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» 2011 » December

  • Game 30: Habs/Isles

    You know the drill.

    Montreal has an opportunity to pick up 2 points tonight against an opponent who has struggled mightily this season.  A team that loses 2 for every 1 it wins. Slam dunk right?

    Hardly. The Isles have gone 4-1-2 in their last 7 games and have started to play more like the team that some expected to be a surprise player for the final playoff spot in the east going into this season. That pipe dream is all but over, and yet there are many reasons to fear this game for Habs fans.

    How about the fact that Montreal is 4-5-6 at home this season?

    How about the fact that Montreal has the powerplay confidence of a 9th grader with acne?

    How about the fact that Montreal hasn’t won two games in a row since Pierre McGuire had dreadlocks?

    Ok, I’m making this garbage up. Sue me – its a long season.

    Still, Montreal has drastically under-performed against the bottom feeding teams this season. They have been terrible lately at playing with a lead. The win which had everyone feeling good about the Tomas Kaberle trade was almost another blown lead. Only by the grace of Carey Price’s left leg, and Zach Parise’s temporary lapse in penalty shots skills did the Habs manage to hold onto a rare win in regulation.

    UPDATE: JM in his infinite wisdom has apparently decided that the one bright spot from the last few weeks Alexei Emelin shall sit in favour of Raphael Diaz now that Chris Campoli has been cleared to come back to the lineup.

    For the life of me I can’t think of a single reason why a coach would want Raphael Diaz in the lineup over Alexei Emelin. I could understand if it were Markov who was returning, but there is next to nothing that Diaz can do that isn’t replicated 5 other times amongst the defense corps. Nobody on the team provides the physicality that Emelin does. Frankly, there is only 1 single NHL defenseman who averages more hits per game than Emelin this season. And while hits do not tell a full story about a defender’s game, I do not understand why a coach would go from giving him increased responsibilities in all areas to the pressbox – in favour of yet another undersized, and outmatched defender.

    At every turn this season I’m dumbfounded by the decision making that the Habs management has made in terms of personnel.  Martin seems determined to display that he has no idea what his team’s problems are. I can tell you now – a lack of undersized, offensively adequate, defensively outmatched defenders is not his problem.

    Go Habs Go!!

  • Game 29: Habs/Devils

    Forgive me for a moment if I talk about baseball on a hockey blog.

    While hockey is my first love and the Montreal Canadiens my undying passion, as a kid in Souther Ontario, I also grew up playing and watching baseball and cheering for the Toronto Blue Jays. 1993 as you can imagine, was the best sporting year of my life. I was 12 years old, and both the Canadiens and Jays were Champions. Today I am as big a fan as ever, I have seasons tickets and follow the team about as closely as I do the Habs.

    The biggest reason (outside of Jose Bautista), that my love for the Blue Jays continues to grow is because they have a man who I consider to be among the game’s very best in the position of GM. Alex Anthopoulos started first with the Expos and then moved to the Jays and has worked his way up to becoming a person that I admire above most others in sports.

    The reason I’m over the moon for AA is because he always seems to have a plan. He looks for ways to use baseball’s system to the Blue Jays advantage – building a club with a never ending gaze towards the future. He’s the type of manager that instill’s ultimate confidence that with every move – the team will get a little better. His deals over the past two years have re-built the Jays farm system from one of the worst in all of baseball, to top 3 – without the benefit of top draft picks from tanking.

    It gives me great pains to compare the GMs of the two clubs that I love. Whereas Anthopoulos has a plan that improve’s a club’s financial standing or competitive edge with every move, Gauthier seems to make every decision ad hoc… on the fly.

    The trade of Jaroslav Spacek for Tomas Kaberle reeks of desperation. It reeks of poor decision making. It simply reeks.

    Spacek wasn’t a valuable player, but the cap space his expiring contract would leave the team next season would be incredibly valuable given the critical players who are up for renewal. Gauthier added a fringe player and used $4.25M for the next two years following this one, making his cap situation incredibly murkey, while potentially forcing himself to make some very risky decisions in the off season.

    In short, its the kind of deal that Anthopoulos would never make.

    It is exceedingly frustrating as a fan who respects those who make solid decisions for their teams in terms of strategic planning to watch each season as my club mortgages its future. While i could eat my words if Kaberle leads the Canadiens back into the playoff picture (and yes I do hope that happens), I cannot endorse this move by the GM. It is a gamble with the longest of odds, and not the type of decision that you hope the one person in charge of the club would make.