Thursday, January 13, 2011

Aftermath: Attention, Class

Last night's game against the Pens was one for learning lessons. Carey Price learned NHL players are overly sensitive and have their tender feelings hurt easily, and, if you're playing a sooky team twice in a week, it's probably not a good idea to ham it up after beating them the first time. Price made his victorious arms-folded statment after winning the shootout last week. Most sensible people thought Price was just having some fun after the tension of facing all those breakaways; no harm done. The Pens, however, didn't like it and gloried in piling in the goals on a sub-par Price last night. Lesson: don't rub it in, Carey, or it will come back to bite you in the ass.

Benoit Pouliot learned the difference between hero and goat in the NHL is similar to the difference between taupe and beige. Less than 24 hours after a brilliant first-star performance against the Rangers, including potting the winning goal, he took three stupid minors last night. The Pens scored on two of them. It's all part of the development of a young player, but it's frustrating to watch. Lesson: keep your stick on the ice, kid, and don't stop skating.

David Desharnais learned dreams do come true. The 24-year-old rookie scored his first NHL goal on a lovely tip from the slip, and he just glowed with happiness afterwards. It was the highlight moment of a forgettable game. Lesson: hard work and belief in oneself can overcome physical barriers to achieving ones goal.

Jacques Martin learned a team playing his way, that doesn't score many goals, can't take a half dozen lazy, thoughtless penalties or have sub-par goaltending. The result will be what happened last night. Martin has learned this lesson before and it didn't stick, so those of us hoping he'll change "The System" to allow more aggression by the forwards are probably hoping in vain. You can't really blame him. If Spacek and Gill struggle NOW, imagine how they'd suffer if the forwards were busy forechecking and giving up odd-man rushes instead of dropping back to help out? The sad truth is Martin isn't stupid...he just doesn't have the horses on defence to allow a more open game. Certainly, he'd like to see his forwards score more, but the trade-off on defence would be too costly. As a result, the Habs have to play disciplined hockey and they need stellar goaltending to succeed. When they don't get those, they tend to suck. Lesson: when your team is limited, you do what you have to do and try to ignore the criticism even when it bombs on you.

The whole team learned there's very little separating a playoff team from early golfers. The league is all about parity, which means the slightest advantage, like playing the night before and travelling late while the other team rests, can make a big difference. The lesson here should be when they're the one with the slight advantage, they have to take advantage of it. There will be games like last night when things just aren't working. When conditions are better, they can't give wins away. Lesson: no excuses for losing really matter...just the results.

And we fans (or at least some of us) learned Marc-Andre Fleury is kind of a tool. Here's a guy who's waiting for the clock to run out on a blowout, and chooses to mock Price and the Habs by throwing Price's gesture back at him. Price reacted to an emotional shootout win on the spur of the moment. Fleury waited and planned to make fun of the team he just beat. That was petty of him. It was also stupid, bordering on embarrassing, considering it was the first time he managed to beat the Habs since getting eliminated by them last playoffs. Not to mention, unoriginal. Lesson: Crosby's not the only sook on the Pens.

In the end, that was a game to file away under "sucked" and move on. The pressure's on to come back strong against the Rangers on Saturday because if there's one thing we and the Habs have learned in the last few years, it's that nothing matters except securing a playoff spot. To do that, a team has to be consistent, and that means learning not to fall into bad habits after a game like last night. That's the most important lesson of all.


Anonymous said...

Very disappointing effort last nite. Especially after what was a decent road game the night before. It still exposed many shortcomings this team faces. Lack of scoring.Too many guys firing on empty- Gionta, Kostititsyn, Gomez, Pleks.

All have to learn to be more consistent. Where is the dominant player the Habs so desperately need. They haven't had that guy since Mats Naslund.

Year after year they can never find that gem in the draft!

Sure they play midling hockey, steal a round or two, even won a couple of cups when they were not supposed to. But where is the Superstar we covet? A guy that can basically impose himself on the game and its outcome. Are they that hard to find?

Anonymous said...

I think we should be easy on them. They flew into the city at 1am after the Rangers. That means they fell asleep at what time?

They'll be fine come Saturday.

pfhabs said...


-it's OK for Carey to ham it up but not another goalie...give me a break ! I could see it coming and laughed when MAF pulled it off, as did he in post game interviews. it was funny when Carey did it and funnier when another member of the goalie fraternity returned the favour. not a sook but a showman like Carey

-as for the system, AK is playing like a guy who is begging to be traded. he'll get his wish. the CH after diminishing the asset will get the requiste Pyatt clone and a 4th round choice which will make Gauthier happy, Martin will be happy to be rid of another player who is too creative for one that follows instruction and AK will be happy scoring 25-30 goals in a less structured system much like bro Sergei and his 20 points in the last 18 games. as for the CH fans, many will be happy with another average season

-btw; would love to have the sook you call Sidney

MC said...

I still think the "ambush" game where the visiting team is waiting rested in your home city is bullshit. In this day of computer-generated schedules, can't they do better than that? I'm amazed the Habs hung with them for two periods.

@pfhabs: I think will would all love to have the big whiny baby Crosby. He would then become known as savior and my hero ;-). I am surprised the league doesn't push to get the league's big stars in the large markets. Toronto, Montreal, Rangers, etc do not have a bonafide superstar. I guess there is no way to do it without compromising the integrity of the league, but it would help sell it. A guy like Rick Nash playing in Columbus is such a waste.

Anonymous said...

Can't win them all. A loss to the Penguins is no big deal because the Habs aren't competing with them for a playoff spot. The Rangers may well be the team to kick the Habs to the golf course so Saturday is the important game. Hope the Habs can hang another L on Torts and the Rags.

Fluery is the weak link on the Pens. He lets in too many softies. If he acts up I could care less. Wouldn't mind facing him in the playoffs.

Anonymous said...

I suppose if Martin Brodeur, after shutting out the Habs once again, displayed a similar immature pose. It would be fine as he was just having fun? Hardly, it was a bush league move by Price. Thankfully, Brodeur has far too much class to ever show up an opponent. I thought Price had finally matured into the player we all wished for this season. Was I wrong?

Anonymous said...

The problem with this year is definitely our defence. The mgmt and coaches knew going into the season what our weak link was. JM put in place a system to cover for it. The problem now is that our forwards are unhappy and the team isnt scoring goals.

Now that we are playing for next year it's time to start playing the youngsters and moving out the veterans.

Hamrlik and Moen are tradable assets. I would keep Halpern.

Gill should stay the year to help out PK.

Pyatt gets us nothing, Lapierre got us nothing, Weber nets zero, ditto Picard.

Not much in the cupboard to deal with...


Anonymous said...

The problem is not the defense. The problem is the peripheral game! They have only a select few that go to the net. The otherwise offensive push comes from the outside! That's the problem.The offense.

Anonymous said...

Other than Yemelin there is really nothing in the cupboard. No can't miss prospects. PK might be the last one for a while.

The Hammer is serviceable and I would rather have him than Spacek. Hab fans have to be realistic that to get past Philly, Boston, Pit and Washington requires a little bit of good fortune. Some fans think that because the Habs own Boston it is a foregone conclusion. No guarantees there.