Thursday, May 01, 2008

Philly Makes Phour Habs Phans Phrustrated

Frustration (noun):
1) the feeling that accompanies an experience of being thwarted in attaining your goals
2) an act of hindering someone's plans or efforts
3) a feeling of annoyance at being hindered or criticized; "her constant complaints were the main source of his frustration"
see also: Martin Biron, Flyers vs Habs 2008 Playoffs.

The FHF and Canadiens fans worldwide are phrustrated. Philly is phoiling the Habs phormerly phoolproof plans and threatening to send them phalling right out of the playophs. Phuck.

You know what? To hell with trying to be clever or interesting. This series is frustrating as all fucking hell. For all of these reasons:

I love the kid, and I still think he will be a star, but it is frustrating to see the goals he's let in. Is he tired? Hurt? Getting jerked around by Rollie Melanson? No idea. But the big saves haven't been there in the past few weeks, and the team is in a hole because of it.

The Defence: Hamr looks tired. Doom's positioning looks like hell lately. Where the hell was he on the winner last night? Markov isn't creating the way he was early in the season. Gorges has been fantastic ... but Josh Gorges is a fifth defenceman, folks. He's struggles with too much responsibility, spends a lot of time flailing at pucks, and is still learning. O'Byrne has had no impact whatsoever in the playoffs. Part of the Habs success this season was directly attributable to a hardworking, steady defence. We haven't seen the same levels in the playoffs.

The Forwards
: Has Kovy done anything since game 1 of this series? Last night I counted at least three times when he made a cut with the puck and just fell over untouched. What the hell? Higgins is snakebit and seriously making me rethink my prediction that he could be a future 40-40 guy. Mad Max is either awesome or invisible; the same goes for the Tits bros. Koivu has been his regular self, working like a maniac, creating, winning faceoffs, and taking his customary offensive zone penalty nightly. Pleks ... well, I don't have a fucking clue what the hell is wrong with Pleks, but he looks far more like a second or third liner than a first line centre at the moment. Gui! Gui! Gui! never stops working, but he can't skate well enough to play in this league right now. The second goal last night was all because he couldn't keep up with Scott Hartnell. Scott Fucking Hartnell is no speedster. Michael Ryder should have had a shot before this point in the series because he might, just might, pot the ugly goal this team needs.

Slowinski, Greek Lightning and Begin have been outstanding (I'll get to the hit in a minute) but when your fourth line is your best line, you are in deep.

: Juggled the lines a little. Resulted in a bit of a spark. Messed up the goalie situation yesterday, in my opinion. I know Halak played well enough, but what happens next game? The game after that? Next year? We're dealing with what everyone claims is the Franchise Saviour here, and this is the result? Troubling. I hope it works out. Halak can be a solid goalie in this league ... but he doesn't have the career trajectory Price may have.

Other problems? Carbo thinks that he wouldn't change anything about how the team has played ... oh, really? You wouldn't try crashing the net a little more? Wouldn't think of playing someone like Ryder or Gui with Pleks and one of the Tits, so that line wouldn't spend all it's time dipsy-doodling in the corner or twenty feet from the net instead of going where garbage goals get scored? Wouldn't think to start the Tits and Pleks as the first power play unit on the nights when they are all flying, and the extra space lets them be creative, instead of trotting out Koivu, Higgins and Kovy to pass it around the perimeter until Streit or Markov launch an unscreened shot or Kovy loses the puck along the boards, leading to a Flyers clearance? Wouldn't recommend trying to shoot from odd angles, off screens, anything to get Biron moving around so it doesn't always hit him in the chest?

The Calls
: Yeah, the call last night on Begin wasn't the greatest. But he was stupid to do it, especially in a close game, especially with the horribly inconsistent refereeing in the NHL right now. Don't give these guys a reason to penalize you because all the unwritten rules about "playoff hockey", "lettin' em play" and "putting the whistles away" are gonzo. Nobody has a fucking clue what kind of game they are getting from night to night anymore. You get on with it. Unlike some people, I won't claim the refs cost us anything if and when the Habs are out. The Habs are spending twice as much time on the powerplay as the Flyers. Clearly the calls aren't the issue. The horrible, one-trick-pony special teams? That might be part of the problem.

Martin Biron
: Best hockey of his NHL career? Possibly. In a zone? Looks like it. Full of confidence? Yep. But this is not a man playing Dominek Hasek in '99/Patrick Roy in '93/Johnny Bower in '68 out of his mind. The Habs don't have enough traffic, aren't making Biron work hard at lateral stuff, are letting him get set for the shooter, are firing pucks right at him (and he isn't a huge man.) I defer to the judgement of FHF resident goalie expert Panger, but I don't think Biron is unbeatable. The number of posts the Habs have hit attests to that somewhat, right? Can Biron keep it up? Lesser goalies have. There will be no shame in losing to a hot, hot goalie.

