The Canadiens might start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Although the Habs’ fans started getting all worried and jittery in their seats, this team manages to save face with this victory. I chose to write this as an editorial because I want to put the spotlight on the flaws and the strengths since for the past few games, it hasn’t changed much.
1. You’re right! It’s the Power Play!
On the power plays, the Habs are 0-for-20 in their last few games. It is a striking downfall since it was their principle instrument to success in the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons. The other teams in the league feared playing against our team for the strategy we used. Now it’s seems to be a glaring misunderstanding on the whole.
They have to be patient but sometimes, the goal is put the puck in front of the net. We used to pass-pass-shoot-rebound-score. At the moment, we are: pass-pause-pass-pause-shoot-rebound-pause-cleared. Desperate need that needs to be solved!
2. First Period Lazyness
Every time the Canadiens jump on the ice, it’s like they want to start off slow and build up. And in the last two games, the opponents managed to score first. And when that happens, it seems to wear out the whole team. They start playing slower and are prone to allow more goals.
If they can avoid that, another possibility is to play with fire and intensity and get that first one in. That’s what Carbo’s guys should do. It is indeed a small detail but it can ultimately win us games.
3. Lack of Physicality
We could be called a soft team or a tough team. If all the players can forecheck like Captain Koivu, the possibilities could be infinite. We have the potential to become the power of the west. Playing physical means winning one-on-one battles (which we haven’t done so far) and controlling the puck in the neutral zone.
4. Inconsistent goaltending
The lack of trust in goaltending can lead many teams down the drain. In our case, even though it is not that conspicuous, it does play a role. I am not saying in any way the Carey Price or Jaroslav Halak are not good, they are amazing in their own right. But when Price posts a shutout against Ottawa, the other players had to have some amount of confidence and then letting six goals in is certainly not consistent.
If Carey Price can be as good as he was against the St. Louis Blues every night, we will be set!
Taking routine penalties has been part of almost every game we have seen the Bleu, Blanc, Rouge play. In some situations, it is acceptable to take penalty when you see the opponent will have an absolute scoring chance. But, what we have been doing is getting lazy penalties. Tripping, holding, hooking, interference are all calls which can be avoided most of the time. Penalty killing wears out many players on the ice including the goaltender. Even if we only allowed four goals while being one-down, it is a tiring two minutes.
Protecting your own zone is part of the game and the Habs are having difficulty finding the right techniques. Perhaps, the lack of another solid defenseman is a factor. At the moment, Markov fails to perform. His exceptional debut seems to have worn out. Hamrilik, Bouillon and Komisarek are the only defensemen who seem to do their job properly. At the moment Komisarek is out on injury.
Gorges makes mistakes occasionally but does make great plays. Both Brisebois and O’Byrne seem to have trouble in the debut of this season. Too many giveaways in the neutral zone and their deficit in helping the goaltender is costly. We are at a point where lack of synchronism and miscommunication cannot be excuses.
7. Alexei Kovalev
The star player of the team is not performing as well as expected. The man who carried the team on his shoulders last season shows no sign of expertise this time around. Except for a few glimpses here and there, it is pretty much dead. It is not helping him much also that the opposing teams having figured out his tactics and anticipate his usual moves. He has to unblock because we need him and also if he wants to preserve him place in the most-celebrated franchise of the NHL.
1. Guy Carbonneau
However much people complain, I have to conclude that the coach of this team is doing a good job. It is not easy to make bold moves and Carbo has proved time and time again that he is not afraid to make changes and bench players.
The fact that he doesn’t heed to the media and sticks to his own plans shows the type of coach he is. Many might say that he is incapable or leading such a talented team but as he always points out: ‘’Talent is not enough’’ For example, the game against the St. Louis blues saw many juggles in the line the formation looked like:
Alex Kovalev – Saku Koivu – Alex Tanguay
Christopher Higgins – Tomas Plekanec – Tom Kostopoulos
Andrei Kostitsyn – Robert Lang – Sergei Kostitsyn
Mathieu Dandenault – Steve Bégin – Guillaume Latendresse
To come up with such drastic changes and completely dismantle your first trio shows the courage in Guy Carbonneau. I say that he is a reason for the success and control the Canadiens have at this time of year. He is driver of the team.
2. Ability to bounce back
Even during the game and trailing, the Habs are one of the teams which can be considered for a comeback. They can pull through from behind and put in the effort. Sometimes too late and often right on time. It is not necessarily a good thing but it is reassuring to know that we do have the capacity to do that. And on a game-to-game basis as well. After a devastating loss, the team to rebound and show what they are made of. Especially, when we are talking about the Montreal Canadiens, there is no question of a many-game losing streak.
3. The fans
It is true that the fans are there to criticize every single move o their team but, they do not give up belief. Their optimism and support is a must for the Habs. For example, in Scottrade Center in St.Louis, the arena seemed hardly awake. Even our players felt bad for the team which wasn’t being cheered in their own building. So, I would say that the real fans who stick with their team through all the tough times should be appreciated and deserve a mention is pushing this team to their limits for a win.
I also want to add that, in my opinion, there is no need for panic. Early in the season with a record of 10-4-2 is not disappointing at all. If you remember my article about the season debut, you might realize that I had pointed out more strengths than weaknesses at that time. And today only six games later, things have changed.
I’m sure things will change again after the next few games too. Hockey is a roller-coaster ride with your favourite team. Have fun and Enjoy. Don’t forget to comment! And make sure to tell me if I missed something.