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The Good Bad and Ugly - Seems like Martin's players have outgrown him
Mitch Melnick
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The Good Bad and Ugly - Seems like Martin
I met an old friend post game who asked me if there was anything I could do to change the direction of her beloved Montreal Canadiens. I said I was trying. How about Jacques Martin chalking this latest loss up to growing pains? Seems to me some, if not all, of his players have outgrown him.

Montreal - Dec. 9, 2011 - I met an old friend post game who asked me if there was anything I could do to change the direction of her beloved Canadiens. I said I was trying.


  • Erik Cole. Best Montreal skater again. Got less ice time than David Desharnais, Lars Eller, Andrei Kostitsyn & Mike Cammalleri. Normally, Cole throws his body around a lot but that wasn't the case against Vancouver. Best player = most ice time. On most teams, anyway.

  • Max Pacioretty. Started to shake off the rust. Really picked it up by third period. We'll see Saturday if he's back to his usual gear.

  • Lars Eller. Terrific performance - along with linemates Travis Moen & Kostitsyn - playing mostly against the Sedins. Also won 67% of his face offs. Too bad about that penalty. Also especially enjoyed watching Kostitsyn use his body all night.

  • Carey Price. Some sensational saves, as has become the norm. The 2011-2012 Montreal Canadiens would likely be at the bottom of the conference if not for their goaltender. They continue to waste some of his best efforts.

  • Frederic St. Denis. Will always remember his first NHL goal against a future hall of fame goaltender (or do we no longer refer to Roberto Luongo that way?).

  • PK Subban & Josh Gorges. Both did a great job in their own end keeping Canucks off the score sheet.


  • The offensive zone penalty Eller took with 5:20 to play. Against the best power play in the league that had already gone 0 - 3. Of course they were due. But the lost point in the standings has nothing to do with Eller.

  • Mathieu Darche. If anything has typified his season so far it came six minutes into the second period with the Habs still up 3-0. Darche found himself alone in the deep slot. Not a body anywhere near him. He fanned on his shot. The former power play regular has now played 29 games this season with one goal and six minutes in penalties. The anti - energy 4th liner.

  • Canadiens in the shootout. Yes, Carey Price was cheating to the stick side when beaten by Cody Hodgson but as Pat Hickey correctly pointed out post - game it's not like his teammates ever give him some breathing room. The last time the Habs were in a position to win a shootout, Jacques Martin selected Travis Moen to shoot. This time, Desharnais, Pacioretty & Cammalleri were shutout by Luongo who normally struggles in this skills competition.

  • The injury to Brian Gionta. The captain did not return after leaving the game seven minutes into the third period, depriving Montreal of their most effective shootout weapon. "Upper or lower body (injury)?", Hickey asked Jacques Martin who's response was "I don't know".


  • Montreal power play. Beyond embarrassingly bad at this point. It actually paved the way for the Vancouver comeback. Up 3 - 0 in the second when Ryan Kessler went off for hooking the Habs had a chance to bury Vancouver. Instead they did the opposite when Kostitsyn missed the net from the right boards and watched the puck travel all the way around the opposite boards into the neutral zone because the left point had been vacated by the newest power play member Alexei Emelin who decided to park himself in front of Luongo. Actually nice to see Mason Raymond back skating in the NHL, and in just his third game back from a serious back ailment, showed no rust in snapping a hard wrister past Price. Suddenly the Canucks were back in it. And Luongo, to his credit, continued to make some big saves allowing his mates to eventually win it.

  • Jacques Martin. The power play is a mess. And there's some ugly irony in the fact that a man who's coaching philosophy relies so heavily on a successful power play is, in fact, being buried by it. Max Pacioretty is just the latest in a growing line of talented, creative offensive forwards (Max meet Erik Cole, Andrei Kostitsyn & Lars Eller) who has found himself nailed to the bench through two complete power play units while players like Darche, Gorges, Diaz & Emelin have received or are receiving more ice time with the man advantage. To quote Lindy Ruff, it's a joke. Martin is being badly exposed. While other NHL coaches might employ a stifling defensive system, they at least recognize (as Jacques Lemaire did) there are times when you must go all out to score. Lemaire regularly employed five forwards on the PP. He would also use a forward on defense when trailing late in a game prior to pulling the goaltender (not to mention that a Lemaire coached team always had somebody who could fight and a 4th line comprised of potential momentum changers not merely bodies taking up space). Martin appears so utterly out of touch. Another example is the overtime. Always two forwards & two defensemen out there (including Hal Gill!) no matter what. Want to make a statement - how about starting the overtime on home ice with Thomas Plekanec, Eric Cole, Mike Cammalleri & Max Paciorrety? Or maybe PK Subban and three forwards, especially against an opponent from the western conference. That would be ultra aggressive. It would also be thinking "outside the box". But it would also be completely out of character for a coach who's frustration is starting to boil over, waving his arms behind the bench as if he had been listening to Michel Bergeron's beautiful post game rant on L'Antichambre following Montreal's loss to Columbus. And there was Martin actually slamming his hand into the glass behind the bench after Pacioretty passed up a shooting chance and ended up losing the puck midway through the third period. Or maybe he's just pissed at Max. As for those growing-more-inane-by-the-game post game media sessions, how about the coach chalking this latest loss up to "growing pains"? Seems to me some, if not all, of his players have outgrown him.

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