I purposely waited the required 5 games before making an evaluation of a team that has undergone one of the biggest roster makeovers in recent memory. Now, before I assess this enigma that is a hockey team, I will quickly summarize the bold moves made by Canadiens’ management and what results were expected from this scientific experiment.
Hypothesis #1 – Adding Cammalleri, Gomez and Gionta was supposed to turn the Canadiens into a team that could generate consistent offense every night.
5-game assessment – The jury is still out. Gionta has looked good, Gomez is brilliant one minute and a turnover machine the next, and Cammalleri has gotten his chances but has yet to score. It’s premature to praise or berate the play of these 3.
Hypothesis #2 – Travis Moen was going to add a dimension to this team that they have been missing.
5-game assessment – Moen was recently promoted to the first line and it is well deserved. In the long run he is not a first line player or a 20 goal scorer by any stretch, but rewarding guys for hard work sends a strong message to underachieving veterans (Kostitsyn) or struggling rookies (Pacioretty, D’Agostini).
Hypothesis #3 – Spacek would help the PP, Gill would help the PK, Mara would be a very capable defenseman in all situations and together the 3 would give Carey Price a legitimate top 6 in front of him that could clear pucks and bodies from in front.
5-game assessment – The PP has been bad, the PK has been bad, there have been way too many shots against, they struggle as a team to get out of their zone and there is nothing that resembles a transition game. To be fair; it’s not entirely reasonable to throw the 3 under the bus because Montreal will need some time to adjust to life without Andrei Markov, who happens to be one of the 5 best defensemen in terms of overall ability in the Eastern Conference.
I hate to do this 5 games into the year but I am thoroughly unimpressed with Jacques Martin’s coaching style. I will give him the benefit of the doubt that he may be simply evaluating his team right now, identifying concerning trends and will perhaps make adjustments to his style. But from what I’ve seen, his views on what a team needs to do to be successful are outdated by 15 years. He’s got fast/smaller forwards and a defense with limited mobility; so his opinion (right now) is to have these forwards settle for 5 foot passes instead of stretching the ice and attacking with speed, he has them dumping pucks in and sending only 1 forechecker, and as a result, the team is getting caught flat footed in the neutral zone because of this trap (or passive 1-2-2). This results in what you’re seeing – teams break out too easily against Montreal, and enter the zone with ease as well because there is no more clutch and grab hockey allowed from the bigger and slower defensemen. Perhaps coach Martin was simply taking 5 games to evaluate, perhaps he will adjust his style, but if you look at his track record as a coach in the post lockout era; he missed the playoffs in 3 consecutive years.
A quick note to any and all Montreal criminals; if you happen to see Jacques Martin and plan to mug him; there is a high likelihood that the PIN number on his ATM card has some combination of the numbers 1-2-2. I’ve never seen anyone so obsessed with that tactic since Lemaire coached New Jersey in 1995.
The Habs home opener is Thursday night against Colorado. I expect Carey Price to be better, I expect Cammalleri to score his first goal of the season, I expect recent callup Shawn Belle to have a strong game and I expect the Habs to win the game 4-2. They’ve played 5 games and have not been the better team once. Thursday night will mark the first time.
Talk to you again soon, and remember, GO HABS GO!
Former Habs watch:
Kovalev – 1 goal in 5 games as a Senator.
Koivu – 1 goal in 5 games as a Duck
Tanguay – 1 point in 5 games in Tampa
Higgins – 0 goals in 6 games with the Rangers
Komi-sellout – 0 points and a -4 in 6 games as a Leaf (haha!)
***Habs updates on twitter.com/ckraks***
About the Author
Written by Corey Krakower
I am the Director of NHL Content & Habs writer for ProSportsBlogging.com; I have spent 8 seasons behind the bench as a minor hockey coach; and I am the future GM of the Montreal Canadiens (according to my mom). I spend my days managing the Harrow Sports brand in my hometown of Montreal and I moonlight as a Hockey Advisor for Pi Athlete Management. Most importantly, I'll throw anyone under the bus for a laugh.