Tuesday, November 15, 2011
4 Discusses 4%: Sabres 3 - Habs 2 (SO)
Finding a way to lose. Playing scared. Falling back on a lead. Pending doom after an early goal in the third. That's what a nervous and insecure team plays like.
Playing a failed power play system. Choosing the wrong guys to shoot in the shootout. Failing to instil a sense of confidence in the players that would allow them to overcome adversity or better yet, see beyond its existence. You have to ask yourself why Jacques Martin does what he does, stubbornly.
Pleks at the point hasn't worked. PK on the second wave of the PP makes no sense at all. Darche on PP boggles even the neophyte's mind. Cole not shooting after playing lights out all night. Where is your feel for the bench? Where is the intuition?
What is the game plan? Why is a team ravaged by injuries responding with this defeatism? Why do Dan Bylsma's Pens march ahead when their big guns go down? Because the moral authority Bylsma brings to the room transcends it. Jacques Martin seems to be threading a steady brochette of disgruntled stars, not athletes willing to sacrifice their bodies for a system and person they believe in.
Bylsma took over from a flailing Pens team after Michel Therrien failed to rev their engines sufficiently. The boys responded by winning the Stanley Cup. A coaching change in Montreal will not bring a championship to the city, but it will turn the team's fortunes around. There is far too much talent to let these players entrench themselves in mediocrity.
When have you last seen a player in Montreal will himself through a maze of players they way Cole does? The funny thing is...we have two of them now because Max Pacioretty is the real deal. Cammalleri looks like he wants out of the city. Gomez has come to die on this team and now the bug has hit Gionta. How many players are losing their way under this coach?
It's been a PP and Halak-Price team. Martin can't claim credit for either. The cracks are starting to show and the voice behind the bench has lost its resonance, because the players have stopped believing in a message that has ultimately hurt them.
Jacques Martin's Canadiens sit back on third period leads and play with fear. They play small - even when they've played 2 great periods, they play the third not to lose.
The Habs had no business losing last night's game. A couple more losses like this and the season will be over. Not because of the lost points, because the players will have completely bought into the perception of their fragility, beyond the point of repair.
Fix it now and avoid the major reconstruction work. There is plenty of time to do some damage. The organization simply must decide what can of damage it chooses to inflict.
Fire Jacques Martin and wish him only the best in his future endeavours.