Playoff Hab-It: April 22nd, 2011


That One Hurt…

I can’t figure out what’s worse. Is it more palatable to be blown out of your own building by your opponent, or to have your team get out to a great start, where they dominate the game unequivocally at the beginning, only to lose it in overtime?

It was as painful a game to watch as I have done in my lifetime. Offensively, the Canadiens did what they had to do, but when their defense started to let them down and the forwards had to play more of a supporting role in their own zone, that strategy went to the wayside. After the well-taken timeout by Bruins coach Claude Julien, the tide changed completely, and left the Habs wallowing it its wake.

You have to give the “Beantown Bullies” a ton of credit. Not only did they keep their composure, but they managed to change their offensive attack and be successful. They took the game to the Canadiens for the second half of the game, much like the Habs did in Game 3. Only in the Bruins’ case, they came away with the victory, and the series tied at two.

Is Home Ice Really An Advantage?

There are those of us who believe that having the home ice advantage in the playoffs in an integral part of playoff success. Having the wind of the 7th man in your sails can most certainly bring you victory, right?

Well, not in this series. It seems that both teams can’t handle being at home. Part of the reason is the pressure brought on by fans and media, who expect their teams to leave their city with a few extra wins in their pockets. It can also be attributed to being in too comfortable a surrounding to allow players to concentrate solely on the task at hand.

Back in 1993, Canadiens coach Jacques Demers kept his players in a hotel when games were in Montreal. Demers’ thinking was that there are so many outside factors that can influence players, their attention to detail and energy levels would suffer, whether in be the players’ young kids or their spouses. And we all know that his thinking paid off with the Canadiens’ 24th conquest of the Stanley Cup.

Well, if this series continues as it is, the Canadiens should win it, as we play four games in Boston. Wouldn’t it, however, make everyone feel better if it didn’t come down to that and the Habs won a few extra at home? I know I’d sleep better at night.

First Pouliot, Now Spacek

With the latest playoff egg being laid by Canadiens’ defenseman Jaroslav Spacek, it would seem inevitable that he sit out this Saturday’s game in the press box alongside Benoit Pouliot. It remains that Coach Martin’s Achilles’ Heel is that he relies heavily on his veterans to achieve success.

When is he going to learn that things aren’t as rosy as he might perceive? All season, it seemed that Spacek had trouble keeping up with the speed of the game. While injuries may have had something to do with that, as well as prolonged pairing with Roman Hamrlik, it should have been clear ages ago to the coach that Spacek couldn’t handle the body of work that he was presented.

The urgency demanded by this Saturday’s contest in Boston will demand that Spacek be sat out, but will Coach Martin comply? He probably won’t, and that in itself is plenty of reason to question the Canadiens’ head coach. There is no argument towards Coach Martin’s hockey IQ or his technical knowledge. It’s his refusal to change his stripes, as far as playing his veterans is concerned, and his inability to recognize strategic changes by his opponent that worries me.

Et Cetera

Tune into Habs Talk Radio after every Canadiens game, where myself, JD, The Edge, The Guru, Boum and The Ref breakdown everything Bleu-Blanc-Rouge.

My partner is crime, HabsChick, was busy last night on Twitter and will certainly have something interesting to add on Chicks With Sticks. She may even post something here, so stay tuned.

My buddies at All Habs will definitely have their opinions about this series, and the fact that it’s tied.

For those of you who are Bruins’ fans, Causeway Crowd is the place to be for all things Black and Gold.

And Too Many Men On The Site will cover the rest of the NHL.