad the faithful fans are taking the abuse.


Anonymous said...

Great post as usual. But you are being too kind in referring to Martin as an idiot. He's a step down from that as far as this fan is concerned.(Not sure what that word would be.) If Boudreau thinks Martin is one of the smartest coaches in the league what does that say about the other 29? Scary to think about!
There's no way, Bergeron should be on defence and play the minutes he does. But Count Jacqula seems to keep grudges against the young guys who end up in his doghouse. Sergei and O'Byrne should have played. They couldn't possibly have been any worse than the rest and perhaps a lot better than some.
As far as the the stupid penalties by Gomez and Plekanec I agree they were inexcusable but when your team is sinking like a stone and you have terrible coaching moves, it's understandable that frustration sets in. Last night's loss was very disheartening.
It's definitely tough being a Habs fan these days but what can we do?
Perhaps instead of booing and chanting the ole, ole,0le chorus the Bell Centre crowd could yell out loud, clear, and frequently, We Want Guy Boucher! We Want Guy Boucher!

Habs_Resurgence said...

I love your column and read it all the time, but I totally disagree with you about Sergei Kostitsyn. We as fans get sucked in by him every time, because he has some great puck handling skills and good hockey sense. His good hockey sense is limited to the offensive zone, however. He makes terrible defensive plays, with missed coverage and an overall lazy mentality. If you think one of the differences last night could have been swapping Kostitsyn in for Darche, you're crazy. I don't when you saw Sergei last score a big goal, but it feels like an eternity to me.

I do agree with you on Hamrlik. He's losing it. Maybe already lost it. Problem is, we have no one better to put in who won't also make the same occasional bonehead plays that Hamrlik does. That's something to fix next year, but it's too late to do anything about it for these playoffs.

I also agree that MAB needs to come off of D. I don't think it was a bad coaching decision to put him there in the first place though. It would only be a bad coaching decision if he's there again next game. He was one of our better D-men in the first game, and then things started to fall apart in Game 2, but then totally crashed last night. It's called adjustments from the other team. But understand why Jacques put him there...we have an EXTREMELY difficult time getting out of our own zone, and MAB does help with that. The problem is he's just like Breezer used to be....he makes very high risk passes, and when they work (Game 1), there's high reward. When they don't, we see moments like we saw last night on Washington's 5th goal. Washington has figured out how to beat physical and pressure him into was a good experiment (and good coaching decision IMO) to use him in that spot up until now. Now we try O'Byrne, who will bring a better physical presence, but will end up taking some bad penalties because he's overpowered by speed, and will have a hard time clearing the zone.

And now the guys I can't understand. Andrei Kostitsyn and Benoit Pouliot. You know they have skills, but I swear they have anti-puck magnets in the blades of their sticks some nights. I've never seen two guys who cause themselves to lose the puck so much as these two. Imagine how much trouble they have when they have to beat a defender as well as themselves. How Kostitsyn can get a hat-trick one night and then look like he did last night is not only mind-boggling but really frustrating as a fan. I'm of the camp that both Kostitsyn's need to go before next season. I think they're the kind of guys who will frustrate you year in and year out, because they'll never translate that potential into consistent production.

I haven't given up yet. Carey will obviously have to stand on his head for the next one. This is the opportunity he was waiting for and now he'll get it. Here's hoping we figure out Varlamov, because we're no longer getting Theo's gifts.

Anonymous said...

Markov does not need to play with MAB to be lousy. He's been playing bad since the Olympics. As a matter of fact, I can't remember him having good playoffs.

By the way, Camalleri, Plekanec and AK46 were all -4, last night.I also don't agree with you about SK74. Both brothers have all the talent in the world. They could be extraordinary players but I doubt they'll ever amount to anything. They both lack discipline and desire. Neither of them can provide a solid effort for 60 minutes. Perhaps a heart transplant might do the job....

I never thought I'd say something like that but Russian players seem to be lost (I'd even go as far as "not interested"), when they don't have the puck. Pavel Datsyuk being a notable exception.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't disagree with you more in so many ways.

1) Our management got us to the playoffs. If you think JM is stupid, I wonder what you think about the other fourteen coaches who didn't see the playoffs. And while I'm on JM, dis you dis him in the first period when we were superstars?

2) MAB is not great on D, we all know that. But his shots get us points. More points then SK.

3) Metro didn't do anything last night. I love him, but he's coming back from an injury too soon. He has a lion's heart you say? Great, I have a lot of compassion my husband says, can I play on the team??

