Canadiens Loss Is Symbolic of 2007

The Canadiens lost their last game of 2007 in overtime to the New York Rangers. They fought back from a 1-goal deficit and then took the lead late in the second. Yet victory was not assured. Once again, the Canadiens were unable to lock down a game and really finish it off. I blame this in part to Guy Carbonneau.

The style of play that Carbo uses relies on waiting for the other team to make a mistake and then capitalize on this mistake. The problem with this style is that it doesn’t fit Montreal. To use that system, you need players who score when they need to score. You need all-stars. This is the main reason why Montreal doesn’t capitalize on so many opportunities. Or atleast, this is what it seems like. In reality, the Canadiens don’t miss that many open nets that shock and amazement is required. It just seems that way the players that usually miss the open nets are the ones who are being pressured by the Montreal press, i.e. Ryder and post-december Latendresse. The other flaw is, of course, that against teams that don’t make many mistakes, your system is futile i.e. Detroit, Ottawa.

So far this entire season, and much of last season, the Canadiens have been in close, gritty matches even against the “easiest” of opponents like Florida and Washington. This is because the Canadiens show up certain games, and then disappear during others. When the Habs show up, well, hallelujah, pack up the bags and send some flowers to the coach. However, this very rarely happens. In recent memory I can think of the Florida and Tampa Bay games last week. Both of which were blowouts 5-1. More often than not, the habs have a KitKat during the first period and then get a solid yelling from Carbonneau and come out in the second like champs.
The problems:
1- A coach unable to motivate players during slumps.
Every player goes through slumps, however, if a coach is unable to motivate a player, his slump continues and his confidence vanishes until he resembles Sergei Samsonov.
2- Players not pulling their weight and taking a free ride.
Ryder. Ryder, Ryder Ryder! Smolinski (injured or not, he’s the laziest bum I’ve seen on the habs since Dagenais) Combined, that’s around 5M in salary. For 5M, we could’ve signed someone like Blake or Kozlov (I’m a big Blake fan and I believe that Toronto has ruined him. Period.). Though I must say, in the category of lazy players, our list contains far fewer than last year (Niniimaa, Samsonov, Kovalev, Dandenault, and Aebischer (although he just sucked).
3- Players past their prime and thereby useless to a team on the rise.
Smolinski once again! Wow! Lazy and talentless! Honestly Bob, he’s doing everything wrong. He’s the complete opposite of what we wanted. He was brought in to be an energy line player, a face-off expert, and a veteran presence in the lockeroom. Injured, -7, and a below-50% face-off %, he is USELESS! Bouillon, great guy, but nevertheless not a person the habs want. He isn’t producing points, although I never really expected that. But the bone-crunching hits along the boards and his scrapping have all gone AWOL.
The solutions (MY solutions):
1- Don’t fire Carbo. I love Carbo. He’s a great coach. But he lacks one of the fundamental requirements of a coach. The solution: bring in someone veteran to deal with these players. Our veteran presence is at a minimum. I count Koivu, Kovalev, Hamrlik, and Brisebois as veterans. Smolinski may be veteran, but his presence in null. 4 veterans! Only 4. I say, remember, I say, that we should package some players (make your pick between Ryder, Bouillon, Smolinski, Brisbeois, Dandenault, and some farmers) and get someone for pure veteran presence in the lockeroom. A Luke Richardson of sorts or a Randy Robitaille. My dream candidate would be Jason Smith, but oh well. Dandenault, Grabovski, and a 3rd to PHI for Jason Smith (just a naive thought)
2- PACKAGE! But not yet. At the deadline. I would package Bouillon, Ryder, and Halak to a defense-lacking team in order for a goal-scorer. Even a 20-goal scorer is fine with me. Preferably someone big to play on the third line. Someone like Ouellet, Bernier, or Frolov.
3- Package as well. Smolinski and a pick for a scrapper. Someone big and authoritative. Who misses Ivanans!!! I do!!!!!!! OR BOOGGARRRDDDD!!! Sounds scary!
Lines (just for fun, it makes my day):
Latendresse – Koivu – S. Kostitsyn
A Kostitsyn – Plekanec – Kovalev
Higgins – Lapierre – Bernier
Boogaard – Begin – Kostopoulos
Markov – Komisarek
Hamrlik – O’Byrne ( I know he’s injured)
Streit – Smith/Brisebois
ps. I really wanted to talk about just the habs’ tendencies of relaxing during games, but I really spiraled off here.