Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Aftermath: Complacence

Jacques Martin said after his team got shut out by the Sabres last night that the Canadiens didn't go to the net "with authority." What he possibly meant to say was they didn't go to the net "at all." The definitive moment of the game, for me, was a sequence late in the third, when David Desharnais (the best Habs centre on the ice all night) had fought for and won the puck behind the Sabres net. Desharnais is a whiz at finding an open man in front when he's in that position, as we've witnessed before. He made a couple of little moves to evade Buffalo defenders and maintain possession for two...five...ten seconds. Both of his wingers were between the boards and the circles, and nobody went near the crease for what would have been an excellent scoring chance. Eventually, Desharnais tried a low-percentage pass through traffic and lost the puck with no shot on goal.

That was what the Habs looked like all game. They were a little less urgent, a little less quick and a little less opportunistic than a desperate Sabres team. Few guys in red were willing to sacrifice more than the visitors for that win, so they didn't get it. The temptation for fans is to curse them because the division title would have been up for grabs on Thursday with a win last night. From the players' perspective, though, it can be hard to get up for the Sabres on a Tuesday night when they're all but assured a playoff spot, they're dealing with nagging injuries and they're looking ahead to a huge game against the Bruins on Thursday.

This shouldn't be the time of year for excuses, but honestly? If it comes down to Brian Gionta getting hurt fighting for crease space because he nearly killed himself trying to beat the Sabres in March, or him being around to score on a tip in April, I'll take the loss in March and the goal in April. Sometimes, a tired, battered team will subconsciously weigh its options and save a little something for the more important game coming up. That's when your defence starts taking lazy penalties and your forwards are second to the puck most of the time.

Despite that, only a nice tip on a point shot beat Carey Price. If the team had been a little more motivated and Ryan Miller a little less sharp, there might have easily been a different outcome last night regardless of the Sabres desperation level. P.K.Subban and Desharnais both played their usual energetic games, and Andrei Kostitsyn was a physical force. The kids were trying.

The veterans, however, were a bit more of a concern. Whether it's because they're pacing themselves or because they're dealing with some kind of injury problems, Gomez, Gionta and Cammalleri posed a very low scoring threat last night. Gomez did yeoman's work on the PK in the absence of Tomas Plekanec, but he's not paid seven million bucks a year to kill penalties. These guys have to be better in the big games if the team is going anywhere.

In the end, the team that needed to extend itself to win did so. The team that's comfortably looking forward to playing next month didn't meet that level of urgency. The only real shame about last night was for the fans at the Bell Centre, who paid a bundle to watch what they expected to be an exciting stretch-run game and got nothing for their money.


Anonymous said...

With the argument made about David, couldn't you make the same argument for Gomez? He is a passer, but with nobody getting into the dirty areas, how could he look very dangerous?

Another thing to add, this is not a "big game" since the Habs wouldn't meet the Sabers until the conference finals at earliest. This was like playing Toronto, the odds of them meeting in the playoffs are non-existent. This year the team has played down to lesser opponents and they did it again last night. Buffalo wanted to play 1-0 and they worked that plan well...but that isn't gonna fly in the playoffs.

dusty said...

Being a glass half empty kind of guy, I don't feel confident about the Habs maintaining 6th position. The only team looking worse than the Habs right now is Tampa. With so many Bulldogs playing for the team, they could easily drop to eighth and that is disaster. The Flyers are not beatable. The game in Boston is not about winning the division but about not dropping in the standings.

The Habs made it all to easy for the Sabres last night. Rob Ray showed video of the Habs carrying the puck to the side boards and throwing it into the middle over and over again. A very hard game to watch.

DT said...

The desperate team won with a lucky bounce and still, the game could have gone either way. Imagine what it could have been if our forwards actually did get in the dirty areas? And that's saying alot, given our depleted lineup.

Overall, I'm not upset about this loss but can't help thinking, if I was Carey Price, the team in front of me managed to light up the opposition with 8 goals against Mini and then can't score one when it's your turn in nets. Hope Carey can get passed this 'cause the way he played, he deserved the win.

