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All-Star Game Preview! A true Warrior! Special Teams Evaluation
Special Teams Not So Special This Year!!
Head coach Jacques Martin consistently plays Mathieu Darche with the man advantage and to no avail. I’m not sure if he’s too stubborn to admit he’s wrong – especially after his chastisement in a post game interview where he wrongly praised Darche’s stats over what Erik Cole has done in the past – or if he’s just not that bright. Cole has definitely been a brighter light on the power play, but there needs to be another solution to the feeble attempts that have Canadiens fans everywhere, groaning when they receive the man advantage.
Written By: Iain Carnegie, AllHabs.net
MONTREAL, QC — Milli Vanilli wanted us to “Blame it on the Rain“, while Howard Jones told us that “No One is to Blame“.
Lars Eller has been a wonderful player to watch this season, and his growth has been exponential. He is honing his hockey skills beautifully within the realm of the National Hockey League, and his hands are like silk in puck movement. He is able to thread the needle through some tight passing lanes and is almost always cognisant of where his line-mates are.
(Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images) Here in the heart of Montreal, and everywhere else in the world where Habs fans congregate, it’s a completely different story all together. Some relentlessly blame the head coach, some stoke the fire of injury, and as of late – many blame officiating.
So why has he been rewarded with virtually no power-play time? In their last game against the Oilers, Darche was given 5:14 time on ice with the man advantage, while Eller was only granted nineteen seconds! Something’s gotta give. What’s the old saying? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result.
Looking back on the past two games against the New York Rangers and the Edmonton Oilers, some of those complaints can be understood. I might even agree on the officiating argument when it came to the game against the Rangers. After all, the men in zebra stripes handed out nine penalties against the Habs plus a bench minor for too many men on the ice. Some were questionable calls (actually, probably six of the nine), especially the unsportsmanlike penalty leveled on P.K. Subban for “snowing” the goaltender. I’m not sure when stopping in front of an upright goaltender was considered unsportsmanlike, especially considering the number of times that Carey Price has been run at this season – without call.
Without doubt, there is a lack of leadership on the special teams play. Plekanec is looking more and more tired trying to quarterback the power-play from the blue line, and it showed last night in his atrocious give-away resulting in a league leading third short handed goal for the season. Not a stat you like to be leading in. The need for the return of Markov is getting to a desperate level, but he can’t be Montreal’s only saviour when they outnumber their opponents due to penalties. Part of the solution lies in the Canadiens being more disciplined, and taking less penalties themselves, but the rest relies on this team scoring when they out-man their opposition.
But at the end of the day, the difference maker for Les Boys this season, has been putting pucks in the net, 2 especially with the man advantage. Granted, they have struggled at full strength as well. Seven posts in the past two games doesn’t help the cause. Especially when they have out-shot their opponents 57-43 in those games. But the special teams play must improve.
Cole needs to continue receiving strong power-play time, and it’s time to add Eller into the mix. Take Darche out of the equation and have him do what he does best, going to the dirty places on the ice during five-on-five hockey.
Perry Pearn became a sacrificial lamb in the not so distant past, and the fact that he was in charge of special teams play did not bode well for him. Clearly though, the problem on the power-play runs far deeper than a lack of coaching ability from Mr. Pearn.
If Martin finds the need to shuffle his regular strength lines so consistently, perhaps taking the chance on Eller wouldn’t be such a bad idea as well.
Even though PK had little choice in where he would end up as a rookie in his first ever NHL All Star match, it was clear to see that he was just absorbing it all and enjoying the moment. It was great when Hall took the puck flip, and chose Team Lidstrom, giving Stall and his entourage both Canadiens for the weekend. So with the Fantasy Draft as a success, it was all about the Skills Contest on Saturday night. PK Subban stood out amongst the rest. There is no doubt that he’s no withering violet and a few people covering the weekend commented on how “refreshing” it was to see a player like him acting the way he was. He was fun, fresh, and lively.
Reaching For The Sky!
Carey Price and PK Subban: Montreal Canadiens Represented at the 2011 NHL All Star Game Perfectly By Their Dynamic Duo
They’re fiery. They’re young. They’re both relatively at the beginning of their careers.
Up against the defending champion for the Breakaway Challenge of the past two years (Alex Ovechkin), Subban skated over to the youngest participant in the 2011 ASG, and quickly donned the sweater of the 18 year old hometown Carolina Hurricanes Jeff Skinner. The RBC Arena crowd brought down the roof, as Skinner watched on smiling. There was plenty to smile and cheer about as well, as Subban showed incredible hands and lightening quick moves that earned him second place in the contest.
But if you wanted to see a better duo represent the city of Montreal in the 2011 NHL All Star Game – you needed to look no farther. There is no doubt that the hail of controversy shrouding the careers of both players (Price mostly in preceding seasons, and Subban on many occasions this year) might have had an adverse effect on the past weekend – especially if Montreal media and some Habs fans had their way, but that was not to be. Instead, Price looked calm during Friday nights Fantasy draft. There were six goalies to choose from, and the list was elite. He went 19th overall, and was the 5th goaltender selected (picked by team Staal). And there was no doubt that he was just enjoying the moment as he sat in the team seats, joking about nearly having his head taken off during the regular season by some seriously intense shots. The chat was candid, and it was nice to just listen in as he had a “real” conversation with a fellow NHL’er.
Movember: What Will Your Habs Look Like? PENTICTON, BC. — Just like the month of October is dedicated to breast cancer, November in the NHL is known for prostate cancer awareness. This campaign, better known as “Movember”, consists of men growing a moustache to raise awareness for this deadly disease. Many players in the league have jumped on board including members of the Montreal Canadiens. In the spirit of good-natured fun, allow me to show you what the Habs’ players could look like by the end of the month. Max Pacioretty – Patches chose the “Rollie Fingers” stache because with his five goals and five assists in 13 games, he has helped to ‘save’ Jacques Martin’s job for now. Michael Cammalleri and Chris Campoli – It looks like they have invested in the restaurant business are ready to serve you the best Pizza and Spaghetti in town! Erik Cole – He was awarded the Charlie Chaplin moustache for his wobbly debuts with the Canadiens, and because of his history with the Canes. Hal Gill – Big Hal looks like he’s ready to put on the leather chaps and matching hat! Scott Gomez – If Scotty can’t find his groove on the ice soon, this new look might help him land a part with Antonio Banderas in a future Zorro movie. Josh Gorges and Andrei Markov – Since both shared a similar knee injury, they decided to also go for a similar look. The difference is that Gorges is not as tensed. Tomas Plekanec – Dropping the turtleneck for the pirate look, as he robs the limelight from his teammate Gomez. P.K. Subban – Doesn’t he look like Isaac Washington, the bartender in the series The Love Boat, played by actor Ted Lange? Jacques Martin sure feels like he needs a drink when watching Subban play. Carey Price – The goalie who will do anything to stop the puck carries the same looks whether he’s right side up or upside down! That would also explain the low-five. Andrei Kostitsyn – Me play for contract and moustache make me stronger, like Parros. 6