Habs Weekend Preview: Moment of Truth
It seems like every game I post a preview for a Habs game, I'm using clichés such as ''moment of truth'', ''desperation'', ''sense of urgency'', ''panic button''... you name it. And every time, it's almost as if the Canadiens respond to said clichés and somehow come out with a victory, or at least a strong performance.
And just like clockwork, on Tuesday night, the ''Cardiac Habs'' somehow managed to get passed the ''Cardiac Canes'' in a 3-2 shootout victory. By no means was it a convincing victory, and truth be told, if I were to sum up that game in one word, it would probably be luck.
While the performances of Carey Price, as well as the line of Plekanec - Pacioretty - Kostitsyn should be noted as strong and one of the main reasons the Habs came out with the W on Tuesday night, there really isn't much else to be proud of if you're a fan of this team. They trailed the (arguably) worst team in the league for most of the game, and it took a huge effort from both the goaltender and the line mentioned about to tie the game and give the Habs their 9th overtime victory of the season.
As a result, Habs fans step off the ledge for yet another few nights. Since they get to see an exciting shootout at the Bell Centre, and a strong performance from their goaltender, they forget the fact that this team is dismal defensively. They forget the fact that on most nights, this team is a one line team (whether it's the 1st or second line producing the points, or Glen Metropolit, wherever he's plugged in). They forget the fact that out of the ten victories the Habs have accumulated this season, 9 came in extra time, a bad sign considering how easy the schedule for the Habs in October and November (so far) has been, versus how it will be in December and beyond.
I'm not the GM. I don't have a job in the NHL that allows me to have insight to how easy or how difficult a general manager's job is. But it certainly doesn't seem like Bob Gainey is expending too much energy to try and remedy the problems that the Canadiens face at the moment. Signing Marc-André Bergeron? Picking up Jay Leach for $250K from the Devils? Plugging AHL players into the line-up? Merely temporary bandaids to make the GM look good. And while the moves he's made have not been bad, per se, they haven't possitively affected this team, considering its injuries and shortcomings.
Evidently, win or lose this weekend, it's time for a trade. It's time for Bob Gainey to do something, not only about the scoring, but about some severe defensive lapses. It's obviously easier said than done, especially with the very little the Habs have to offer in terms of trade bait, but as we said, December is going to a very tough month for the Canadiens, and if they don't get things going soon, they're going to find themselves in a lottery for Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall in June.
We may be talking about panic and desperation a bit early, but insanely, people are already starting to talk about purposely tanking the season and going into full rebuild mode. Sure, this team isn't going to win a cup. Sure, they're going to fight to even be close to a playoff spot come next spring, but things aren't going to change as easily as certain radio talk show hosts like to make it sound.
Please, read the above document in it's enterity, because it's mind-boggling how unprofessional and unrealistic it is. Sure, we'd love for things to improve. Sure, a lot of us might want Bob Gainey fired, and want to trade for certain players, but we're fans, or, at worst, bloggers.
Tony Marinaro, a man who I generally respect as a responsible member of the media, a man who claims to have close links to the team, went over the line here. Calling for the firing of Bob Gainey, and for seemingly specific administrative and roster moves? Tony's supposed to be beyond this. And while I don't want to disrespect any of my fellow forum visitors and blog posters, he's not one of us. He's a public figure, and can't go around calling for people's jobs and players heads.
Maybe it's time to reorganize. Maybe it's time for change. But as I said, this is just irresponsible.
The game previews for tonight and tomorrow are going to be smooched together today. I'll be missing tonight's game so there's no point in reviewing a game I didn't watch too deeply. If there's something that needs to be talked about I might put something short up tomorrow, but really, these games can pretty much be discussed together. As it has been evident these past few games, the message the Canadiens need to retain going into these games are fairly simple (and not intricate plans involving the firing of GMs, team presidents, scouts and players):
- Bury chances, find ways to score.
- Limiting opposing teams chances.
- Keep things simple.
Naturally, these things seem to be easier said than done for this group of players. But they're not going to beat Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, nor Pavel Datsuyk and the Detroit Red Wings by trying to be fancy, looking for perfect plays and forgetting how to play defensive hockey.
If they provide the efforts they did against the Hurricanes and Predators, the result is going to be beyond embarrasing.
The Caps may have injury troubles, and the Wings may not be the team that won the cup two years ago, but they're still elite level teams, and they're certainly much better teams than the Habs. But they have glaring weaknesses. Jose Theodore has played a good game this year but he's still Open Door Theodore. By the same token, Detroit fans don't have much to be proud of in Jimmy Howard or Chris Osgood. And as strong as these teams are supposed to be offensively and defensively, the Canadiens need to find a way to take advantage of this weakness and win some hockey games.
Otherwise, there isn't much else to say. There's no point in going through the stats for the Caps and the Wings, we know what they're capable of, and how dangerous their top players can be. This is the moment of truth, the point in the schedule where we find out whether or not this team can truly compete. And let's all hope we don't wake up Sunday morning with guns to our heads.
As local sports personality Randy Tieman put it on the team 990 this morning, this city is simply obsessed with the Habs. Almost forgotten in this city is the CFL Eastern Conference Final at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday. The Alouettes are favorites heading into the game against the BC Lions, but that's certainly a team they've had trouble with in the past. We can only hope that it will be a weekend of Montreal sports that we can celebrate and be proud of.
Enjoy the games,