4)I love Halak. I love Price. And I don't want to go into a war of goalies. You said: "Halak didn't deserve what happened to him. He was rough in Game Two, but the team let him down in Game Three". Excuse me? The team may have let Halak down last night, but he let us down in game 2. I think we'll all shit on JM tomorrow no matter who he puts in nets.

5) Give the fans back their money? Are you CRAZY? We need a solid supportive town, not a bunch of complaining wieners. Half the stadium emptied out. Half the frickin' stadium. Players have eyes, does that motivate them??? When that happened, I was wanting the Habs to win not for the playoffs but to laugh in the faces of each person who walked away and missed the would-be goals.

6) I haven't quit yet. They have my undevoted love and support for the rest of the games and into the next season, and you should too.

So pull up your big boy pants and back your team.

They.made.the.playoffs. You.didn't.think.they.would. period.

JVF said...

Another fine read and a very good point: Jacques Martin, unfortunately, is not a good coach. Or a smart one. He doesn't instill any passion in his players, makes boneheaded mistakes and picks the wrong players to play at the wrong position at the wrong time. SK74 should have been in last night, O'Byrne too and after the second game fiasco, MAB should have been back on the fourth line and manning the point on the PP. What's more, we wouldn't be facing the Caps in the first round if somehow, Martin had managed to squeeze more than a point out of his troops in the last three games of the regular season. Very dispiriting. Let's hope the Molsons are fed up with all this and decide they want some new blood newt year, namely Guy Boucher.

pfhabs said...

"management got us into the playoffs". wondering how hard it must of been for them to garner that 1 overtime loser point.

know this; with Havlat, Hossa, Chara, Alfreddsson, a young Redden, Fisher and others the 'brilliant' Jacques couldn't win anything and lost 4 straight playoff series to the Leafs who had much less talent

can't wait for all that young talent in hamilton and elsewhere to be broken down and fitted into Jacques 'system'...enjoy bubble status and quick loses in the playoffs. it will be around for another 3-4 years

Patrick said...

Great post. (And even if the answer from "Anonymous" is interesting and well thought.)

O'Byrne over MAB. MAB was great in the first game, so-so in the second, and yesterday, he was just bad. He was -3 last night. And we need someone who can hit and eventually fight in that series.

I don't know the point in benching a talented and working S. Kostitsyn. There's just too many grinders with the addition of Metropolit. The worst part in that aspect of yesterday's defeat is that it changed the 3rd and 4th lines, which worked well in game 1 and 2.

Patrick said...

Oh, and I really fear that some opportunistic team will offer a contract to Boucher before Martin leaves.

To this, I'd say a loud tabarnak (excuse my French).

DB said...

Last night on OTR Jacques Demers said that to be successful teams have to be loose and that if the coach is uptight then the players will be uptight. Could it possibly be that Martin is a little uptight, especially in the playoffs?

Christopher Sama said...

@Anonymous - i like you're spunk but i agree with JT on most points.

1)JT has been consistently dissing JM. As have many of us. JM has coached, and won, a lot of games in the NHL but he's past his due date.

2)JT was wondering why Darche played instead of SK74, not MAB.

3)Metro - hard to do much of anything in 5 minutes of ice-time.

4)Halak's lost his mojo and playing Price would be the smarter move right now.

5)Agree. The town already whines too much. But I do hate the corporatism of the CH now... they are more business than sports team and charge us, the fans, an arm and a leg to cheer. If they don't produce, they need to give us something. The trouble with the Habs is that they have a monopoly and can get away with mediocrity.

6) "I haven't quit yet. They have my undevoted love and support for the rest of the games and into the next season, and you should too.

So pull up your big boy pants and back your team."

Awesome sentiment - i agree with you on this completely.

Anonymous said...

The Bulldogs are a good AHL team. The only prospect is Subban, the rest are career minor leaguers. Until the Habs get better scouting and management the Habs will continue to be a bubble team. The Panthers last season and the Rangers this season would have better represented themselves in the playoffs than the sad sack Habs of last year and the current group we have to cheer for.

ChipsDressingand Gravy said...

I am thinking that the only explanation for MAB is that he must have pictures. The same ones that Brisebois had been holding onto for all those years.

V said...

JT be carefull. When you're keeping the same company as pfhabs, it's time to seriously reassess your view of things. It's as good a sign as any that your dissapointment is clouding your judgment.

I agree with anonymous (above) and his six reasons why dumping on Martin and this team is just garbage. Especially now. As a player, it must be tough when your opposition is more supportive than your so-called fans. Even if you don't like what you see, show some class and backbone.

