There’s been a lot of talk about just how ugly the Habs made the game Sunday night in Ottawa.
But isn’t it odd how few people are pointing the finger at kindly ol’ coach Michel Therrien? ‘Cause if things degenerated – and they most certainly did – it was “thanks” to Therrien.
As Arpon Basu points out in his nhl.com piece, Therrien sent out Ryan White, Colby Armstrong, Travis Moen, Francis Bouillon and Jarred Tinordi for that fateful face-off in the third, throwing down the gauntlet to Sens coach Paul MacLean. So it was Therrien who set the scene for the dumb goony brawl.
It was a bone-headed move and not just because the Montreal guys lost all the fights. (Eds. note: Of course they did. They are not a team of fighters!) That’s not Montreal Canadiens hockey. That’s the kind of crap you expect from the Bruins or Leafs.
It was a huge mistake. And it was Therrien’s mistake. He obviously wanted a full-on brawl and you have to wonder why. What’s the strategy here? I don’t think there was any strategy. It was an emotional move from a coach who lives with the knock that he’s too emotional.
Then things got out of control. Now did Therrien want that? If so, that’s an even bigger mistake. If he didn’t want that, the only other conclusion is he lost control of his players. It’s hard to think which hypothesis is worse.
Either he lost his cool and ordered his guys to go out and punch it up. Or his players went rogue on him. Neither scenario makes me feel very good about the coach or the team.
But……and it’s the biggest ‘but’ of the season, this series ain’t over. Like what’s with Montreal fans today (Monday)? It was full-on panic. It was as if people here forgot what it’s like to be in a playoff series.
I mean I’m the Nabob of Negativity, the Habs Homer of Doom and Gloom, and even I found the Habs’ fans despair nonsensical. Yeah it was a horrible game Sunday – see above – but it’s only 2-1 Ottawa. As CBC sports reporter Doug Gelevan pointed out in our tweet exchange, everyone was saying, pre-series, that it was going to go to seven, so that means the Sens have to win three games.
So it’s far from finished and the Habs are far from finished. But they need to up their game significantly from game three. Ryder, Pacioretty, Desharnais (!!!!), Gorges…..all have to be better. Heck they have to show up.
But Therrien also has to take back control of his team and the series. He’s been out-coached since game one by Paul ‘I am the walrus’ MacLean. Therrien has to start acting rather than (emotionally) reacting.
Oh yeah and Carey Price has to bring his A game Tuesday, not his aw-shucks-I-let-in-six-goals game.
So it’s not over. At least I hope it’s not over. As Aislin memorably put it – Everyone take a valium!