Anyone watching the last three games played by the Montreal Canadiens knows something is not right in La Belle Provence.
The offense isn’t converting. The goaltending is inconsistent. The defense isn’t showing up. Any one of these excuses carries merit, but unfortunately it’s the combination of the three that has placed the Canadiens in a position of missing the playoffs if they don’t turn their play around and fast.
Tomas Plekanec can only do so much. This guy was and is an offensive gem, plays a tight and fast game, kills penalties, wins faceoffs, Zamboni’s the ice, and anything else the team needs from him. He found chemistry playing along side Mike Cammillari and Andrei Kostitsyn before Kostitsyn went down with an injury that will keep him out of action for another month.
The team needed other people to step up and score and thankfully a healthy Brian Gionta and rejuvenated Benoit Pouliot have been picking up some slack. What about everyone else? George Laraque may be a nice guy off the ice, but he frankly has no business being on it. He just doesn’t work with the Canadiens’ system. Plain and simple.
Carey Price and Barak Obama have a lot in common. Both were anointed the Chosen One too early in their careers, both have failed to live up to the hype, and putting faith in their success and accomplishment continues producing dismal results. Jaro Halak should be named the starting goaltender for a stretch, not immediately losing the job to Price after one loss. Price needs a wake up call or else his mental complacency will not change and the Canadiens will continue to lose games he starts.
Defense was supposed to be Jacques Martin’s middle name, yet his squad gives up an unholy amount of shots each night out. Yes, Andrei Markov was out for a while and he’s their best defender. But he’s back now and defenders 2 through 8 (Martin suited up eight defensemen against St. Louis) need to start shutting down opponents.
At the season’s midpoint, Scott Cullen over at TSN complied Most Giveaways and, sadly, four out of the ten worst offenders were Canadiens blueliners. Jaro Spacek topped the list with 55. If the Habs are to shore up their defense, they need to reduce the number of opportunities they give to opponents to score in their own end.
Additionally, they cannot sit back and play defense when they manage a lead in a match. It doesn’t work. We’ve watch this system fail against just about every team they’ve tried it against.
This assessment doesn’t do much to solve the Habs’ problems. It serves to highlight what’s not working. I don’t think a coaching change is needed. GM Bob Gainey may be too proud of himself for all his off-season acquisitions, but it’s time to move add some secondary scoring and a solid defensemen. If the Canadiens keep playing the way they have lately, they will surly miss a playoff spot, and the bleu, blanc, et rouge faithful will continue to call for Gainey’s ouster.