Thursday, May 01, 2008

What Is An Entraîneur-chef To Do?

If you close your eyes, you can almost put yourself at Montreal Canadiens’ practice this afternoon:
Sullen Habs coach Guy Carbonneau grimaced slightly as his pair of what passed for netminders glided over to him at the end of an ennui filled skate. “M. Entraîneur-chef,” Gary Price asked from beneath his sharp, newly broken in baseball cap, “qu'obtient d'étreindre Biron ? Moi, ou ce Tchèque?"

Coach Carbonneau suddenly found himself hoping that Biron’s right hand didn’t change into a hard black rubber disk- or they would both miss it. He was brought from his reverie only when goalie Jaroslav Halak intoned “Lepší jeden prd než deset doktorů.”
If the consequences weren’t so great, one would could become tired with these Flyers. It is the same thing again and again: roll out forwards until the other team wilts, score three goals, turn the lead over to the defense and Biron, watch them struggle, hope for the best.

I couldn’t have been the only one in Philadelphia that felt punched in the gut when the Flyers grabbed yet another life-or-death two goal lead. The pundits and television guys marvel at how the Flyers blow these leads again and again. The reason is right in front of them. Once the Flyers get a multiple score lead, the game turns from a goal scoring contest (which they’re good at, Philadelphia can score goals) to one turned over to the defense and Biron.

Which, despite the plaudits being rained down on Biron and the blue line crew, the Flyers aren’t good at that. Really, they’re just not. You can’t turn over seven two, three goal leads to the defense and Biron, lose three of those games outright, and play some real hairy ones on top of that- and say those guys are the reason you’re winning. No, the Flyers have the deepest crew of wingers- except maybe Dallas- in these play-offs. Those forwards are getting three or more markers a night- and the Flyers are merely surviving inside their own blue line.

There is a sense in the papers that Montreal doesn’t deserve to be in this 3-1 hole in games- that in fact, they have played better than the Flyers- done in by suspect goaltending and wow!- just look at those shots on goal totals.

I don’t know. If you keep falling behind 2-0, you become real dependent on luck and a real sustained commitment by the NHL to populate the penalty box with Flyers. I mean, les Habitants are getting the latter, right? We now have phantom boarding penalties. Even they’re coach is complaining- and he’s got twice as many power play minutes in a series where neither teams team is grotesquely more dirty than the other? Montreal got their luck win in the first game- and they’ve turned in some decent efforts since without even getting to overtime. I mean- which of the three games they lost did they "deserve to win"?

Even up 3-1, I was worried about the Caps series- but with Montreal playing multiple goalies and finding nothing but problems, the top seed is looking a shaky. That was about a brutal loss as you can experience. Montreal is not a good home team either- so the extra home games are not as troublesome as the Caps’ series.

I dunno- until that flurry in the third period- Montreal was looking like a team that just wanted to go home. They need three in a row- and the Flyers right now can score and score. Hard to imagine them not going for four goals at least once one more time in three tries. Still, the series is surely not over- Montreal will be a Vegas favorite Saturday night- but right now they lack a goaltender who can deal with our mighty firepower.