What do you think when you hear about a hockey game that was filled with odd man rushes, no defensive play, and a goaltender who stands on his head but gives up 5 goals? All-Star Game 2009 part 2 in Sunrise, Florida?
Seriously, it could have been a 12-1 game, but for a 31 save performance by Price, with at least a dozen being spectacular stops.
After the game, Price was clearly frustrated: “You go from having the best time of your life, to having the f@#$% worst time of your life…”
The head coach surmised that he could turn the offense around by simply changing line combinations. The result: zero even-strength goals for the Canadiens.
It is somewhat amusing that fans and media alike are screaming for a superstar center. VL will be the answer to our prayers and the solution to all the problems that ail the Habs, they say.
But look across the ice tonight. The Panther centers are: Horton, Weiss, Campbell and Kreps. No superstars there. No one can argue that the Panthers have superior talent. Yet, tonight the game wasn’t even close. So what is the difference?
Look behind the bench. Peter DeBoer has done an amazing job turning around the fortunes of the Florida Panthers. DeBoer took the Kitchener Rangers to the Memorial Cup last year. Ask Yannick Weber what kind of coach he is. DeBoer has been a career coach for the past 15 years much in the mould of Mike Babcock. DeBoer came to the NHL after honing his craft in the minor leagues. Quite a contrast to a former NHL star who is parachuted into the role of head coach, makes decisions based on emotion and is content to rest on his success as a player.
Earlier in the season, Pierre McGuire said that the Canadiens practises were lacking focus and purpose. Today, McGuire mentioned that there is too much talk in the Canadiens meeting room and not enough teaching of fundamentals on the practise ice.
Clearly, Pete DeBoer is getting the best out of his players and Guy Carbonneau is not. While the Canadiens could use a extra defenseman, the players on the present roster are underachieving, and that is the responsibility of the coach.
Guy Carbonneau once again chose to go with his favorites tonight. Max Lapierre played the most even strength minutes of any Canadiens’ center. As Pierre McGuire said during the game, “If Lapierre is getting first line center minutes, you aren’t going to win a lot.”
When the Lapierre / Latendresse / Kostopoulos line plays a third or fourth line rotation, they know their role. They play a simple, straight-line, hard-nosed and very effective game. Yet when they are given extra minutes, their role is not as clear. Are they expected to score? At that point, the defensive play of the line suffers. They don’t forecheck effectively and are soft in their own zone.
Patrice Brisebois was a train wreck tonight, one of the worst games by a Canadiens defenseman in memory, yet he played 17 minutes. While Brise was committing giveaways all over the ice and getting beat with speed, it was left to Price to bail him out.
Josh Gorges and Francis Bouillon were both -2. Gorges began the night with a bad penalty crosschecking Holik in the head. Bouwmeester scored on the ensuing power-play and the Canadiens trailed 1-0 for the 4th game in a row. Later, Zednik cruised around Gorges while Bouillon stood and watched, and the Panthers went up 3-1. Bouillon and Gorges would also be on the ice for Florida’s 5th goal.
So who played well besides Price? Well not many Canadiens. Plekanec, Sergei Kostitsyn, Koivu and Higgins were probably the best forwards. A sniper like Andrei Kostitsyn simply can’t be effective when he’s on the bench for long stretches of the game. He and the other skilled players need ice-time to get into the flow of the game.
A 4th straight loss for the Canadiens and it is time for the head coach to take some responsibility for turning this team around. Right now, the Habs need focused practices, a strategic game plan, better bench management and effective player motivation.
Koivu wears the ‘C’, Kovalev and Komisarek with ‘A’s tonight. (Although, I can’t disagree with the decision to recognize Komisarek, it seems odd to me that Higgins lost his ‘A’ due to injury.)
Tanguay, Dandenault, Laraque out with injuries. Brisebois and Begin will play. O’Byrne and Pacioretty are scratches.
Rocket’s 3 stars:
1. Stephen Weiss
2. Jay Bouwmeester
3. Carey Price
(photo credit: AP photo)
Category: Game review