From an article I wrote back in November:
When Michel Therrien was hired about 20 months ago to coach the Montreal Canadiens, the decision didn’t have unanimous support from the fans and the media. The truth was that Therrien had already failed behind the Habs bench in the early 2000’s. Yet, the move paid off last season when the Canadiens managed to lead the team to a Northeast Division championship with a record of 29-14-5 for 63 points in 48 games. However, after a strong start in 2012-13, Therrien’s team faltered down the stretch going 6-8 in the last 14 games of the season. At the same point last campaign, the Canadiens had an excellent record of 12-4-3, starting at the top of the Eastern Conference.
Now after 50 games and a 27-18-5 record, the team has seen its lead evaporate due to poor play in the last 19 games, going 9-8-2 and allowing at least 4 goals in the last 4 games.
Let’s see why Michel Therrien needs to be fired if GM Marc Bergevin and owner Geoff Molson have any hopes to see their team make the playoffs this season.
Below you will find 10 reasons why the Canadiens must get rid of Michel Therrien:
1. Therrien has openly criticized his all-star defenseman P.K. Subban for his turnovers and his lazy penalties, calling him out publicly for his mistakes, which is something you just don’t do if you want your star players on your side. Therrien has also stifled Subban’s creativity. As a result, the Subbanator has only 1 goal and 1 assist in his last 8 games, posting a -6 rating playing alongside Josh Gorges.
2. His consistent use of Francis Bouillon on the second power play instead of using Subban for the whole two minutes just like the Penguins and the Senators do with Kris Letang and Erik Karlsson respectively. Now with the arrival of Nathan Beaulieu, Bouillon’s playing time on the power play should diminish, but he was still out there last night vs. the Penguins. Since the 2011-12 season, Bouillon has played 147 minutes with the power play and has collected a single assist during that period. A SINGLE ASSIST.
3. His constant line juggling and questionable decisions regarding his offensive lines and defensive duos. For example, veteran Daniel Briere was clicking nicely with two-way forwards Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta but as soon as sophomore Alex Galchenyuk went down with a broken wrist, Therrien started juggling his lines inserting different players in that spot, namely Travis Moen, Lars Eller, Brandon Prust.
4. His return to a dump-and-chase style of play with a passive forecheck is not working. Because of the small size of the club’s forwards, the Habs would be better suited to adopt a west-east approach instead of a north-south strategy that is simply not working. The team needs to penetrate the offensive zone with the puck instead of dumping it and failing to retrieve it. The Habs need to forecheck with two forwards and use their speed to create turnovers in the offensive zone instead of letting the opposing teams come out of its zone too easily and enter the neutral zone without any pressure. The team is also always sitting on their leads without much success, dropping at least three 3-0 leads in the last month, 3!
5. Therrien’s hidden hatred of veteran Daniel Briere. When Briere signed a two-year pact worth $8 million in the off-season, he did not imagine he would end up playing 10:00 on most nights, despite being one of the best talented forwards this team has. Therrien did not like that Briere came to his office to have more playing time and play at center back in October. Since then, the relationship between the two men is tense.
6. His over-utilization of unproductive winger Rene Bourque on the man advantage and at even strength. It took 36 games for Therrien to finally scratch Bourque on Saturday in Toronto despite the fact that Bourque had only 6 goals and 1 assist in 36 games before potting his first road goal on the season on Wednesday.
7. Poor defensive positioning had led to numerous scoring chances from the opposing teams and if it were not for Carey Price’s and Peter Budaj’s stellar play, the Canadiens would have a far worse record. The defensemen have a hard time making a good first pass, often icing the puck because of an inaccurate pass or clearing the puck by the boards with the wingers having no real opportunity to catch the pass and make a clear exit of the defensive zone. The team is so discombobulated in the defensive zone that the opponent have been able to take advantage of this flaw, scoring at least 4 goals against the Habs in their last 5 raod games.
8. His poor decisions regarding defensive pairings such as splitting Subban and Markov, playing Alexei Emelin on the his wrong side, and dressing Douglas Murray and Francis Bouillon instead of Alexei Emelin and Raphael Diaz.
9. The utilization of George Parros despite the fact that he’s not fighting any more and not playing physical at all. Parros has fought only 3 times in 10 contests, getting a mere 10 hits in the process and posting a miserable -6 rating in spite of playing less than 5 minutes per game.
10. His inability to adapt during games and to match-up his lines, especially at home where he is supposed to have the advantage with the last change. We have often seen the Canadiens get caught with their fourth line on the ice while the opponent’s first line jumps on the ice; situations that often led to a goal.
Below you will find the Habs’ expected lines for Friday’s match-up against the Detroit Red Wings:
Max Pacioretty – David Desharnais – Brendan Gallagher
Brandon Prust – Daniel Briere – Rene Bourque
Lars Eller – Tomas Plekanec – Brian Gionta
Travis Moen – Michaël Bournival – Louis Leblanc
Once again I am puzzled at the hockey decisions made by Michel Therrien and his coaching staff.
As for the defensive pairings, nobody has a clue what the duos will be and who is going to play or be scratched…
While there is still time to make the playoffs, the Habs are on a free fall and now have only a five-point lead over the 9th place team… who happens to be the Red Wings. A win by Detroit on Friday but shrink that tiny lead to a mere 3 points…
It sounds like Therrien is quickly losing his dressing room as a result of poor decisions this season… When do you think he gets canned? During the season or after the playoffs (if they make it)?