The bounces
: The Breezer own goal. RJ Fucking Umberger's 5 seeing eye goals. The posts. Have you ever seen so many bounces go one way? Last night, the second Flyer goal went off the post to Hartnell's stick like it was placed there. The winner could have bounced in a dozen different directions ... it went right to a wide-open Briere. Up until Koivu's goal last night, I couldn't recall one cheap bounce that landed where the Habs could take advantage, other than Carter's broken stick in Game 1. It's been that kind of series. That sucks, it's frustrating, it makes me curse a blue streak. But it's happening. However ...

The Flyers are getting the job done: We can all complain about the posts, or claim the Habs are outplaying the Flyers, or lament that none of the shots are going in, or bitch about the refs, or lament that Price is a sieve. But the Flyers are stifling the powerplay with good defensive work, they are scoring timely goals, they are hitting, blocking shots, and making the most of their chances. Isn't that what good teams do? These are not Bob Clarke's wretched 2007 Flyers. They are fast, and tough, and opportunistic, and they are getting great goaltending.

The opposing fans and "experts" are coming out of the woodwork
: Is this the worst part? Hell yeah, it's the worst part. "Price is overrated." No, Price is a 20 year old kid in a slump. His contemporaries like Tuuka Rask and Justin Pogge aren't even in the league yet. The Great Blue and White Hope in TO can't even beat out Scott Clemmensen in the AHL. Price will be fine. "The Habs are overrated and now they are being exposed": I fail to see how a team picked by almost everyone to finish out of the playoffs is overrated. Overachieving? Hell yeah. But this isn't NCAA football; the Habs reached 1st place by winning games, not by some sort of popular vote. Don't forget, if Pittsburgh doesn't shit the bed in the final game of the year, maybe they go to seven games against hard-charging Philly, and the Habs get a second round date with the Rangers or Devils. The Habs ran into to two strong, physical teams with hot goalies (and, in the Flyers case lots of guys who can put pucks in the net), and suddenly they are headed for next year's lottery? Not bloody likely.

So yeah, this sucks
: Yeah, being behind in a series in this manner sucks. But it ain't over. And if the Habs lose this round and it is 16 years since the last Cup, I'll be pissed (because I measure success in Cups, not "good playoff runs", or "good lottery picks", or "great regular seasons".) It will suck less than most of the last ten years. Oh, fuck it. It sucks. Win in seven, you fuckers!


HabsFan29 said...

Wouldn't think to start the Tits and Pleks as the first power play unit on the nights when they are all flying, and the extra space lets them be creative, instead of trotting out Koivu, Higgins and Kovy to pass it around the perimeter until Streit or Markov launch an unscreened shot or Kovy loses the puck along the boards, leading to a Flyers clearance?

Halle-phucking-lujah. That's what's really pissing me off here, the working around the outside on the PP. Totally lame and (obviously) getting nowhere

moeman said...

Nicely done.

Go Habs!

Jeff J said...

if Pittsburgh doesn't shit the bed in the final game of the year, maybe they go to seven games against hard-charging Boston

The Habs had Boston no matter what the Pens did in game #82. By taking the dive they got Ottawa instead of Philly.

K-Mart said...

yea, pittsburgh tanked it cuz they we're afraid of philly...

the post made me smile though

fezworth said...


to be fair, Pittsburgh tanked #82 not because of Philly in any capacity, but because they wanted to face the imploding Sens.

Habsfan10 said...

Okay, good catch by jeff j, and inexcusable brain cramp by me. Fixed up top now (but makes my argument weaker ... damn you, jeff j!)

Habsfan10 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt D said...

My view on Higgins: he is a player in the Bob Gainey/Guy Carboneau image, and the sooner he (and we, and Carbo) accepts this, the better off we'll all be. He just doesn't have the hands to be a first-line scoring winger, but he is a helluva hockey player, and I'd want him on my team even if he never scored more than 20 goals a year. When he first cracked the team, by thoughts were "here's the Habs next Selke winner", and I still think that's how he needs to be evaluated (and used). I mean, he wears #21!! What more do you need to know?

Look, I'd gladly trade a 40-40 Higgins for a Selke winning Higgins, because teams with Selke-type players win Cups.

In the meantime, though-- I don't think Carbo and Bob got lots of 1st unit PP time when they were winning all those Selkes.

Christina said...

Anyone count the number of posts (especially in the first and second periods) we had in games 2-4? by my count it was about 2 posts in each of games 2 and 3 before the flyers scored. I missed the first half of game 4 so i dont know if we hit any there. But that alone changes this series in many ways.

lawyergirl77 said...

You know, I haven't seen a game yet in this series... I've been reading about them, and getting Mr. LG77's take, but I haven't actually seen any of the games at all.

But what I have been hearing breaks my heart.

HF10 - thank you for summarizing the way I feel about this entire thing in a brilliant, well thought out post.

