Friday, December 10, 2010

Love For Jacques Martin

Jacques Martin got the bums rush out of Ottawa, and I didn't think that it was deserved at the time.

Head honcho Muckler let Martin(*) go, after yet another team which excelled during the regular season was shown the door early in the post season, with comments along the lines of "the room needs shaking up and I can't fire all the players". Which is perhaps simplistic, but on the other hand fundamentally true.

Now back from the dead Florida, Martin is once again running his system of defensive discipline with the Montreal Canadiens. Backed by a resurgent Carey Price, the Canadians are playing simple, tight hockey in their own end, waiting patiently for opportunities granted through the opposition's errors.

And it was this system which stymied the Ottawa Senators back on Tuesday(**).

What I saw on Tuesday was the Senators doing their best to create offensive chances, but the Canadiens' discipline and patient play meant that few chances came together.

Ottawa's lone goal from Foligno resulted from a power play rush that the Canadiens' mis-read, leaving Foligno alone with the puck long enough to get a shot off that snuck through Price. It was a lucky goal, sure, but if you give enough chances to a team, even Ottawa is going to get lucky occasionally.

Yes, Ottawa stopped trying in the third more than a little. But I think the first parts of the game were not entirely all bad, and if the team keeps playing together the way they played parts of the Montreal game, then good things will start to happen.

Maybe this is just diminished expectations brought on by the team's performance this year... but once you figure that playoffs are not really going to feature this spring, you'll settle for pretty much anything.(***)

But really, I thought Martin was made the scapegoat for the team at the time, and I'm more than a little pleased to see that he is once again enjoying some success.

(*) = Muckler, Murray, Martin, Melnyk -- The Ottawa Senators ownership and senior executives are brought to you by the letter M.

(**) == Yes, Tuesday. Life: I has one.

(***) = <include mandatory Leafs joke.>