Thursday, 22 March 2012

Game 74: Montréal 0, Buffalo 3

Did Randy Cunneyworth pound the final nail in his own coffin by pulling Carey Price from the net with 3 and a half minutes to play in an absolutely meaningless game for the Canadiens, especially when they were down 3-0? What an absolutely bizarre move. What was he trying to gain by doing so? His team is eliminated, there is nothing crucial about this game, and all he can reasonably expect from this move is to ruin Ryan Miller's shutout.

While he has not overwhelmed anyone with his coaching acumen during his tortured head coaching stint in Montréal, Mr. Cunneyworth has the luxury of a lot of sympathy from observers in the league because of the situation he was parachuted into and how he has kept a certain personal dignity as the ship goes down underneath him. If however many more scenes occur like his argument with Chris Campoli on the bench during the last game, and these fabricated empty-net situations at the end of this game, he may further damage his standing in the league and make it harder on himself to get another shot at a NHL head coaching job.

Les Glorieux played more like a defeated, eliminated team than they have recently. We didn't see the energy and the bite they have shown in the last six games, from the net out. Carey Price was okay, the defencemen were invisible except for P.K. Subban, and the top two forward lines weren't able to compensate for the third and fourth line. While this resulted in a soporific game, and I seriously considered using the fast-forward function many times while watching, and only reminding myself that the season is over soon gave me the strength not to, I give the boys a pass, the last few weeks have been rough, and we can't expect miracles from this roster.

A quick comment on René Bourque, who is catching a lot of heat from fans now as his cold spell drags on. He seems to be having more of a spark lately, although it hasn't resulted in a goal. I think that next season, with a new start and a new coach, new teammates, and hopefully better linemates, a better acclimation to Montréal, and greater remove from his suspension, which he admits has played havoc with his mindset while he plays, he will be much more effective. The key here is to accept what we have in Mr. Bourque, and temper our expectations accordingly. He's a big, strong winger who can hit, and a legitimate NHL'er who can score goals from in close. He's moody and streaky, we know that also, so we can't get in a tizzy when he's quiet for five or ten games. Let's plug him in on a line with a good playmaker and another winger who'll complement his game, let's expect 20-25 goals from him, let's appreciate his efforts on the penalty kill, and remember that he came with lots of salary cap relief, a prospect and a 2nd-rounder. He's not someone we need to worry about as we play out the string, let's give him a chance to establish his life here, and come out with a better mindset at training camp.


  1. "To ruin Ryan Miller's shutout" is Precisely why I assume RC pulled Price--and I consider it a good enough reason.

    Do you honestly think any NHL exec for whom RC is "auditioning" will hold that against him, at this stage of a lost season?

    1. Don't you think that's an empty gesture? A hollow victory? What does it accomplish for the team or the coach to pull their goalie in this situation? It doesn't give points in the standings, doesn't affect any metric from which the team would prosper.

      I'm not saying we should stop trying to score at the end of that game, but to pull the goalie was a pointless, ridiculous move.