Friday, April 9, 2010

1 Game Left, 1 Point Needed

All the Montreal Canadiens had to secure their spot in the Playoffs was get 1 win (2 pts) in their last 3 games; games against basement dwelling teams. 3 games against opponents who have nothing to play for except pride. 3 teams who would come out hard to try and play spoiler, but would fold like a house of cards if they were put down early.

So far they have only gotten 1 of their points; in a pathetic shootout loss to the Islanders.

Instead of coming out smoldering for redemption last night, they once again come out like scared little rabbits, and once again Cam Ward and Eric Staal (and Chad LaRose) slapped around the Habs like they are a midget hockey team. Carolina made the Habs look stupid last night.

One game left, against the Maple Leafs. We know this story; Maple Leafs out of the playoffs control the destiny of the Canadiens playoff hopes. And the Leafs usually come out the better.

History has these 2 teams deadlocked, with some ridiculous number of their 7 games a season ending up tied. If history plays out, then the Canadiens will get their 1 point and get into the playoffs. Otherwise, they had better hope that Rangers / Philly don't get 3 points each in their home-and-home.

The Canadiens are playing like a frightened cub-scout troup ... "squeezing the stick" as they say. Gomez is playing like a Grade 'A' arsehole, with terrible panicked passing plays that usually end up in breaks for the other team. Cammi can't find his shot, ... oh what's the point: except for a few bright spots the entire team is stinking it up. Showing us why they are in the spot they are in; all year struggling for a spot in the playoffs.

I don't even want to see these jokers in the playoffs - same as last year. What's the point? Why suffer the embarrassment of having a first round exit against a team who is going to take the playoffs seriously? Habs aren't gonna take it seriously. It will be like watching a contender fight a clown in big poke-a-dot pantaloons.

Saturday should be fun. I hope Carey Price gets the start, just because I like watching the kid play. And since the chances of Rangers/Philly each getting 3 points is slim, I hope Carey gets the win and gets a shot in the playoffs; maybe he'll finally take things seriously and we can get an interesting post season.

Man, it is going to be a long 4 years with this current team configuration.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Oh My Lapierre! (Habs lose in SO to Ilse 4-3)

I know I have not posted in a while, but I feel like I have to respond to the Lapierre selection as the first shootout skater.

For the record, I like the decision. (and I hate Martin. Just thought I'd throw that in there.)

Lapierre had a very good game. Lapierre had a rough ride in February/March, but now seems to be back in playing form and working for the team. And if the Habs want to go anywhere in the post season, they need all the offensive threats they can muster: and that means giving all their players confidence to score.

Lapierre had 2 breaks in the game; the first one he out-skated the defence and deked the pants off Biron. That was no fluke. The second was a 2-on-OH! Where he made the right decision to take a shot, and it was a perfect far-side shot to set up Darche to punish on a rebound. Biron got a glove on it, but it was still the right play.

Fans seem to lament the fact that Gionta / Gomez / Kostitsyn / Plekanec didn't get the pick in such an important game. Allow me to retort. Gomez is just plain laughable in breakaway situations. Kostitsyn is about as reliable as Lapierre; Pleks is no better, and Gionta was probably the 3rd shooter. Fact is, this year we have no Saku Koivu -- the guy who was extremely reliable in a shootout. So why shouldn't Laps get a shot? Not one of those players on the bench can guarantee us a goal in a SO.

The shootout is a coin-flip, a quick game of tic-tac-toe -- not chess, not even checkers. Lapierre proved he had the moves and the mojo tonight, so he earned a shot. (note: then he blew it.) Martin has already shown us he likes to go with the "hot hand" - a policy I hate, but can see rational in. Lapierre was hot.

The loss was a team effort. No way a playoff ready team gives up a goal with 2 minutes to go (to a basement dwelling team).  No way your most consistently threatening line against the Islanders is Moore/SK/Moen. There were a host of other breakdowns that caused the loss; Lapierre having a shot in the SO was hardly the problem.

Unless you see the selection as Martin "giving up" on his team - essentially shrugging his shoulders and saying "whatever!" -- but I don't see it that way. I see it as a gamble that didn't pay off, but it was a bet as good as any other on his bench last night. Besides - Laps gets that goal, and you have another player stoked for the playoffs -- where there are no shootouts anyhow.