Friday, October 22, 2010

Aftermath: Glad THAT'S Over

A snoozefest. Awful Devils hockey. A one-night-only performance of the Ice Crapades. Whatever you want to call a Habs/Devils game, it's nothing if not predictable. Something bad happens to the Canadiens whenever those two teams meet.

It's not Brodeur, because it still happens when he's not the major factor in the game, and even when he's not there, as we saw when he missed half the season before last and Clemmenson still stoned the Habs. It's not the personnel of the two teams, because guys like Gionta and Gomez actually switched sides and have now taken on the traditional Habs role in these games, like they never heard of the Jersey System. It's not even the Jersey System itself. What used to be an impenetrable Devils' defensive zone with a tight, opportunistic offence looked just as sloppy as the Canadiens' undefinable (non-existent is too cruel a term) game plan last night.

It is, therefore, a case of Kryptonitis. Every team has an opponent that owns it. No matter what happens...injury, illness, bad scheduling, losing streaks, only icing seven players...the jinx is virtually impossible to break. The Devils are that opponent for the Canadiens.

That's what we're going to say today, anyway. Otherwise, there are too many hard questions to answer when we try to explain what happened last night. What's going to happen with the second-line wing position, if nobody "gels" there? Why is Carey Price consistently inconsistent; great on some saves, soft on the goals? What happens if the power play doesn't get any better? Is it worth putting up with months of "regular-season Gill" in exchange for a few weeks of "playoff Gill?" What will Spacek look like next year, if he's already this bad? What's the matter with Cammalleri? Why does a team that's had four days off come out skating in quicksand? Will the return of Andrei Markov be the cure-all everyone hopes it will?

Those are uncomfortable questions, at least some of which will have unpleasant answers. So, for one day only, we can avoid answering them. The Habs, after all, never beat the Devils. It's to be expected that the offence will be impotent, the defence confused and the goalie soft. Devils games are a reprieve from reality because their outcomes are so certain.

Still, while critics will go easy on the Canadiens today, the leniency won't last into tomorrow. If fans are reluctant to ask hard questions about why their team looked horrible last night, the team had better be asking them of itself. And it's got about 36 hours to answer them because the Ice Crapades have left town.


Anonymous said...

As a Habs fan I accept the fact that the team will have off nights as all teams do but watching the Flyers and the Bruins and yes the leafs, when they lose at least they hit somebody. The Devils stunk up the Bell Center and would have lost if only the Habs were a physical presence. But they weren't and games like these are very hard to watch.

Anonymous said...

The problem with this year's team is exactly the same as it was last year. Too small forwards to play a chip in and recover the puck game, dismal five on five scoring, a back end that it is too soft and lack of a definable game plan. As long as coaching and management remain the same don't look for miracle improvements. The status quo is written in stone in Habland.

Anonymous said...

Inability to finish. The success last year was camouflaged by a hot goalie.

Where are the guys that Score CONSISTENTLY? Gionta and Cammalleri are supposed to do that. The Habs game is on the periphery...

Every time they play Brodeur they make him look great.

Anonymous said...

I think you're being too hard on the team JT. They are what they are. Guys who go for it like White don't fit, and if they come up, soon are blended into the pattern. So there are some teams (Philly, NJ, Boston with Chara) who will own the Montreal Canadiens.

The team capped an impressive 5 game start with a layoff and a rusty effort against a team that plays their best meeting an uninspired team. They moved Pouliot off the Gomez line instead of letting him center it and moving Gomez off. Eller bounces around wondering what sort of situation he is signed on to long run. It is very plain that the more seniority you have dictates the playing position.

The playoffs will be different, because the guys will show up. Unfortunately it may be as guest analysts, but that's a chance you take when you don't have leadership.

Anonymous said...

Just read Eller to center Darche and Moen. The coach is hoping for more offense. So, who exactly does JM think is going to score? Poor Eller, I can picture him in the press box with O'Byrne discussing who they want to be traded to for Christmas.