Sports What the Puck: Same fragile Canadiens, but new coach not (yet) to blame
Canadiens Notebook: Jonathan Drouin starting to shoot puck more often
Jonathan Drouin ranks 14th on the Canadiens in shots this season with only 20 in the first 15 games. That partly explains why he only has one goal, but he also has a team-leading 10 assists to rank fifth on the team in points behind Tyler Toffoli (10-5-15), Jeff Petry (6-9-15), Nick Suzuki (3-9-12) and Josh Anderson (9-2-11). Drouin is also plus-5. “I feel happy about my game,” Drouin said after practice Tuesday in Brossard. “I’m around the puck, I’m involved in a lot of play. I just got to keep going towards that. My consistency’s been good this year. There’s a lot of games coming up. I think as a line (with Suzuki and Anderson) we just want to keep doing what we’re doing.
This is ridiculous. Now it’s Dominique Ducharme’s fault.
C’mon man. That’s what I’m hearing Monday and even by the standards of the hysterical Habs fan/media culture, this is too much. Here’s an idea. Come in from the window ledge and give the new interim head coach of the Montreal Canadiens a week or two before calling for his head.
Ducharme has coached a grand total of two games and yes they’ve lost both of those games, but it’s way too early to start suggesting he won’t survive beyond May.. Ducharme didn’t coach a good game Thursday in Winnipeg. His idea was to reward the veterans and I can see the logic behind that.
Montreal Canadiens fire Claude Julien and Kirk Muller
The Canadiens announced Wednesday morning that head coach Claude Julien and associate coach Kirk Muller have both been fired. Dominique Ducharme has been named interim head coach, while Alex Burrows, who was an assistant coach with the AHL’s Laval Rocket, has been added to the Canadiens’ coaching staff. After getting off to a 7-1-2 start this season while scoring 44 goals, the Canadiens were looking great and Montreal fans were excited. Bergevin’s off-season player additions had given the team a big boost and for the first time in a long time it didn’t seem like a question of if the Canadiens would make the playoffs, but how far they might go once they get there.
He reunited the Phillip Danault-Tomas Tatar-Brendan Gallagher line. He took out Jake Evans and put Paul Byron at centre on the fourth line. He put in the struggling Carey Price rather than the red-hot Jake Allen. And what happened? After a hot start, the Winnipeg Jets destroyed them.
So yeah, Ducharme made a few big mistakes on his first shift at the factory. He compounded those mistakes when he came out after the game and said the team cracked psychologically. As the boss, you don’t say that after your first day at work.
But then the coach regrouped before Saturday’s rematch with the Jets and his group played a much better game, outshooting Paul Maurice’s gang 41-21, only to fall 2-1 in overtime. The big talking point is that Ducharme put out Danault and Joel Armia to start overtime and I agree that was a mistake. You need to put out fast players who can score in the three-on-three format.
What the Puck: Aura of negative energy envelops fragile Canadiens
Is Carey Price trying to get Dominique Ducharme fired? That, by the way, is a joke. The US$10.5-million goalie certainly played a role in getting Claude Julien fired . As former Habs netminder J osé Théodore said in his Journal de Montréal column this week, when National Hockey League coaches get tossed overboard, it’s often because the starting goalie is playing like a minor-leaguer. After Thursday’s pathetic performance by Price in a 6-3 loss to the high-flying Winnipeg Jets, it’s clear Saint Carey is in one of his all-too-frequent funks, pretty well business as usual for the most overrated player in the NHL.
Putting out Danault is absurd. He hasn’t scored a goal since the 1960s. Armia had a hot half game Thursday, but he’s not fleet of foot and is almost as inconsistent as Price. So put out Jeff Petry (the third player Ducharme started in OT), but team him up with players like Nick Suzuki, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Tyler Toffoli or Brendan Gallagher. Honestly, almost any forwards other than the two he sent out. And it was lame forthe problem in OT is that the team isn’t playing man-on-man. Again, c’mon! Every beer-league player in Montreal understands you have to cover your guy. But the Habs players still don’t know that? Honestly?
That said, Ducharme is not the problem. The problem is the team, so ultimately we should be looking long and hard at the fellow who built the team, Marc Bergevin. This is déjà-vu all over again. This is looking like the same type of Habs team we’ve suffered with for the past several years.
Canadiens Game Day: Dominique Ducharme trying to put his stamp on team
Dominique Ducharme was thrown into the deep end without a life jacket as new head coach of the Canadiens. Ducharme didn’t even have a chance to hold one full practice before his first game behind the bench, Thursday night’s 6-3 loss to the Jets in Winnipeg, one day after taking over from Claude Julien It would have made much more sense for GM Marc Bergevin to have made the coaching move early last week when the Canadiens had a six-day break in the schedule and Ducharme would have had time to make the changes he wants to put in place.
They can’t score. They’re a bubble team that’s going to be fighting for the last playoff spot. They’re fragile. It’s a team built around an overpaid goalie who appears to have issues between the ears.
Price was seen Monday morning working on his own with goalie coach Stéphane Waite. Bets are that Saint Carey will get the night off Tuesday at the Bell Centre versus the Ottawa Senators, a.k.a. Montreal’s Kryptonite. He is being given a few days off to pull together his game? Whatever. This is just too much. It has been years now.
One excuse after another. It’s the new baby. It’s his dogs. It’s rumours about his personal life. It’s whatever. It’s enough. This year he’s one of the worst starting goalies in the league and, other than a nice run in last year’s playoff bubble, he’s been undependable for two or three years. It’s looking like the worst move of the Berg era was giving Price that ridiculous contract. Price has five more years after this season, at a cap hit of US$10.5 million. That is the albatross that might ensure this team never becomes a contender during the Price era.
Canadiens vs. Senators: Five things you should know
Here are five things you should know about the Canadiens-Senators game at Bell Centre Tuesday (7 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio): The matchup: The Canadiens are on a five-game losing streak although they did pick up three points for games that went into overtime. They are coming off a 0-1-3 road trip, which ended Saturday with a 2-1 overtime loss to the Jets in Winnipeg . The Canadiens outplayed the Jets for most of that game and are hoping to carry that momentum into the Bell Centre, where they are a disappointing 3-5-0 this season.
My colleague Stu Cowanhighlighting that contract and the other albatross, Shea Weber’s 14-year US$110 million contract. Weber can’t keep up this season. Did you see him getting that penalty for tripping Mark Scheifele behind Allen’s net Saturday? He tripped him because he couldn’t win the puck battle cleanly. Opponents are just skating around the Man Mountain.
Maybe this is who the Habs are. They’re a 9-6-5 team. Look, Montreal will still probably make the playoffs, but it’ll just be like so many other years where they’ll be struggling right up to the last game to earn that final berth. And they’ll get in because in spite of the pre-season hype, this is a mediocre division with three thoroughly middling teams in the Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators. This is where this team is at and that’s not Ducharme’s fault.
Stu Cowan: Canadiens coach Ducharme hit every rung on coaching ladder .
Dominique Ducharme was never certain he could make it as a player in the NHL, but he was convinced he could make it as a coach. After playing one season as a centre with the Junior A Hawkesbury Hawks, posting 58-82-140 totals in 55 games, Ducharme went to the University of Vermont, where he played four seasons with the Catamounts. Future Hockey Hall of Famer and fellow Quebecer Martin St. Louis was a teammate for his last two seasons in Vermont. Ducharme posted 12-31-43 totals during his best season with the Catamounts.