February 29, 2012

Habs Calling It A Season

In my last post I made a case for the Habs and their dreadful campaign. Allow me to even out the playing field…

Before I completely rag on this team, let me first say that it was exciting to see Blake Geoffrion in a Habs sweater for the first time. He was pretty soft of the puck for his debut, but nerves are excusable for his first effort. Not only is he a Geoffrion, but also think about how freaky it would be for anyone to make his debut as part of such a winning franchise. I mean, really. Does this team ever stop constantly winning? I’m surprised any Hab has time to shave in the morning for all the winning. Just one win after the other, let me tell you.

The Canadiens are currently 11 points behind the Capitals in the race for the final Eastern playoff spot, with 18 games to go. It might take a combination of Jesus, Tony “Bananahands” Robbins, and 22 copies of ‘Miracle’ on DVD to make it happen, but it is not yet officially impossible to save this season.

Regardless, after an especially soft effort by the Habbies last night, where they were edged 2-1 in Tampa, it looks as though they’re packing it in and calling it a season.

Pretty generous, if you ask me. I wouldn’t call it a season. I would call it an asshole. I would walk straight up to the Habs’ 2011-12 season, look it straight in the eye, and say “Look, pal. You’re an asshole. And that’s all there is to it.” I mean, the mess they’re in is something to behold. It’s uncategorical!

“At least they weren’t slaughtered,” says my girlfriend, Jacky, after the game.

A valiant effort to thwart my hurling of coffee mugs at walls, Hun, but the scoreboard can be a very deceiving thing.

The beauty of this game, as to any sport, is that there are all these hidden variables to why things happen -- things like a defenseman who uses more energy than necessary on an unsuccessful fore-check, only to be a few breaths short of a successful back-check to follow -- but what I’m specifically referring to is that they all play for themselves in the grand scheme of things. It is almost inconceivable to suggest that a player would dumb down their play for the good of the team’s lottery chances, though it does seem to look that way.

Confidence is paramount.

Lets take a peek at a few interesting stats regarding two players with two of the most important roles on this Habs team:

C Tomas Plekanec

Plekanec’s average ice-time is listed at 20:37. As the Habs resident PK specialist he has been called upon pretty often this season. The problem is that he has the 2nd worst plus/minus in the entire league.

This is an assistant captain who is widely considered to be the best player on this team and I am not convinced that Coach Cunneyworth has a clue in the world how to use him. Get to know your players, man. Yes he is good on the PK, but he really thrives offensively as an unbelievably gifted playmaker. The way Pleks has been utilized this season is criminal and it shows in his lack of confidence.

This result is not solely the fault of coaching, as poor management by Pierre “Mr.” Gauthier never resulted in acquiring formidable line mates for Tomas, though I think a consistent length of time centering Eller and Kostitsyn might have resulted in some dangerous chemistry.

D Tomas Kaberle

I should first note that, regardless of his Leafs persuasion, it is my opinion that Kabs used to be one of the best decision-making, puck moving, break-out defenseman in the entire league. I wanted him on the Canadiens team badly.

Fast forward to this year's trade deadline . . .

Lets put it this way: In return for him I would have accepted a conditional 30th round pick, contingent on whether he can tie his own skates in under half an hour in more than one regular season game.

Listed at -19, Kaberle is the worst D-man in the entire league in plus/minus. The worst.

Holy hell, man. What is the major malfunction?

Granted, this is a man who was obviously brought in to help the Habs PP, but lord knows I’m not going to dig out that armpit of a stat. Nor do I want to bring up his pairing with Campoli.

Kaberle is not necessarily on board to “defend”, but his TOI, listed at 17:40, suggests otherwise. He is the 3rd most-used defenseman behind Subban and Georges.

These are only a few stats that illustrate just a few discrepancies involving this albatross of a season for the Habs. There are a few exciting and glaring upsides, notably the Cole line with the baby genius David Desharnais leading the team in scoring, +/- and being just over 50% in the face-off circle, but lets face it . . .

As the Hollywood of Canada, Montreal fans love the dirt. They prefer to jump into the back seat, the pissed-off end of the bandwagon.

As an obsessive fan, it will always sting the ‘ol ass to watch this team lose, even if it is to gain a Grigorenko, a Galchenyuk, or maybe even a Yakupov in turn. Yes, but you sure as shit won’t see me complaining as one of them hits the stage, awkwardly pulling the CH over their heads for the first time.

Just all of you be sure to spend the next 18 games on your knees, praying like hell to the God of Hockey Fate, Lottery Luck and Amateur Scouting to end up with the real deal stud, and not the real deal dud.

And be real polite about it, ‘cause judging by our Habs’ recent draft history, I think that God is a Bruins fan.

- Amos Legault

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