Daily Hab-it: Zero tolerance for failure
Published Tuesday, November 23, 2010 9:54PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, May 19, 2012 3:11AM EDT
The Canadiens were not a happy bunch at Tuesday's skate.
After blowing a 2-0 lead in Philadelphia a night earlier, Jacques Martin skated his charges hard and then proceeded to have what Michael Cammalleri described as a "compete practice," with lots of one-on-one battling, physical contact and high intensity.
"Read into it what you may," Cammalleri said, dripping sweat. "Read between the lines."
We didn't really need to by the time we got to speak with Martin.
In his year and a quarter as Canadiens coach, I have never seen him this irritable (Click on the video player to the right to see Brian Wilde's report from today's practice).
His answers to our questions were curt, to the point, and stinging with annoyance at having to tolerate hockey simpletons like us.
Actually, one of the main hockey simpletons was me when I made the mistake of referring to the Habs three-game, 1-for-9 performance on the power play as a "mini-slump."
I think it's pretty justifiable, especially when you consider you can't count on the opposing team's defenceman giving your top sniper a tape-to-tape centering pass every game the way Mike Komisarek did to Cammalleri on Saturday.
Martin, clearly, didn't agree.
"Did I hear slump? One game, no power play goal, you're calling that a slump?" he asked, not expecting a response.
The point of my question was to ask about Yannick Weber and how Martin thought he had done on the power play in Philly, and whether or not he thinks he may continue with him on Wednesday. So I retracted my "mini-slump" and limited my question to that, even though I probably shouldn't have.
"We'll look at Yannick Weber's performance last night and we'll analyze whether he'll be in the lineup tomorrow," he said, still a little hot. "The power play's success is not due to one individual.
The power play's success is when five players work together, when five players work as a team, when they don't play as individuals, when they move the puck, when they don't try one-on-one, they have movement, they shoot the puck, they go to the net, they jump for rebounds, they're aggressive. That's when the power play works. It's not because of one player. Does that answer your question?"
Umm, no, not really. I wanted to know if Weber was helping the power play, without suggesting he will single-handedly save it. But I think I liked the answer I got a lot more.
I also had the good fortune of asking Martin about the recent play of Scott Gomez, and whether or not the coach is concerned that one of his offensive leaders has only six points 21 games into the season.
"It doesn't come from outside, it comes from within," Martin said, clearly annoyed, but I think less so at my question than he was the player. "When you get into traffic, when you skate, when you're involved, the production will come eventually."
When another reporter began asking a question pertaining to Gomez, Martin interrupted him, asking him if he arrived to the news conference late. It wasn't entirely fair, seeing as the question hadn't been asked yet and was in fact entirely different than anything else that was asked already, but it gives you an idea of what kind of mood Martin was in.
Frankly, it was refreshing.
And for Canadiens fans, it should be a relief as well.
It would have been easy for Martin to chalk up Monday's no-show over the final 40 minutes as an anomaly for a team that has shown great resiliency this year in protecting leads. That 3-2 loss to Philly was the Canadiens first in regulation this season when scoring the game's first goal (11-1-1) and their first when leading after two periods (9-1-1).
But in spite of that stellar mark, Martin did not allow his players to chalk it up to fatigue or any other excuse. He made them pay for it, and the message appeared to have gotten through.
We'll see for sure if it did when the high-flying Los Angeles Kings make a rare visit to the Bell Centre Wednesday night.