The Uphill Battle; Can Therrien Climb it?

Last week I predicted that Montreal would sweep the Ottawa Senators in 4 straight games; clearly I was wrong. However, when I made that prediction, I was certain on the fact that the NHL officiating would be calling the games justly; again, I was wrong. The calls that have been missed and the calls that have been made in this series have been absolutely embarrassing. The NHL has dropped the ball. We also have had Tim Peel (arguably the worst NHL official along with Chris Lee) call the 4th game this series. But before you call me biased, it’s not just against Montreal, or just in this series, in fact, the calls in the playoffs for every single team have been garbage. Tyler Bozak was waived out of the faceoff circle almost half the time he lined up in game 3 between the Leafs and Bruins. Plekanec has been waived in the draws all year as well.

Photo: Rene Johnston, Toronto Star

Photo: Rene Johnston, Toronto Star

Last night the Vancouver Canucks were swept by the San Jose Sharks on a questionable “boarding” call delivered by Daniel Sedin of all people. The same type of hits have been delivered all series between the St.Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings but there have been no penalties, just ask Kevin Bieksa. The NHL have lost control of their officiating crew this year. Anybody remember the Matt Duchene offside goal? In the words of Jeremy Roenick; “NHL WAKE UP!” watch here (between 2:30-2:52).

Although the NHL clearly dropped the ball last night, it can be said that Michel Therrien lost the game for the Habs. I don’t know how an NHL coach can legitimately bench his star rookie sensation for the entire 3rd period after he just sniped a beauty “geno”. How in the world is that doing justice? Instead of rewarding the rookie with ice time, Therrien gave David Desharnais the tough minutes in the 3rd period. Not only did MT misuse the ice time, he also seemed to of told his team to sit on a 2-0 lead. Funny how for the millionth time, Montreal finds out the hard way not to sit on a lead. A 2-0 hockey game is never a safe lead. Not in the 3rd period, and especially not in the playoffs. Sorry but Michel Therrien lost the game. Why was Travis Moen on the ice in the 3rd period? Because he has a ring? Sorry, but Moen was a minus-4 on the year compared to Alex Galchenyuk who was a plus- 14, and David was minus- 2 (not to mention he recorded his only shot on net in the whole series). By no stretch of the imagination did the benching of Galchenyuk make sense. He was one of the best players last night, and  has been all series for that matter. There were a whole slew of guys deserving of the bench last night, and Galchenyuk was not one of them and neither was Tinordi who also was not used much in the 3rd. I’m sorry, but Michel Therrien is an idiot. What else does Alex have to do to get ice time?

Photo: legrandclub.ca

Photo: legrandclub.ca

If he only made half the mistakes as Desharnais did, then maybe a benching would suffice but whatever I guess. Look, I am not the coach, but then again, I haven’t coached my team into a 3-1 series deficit. The icing calls and that wrongful faceoff before the first Senators goal are obviously not Michel’s fault, but encouraging your team to play defense and coast to the victory NEVER WORKS. He did not challenge his players to forecheck or go for the insurance marker and it cost the Habs the game. The most dynamic offensive threat for Montreal was Galchenyuk, but when we needed a spark offensively, Therrien had him stapled to the bench. That is the worst part, MT put the Habs in a position to lose the game. If the Habs were playing to win and not just coast to the W, then we would be tied 2-2 headed back to Montreal. But we are now down 3-1 without our starting goalie. If Therrien had kept his foot on the gas, Carey Price would have been surrounded by teammates celebrating his shutout at the final buzzer instead of injuring himself on a last-second save.

The ball is now in Therrien’s court, and unless he figures out what all of us have noticed all season long, the Habs will tee-off early Friday morning. Montreal will be without their “leader” and captain for the remainder of the year, as Brian Gionta will undergo season-ending biceps surgery on Friday. Carey Price is listed as day-to-day, and so it looks as though Peter Budaj will start game 5 in the Bell Centre. Brandon Prust will also sit out game 5 with an upper-body injury which looks like another sore shoulder. Lars Eller skated for a few minutes this morning in Brossard, but don’t count on a heroic return for game 5 by the Great Dane. Call me crazy but this is almost the same scenario that Paul MacLean- the Walrus himself, found himself in with his Senators. Montreal is decimated with injuries at the worst possible time, but this is where we find out what the Canadiens are made of. Will they give up and throw in the towel? Or better yet, will Michel Therrien now give the kids the ice time they deserve? Game 5 is a must win, as are the rest from here on out. So unless Therrien makes the boys skate, hit and forecheck for 60 FULL minutes without benching Galchenyuk, our season is doomed.

I for one am not writing off the Canadiens here at all. I watched Montreal come back to win a series when they were down 3-1 against Boston in 2004, and Washington in 2010. I also saw the Habs blow a 2-0 series lead against the Bruins Championship team in 2011. People, this series is far from over. Therrien cannot let the boys coast any longer, this is the playoffs for crying out loud. Desharnais cannot be played unless he performs like he did last year, granted that he did have a better game yesterday that we have seen in months. Pacioretty has to be an impact player and he has got to find twine. PK Subban must be disciplined, but with that being said, the whole team does. Everybody must forecheck hard, but backcheck even harder. With Budes in net, we have a capable tender to win us the game, but if he is hung out to dry by the defense, then it won’t matter if a pylon is our keeper. Attention to detail is key. Anderson is weak upstairs as we saw last night, so target that area! And if he cannot see it, he cannot save it. The boys must keep the game simple. It’s playoff hockey.

You block shots “Because it’s the Cup”. You throw body checks “Because it’s the Cup”. You fight “Because it’s the Cup”. You skate until your legs burn “Because it’s the Cup”. You forecheck “Because it’s the Cup”. You backcheck “Because it’s the Cup”. If the boys don’t want to win, then they won’t. Plain and simple.

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One Response to The Uphill Battle; Can Therrien Climb it?

  1. I believe Montreal can do this. Anderson is a bald headed chicken. Ottawa has a walrus behind the bench and a chicken in net.

    Paul michaels May 8, 2013 at 5:39 pm Reply

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