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Game 38: Habs/Thrashers

  • I can’t remember whether or not its good luck for me to miss games. I’ve lost track since the last time. I wont be watching this one due to life interfering with my hockey schedule, but I will be looking closely at the box score tomorrow for a couple of things.

    The first will be shots. For obvious reasons it matters how much of a difference (if any) there is between the Canadiens’ shot totals and the Thrashers’. If Kovalchuk is allowed to fire at will, it will require another superhuman effort on the part of a Habs goalie to win the game. If Montreal can mange to force the issue with puck possession and offensive pressure, there may be another 2 points to be had tonight.

    I’ll also be looking at the TOI (Time On Ice) of each of our defenders as I hope that Martin will be able to limit Markov to somewhere around 19 or 20 mins of ice time. It would be very tempting to let MVC (Most Valuable Captain as coined by HI/O’s Boone), play huge minutes following a fantastic performance on Saturday night. I really hope that the Habs treat Markov gently in the next few games to avoid re-inhuring/aggravating an injury that Markov managed to recover from almost TOO fast.

    Finally, I’ll be looking to see that the Canadiens limit the Thrashers powerplay opportunities. As good as we’ve been at killing penalties, there is no easier way to lose winnable games than to give the opposition too many man advantages.

  1. #1 habknot says:
    December 21, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Stat I will be checking: TOI for Pouliot, now that he is up with the big club.

    Please tell me D’Ags gets to sit and Belanger gets to play wing. D’Ags has talent, but no smarts or drive. He will be very valuable once he’s played 5 yrs in the NHL, I just hope its with another team. Belanger has played his heart out every game. His defensive zone coverage is weak, he is undersized, but he is trying to win every shift on the ice and fits our wing/D role perfectly.

  2. Habnot, I must have missed something shoe is Belanger?

  3. Sorry who is Belanger? Did I miss a trade?

  4. Mats I am starting to wonder about Weber, he only has 7 points in Hamilton this year, and for a offensive defenceman he should be burning up that league. He is small at 5-10 and 195 lbs. I am not sold on him being a full top line defenceman?

  5. Well Mats, you were on target for many items, shots on goal, well we did have good goaltending, Markov played 26 minutes. We got twice as many penalties but had good PK for the most part. We had no legs all night but counter punched effectively and scored on our chances. And Bergeron came up with two big goals, PP worked when we needed it to. And wow what a receipe for two points.

  6. #6 habknot says:
    December 22, 2009 at 7:38 am

    Sorry, not Belanger, Bergeron! OK, MAB from now on. Didn’t see much of the game, but Laraque’s 5 min TOI is a sign he will see the bench. When Gionta is back, I think Dags is sat as well. He looked bad in the couple of shifts I saw, so easy to separate from the puck.

  7. #7 Avatar37 says:
    December 22, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Habs gave up another 50 shots on net. Atlanta’s scores came with 17 seconds left in the first (team had stopped playing), and 22 seconds and 1:42 into the third. AK played another solid game. For goal #2 and goal #3, Gill was standing around in front of the net watching the other team score. He also almost cost the team goal #4 on the PK because he wasn’t holding his stick firmly and lost it. As stated prior to the season starting, he’s a 6’7 Brisebois without the offensive talent. I can’t believe I have to watch him for another season after this one. Want to immediately improve this team? Place him on waivers and fill the spot with Belle.

    Everyone is talking about trading Halak for another forward. This team is not in need of another forward, we’re in serious need of a decent/good defenseman. What about Matt Greene on LA? He’s exactly the kind of defenseman we need. If we must trade with Philly, Matt Carle is having a slow season and could also be a fit. Make my Christmas and throw Gill in on the trade.

    MAB (Bergeron) was the hero last night, but he still almost cost the team a few goals by losing the puck/stumbling. He’s a one dimmensional player (has a wicked shot from the point), but just like Brisebois, can’t play defense. Tonight was the rare night he scored more than he cost us. While I don’t object to him being on the team, I’d prefer to see him in a limited role, on the PP, and if we’re trying to get a goal. Seeing him in a regular shift is a ticking time bomb. In 31 games this year, he has 9 goals and 10 assists, which is fairly impressive, except he’s a -4. Gill is a -3 with 41 PMs (mostly really bad penalties, a few really horrible calls by the refs). Mara is a -12, however I find him to be a decent 3rd line D-man.

