Apr 5, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price (31) makes a save against Detroit Red Wings right wing Tomas Jurco (26) during the third period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

Montreal Canadiens Coach Michel Therrien Makes Wrong Decision On Carey Price, Andrei Markov & Alexei Emelin

Mar 20, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien looks on from behind the bench during the third period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Not often does a team fighting for positioning sit their star goaltender and two of their top four defenseman late in the season. But that is exactly what the Montreal Canadiens will do tomorrow night when they face the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

Canadiens Head Coach Michel Therrien announced today that Carey Price, Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin will stay in Montreal when the rest of the team makes its way to Chicago for the Habs 80th game of the season.

Jan 11, 2014; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Montreal Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov (79) celebrates his goal against Chicago Blackhawks with teammate defenseman Alexei Emelin (74) during the second period at Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

The Canadiens have already clinched a playoff berth, but are in a neck and neck race to the finish with the Tampa Bay Lightning for second in the Atlantic Division standings. The two teams will likely play each other in the opening round of the postseason, but the team who finishes ahead will receive home ice advantage in the series.

With not much separating the two teams, shouldn’t the Canadiens ice their most potent lineup in an effort to gain home ice advantage?

Montreal sits with 97 points in the standings and three games remaining. They will travel to Chicago tomorrow and then return home to play both New York teams at the Bell Centre to wrap up the regular schedule.

The Lightning are four points back with 93, but also have a game in hand on Montreal. Tampa Bay have a rough schedule, facing three teams battling for a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference, and the Philadelphia Flyers who are in a similar Tampa-Montreal fight in the Metropolitan Division with the Rangers.

It appears Montreal will ice a defensively suspect lineup against the Blackhawks, and then chase points once they return home. However, I don’t think that they are in a comfortable enough position to be resting players already.

The best option would be to still play Markov, yet dial his minutes down a bit to give him some rest. Same could be said with Emelin, although he has been playing his best hockey of the season lately and should just be left alone to help the team win. This way the Canadiens could use the pair late in the game in an effort to grab two points if they are for the taking. If the game is pretty much decided in the third, then you rest the Russian duo.

The Canadiens should start Price against the Blackhawks, and then give backup Peter Budaj the easier task of taking on the Islanders Thursday night. This would give the team the best chance of winning all of their remaining games, instead of stacking the odds against the team when they head to Chicago tomorrow.

Chicago will be without their top two players Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, and are beatable with Price in the lineup, and the team’s number two defense pairing playing. With Budaj starting, and both Russian defenders sitting at home, Chicago is certainly the favorite to win tomorrow night.

I think the Canadiens are doing a huge disservice to their team and fans by sitting these players, and should be more worried about the Tampa Bay Lightning than they are right now.

Fans of the Habs have been questioning Michel Therrien’s coaching decisions much of the season, I certainly don’t see the upside to this one.

Thanks to the 21,273 fans who flood to the Bell Centre every home game, Montreal has a huge advantage when playing on home ice. It appears they are willing to overlook that in their opening playoff round.

Tags: Alexei Emelin Andrei Markov Carey Price Montreal Canadiens

  • Dennis

    you dont know what your talken about

  • david

    i dont agree i think sitting them is a very good idea markov needs rest at this point of the season to make it through the playoffs and with goerges back in the lineup they should be fine without emelin for one night. chicago is beatable without toews and kane even with budaj in net. at the end of the day all montreal needs to clinch home ice is a win and a tampa loss or 2 wins or to tampa losses so even if they dont beat chicago they should be fine.

    • Kenny MacMillan

      I would have agreed earlier in the year that Markov needs rest, but he has been playing fine recently, Emelin is playing his best hockey of the year and Price could just rest the next game against the lowly Islanders. I just don’t think the reward of sitting these guys for this game is worth the risk of possibly losing home ice

  • Joeseph

    Completely disagree with this article. Resting the players is a great idea to get the team ready for the playoffs. Would you rather have home ice or have the better chance of winning the series

    • Kenny MacMillan

      I don’t think sitting these guys for one game is going to make them significantly better in the playoffs, so I would rather go for home ice for sure.

    • Pridenpoise

      The whole point of Home ice is to give you a better chance at winning the series, it’s a pretty stupid question

  • Paul

    I think it’s wise. Firstly, Chicago is missing a couple big stars. Secondly, the coach is looking for any advantage necessary FOR the playoffs. Home ice means squat as the Habs are a pretty good team away from the Bell. The coach is looking beyond the surface concern of home ice and into the fact they have to play a probably long first round and then play Boston. third, it instills confidence as he sends the message that the team still has what it takes to win, because, quote,”we’re still looking to win and secure home ice”. Fourthly, Subban needs to be a valuable asset, more ice time for him and an opportunity to get his head straight. and play more minutes with Georges

    • Pridenpoise

      Home ice means squat, right up until it’s game 7, and you have to go to the other teams building.

  • Pridenpoise

    I wonder if all these blowhards still have the same opinion after Budaj blew it in OT, because Price would not have scored on his own net, hell it wouldn’t have even made it to OT if Price played, I’m ok for sitting players, but not when it’s at the expense of home ice.

  • Paul

    I still think it was wise. And, for every reason I mentioned earlier, it was a success. Except, PKU was on the ice once again for the Chicago goals. Blaming this loss in overtime against the Stanley Cup champs in their building on resting key players is rediculus because of 1 goofy misplay in overtime by the backup. He actually played a great game. Saying “If Price would have been in net…”, really? You can quantifiable guarentee if Price was in the net the Habs win. Come on! They scored on goals by Weise and ChickenBroth. You saw that coming I suppose. And yes, home ice still means squat, even in game seven. Look at the stats over the past decade of game seven results in the playoffs.