Sunday, October 31, 2010

Montreal Canadiens: The Happy Hallowe'en Horror Edition

by Tyg

In getting into the spirit of Hallowe’en, I thought I’d point out a few things that are scaring me about my favorite hockey team right now.

The Second Line

For an entirely capable centerman, Scott Gomez is just playing some truly poor hockey right now. He’s missing passes to his wingers, constantly powering through to the offensive zone and then turning over the puck, parking himself behind the net instead of in front of it, and making poor decisions time and again.

He’s a better player than this, and I’m not sure why he typically starts so slow, nor how the Habs can afford to wait until December for him to get going.

Brian Gionta, meanwhile, is working hard but can’t seem to dislodge that monkey off his back.

Missing an open net is proof positive that the Habs' captain is indeed snake-bitten. I suspect he’ll come around a lot sooner than Gomez, but just to shake things up a bit I’d really like to see this duo given a break and Gionta given a new center, like Lars Eller. I find it hard to believe Eller could be much worse than Gomez at this point.

The Insert-a-Left-Winger-Here strategy that Jacques Martin has going on this line is surely not helping matters either. It’s hard to build chemistry when playing with a different linemate every couple of games or couple of shifts. While it’s not an excuse for the second line’s current lack of production, there’s no way this experimentation is helping any.

The Power Play

Currently sitting at an embarrassing 3-for-39, the Habs power play was a source of strength that helped overcome their lack of 5-on-5 scoring last season. While it’s great to see that the Canadiens have managed to figure out how to score goals without the extra man, it’s also imperative they score them with the man advantage.

Last night versus the Panthers they had another 5-on-3 advantage and while they applied pressure, they still failed to cash in.

More traffic in front of the net and less trying for the perfect shot would probably help, but parking PP quarterback Andrei Markov on the bench for the beginning of the 3rd period was simply another headscratcher move by the Habs' head coach.

It has been 11 games and the Habs coaching staff still seemingly can’t fix this issue. Mike Cammalleri keeps saying the team is getting plenty of chances, and while that’s somewhat true, this is hockey not horseshoes. Close doesn’t count.

The Sniper

Speaking of Cammalleri, he’s now taken to sniping shots from the worst possible spots, including the blue line. He’s has some pretty setups by his centerman Tomas Plekanec, but he’s having Gionta issues in that he also can’t put it in the net.

The top line is the Habs best asset right now, but of the three players on that line, Cammy's shot is the best and the Canadiens need to see it more consistently.

The Proposed Solutions

A couple of the names I’m seeing thrown around as possible solutions for the Habs problems are Bill Guerin and Marc-Andre Bergeron.

Bill Guerin is not going to fix the second line, even if the Habs could fit him under the cap. Firstly, he’s a right winger and the opening slot is on the left wing. He’s also 39 years old, and while he did have some good numbers last season, I’d still rather see the slot go to Pouliot who already has five points despite being kicked down to the fourth line.

Bergeron’s point shot would no doubt help the power play, but his defensive play is such an enormous liability that I’d rather see the Habs take their chances with PK Subban, Josh Gorges, Roman Hamrlik and Andrei Markov working the power play.

Bergeron had a nasty habit of failing to hold the offensive zone, making blind passes through the neutral zone, and dropping the puck rather than taking a hit.

So there’s my current list of horrors regarding the Montreal Canadiens this Happy Hallowe’en. What are yours?

Tyg used to frequent the old Forum during her early childhood when her father was a corporate season ticket holder, where she fell in love with Larry Robinson, so her lifelong obsession with the Habs is entirely his fault.


Thank you, nice to see others making it clear Old Man Guerin (Who the Habs made look really bad in the playoffs) and Bergeron are not going to solve our problems!

Right? The only solution to the 2nd line is that G&G pull up their socks and get it done. THEN worry about a winger. And just say NO to MAB kiddies! Thanks @SeriousFan09

Nice piece Tyg!

I agree with you and SeriousFan09 re: Guerin and MAB.

MAB, for me, it out of the question. Sure he's got a hard shot, but he is a defensive liability and otherwise has zero useful skills on the ice.

People keep saying how he was so good on the PP last year, and he was, until the playoffs came around. From that point, teams just overplayed him and he would panic and lose the puck and/or the zone.

As for Guerin, I think the Habs have to be careful about bringing in a veteran of Guerin's age given their limited cap space.

He could be a good fit, but there is no guarantee.

I'd rather look within the organization for a solution and get a little creative. Hey, try Dustin Boyd or bring up Ryan White, and put one of them on Gomez's wing.

That, or split up those two, as you suggested.

As for the power play, well, I think that once Markov gets his game timing back (which he didn't have last game) that should help a lot.

That being said, I don't know that he will be the lightning rod solution that people are thinking he will be.

I hope he will, but I think they need something more.

Again, great article!


Kamal I agree - the kids this organization has been honing is its future - and I'd rather see that than Guerin should Pouliot and Eller be kept on the bottom two lines.

I think the PP needs more traffic and less cutesy shots, but maybe that's just me. Markov ought to help simplify, so that would be a huge correction once he gets his game back.

Thanks for everything Kamal!

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