Saturday, 21 February 2015

Michel Therrien, normally bland, lets slip his frustration with Lars Eller, regarding his absence from the shootout roster.

Michel Therrien saying last night that he hadn't selected Lars or Jiri for the shootout because they hadn't scored in two months reminded me of Jacques Martin's rebuke to Jessica Rusnak that she should do her research on Erik Cole and the powerplay.  It's something said in irritation, something he shouldn't have said.

Now, it won't be his Waterloo, the coach has way too much credit in the bank, but it will be a chink in his armour that the intolerance faction on social media will pick at for years.

We worried when Michel Therrien was hired that he'd shoot his mouth off and get the team in trouble, like 'Mount' Orval Tessier would erupt sometimes.  In fact, we've found that he has been quite restrained, plain vanilla in his press briefings.  When he was hired, it was pointed out that he'd taken a lot of training in media relations and public speaking, and it showed in how innocuous his remarks are, always reverting to safe bromides like 'one game at a time' and 'work ethic' and 'responding to adversity'.

Here, he let his impatience get the better of him.  He could simply have said that Andrei and P.K. do well during workouts on the shootout drill and deserve a chance.  He could have even added that Lars and Jiri were in the rotation, would have come up soon had the shootout gone a little longer.

Player selection in the shootout is always open to second-guessing.  We still talk about Wayne Gretzky on the bench in Nagano against Flopinik Hasek.  With P.A. Parenteau and Alex Galchenyuk unavailable, the candidates at the top of the list become less self-evident.

A commenter on social media had a good post on the Habs Inside Out Liveblog to illustrate how Andrei Markov is actually proficient in the shootout, copied below:
Chris         FEBRUARY 19, 2015 AT 10:38 PM

Markov was 1 for 1 last season, and was 5 of 13 in his career. That makes him the 4th most efficient shootout performer on the team, behind Parenteau (50%), Desharnais (46.9%) and Eller (41.7%).

I went another way, and presented video evidence of Andrei scoring big shootout goals in high-pressure situations.

That's all that the coach should have relied on to explain his decision making, that Andrei is really good.  Add that P.K. routinely scores in the practice shootouts, and he's covered.

If anything, this blip, this slipup by the Head Coach, is another illustration that despite all the denials, coaches and GM's and players do 'read the papers', they're not as oblivious as they claim to be.  If Coach Therrien didn't read the papers, wasn't exposed to the constant harping on Lars' utilization by one and all, he wouldn't have responded this way.  He'd have been genuinely puzzled by the question and answered neutrally, instead of being vexed by it and giving a jab back.

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