Engels Angle: Hideous Habs Effort in Anaheim shows Ducks Light at end of Tunnel
Eric Engels, ctvmontreal.ca
Published Thursday, December 1, 2011 1:48PM EST
How many games can the Canadiens play this year that you can honestly consider to be their worst of the season?
Hockey wasn't made to look as bad as it did last night, but the Anaheim Ducks and Montreal Canadiens made sure those staying up on the East Coast were wasting valuable hours of productivity today.
The sheer exhaustion of watching the Canadiens blow seven powerplays (four consecutive in the first period, with a 1-goal lead) was enough to kill this morning for most of us. And now our energy can be consumed by spending the afternoon wondering about whether or not we'll see Andrei Markov tonight, in San Jose.
If you're a betting man, don't bet.
Too many wagered he'd be back yesterday, only to find out he was missing the morning skate with what was described as a "therapy day". Not to worry, Renaud Lavoie of RDS clarified this morning that Markov was intended to miss yesterday's skate.
Now today, on the heels of a loss, we find ourselves in another peculiar guessing game.
Generally, on the second day of a back-to-back situation, the team doesn't hold a morning skate. If they do, it tends to be optional. And players that tend to participate in an optional skate are usually rehabbing injuries, or they're healthy scratches.
So, if you're following, there's not much we can infer from Markov taking a skate this morning in San Jose, if the option is available to him. There's not much to infer about him not skating if the Canadiens have outright cancelled their ice-time ahead of tonight's match up.
Instead, we'll wait by the presses to see if a release comes out late in the day about Frederic St. Denis' demotion to Hamilton.
Or, maybe Jacques Martin will do everyone a favour and classify Markov's status as something other than a game-time decision.
Carlyle's Misfortune is Boudreau's Second Life
For the second time in Bruce Boudreau's short career as an NHL coach, he has the opportunity to take a team from the bottom of its division straight to the top of it, and who would put it past him to achieve that mandate?
Boudreau takes over an Anaheim team laden with the talent of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan and Jonas Hiller, not to mention experienced leaders in Saku Koivu, Teemu Selanne, Lubomir Visnovski and Francois Beauchemin.
The underachieving Ducks had the opportunity to start things with their new coach on a winning step, and you get the sense that things could turn around for them faster than quick.
As for Randy Carlyle's demise in Anaheim, it was written on the wall over a stint of 18 losses in 20 games. Not to mention a 5-game losing streak that was cemented by a 5-2 disturbing loss to the Maple Leafs before they were able to dispose of the Canadiens last night.
Tough gig--getting fired after a win, but these coaches sign up knowing that at any point, their time could be called--and for any reason.
With Carlyle's pedigree as a Stanley Cup-winning coach, he won't have to wait too long for a new opportunity. Claude Noel of the reborn Winnipeg Jets is likely sleeping with one eye open, knowing Carlyle's history with the city, and acknowledging that his job hasn't gone exquisitely well thus far.
Jacques Martin's Leash
It's longer than most Montreal fans would care to know.
It's my opinion that it would take a lot for Pierre Gauthier to consider firing Jacques Martin, especially without giving him the chance to operate with a healthy lineup.
With Markov's return, with Pacioretty back from suspension, and Jaroslav Spacek and Chris Campoli nearing returns, Martin will face the pressure of finding a recipe for consistent wins. The Canadiens have yet to do that in the absence of most the components listed above.
If Martin gets his roster intact, he and Gauthier will face that pressure together.
I'm also of the opinion that Gauthier's holding off on making some trades until he at least gets a clear picture of what the team resembles with Markov running the powerplay.
It's the worst kind of atmosphere for Canadiens fans: wait and see.
They don't want to wait to see the Canadiens further damage their playoff hopes. And they no longer wish to see what Martin incorporates as a game strategy.
And for all the opposition to Martin's conduct, I find it odd that he got a rousing ovation at the team's home-opener. Surely, Martin has some supporters in this town, and right now, he could stand to have them become more audible.