Jacques Martin: Don't Expect Him to Turn Coal into Diamonds

Mark Della Posta@markdellapostaContributor IIIApril 1, 2011

PHILADELPHIA - MAY 24:  Head coach Jacques Martin of the Montreal Canadiens talks to the media after losing Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wachovia Center on May 24, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Montreal Canadiens are in sixth place and are in the midst of a dogfight to make the playoffs.

The Habs have won only one of their past five games and are slowly losing their grip on the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference. A once comfortable lead has now dwindled to only five points over the ninth place Carolina Hurricanes.

If you've been listening to Montreal sports radio over the past couple of weeks, you must have heard that many of the usual complaints regarding the team have been popping up once again.

One of the more popular demands has been the firing of head coach Jacques Martin.

Fans have been complaining about his infamous system, and it's ineffectiveness. They've been clamoring about his emotionless demeanor on the bench and how he isn't capable of motivating his players. 

Some fans are claiming that he's lost the room and isn't the right man to lead this team into the playoffs and beyond.

Before they start taking to the streets with pitchforks and torches however, fans should ask themselves one question.

How good is this team supposed to be?

The Canadiens, like it or not, are not a very good team.

Their second line center isn't producing. Max Pacioretty, who was tearing it up prior to his injury, hasn't played since March 8. Their best defenseman, and perhaps their best player, is missing in action.

One of their premier defensive defensemen has also missed most of the season. Jaroslav Spacek, who was playing over 19 minutes a game is currently on the shelf as well.

Aside from the players missing action due to injury, some of their more important players still on the active roster are playing hurt.

A recent report by Hockey30 has suggested that Thomas Plekanec is playing with a groin injury, while Mike Cammalleri is playing with an ankle injury.

Is this team, with all of its injuries really supposed to be better than what they're currently showing fans? Is this team really that much better, talent wise, than the New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes or the teams ahead of them?

Do the Canadiens definitively have more offensive talent than any of these  above mentioned teams? Other than Thomas Plekanec and Mike Cammalleri, when healthy, do the Canadiens have anyone in their forward crop that have shown the capability of being point per game players?

Are the Canadiens deeper on defense, with all their injuries, than any of the teams listed above? 

A guy like Paul Mara, who had trouble finding a job in the offseason and was cast away from the Ducks (who are also in a fight for the playoffs) for a fifth round pick, is now playing regular minutes in Montreal.

Brent Sopel, who just recently broke his hand, is also playing regular minutes.

That tells you all you need to know about the depth of our blue line.

In net, the Habs have Carey Price. Unfortunately, the teams around them don't necessarily have slouches in net.

The Eastern Conference is filled with premier goaltenders. Henrick Lundqvist is having a Vezina caliber season, Ryan Miller is a former Vezina winner, and everyone in Montreal should know what Cam Ward is capable of.

For some reason, the coach of the Canadiens is expected to make miracles. Alain Vigneault was supposed to win with the likes of Martin Ruchinsky and Sergei Zholtok on his first line. Michel Terrien was supposed to win with Richard Zednik as his best sniper. 

Now Martin is expected to turn a roster that's riddled with injuries, peppered with rookies, and patched up with aging castoffs, into a Stanley Cup contender.

The fact that this team is even in a playoff position should be hailed as an accomplishment. If anything this team is punching above its weight, and the coach should be given some credit for it.


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