December in the NHL.
That pivotal point in the season when the team is supposed to have gelled into a well-oiled machine, and where coaching takes a front seat to more than just the players’ abilities.
Clearly a discussion that no one has had with Montreal Canadiens’ coach Jacques Martin.
This is a particularly crucial time in the Habs’ season, where every point that gets earned in the remaining games of December will most certainly count towards a playoff spot come season’s end.
I’ve already discussed in a previous post, regarding how important this road trip is. It will be imperative for the club to come away from seven road games with a .500 record. But looking at today’s line movements from the man behind the bench, I don’t know how that can be expected as the outcome.
The Canadiens have dropped their first two road games to the Colorado Avalanche and the Dallas Stars, and have shown some serious deficiencies. But this is not the time to revert back to Martin’s old trick of juggling the lines. Instead, it’s time to get back to the pairings that got them into their current position.
Benoit Pouliot has not been my choice from the beginning of the season, but the franchise is clearly committed to him. Despite my opinion from October, he has shown much needed improvement as the weeks have progressed.
How Pyatt comes into play as the right alternative is unclear and unjustified. He’s played a total of 29 games and amassed 3 whole points. He’s -3, and can’t hold a candle to Pouliot’s 17 points in 37 games (+2).
In his slot, JM is aligning Picard with Weber. Yes – I said Picard. Which is the continuing saga of the poor defensive pairings that we’ve watched most of the year.
It’s quite apparent that Picard will not remain a Hab for the long term, while Subban has been groomed to become a franchise player. There is also little doubt that there will be growing pains with Subban at the beginning of his stint in the Big League. He’s also the best offensive defensemen that we have, and sitting him is doing an injustice to both the team and the player.
Add into the equation that Weber has been stellar since being called up from Hamilton, and there is some serious confusion that can be attributed to making this move for tonight.
In the light of Markov’s loss, it’s time to make sure that any re-alignment of the defense is realistic. There’s no issue with Hamrlik and Spacek being paired together, but there will be serious limitations on their ice time. The inclusion of Subban — in as many games as possible — is a necessity.
Perhaps by the time the Habs and Canes wrap up their game tonight, people will revert back to this article and blast me for being wrong. Maybe Jacques Martin will prove that there’s a solid reason why the Montreal Canadiens have put their unwavering faith in his system and coaching style.
If so, I’ll be glad for the win.
But these incessant changes, and uncalled for benching practices are a pure recipe for disaster. Consistency begins behind the bench, and how the coaching staff utilizes the talent on that bench. Not the other way around.
Let’s hope that someone finally gets that message out to coach Martin, before December becomes the unraveling point for le Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge