Game 14: Montreal 1 Edmonton 3 (Bell Centre)
MONTREAL, QC. — Youth. They’re a menace. Check any negative aspect of our society: crime, drug use, motor vehicle collisions and youth are responsible for a disproportionate amount.
The youth of today are lazy, irresponsible, careless and lack discipline. It’s true even in the NHL. I defy you to find a team in the league powered by youth who are successful.
The Edmonton Oilers.
Well sure the Oilers are one of the top five youngest teams, and are presently third overall in the NHL, but can it last? If you don’t believe me that youth are a liability, you should listen to Canadiens head coach Jacques Martin.
When asked to comment on the reasons for the lack of success of the Montreal power-play, Martin said, “We have a lot of young players and [Khabibulin] made some great saves. I think that we hit a couple of posts too. It just didn’t go in.”
Martin concluded by once again pointing his finger, “We have a lot of young players and it’s a work in progress.”
So there’s your answer. The Canadiens power-play went 0-for-6 and Martin blames a hot goalie, bad luck, and youth (twice.)
The youth on the power-play were inept with only three shots on goal in six opportunities. And if that is not bad enough, the youth of the power-play committed the turnover that led to a short-handed breakaway goal by the Oilers. The young guy that blew that play was… Tomas Plekanec.
Hmmmm. Plekanec is not exactly a youngster.
That’s weird. Coach Martin never fibs, except when he says that his team plays a puck possession style and when he says that his dyed hair is natural. But maybe we should look at the youth on the power-play that he claims are to blame for its dismal performance this year.
The under-25 players who received time on the Canadiens power-play tonight were Max Pacioretty, Yannick Weber and P.K. Subban. So give them a long look, they are your culprits. According to Martin, these players are the reason that the Canadiens power-play is converting only 12.7 per cent of its chances.
But wait a minute.
Pacioretty doesn’t have a power-play point but he wasn’t receiving PP shifts at the beginning of the season — and with a team-leading six goals and 11 points, it’s not like he is in a slump. Yannick Weber leads the team in power-play scoring with two goals and has been the best Canadiens defenseman — so he’s not at fault. Subban only has one power-play assist so is the coach saying ‘blame Subban?’
Or maybe problems with the man advantage aren’t the fault of youth at all?
Plekanec, Brian Gionta and David Desharnais have one power-play goal each. Mike Cammalleri and 25-year-old Raphael Diaz have no goals. With loads of power-play time, Mathieu Darche doesn’t have a power-play point.
Perhaps the problems are not youth-related but instead are an ineffective design, and poor deployment of personnel.
Darche doesn’t have the hands nor the mobility to be on the power-play. Desharnais gets knocked off the puck too easily and can’t get to the net. Diaz hasn’t adjusted to the speed of the NHL and deserves a ticket to Hamilton when Andrei Markov returns.
Meanwhile, Andrei Kostitsyn, the Habs forward with the best shot and perennial 20-goal scorer sits during the man advantage (he was injured tonight.) Lars Eller, the skater having the most consistently strong performances this season, also is on the bench for the power-play. Is that the best use of offensive assets?
One also has to question the continued use of Plekanec at the point. He doesn’t seem comfortable in that position and has not developed any chemistry with fellow point men. The Canadiens power-play has now given up three short-handed goals against to lead the league.
But here the head coach tries to spin another tale saying, “Plekanec is one of our better [power-play] quarterbacks.”
We were led to believe that Perry Pearn’s handling of special teams was the reason the Habs were struggling. He was dumped, yet the power-play has not improved. Now coach Martin is blaming youth.
It’s abundantly clear that youth are not the problem on the team, only the way they are motivated and deployed.
Martin also blamed a hot goalie — why is it that goaltenders are having their best games against the Canadiens? Remember Ryan Miller, Jacob Markstrom and James Reimer, who opened the season with a shutout against the Habs. Perhaps it has more to do with low percentage shots. Tonight, the Canadiens had 29 shots but not many from in tight — Montreal players could not get to the rebounds that Nikolai Khabibulin was serving.
Heard of Pekka Rinne? He recently signed a seven-year, $49-million extension with the Nashville Predators making him the league’s highest-paid goaltender. That should be a clue that he’s good and Rinne will be facing the Habs on Saturday night.
Yes, this league is full of good goalies, but winning teams find ways to score.
As far as luck being a determining factor in the result of games, it would seem that the old coach is grasping at straws. Perhaps the necktie is feeling a little tighter these days, and the finger of blame is nothing more than an attempt to temporarily deflect the attention from himself. Is it a leftover flaw from his youth that coach Martin doesn’t accept responsibility for his contribution to the losses or is it the experience of his age that tells him blame may be his final card to play?
Plus / Minus
▲ Erik Cole had five shots on goal and four hits.
▲ Max Pacioretty had a goal and five shots.
► Mike Cammalleri had two shots on goal (and a post) but had four missed shots and a minus-2 rating.
► Lars Eller looked good but was saddled with weak linemates, Darche and Moen. Eller should be centering Cammalleri and Cole.
► The Canadiens were good on faceoffs, hits , blocked shots, and penalty-killing. But a pathetic power-play trumped all and was fatal.
▼ Tomas Plekanec had an assist on the lone Canadiens goal and played a part in the two Edmonton goals. Plekanec had a minus-2 rating.
▼ Habs coaching staff would have been wise to use Yannick Weber on defense rather than him playing 5:29 even-strength minutes on the fourth line as a forward. Weber is averaging 19:46 per game as one of the Habs top defensemen. It was also peculiar that Mike Blunden only had 0:44 of ice-time.
All Habs game stars
1. Erik Cole
2. Max Pacioretty
3. Lars Eller
All Habs Out Loud
Prefer to rest your eyes and listen to the article? It has been recorded for your convenience. Choose the audio clip from the playlist below — you’ll find it at the bottom.
Category: Game review