Sunday, January 1, 2012

Time For a Chill Pill

Okay, folks. Let's all take a deep breath and count to ten before we express our frustration and fury with the Habs out loud. We fans have every right to be disappointed and bitter, but some of us are saying some ridiculous things.

There are, for example, the ones who think Carey Price's giving up "soft" goals proves he's responsible for the third-period meltdowns. Let's take a step back and examine that statement. Consider that he played 72 regular-season games last season and has logged the most minutes of any goalie in the league so far this year. Goaltending is a physical job, but it's also a very, very demanding position mentally. If Price looks like he loses his focus sometimes, there's a good chance he's pretty damn tired. A guy like Martin Brodeur, who had a hermetic defence in front of him for most of his career, could successfully play that much. Carey Price, with a spotty D and ineffectual offence to rely on, gets screwed if he's showing signs of fatigue.

Then there are the people who think Tomas Plekanec should be traded for a pick. Plekanec has been the team's leading scorer for the last three seasons, while carrying the heaviest defensive burden among all forwards. Under Jacques Martin, he played more than twenty minutes a night in all situations, often responsible for shutting down the other team's top line. This year, he's been saddled with the deeply slumping Michael Cammalleri for a good part of the season, and with the inconsistent Andrei Kostitsyn for the rest of it. For a guy whose points are mostly assists, Plekanec needs effective wingers. He's usually good for a good number of PP points, but this season spent much of his power play time manning the point, which proved to be a desperate misuse of his abilities. Right now, Plekanec is showing frustration with his own play and that of the team. He's missing open nets and taking dumb penalties, then reacting with head shaking and eye rolling. As we've seen with Plekanec in the past, and with countless others, confidence is essential to performance. When frustration sets in, it tends to build upon itself until something positive happens to break the pattern. So, while Plekanec is going through a rough patch at the moment, he'll recover from it because he's too good a player not to. Trading him now would be a terrible mistake.

A lot of people are wondering what's wrong with Max Pacioretty. The kid we saw start the season playing a fast, aggressive, productive game is as lost as the rest of his team now. After his suspension for hitting Kris Letang, he said he was confused about what's permissible and what's not, and he'd be afraid to hit anyone anymore, now that he's got a record as a head-hunter. What we might have heard as the anger and frustration of a young player who felt his suspension was unfair, relative to other league decisions, now has the ring of truth. Pacioretty has changed his game since then, and not for the better. He was deeply affected by the hit and its disciplinary aftermath, and someone needs to sit him down and talk to him about it.

While knee-jerk reactions are understandable right now, we have to try and find the positives in this mess, just to avoid outright crying about it. Positives like Alexei Emelin. That kid is a human wrecking ball and a joy to watch. He's caught on to the NHL game very quickly and prevents trouble in his own zone by keeping opponents from entering it in the first place. Lars Eller is another bright spot. He's big, strong, smart and already a trusted penalty killer. He knows how to put himself in the right places, and if he keeps doing that, the points will come. David Desharnais is smart and creative and doesn't let his size prevent him from doing what he sets out to do. Erik Cole is the power forward the Canadiens haven't had in recent memory. He's turned out to be a very good signing and would only be better with more productive linemates.

This season is as good as lost, but there are still small pleasures to be had in watching the games. We need to think about finding them where we can, rather than dumping on good players having a rough time. Fans have no power to change anything, so we need to chill out a bit. The players who are trying to be better would probably appreciate that.


Anonymous said...

I have been really impressed by how well Cole, Pacioretty sand Desharnais have played together, I hope Pacioretty can get over that mental hurdle.

moeman said...

Well said. I'd add Gorges to the complimented.

Anvilcloud said...

Everyone is tradeable, including Pleks. It depends on the return.

Anonymous said...

But JT the Fan Code says when your team isn't winning it is every fans responsibility to bitch and complain as loudly as possible; to demand the coach and GM's heads; and to form a lynch mob to drive those lazy, overpaid, ungrateful players out of town.