    Regardless, the glaring weaknesses on this team are:

    1) The defense. Thank God for Markov, they need to sign him to a lifetime contract. They need to gut out the rest of the defense and rebuild it. Belle certainly looked NHL ready from the brief exposure I had to him watching him with the Habs. Bergeron is ok for $750k a year as a specialist. We desperately need another 1st line D-man rather than a forward. If LA isn’t willing to give up Matt Greene, maybe they’d go for Jack Johnson. It might be worth seeing what he can do. I’m still aggravated that I never got to see Hainsey and Komisarek together on a line, they’d be a sight better than Hamrlk and Spacek.

    2)Team discipline / work ethic. I can’t remember the last time I saw a team consistently NOT play 60 minutes all the time. This team quits periods early, doesn’t play entire periods other times, is horrible on winning crucial faceoffs, has lazy offensive zone dump ins that create chances on our net, loses battles for the puck, spends far too much time standing around watching the other team score, etc. While I believe in Martin as a coach, something seriously needs to be done about the fundamentals this team plays. If this team really played 100% every shift to the best of their abilities, I really htink we’d have a LOT more wins, and that’s with the personel we have. Why is this team playins such undisciplined hockey? I cannot answer that, but I hope the coach figures it out and fixes it.

  8. #8 Mats Naslund says:
    December 22, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Clearly the Habs lucked out again to get such an amazing performance from Jaro. While 2 points is 2 points, you officially have to see the deficiencies in our game as a major concern. Consistently the Canadiens fall drastically behind in shots to EVERY team they play. And although from game to game most teams will have some variability in their ability to generate offensive pressure, the Habs are continuously outshot by wide margins, relying solely on timely goaltending in order to have an opportunity for a victory. Luckily for us, it is puck IN the net as opposed to ON the net which matter.

    Some of our offensive handicap can be attributed to Martin’s system, which raises questions consideing we have given up 40+ shots on MANY occasions this season. If our system isn’t stiffling the opposition in their scoring chances – then what is the point of regning in our own opportunities? I understand the theory behind such a strategy. In theory, our system should cover up the defensive liability of some through shared responsibility. In theory, our defensive structure should remove the pressure on a banged up defensive corps, and our two young goaltenders. The reality is that because our offense cannot sustain pressure, we are continuously and almost exclusively flat-footed in the neutral zone, and almost always chasing the puck in our own end. Wonder why we commit so many penalties? There is your answer. Wonder why we lose so many close games? Wonder why we have such troubles coming back from one goal deficits?

    Our problems start and end with our inability to take the puck into the opposition’s zone and keep it there for extended periods of time. While some of the blame can easily be attributed to Martin’s system – it is the personnel who create the problems. Watch Lapierre when he gets the puck on his stick. Watch D’Agostini. Except for 5 players (Plex, Cammy, Kostitsyn x 2, and Gomez) our forwards panic and are rarely capable of hanging onto the puck in traffic. We give up possession FAR too easily, and strggle mightily to move the puck efficiently between the bluelines. I can’t even count how many games where Montreal forwards have blindly thrown the puck into the offensive zone with no support only to lose the puck and watch the other team easily gain the zone and set up their offense. This isn’t advanced stuff. This is basic hockey 101. You always have more time and room than you think, and our forwards don’t take advantage of that extra time with which to move.

    I’m very glad that we managed to grab 2 points. I’m not too happy with Markov’s 26 minutes following a devastating injury. I’m unimpressed with 6 penalties taken. It is a clear indication that we played back on our heels and were not the aggressors. I’m sickened by the 50-23 shot margin. We got the win, but all of the ingredients were there to lose another game.

  9. Hey Mats, look on the positive side both games we gave up 50 shots we won, maybe that is the magic formula??? Now don’t get me wrong this team is not the 1972 habs or the 1986 habs but I can remember how we complained about those teams giving up so many shots being out shot 2-1 many games funny how these things turn out.

