But at some point, the Flying Fickle Finger of Fate has to point directly at the coach.
Therrien has played frenetic mix-‘n’-match games with his forward lines and defensive pairings almost from the beginning of the season, to the point where his players don’t appear to know what team they’re on, never mind what line. His punitive benchings (with Raphael Diaz the latest victim) appear to have alienated his players rather than motivating them.
Therrien does not appear capable of adjusting on the fly. If Plan A doesn’t work and the Habs fall behind by a couple of goals, they’re done. If a player like Louis Leblanc has a good night (as he did while he was getting nine shifts and six minutes of ice time in Detroit) Therrien gives him nine shifts and six minutes of ice time against Washington — on a night when he could have given Leblanc a prolonged audition.
After some early success this season, Therrien seemed to hit the panic button. He pulled back into that boring dump-and-chase system that doesn’t appear to suit his small, speed-on-the-forecheck forwards and he began breaking up successful lines (especially the Gallagher-Eller-Galchenyuk line) in a futile attempt to get all his lines going at once. Then he began doing the inexplicable, like pairing P.K. Subban with Douglas Murray, a head-scratcher no matter how you look at it.
The fans are also directing plenty of blame at Bergevin. The GM had a chance to land a forward on the free-agent market who would really help this team — but he signed the wrong guy when he brought in Daniel Brière, who appears to have nothing left in the tank.
But Saturday night was a statement game. It said that whatever the question is, Therrien at this point in the season does not have the answer and that the off-season moves made by general manager Marc Bergevin did nothing to help this team and probably hurt it.
Being the ever eternal optimist, maybe the lottery could favor the Habs and bring us Aaron Ekblad. The Habs are overachieving behind Carey, one Top Ten pick doesn't take a team from last place to the SC, honestly. Even Gretzky or Lemieux couldn't make that difference by themselves, so don't expect 19 yr old Alex too.