And you want to spoil our fun. Just for that you get to clean up the mess after we tar and feather Gomez.


dusty said...

I took a couple a few weeks ago after the Anaheim debacle when it became clear that the playoffs were a dream not going to come true. I heartily recommend them. I enjoy the Hab games more than last year when each loss hurt badly. Now, I hope for a win or at least a good effort and if the Habs don't provide either, so what. They stink. Not my problem.

On the Plekanec situation. I think he is a very good player in a very bad situation. I often wonder how good he could be with Lucic and Horton. And how crappy Krecji might look with AK46 and Cammalleri.

Cammalleri needs big players on his line to give him space. Maybe the Sharks would be interested and would send us a couple of young, big bodies in return. Maybe the Islanders would be interested in some package for Tavares. Their GM is retarded like ours. Maybe a marriage made in Heaven.

Would also love to get Kane from the Jets or Duchene from Colorado.

There I go dreaming again.

MC said...

Diaz has been another pleasant surprise. He moves the puck very well and he is getting better defensively every game.

As much as it pains me to see them miss the playoffs despite rarely getting blown out, it will be a blessing if they finish 13th instead of 9th. At least then they can be sellers at the deadline and stockpile some assets.

moeman said...

PG compliments Josh with a 6 year deal.

Dusty said...

I guess PG isn't going anywhere. Too bad. This signing looks like panic to me. Too long and too much.

Anonymous said...

The team Montreal Canadiens has hovered around 25th spot all season JT. Do you believe this is a 25th place team talent wise? If so then there are several high priced vets, including Pleks, who have to suck it up and show the kids how to play. Maybe Pleks has to stand up on his hind legs and say he can't play the point, he is not supposed to play the point, and also note that passing the puck along the boards until someone fails to trap it isn't a good powerplay plan.

Otherwise they are a 25th place team whose fans try and blame guys like Gorges, Price, Emelin, Pac, Diaz, or the road conditions for their trouble playing this game. The team has consistently been unable to score. The media crows over crossbars, posts, and just missed shots as if they were a positive thing. The media talks about 14 wins and 25 losses as if the seven OLT were victories. The team has only won 14 of 39 games this year. Price has stood on his head to win those as even a casual review of the shot trackers shows clearly.

The team has been in a rut for years with their attitude that young men are professionals able to take care of themselves. Championship teams don't need nannies but young men need role models who can show them things other than the bar. Is it any wonder that they become spoiled and frustrated when facing adversity? Leadership is so lacking on that team, probably because the organization doesn't condone it. I wouldn't be surprised that the walls of the locker room are emblazoned with this motivational phrase: Don't rock the boat, it's carrying all the money.

Hopefully Markov can come back healthy and salvage Subban as no one else seems willing to. As for Pleks his ice is going down this last month because he can't carry that load. It is funny though. When production is off everyone notices 20 mins a game. But Lecavalier, perhaps one of the most over rated players ever, ran almost 27 mins a game when he led in scoring and no one commented he was playing half the game instead of 1/3rd.

RL said...


Well we have gone through all the phases of grief in this year's blog.

Denile - A Glimmer of Hope: When we thought the hasbs were losing because of Carey's Pink pads.

Anger - It's On You, Jacques: When poor Jacques got the rap for being unable to produce a miracle with the poor assets PG gave him.

Bargaining/Depression: Resignation, Albatross!, Asset Management

And Finally

Acceptance: Time For A Chill Pill


Anonymous said...

Its funny how confidence plays such a huge part of hockey. Just last year, at the beginning, The Pleks/Cammy/Kosty line was on fire. Martin split them up to try and even out the lines but their chemistry was awesome!
The same line this year sucks!
If guys are playing well together, LEAVE them together!!!

Mix up the other 9 to make your combos. If its working why on earth would you split that up. You know It bothers them , even though they give the same cliche answer..."It doesn't matter which line your on, you have to do your job" blah blah blah...

They are actually thinking, "We were clicking, I don't understand why he would split us up"

Lastly, this team is sorely lacking some sandpaper mentality. So easy to play against, so little toughness.