    Mats I have to agree, on two things, firstly it is Martin’s system that they are playing, that same system is why he was not successful in Ottawa with all that talent. Yet he expects a less talented team to play the system and still win. Secondly, I also agree that we have players playing that system that have not bought into it and that does not make for a successful team or system. It wasn’t that long ago some were suggesting Lapierre would make a good captain but this year he has not played up to his ability and part of it is because he is not playing to his strengths. Lapierre is most effective when he plays with linemates that play the same style as he does. He has been put on Plex’s line, on the wing on two other lines and is was ineffective in those rolls. He also seems to be missing the winger that will go into the corners take the man off the puck and which allows him to work the cycle around the board, now it does not score goals often but it is effective in eating up time in the opponents end. His line worked this system very effectively last year. Not so much this year? So is it Martin’s system or just that Lapierre refuses to play it?

    My concern is not so much the number of shots on goal but the quality of the shots that we are giving up. One positive from this is that the defence are blocking a lot of shots but this could be as much negative or one reason why our defence has continuous injuries, you can’t keep blocking those kind of shots and not eventually get hit in the wrong place, ie broken foot, wrist etc. The defence become part of the shooting galery along with our goalie.
    Martin’s so called puck control system is working good if you consider the other team seems to be controling the puck. I have said it before and I will say it again Martin has to go if this team is going to progress, my only concern now is we only have a little over 40 games to go. Hopefully, Markov and Gionta can help get things turned around. Problem is Martin’s contract too long which means Gainey has to step in if he wants to save his job.

  10. #10 Avatar37 says:
    December 23, 2009 at 2:53 am

    At some point, we have to stop blaming the GM/Coach for the on ice problems. Before, it was all Carb’s fault, he didn’t have the experience, he didn’t talk to players enough, so now we have Jacques Martin. He’s coached over 1,000 games, is francophone (remember, that’s a big deal in Montreal), hasn’t had a losing season since 96-97, is 517 wins, 406 losses, and not even halfway through his first season people want him fired. Why is everyone always so quick to want everyone fired? I mean, really, who would replace him? Did Scotty Bowman suddenly say he’d come out of retirement? And how long would it be until people would want the next coach fired? At some point, we have to say, it’s not the coaching, it’s the players on the ice. Have you seen the games? The coach can’t win faceoffs, can’t dump the puck in, can’t play the game for them. He can only tell them how to, they have to actually do it. Our GM is fine. Our coach is fine. Our forwards are mostly fine. Our goalies are fine. Our defense needs an overhaul. Mainly, our team actually have to start playing as a team. No more lazy line changes, no more lazy penalties, no more lazy dump ins, and for god’s sake, start winning some important faceoffs.

  11. Avatar37, respectfully, I do not agree, in this league you have to score more than two and mostly more than three goals to win hockey games. The I agree that the coach cannot score or win faceoffs etc but he can set the proper stage or system to allow his players to be successful. We just had a complete overhaul of our defence from last year. I agree we have some weak links but our top four are as good as most teams. Markov, Hamrlik, Mara, Georges, Spacek, are all good defenceman. We have Obyrne, Gil and Bergeron all have their weakness but they also have their strengths. Obyrne has improved a lot over last year and is young enough to have a good upside. Bergeron, is a good 7th defenceman, who can play the fourth line and PP and fill in on defence when needed. Gil is a little slow but as the season wears on he seems to move is play up a level come playoff time, like last year with Pittsburg. I would consider trading Gil at the trading deadline to unload his salary to a playoff contending team.

    I have been saying it all fall, we need a power forward or two who is willing to stand in front of the net and muscle his way in the garbage goal area. The Pacioretty seems to be developing into that type of player but he is a year away yet but I believe he will get there. Latendresse was suppose to be one as well but he did not seem to respond, which I blame on bringing him up too soon. But if we are going to win consistently we have to score on average 4 goals a game and right now we are only slightly above 2.5 goals a game, you are not going to win too many games with that kind of scoring. Martin is the type of coach that wins more than he loses because of his style but that style is gradually become less effective with the way they have changed the game in the last two years. More penalties, more 4 on 4 play and therefore more potential to break a game open for good scoring teams.

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