At a time like this, it might be worthwhile reflecting on Jean Beliveau. Here he is just back from serious illness. And he watched the same game we all did. And he has actually shed blood for this team and losing must be as tough on him as it is on any single other person in the universe. If anyone has the right to bitch and complain he does. And he doesn't. Not once. Class and backbone personified.

It is when the chips are down that your character is defined. Anyone can be a fan when times are good.

And JT, as much as I admire your writing, I have to say I was raised to believe that referring to anyone as an idiot is just plain wrong. I don't care how many games we lose. I really don't - 82 straight even - no one on the team deserves to be called an idiot. With respect, that feels below the line.

V said...

JT. I know the posts don't go up unless they are approved. And I have this quant notion that you are the one who approves them.

If you are, I want to acknowledge your posting my last post. I was worried it might feel critical of you (not my intent) and yet you posted it seconds after I wrote it.

Thank you.

J.T. said...

@anon, V and various and sundry others who vehemently disagree with what I wrote: This is a blog. It's the opinion of one fan. I don't claim to be any kind of expert or to be the voice of anybody other than myself. I wrote what I wrote in the heat of last night's bitter disappointment, but I don't apologize for it. I think a lot of people on the team made dumb choices and those choices played a big part in the loss.

To the point of Sergei Kostitsyn versus Darche, if you read what I said, I agreed the coach has absolute discretion about the choice of players he decides to use. My problem was choosing a player who's only good enough to play two minutes over one who could have perhaps been more useful in light of all the penalties the team took in the second and third. Playing a guy for two minutes was pointless and, yes, stupid.

It's my perogative to blow off steam and be as opinionated as I like within the confines of my own blog. I appreciate all your comments and your readership, but if you find my opinions insulting, upsetting, annoying or otherwise lacking class, you don't have to read them. If you choose to throw out a spirited argument about why I'm full of it, I welcome that. But I don't see the point in your coming here solely to tell me I'm classless.

JVF said...

You're not classless, J.T. you're funny and opinionated -- Some people don't know the difference!

Rookie said...

I think that, as usual, your analysis of coaching and play was really insightful and interesting, but I have to respectfully disagree with you about the fans. As usual, a certain percentage of the Bell Centre was taken over by random morons, to whom the term "innocent joy" certainly cannot apply. I think that there are a lot of fans out there who still care about the team and love watching them in the playoffs, but I don't want people like me to be lumped in with people like them, who boo the Star Spangled Banner and leave the game early. They weren't making a statement about the team. They were making a statement about how much they love wasting their money. JT, your loyalty is to this franchise, and the players who skate onto the ice and try to earn their keep, regardless of coaching or bad penalties or what have you. That's what being a fan is... not leaving a game just because your team lost.

J.T. said...

@V: Of course it's me approving the comments; it's just a blog, so I don't have a staff or anything. :) The only reason I moderate comments is because when I first began blogging, a lot of pointless trolls posted things I wouldn't want most people to have to read. I have no problem with dissenting I mentioned before, I welcome debate. I just don't abide bitching without an argument to back it up.

@JVF: Thanks!

Anonymous said...

J.T. as usual you are spot on and I agree!! It's time for JM to start coaching with his head and not his heart!! O'Byrne and SK could have better helped out in last nights game!! How do we take out the most physical D-man they got in the play offs!!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, JM is an idiot!! Ryan O'Byrne and Sergei Kostitsyn are, after all, the saviours of this franchise. How can that dunce keep these elite difference-makers out of our lineup? With OB there, there's no WAY Spacek ploughs into Halak, and we all know that Sergei is good for four or five points per game. It's so obvious!

Unless you think the Habs have been playing significantly under potential during this series, don't blame Jacques Martin.

J.T. said...

@anon (the most recent one): A little overdone on the sarcasm there, I think. For all of you who are sensitive to the namecalling, here's a little new age parenting instead: I retract the term "idiot" in referring to Jacques Martin. I have no grounds to refer to him as such, as I am not personally acquainted with him. So, while he may or may not be, in fact, an idiot, I have no personal insight one way or the other. However, even if he's not an idiot (which I also cannot prove), he's making some idiotic choices.

You, Mr.Sarcastic Anonymous, cannot honestly believe 2:22 of Mathieu Darche in that game last night was more beneficial to the Canadiens than seven-to-ten minutes of Sergei Kostitsyn? Or can you? It seems to me, if Gomez is out for ten minutes, it might possibly be helpful to have a guy in the lineup who can pick up two or three shifts in that case. Obviously, Martin didn't think Darche was up to the task, so my question is why did he put him in the lineup in the first place? It doesn't make a lot of sense. One might even call it foolish.