Anonymous said...

What is a concussion, as comprehended and explained by myself.

I have been involved as a lay person with research pertaining to neurology at a major medical university.

I have picked up a lot of information working first with veterinarian pathologists when I was doing research on my fox and mink ranch.

And I have been involved lately with the neurology research dept from a major medical university.

Pertaining to concussion,

I will try to explain, the best that I can, what happens to the brain cells that have been concussed inside the skull. And why one must stay completely resting after a concussion.

The very soft brain cells, when violently thrown against the skull, are damaged and the neuron releases a potassium chemical out of the brain cell. Leaving a void.

Calcium that is already present around the outside of the cells, seeps into the cells replacing the potassium. This calcium is what gives the chemical imbalance to the brain and is what causes the damage.

Until all of this calcium leaves the brain cells completely, and it can take a long time, depending on how much calcium was taken on each cell. The patient is left extremely vulnerable to instant death upon a second bump, or at least permanent brain damage.

Even a hard coughing spell or light exercise can cause severe pain and damage. Complete rest is needed.

These damaged cells have to be cleared completely of this calcium before one can resume activity to avoid more serious consequences including death.

This is very acute in young people under the age of 24 as the brain is still growing and developing.

Please, coaches and parents know this, every contact to the head can cause some cells to expel potassium and take on calcium. A second, even slight bump, with the cells still containing calcium, can be even more deadly.

Ian Cobb

Anonymous said...

Where did you go?

dusty said...

I was going to wait 24 hours before venting but I just couldn't do it.

Every year is the same, Habs need a point in toronto to make the playoffs. Only consolation is, I won't have to watch the Habs play Boston again this season. Hope they lose 4 straight to whoever and this finally brings about a management change and a new philosophy in building for the future.

Love good hockey and love the Habs but can't have both together. Pittsburgh put on a hell of a show in Philly tonight. There's a team with serious injuries and serious depth and grit. And the Rangers and Ottawa produced a wonderful game.

Until Gomez, Cammalleri and Plekanec are gone this team will stink. I feel sorry for P.K. and Gionta and the young guys who'll be playing for a crappy franchise for the next few years and maybe more.

Max, this game was for you. Sorry.

GHF377 said...

Hey JT,

I know the game as been depressing but not even any thoughts on the periods?
No matter how bad things got I always anjoyed those.

Greetings from far away Germany

Anonymous said...

In a season of individual underachievment what has the team accomplished really? Some younger players received an introduction. Desharnais has been a surprise. Pouliot is a plus player but always looks like he is playing below potential - I'd hang onto him. Price is more than capable but like Brodeur needs a team playing in front of him. They were right to hang onto White.

A big experiment comes to the end of the season with a coach jockeying for playoff position trying to get a matchup against Tampa because he thinks he can beat Tampa, perhaps Washington but otherwise needs to hope the cards play out.

When you look at the team over the course of a season can you honestly say they are better than New York, Philly, Boston, Buffalo, Crosby Burg in the East? If the Devils hadn't had a coach experiment go wrong would the Canadiens be on the outside looking in?

The team could make a run in the playoffs. But not all the way. To do that they need to get past those teams better than them, then beat the team that takes the West.

I don't see that happening and the reason is strange. The old adage is that you play the way you practice. Reverse that and the team's play reflects their motivation in practice. You can tell when the coaches have pushed practice, everything clicks for a couple games, but you can't scream for a whole season. That gets old fast.

Despite arguements to the contrary (that a short heavy player is equal to a tall player of like weight for instance) the team is overall too small to effectively take the puck away from opponents, relying instead on hustling into the lanes to block chances.

Gionta is quite a player. Gomez is not. He no more wants to be playing in Montreal than the ECHL. What a waste of asset for the NHL. Talk about not understanding why you can't market a team in the US with where over 50 million people are comfortable with names ending with a Z.

I haven't myself watched a game since the Chara hit. I try to but I don't think my interest will come back until the playoffs maybe. I heard Cooke got suspended and meant to turn on the game Thursday at least but I forgot. Sad.