What’s the Real Problem in Montréal?

After a strong debut to the season, our Montreal Canadiens have hit a road block. Ever since the 6-0 debacle against Martin Jones and the LA Kings, the Habs have plummeted down the standings and now sit in a wild card position and 4th in the division behind Boston, Tampa Bay and Toronto respectively. There are so many different problems with this team right now with some major deficiencies stemming directly from the coaching. While the flaws in Therrien’s systems are quite apparent, the issues with this team lie beyond the coaching, as well. So what’s the REAL problem in Montreal? 3 simple words. Lack. Of. Talent.

To state the obvious, Therrien’s system doesn’t work. There is one main reason for this, and I’ll keep it short. Therrien has his team playing the same style as the L.A Kings and St. Louis Blues, a dump and chase style. However there is one main different between the Kings/ Blues and the Habs.

The difference is Dustin Brown, Jordan Nolan, Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Patrick Berglund etc. versus David Desharnais, Daniel Briere and Brendan Gallagher. In other words SIZE. Put yourself in an NHL defenseman’s skates for a second. First, imagine Dustin Brown dumping the puck and chasing you down ready to put you through the glass. Now do the same but imagine Danny Briere dumping it in chasing you down and then peeling off at the last second just as you touch the puck so that you can make a clear breakout pass and give your forward a scoring chance. See the difference?

In this case, I’m not pushing for Bergevin to trade or sign size, that’s a whole different argument in itself. I’m simply stating how obvious it is that Therrien has little to zero ability to adjust his game-plan to fit his team, whether it be during games with match-ups and line combinations, or adjusting his system to fit the team he is currently coaching. This is not a dump and chase type team. This is a team that has to carry the puck into the zone and control the play along the half wall. Briere, Desharnais and Gallagher are mismatches against 90% of NHL defenceman. Heart can only take you so far.

Now  on to the more pressing issue with the club. As important as size is in the NHL today, skill is equally, if not more important. While in the past there have been lines that have performed well for this team, I can’t tell you when the Habs last had a game-breaking, dominant player.

Don’t get me wrong, size is still an issue on this team. But no hockey fan in the world can argue that the Habs wouldn’t be a much better team if Danny Briere and David Desharnais were replaced with guys like Marty St. Louis or Patrick Kane. This team lacks size, but more importantly, it lacks skill. It lacks the ability to score when a goal is needed. It lacks the ability to control the game from the offensive zone. It lacks different aspects of the game that go beyond coaching.

While a system that fits the players on this team is necessary, a player who can score goals when needed is just as important. No matter how good Carey Price plays, zero goals will NEVER win you a hockey game. Not to dismiss the defensive play, but scoring in this league, especially at 5 on 5, can be the difference between a pretender and a contender.

So, no matter how substandard the coaching has been, the GM (past and present) deserve just as much of the blame. Whether it be Gainey, Gauthier or Bergevin, these guys have lacked the urgency to pursue players who have the skill to carry this team. And until someone finds that player, one and done or no playoffs at all, will continue to be the norm in la belle province.


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6 Responses to What’s the Real Problem in Montréal?

  1. There’s no way in hell I could read that much all at once but from the looks of it you seem like a tsn analyst. Keep writing these and one day someone will hire you. Keep it up bro!

    Austin January 28, 2014 at 7:12 pm Reply
  2. Hey been following your articles and you seem well informed and what you say is quite accurate but if i may add my two cents in to also what is the real problem. Even though the Canadians lack in size they SHOULD have something else to compensate for that lack of size. Common sense denotes that it would be speed but it seems to lack that also. I also feel that the coaches DO a good job in training their team but they tire out the players too often. I think that the fact that the media punishes them too often and so do their coaches that the players are demoralized and their coaches don’t realize that. The morale of a team is an essential part to whether they will succeed or not. The habs (though they have massive support and fan base)probably read the gazette just like all of us and see the columnists bash them every time they lose. You’re point of lack of skill in controlling the puck is well versed but confusing to the reader. I think you meant to say they lack momentum and the ability to control the initiative once they attain it. The offensive players seem to have lost the will to want to move the puck up and are hoping that their defensive players can hold out a 60 minute onslaught.(note: when a defensive player is leading the team in points, i think personally there is an issue (even if they are assists) The skill is definitively there because they prove that they have it time and time again in the beginning of their season and that their players make it to Olympic rosters and the like; they just don’t have coercion and we do not honestly know what happens at practice. a little theory ive been thinking is that there is friction between the players and they are being less cooperative with each other. (Note: Watch David deshernais and Brendan Gallagher play next game and count the amount of times they pass to each other as a center and left wing. And watch how much the left side is always left opened because NHL’ers seem to like the right side more. I think there is large gaps and missed opportunities there.) Anyways yeah but great article in general we love hearing from you on the site!

    Anonymous January 28, 2014 at 8:07 pm Reply
    • I hear what you’re saying but I don’t necessarily agree. I don’t think the coaches and media over work these guys. They’re used to it, it’s part of the job. I also don’t agree with your theory of friction in the room. This is a pretty tight locker room and I don’t think DD not passing to Gallagher is a real issue. DD is very comfortable with Max and they’ve enjoyed some great chemistry over the years. That’s all I see.

      Mikey Ziegler January 30, 2014 at 3:09 pm Reply
  3. Well maybe it’s just a matter of not having enough talent rather than the system Therrien uses, although the system is also a cause for concern. Here’s a question: when was the last time the Habs had a top ten proven clutch scoring line? Question 2: when was the last time the Habs had a perennial top 10 scorer? The answer to the first question would be back in the 1980s. The answer to the second question might be Saku Koivu, although he was not a perennial top scorer. My point: if you are blaming Therrien’s system, you need to blame everyone else’s too.

    Chet Pomeroy January 30, 2014 at 10:48 am Reply
    • Re-read the article. The first part discusses Therrien, the second discusses the lack of scoring. You basically just re-wrote the second part in your own words. Last good line was Kovalev, Plekanec and Kostitsyn. Last top tier point-getters this team has was in the 90’s with Damphousse, Recchi. Plus there were guys like Brian Bellows, Kirk, Carbo Jon LeClair, etc. who were putting up 60-70 points. This team barely has a 60 point scorer let alone a couple guys in the 90s and 80s.

      Mikey Ziegler January 30, 2014 at 3:06 pm Reply
      • Yeah, I guess then we are not so far apart then. I think alot of the Habs problems could be solved if just get a dominant scoring line, one that wrought fear in the eyes of every opposing coach. I think you have to go back many many years to find that, 90-100 point guys. Other teams have this, but not mine.

        They are not getting anywhere close to holding the cup with this roster, any more than they have not come close for 20 years. And in truth, even the 1993 Habs were not a powerhouse. They were a solid team, strong contender who rode a hot playoff goalie, and an incredibly luck playoff draw to win. But they were not a dominant team.

        Chet Pomeroy January 30, 2014 at 5:32 pm Reply

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