Will the real Jacques Martin please stand up? Or at least go back to having that confused, dejected and constipated look on his face, which is what we’re used to here in South Florida. You remember that don’t you?
I couldn’t watch any of last night’s games since my company decided to have a four day sales meeting right smack in the middle of round two of the playoffs, and I was enroute home. However never fear as the offices of the Rat Trick and it’s staff kept me posted on all the details, which I still find hard to believe. Habs and Pens are tied at two games each! What?
Seems like Uncle Jack has tossed away the playbook, and has decided that there’s an opportunity here and I’m gonna grab it. The first two periods of last night’s game found Montreal being dominated by the more talented Penguins as they jumped out to a 3-1 advantage in the first 40 minutes. They were thouroughly outskated and were outshot 26-9 after two. Yea we’ve seen that down here before haven’t we. But with a much more talented team, and players that actually give a rat’s ass (good one eh?), Montreal kept pushing and pushing, and ended up on the right side of a game and series that almost got away from them.
Max Lapierre and Brian Gionta scored in the third and gave the 21,000 plus at the Centre Bell a reason to be as loud as almost any building this playoff season. Tom Pyatt scored his first ever playoff goal early in the first, but the Pens came back with two unanswered by Max Talbot and Chris Kunitz.
So how does Martin change his ways? By doing things that Panther fans, and maybe the rest of the NHL aren’t used to seeing. He pretty much rolled three lines in the previous couple games, but something hit him in the head and made him realize that his boys were getting a bit tired. So during the first two periods of last night’s contest, he rolled four lines, and then in the third, shortened his bench a bit by using his better performers. Giving his bigger guns some rest, and some new found energy.
Once Montreal grabbed the lead something else continued that isn’t normal. Montreal forwards continued their aggressive forecheck, keeping the pressure on the Pens. Yea, not playing to lose right? Brilliant friggin’ idea. Just took you how many years to figure it out? What we’re normally used to seeing is the 1-2-2 style, or even the good old prevent defence of everyone back on D, while one forward kinda, sorta, pretends to apply pressure, but not much. A soft forecheck if you will.
It worked as the Pens weren’t able to make a comeback. It also helps that Jaroslav Halak continued his superb goaltending. Jaro made 33 saves including stopping Geno Malkin on a breakaway late in the third period, preserving the win.
Marc-Andre Fluery on the other hand made 25 saves, and I don’t think he’s looked too sharp this post season. If Pittsburgh is gonna get out of this series, he’ll need to play better. Speaking of playing better, both Sid and Geno have a whopping one goal and four assists in four games combined! Talk about shut down! Funny too that Pittsburgh is complaining about the rough style of play by former teammate Hal Gill, as that was the same way he played last year for them. And you say there’s no whinning? Stop it.
This series is far from over, but it’s also anyone’s to win. Most people expected the Habs to be out of it by last night, or that it would end on Saturday in Pittsburgh. Now, it’s a best of three, and you’d think that the Pens have the advantage since two games will be played there. If Montreal wins game five, and can come back home up three games to two, watchout. Sid cannot go another game without scoring a goal. He’s at five straight now. Frustration, or complaining will be setting in soon.
So while I can’t say that I am a believer in the new Jacques Martin, since he’s been known to revert back to his old style. I can say that the players on this Montreal team are playing with some passion and energy that has carried them this far. In spite of the sit back, trapping style that Martin normally installs when he has the lead, he’s actually smartened up. Will he realize how close his team is though to a major upset? Again? Or will he revert back to a typical road game that he’s known to play? Safe, waiting for a mistake to punce on. But wake up when he’s down 3-0?
Take the penguin bull by the horns Uncle Jack. Be aggressive and for once realize that you can take some offensive chance since you have a goalie that just might save your team!
Thanks for reading.
Your comments are always welcomed and appreciated.