Game 4 -Tuesday, May 7... 7 p.m. CBC, RDS
Habs' Veteran Leadership Non-Existant
In three playoff games so far this year, the Montreal Canadiens have blown hot and cold. Their Game 1 loss at the hands of the Ottawa Senators was a testament to the fact that shot output means nothing. The quality of them matters more. The "quality" came in Game 2, when the Habs peppered Senators' goaltender Craig Anderson, going to high percentage scoring areas, providing screens and driving the net. Last night, the Canadiens were outclassed on every part of the ice, oftentimes looking like a team already defeated after the first period. After the initial ten minute barrage of truculence on the part of the Senators, the Habs played scared. That part troubles me more than anything else I've seen so far this playoff season. And it all begins with the team's veterans. Injured or not, they are the ones that should be providing the example to the Canadiens' youngsters, and not vise-versa. Other than Rene Bourque and P.K. Subban, not one else has stepped up to the plate.
I think everyone can agree that Desharnais has been the biggest disappointment this season for the Montreal Canadiens. While his rise to the NHL earned him much respect in the hockey community, his standards of play have all but disappeared since he signed a four-year extension with the Canadiens on March 15th, 2013. His greatest strengths were his ability to fend off bigger players along the boards, get possession of the puck and distribute it to his wingers for quality scoring chances. Needless to say, DD has done nothing of the sort, not having registered a single shot in three playoff games and constantly being pushed off the puck like a rag doll. And can someone please explain why he keeps getting chances on the Canadiens' power play when he has been so ineffective for such a longer period of time? Unless we have a two-man advantage, it's still four-on-four to me when Desharnais take the ice for special teams' duty. Pacioretty:
That bring us to Hab's power forward Max Pacioretty. Pacioretty once described Desharnais as "the best centre he's ever played with." Well, that's not saying much. And with that though in mind, where did Patches' game go? Last season, he was being praised for his net drive and his fearless positioning in front of opposing goaltenders. Now, he's resorted to playing like Scott Gomez, refusing to engage the mid-ice lane, and taking useless shots from low percentage areas along the perimeter. Granted, the quick healing winger has been dealing with different injuries for the better part of the season, but this is playoff hockey!! If you know you can't be beneficial to your team's fortunes, take a breather, and let someone else carry the load. Patches took the game off in Game 2, and it didn't go so badly for Michel Therrien's team. Ryder:
Michael Ryder is one of those players (being a coach myself) I'd like to take aside and beat some sense into him. A perennial 30 goal scorer for the better part of his career, Ryder seems to play regular season games like they mean more than the playoffs. Granted, NHL players don't get anything in the playoffs unless they win the Stanley Cup, but still... Skating like he's stuck in quicksand, and defensive liability, Ryder provides nothing of substance to the Canadiens' playoff roster. While he played well in the Boston Bruins' Stanley Cup run of a few years ago, his career playoff stats are a joke. Plekanec:
Tomas Plekanec is anothere one of those players who needs to find their game. Gone are the caroussel of wingers and free-flowing excuses. The Habs' #14 has done nothing to disspell his "I played like a girl" quote from a few years ago. That comment too was in reference to another useless playoff performance. With a minus-13 rating in 50 career playoff games, Plekanec's defensive play seems to dwindle when the chips are on the table. Other than his 2005-2006 rookie campaign, where Plek was plus-2 in 6 games, he has not had ANY success in the playoffs. Granted, Tomas does do the "little things" right more often than not, but those same things will not help lead the Canadiens to playoff success. Markov:
Canadiens' veteran blue liner Andrei Markov has not come back to the lineup...yet. Markov has a distinct inability to pivot to his right to defend the mid-ice lane. That much was clear evidence last night, when Markov decided it was easier to follow Chris Neal than keep Jean-Gabriel Pageau from streaking up the middle. On that play alone, he left both P.K. Subban and Carey Price out to dry. The Russian-born defenseman still has the brains to play at this level, but his legs just aren't there. He skates up the ice without the vivacity we have growing accustomed to in previous season, and has become a defensive liability on the left side. If Markov's season has any hope of being salvaged, perhaps taking him away from P.K. Subban as a partner (who himself showed obvious frustration last night), and pairing him up on the right of Josh Gorges or Francis Bouillon.
Veterans need to lead by example, and if this is the example these players will continue to afford their teammates....FORE!!!
On a brighter note...
Coming off Sunday’s 6-1 loss to the Senators in Ottawa, the Canadiens held an optional practice Monday afternoon as they prepare for Game 4 Tuesday night .
“We’ve proven in the past that we’re capable of bouncing back,” coach Michel Therrien said Monday. “We have to bounce back tomorrow. ”
The Canadiens did get some good news Monday when right-winger Brendan Gallagher was named a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s outstanding rookie. The other finalists are Florida Panthers centre Jonathan Huberdeau and Chicago Blackhawks left-winger Brandon Saad. The winner will be announced during the 2013 Stanley Cup final.
Please,lets put Sunday night's game to rest...bounce back game Tuesday night needed big time....