I still hope that the Habs can win this in 7 (Biron's percentage has GOT to come around eventually, right??) but, realistically, playing against a hot goalie is an exercise in futility, especially when your offence isn't clicking at all.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I was hoping for a Jaro blog today....

but being a Pens fan I take issue with the allegation (it's getting old, and do you *really* want to sound like Bryan Murray?) that they "tanked" the last game just to play Ottawa.

First, it was a fucking scoreless tie for almost two full periods, and a 1-0 game until an empty netter. Whoops, somebody forgot to tell MAF they were tanking.

And yes, that was Marc-Andre Fleury in net, not Dany Sabourin. And that was Sergei Gonchar, Lidstrom-runnerup, skating in front of him for 20+ minutes, and oh yeah - that Malkin guy was there as well. I hear he's pretty good.

Was it a crappy game? Sure. It doesn't mean they were trying to lose. I don't care if he's "Michel Sait Rien"; the man might just think that winning the Wales Conference is worth more when they actually give you a banner for it.

Oh, and that Biron guy was playing in net for Philly. I hear that he can win a game or two when he's on.

Oh, and that he's also a bitter Nords fan from childhood. (so says Fanhouse) Allez les golf!

Play Philly first round, play Philly third round, what's the difference, anyway?

Habsfan10 said...

Anonymous, you just answered your own question. A Penguins team LOADED with firepower didn't even threaten the Flyers net for 60 minutes. Fleury's the only damn guy that showed up. I never said the Pens threw that game, or even that they were trying to lose, but they sure as hell didn't bust their asses trying to win, and I think it's because they knew that a loss gave them an easier first round matchup. If your opinion is different, fine. But if that game had happened in December, a whole lot of Pens fans would have been saying stuff like "Damn, the boys never showed up tonight." Perspective is a tricky thing.

Araev16 said...

Even if Pittsburg did "tank", who cares? It's not a bad strategy, and the opportunity rarely comes up.

Some teams give certain teams trouble, some don't. If Pittsburg thought they'd have an easier time with the Sens (who wouldn't) and they are in the position to do something about it, good for them.

If that Habs had been in the position to be masters of their own destiny at the end and tank one game to play the Bruins, they would have been idiots not to.

Anonymous said...

...but you don't think Biron's enjoying this?

Philly had 2 more shots and the same number of PPG in the last game, which was zero. what was their excuse? they wanted to play the Caps that badly? it goes both ways.

yeah, they had games all year where nobody showed up. was there a reason for their crappy losses to the Rangers and Islanders in March, too? because I'd really like to know.

it is possible to play brilliantly one game and suck horrifically the next. why does this one have to have an explanation just because it's "obvious" to spectators and convenient? I really don't think the players actually care who they play and MT sure as hell doesn't since it's all about "the system".

for that matter, their regular season record was much better against the Flyers than the Sens.
(that's right, weren't you thrilled to be playing Boston?)

fine, I wouldn't believe me either. but I think it's pretty stupid to assume what you or I think is "easy" is actually viewed the same way by the people at ice level. (weren't you thrilled to be playing the Bruins?) and I don't want bad hockey karma following the Pens if such a thing exists.

(and please, don't spell Pittsburgh without an h...we had to fight the geographic board to get it back)

K-Mart said...

being that i go to college in the middle of pennsylvania, i am "blessed" to know plenty of pens fans, and i watched the game with them, and they all said "the pens are tanking it, they just look disinterested out there." i didn't just make this up because i hate the pens, it's what all of their fans were saying... although maybe it's just an excuse for playing a shitty game... anyways, both teams didn't want to face each other in the first round because that was going to be a tiring series, and oh look what happened, everything worked out.

HabsFan4 said...

The call on Begin was the right one. It was a stupid penalty. It was a stupid risk and he should have been aware of the possibity of being called for it. Dumb play at a terrible time in the game, series and season.

K-Mart said...

one thing my friend noticed about the game, apparently in the 3rd period, the habs left their bench door open for an extended period of time. is that illegal?

Slytuckles said...

has anyone else noticed that koivu has been a star of the game the last 3 losses? if only the rest of the team could play like him ..
although, I don't even think that Philly is playing that much better than Montreal .. they are just getting lucky ..

The 1st goal Philly scored yesterday, Montreal had the puck in Philly's zone for about a minute of the PK but a bad break caused the goal ...

frustrating to say the least, I am praying for a comeback .. maybe Biron will break his leg .. lol

orangeman said...

Great post. You're absolutely right about the calls and penalties. I still don't love the call on Begin, but one penalty didn't put Montreal down 3-1. Just like one broken stick didn't lose the game for Philly in Game 1. Montreal had plenty of chances to win it before that penalty and and could have done the job to kill it off, too.

I predict a strong Game 5. Koivu is still my hero. I'd like to see Price back in net ready to prove something. I'd also like to see Ryder in there. You're right, he can get those ugly goals the Habs need.

Go Habs Go! Please!

Anonymous said...

One of the funniest posts about the Habs that I have read in a long time. Nicely done sir.