O'Byrne's job would not be to replace Spacek, who's doing a great job generally, despite his mishap with Halak last night. O'Byrne is out in favour of Bergeron. Bergeron played well in the first game when the Caps were pretty tentative. Since then, they've been concentrating their dump-ins and zone penetration on Bergeron's side because they're bigger and stronger than him and they know they can overwhelm him. When that happens, Bergeron makes hurried and poor choices. We saw that happen last night, and I think Martin should have recognized the Caps were making that adjustment in Game Two and countered with the bigger O'Byrne. Another foolish choice.

As for the Habs playing under potential, I ask you how we can know what their potential is, if the coach isn't making the best decisions possible?

MC said...

Let me ask you all this: I assume you are all hard-core Habs fans or you would not be participating in an anonymous discussion about something as inane as pro-sports. Would YOU have left the game early? I know I would have stayed for every last second, win or lose. Let's not confuse real fans with these corporate posers who were given free tickets, or who are just trying to impress a client. Most real fans can't afford NHL tickets anymore. Ever been to a Sens game? The energy in the building is aweful. Money is slowly ruining the game IMHO.

WRT last night's game, I thought the game was closer than the score indicated. If Montreal had scored in the first on the numerous chances the generated, it could have easily gone the other way. I liked the coaching move to put MAB on D, but that experiment has run it's course. I would like to see O'Bryne in to crack some skulls, make them play a price for going to the net, which is how they are scoring. I would also like to see SK back, they need a third scoring line. They HAVE to start getting traffic in front of Varlomov, and if I see Pouliot skate into the high slot with speed...and then pass, one more time, I think I'll lose my mind.

WRT JM, I am going to reserve judgement on him until I see the adjustments he makes for game 4. A seven game series is a Chess match, and its JM's move.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this place is heating up! I take off for five hours to join some out-of-towns friends from Pittsburgh and I come back to this? Go to your rooms! All of you -- now!

1)Here's what I think: my loyal Pens fans and I watched the game against the Sens tonight and they are still optimistic about the Habs and when they asked me what the series was at, I said 2-1 to which they replied: still early.

2) J.T.: You predicted a complete sweep by the Caps, so take it easy. We did win one game, remember? We can do it again. Try not to get so mad, I like your writing better when it's self-deprecating than angry.

4) It's kinda pointless to blame all the time. At least that's what I tell my kids. I also tell them that it's not okay to call people stupid but okay to say so-and-so did something stupid. Enough with the blame towards each player and the coach. I'm sure they are giving it their all.

4) I still believe we can win tomorrow night or Friday night, and maybe that's just me, but I think you outta too.

5) Your blog is the first one I read after each game. I simply adore your stuff. Will you continue during the summer?

J.T. said...

@anon (the one who likes numbered lists): Nope. Never once predicted a Caps' sweep. I've said things will be tough and the Caps are the stronger team...but I've never said they'd sweep, or even definitely beat the Habs. If you look back, I made only three predictions: I said Gomez and Gionta would pick it up and play really well. I said Ovechkin would hurt a Hab with a borderline dirty hit (which I'm still expecting if the Habs win tonight and the Caps get scared). And I said the series would be decided by special teams and there'd be at least one call that would have us screaming. Those were my "predictions," for what they're worth.

Thanks for reading. I'll post some stuff during the summer, as I have done for the last two summers. And a warning, sometimes I'll write things just because I'm mad! ;)

Anonymous said...

J.T. It's me Anon who likes the numbered lists. Okay, so many you didn't predict that the Caps were going to sweep the series as I stated up above, but you DID say:

-I'm not expecting the Habs to win this series, but I've watched enough playoff games over the years to have learned not to write anybody off.


In "A Quick Poll While We Wait" you said: "9. If, by some miracle, the Canadiens can beat Washington, how far do you think they can go".

You don't sound like we can do it, yet you don't dismiss it either which puts you in a very safe place whatever the outcome.

Paul B. said...

Writing in game comments can't possibly be anything but emotional when published by a hard core fan. They are just like the other posts, always well written, though and that's quite a feat.

I, personally agree with about 50% of your comments BUT I always enjoy reading them. The reason for our differences of opinion, lies mainly with our very different background, age and a the fact that I'm anything but an emotional person.