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Comparing Mental Toughness: MTL vs ?

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03-14-2011, 03:08 PM
  #1
Chuck Lefley*
 
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Comparing Mental Toughness: MTL vs ?

With the playoffs just around the corner (ranking still undetermined), I wanted to look at what I see is a clear edge for the Habs versus many possible opponents: their tremendous mental toughness.

Factors I see that have greatly contributed to this solid team "mental toughness":
1. 2010 playoff run that allowed the roster makeover to incubate at a much faster rate. By beating 2 heavily favored opponents, the Habs proved to themselves the power of a united team effort.
2. The Markov injury has been another galvanizing event for them, from the start of the season. It forced a greater reliance on adhering to Martin's defensive system. Once Gorges went down, that adherence went from about a 7/10 to 10/10.The media(and likely other teams) expected them to go into the tank. They did not. In the East,only the Pens have had more serious,lengthy injuries to players integral to their success.
3. The rookie factor, led by Subban,Eller,Desharnais,Weber. Martin has been criticized for his handling of these rookies at various points this season. The most public was the Subban benching. Since then, PK has been consistently better. Martin did the right thing. By arriving on the Eller, AK,Moen like and putting Lars back at centre, he has amplified Eller's effectiveness. These kids are eager to improve and have each grown substantially this season.
4. The size factor. Players like Gionta,Cammalerri,Gomez and Desharnais have been told all their hockey lives that they are too small to compete and succeed. This doesn't mean they change their game. This does mean that players like that will continue to work extra hard in the playoffs to prove the naysayers wrong about them and their teammates. Others constantly harp about it, I think it propels the Habs with extra motivation...kind of like the proverbial "chip on the shoulder".
5. Supreme Confidence in Price. I think even the most optimistic Price supporters could not envision this type of performance so quickly. He is correct though in deflecting attention to the team system and the fact that the types of chances that get through are (generally) not unstoppable. The team knows that if there are breakdowns, Price has consistently bailed them out this year.

Overall, this solidification of the team mentality around solid system play and quiet confidence will be crucial for the playoffs.

Match this against other Eastern Conference teams who are clearly IN the playoffs:

WASH: We own them mentally from last year's playoffs. Yes they are on a roll right now, but they still have unproven,suspect goaltending and an identity that is in flux. Boudreau does nothing to help galvanize a team identity other than rant profanely and puff his cheeks on the bench. he is so easily flustered. Quite weak mentally.

TAMPA: They are scary offensively but horrible defensively. I think they have very solid mental toughness, based on St.Louis and Lecavalier as proven winners. Lots of roster turnover since their Cup win.I think even they don't have confidence in their ability to play solid defense. Overall, a pretty strong mental toughness.

PITT: A hard one to assess. They have really done an exceptional job given the Crosby-Malkin injuries. They have a core of proven winners. However, last years loss to the Habs stung them. As evidenced by this recent game, the Habs still own Fleury. He is the weak link, mentally, versus the Habs. The PEns have a better chance of beating the Habs with Brent Johnson in nets. Different mental toughness with/without Fleury in net.

PHI: I think that Laviolette is the key here. He has instilled a more solid mental toughness in the team. Their playoff run surely helped. There are flaws though, as with PITT and WASH there are major goaltending question marks that can seriously undermine team confidence. Carcillo and Hartnell can hurt them with their lack of discipline. Overall, a strong team mentality with the potential of being dragged down by goaltending.

BOS: This is the team that I believe is the weakest (mentally) of the Eastern conference teams who have locked up a playoff spot. They have never been quite the same since "the sucker punch heard around the world",2009 playoffs, CAR vs BOS. Scott Walker flattens Ward. The Bruins had that game in hand, but the message was sent...Walker didn't care about the big,bad Bruins. Remember they lost the series in game 7 when Walker scored the OT winner. Last year, well we all know about one of the most historic choke jobs in NHL history losing the 3-0 series lead and then the 3-0 game lead in the decisive Game 7.

I seriously believe the Bruins hair-trigger,jittery overreactions that often spill over into their "mob" mentality (versus a team mentality) is a sign as to how fragile an identity they have. They think that the number of fights they have in the regular season will somehow erase their monumental playoff failure. The more they continue with their traveling circus act of thuggery, the harder it will be to simply turn it off in the playoffs.

Let's not forget the fact that they are led by the same Zdeno Chara that is 0-5 in career game 7's. Not exactly a confidence-generating statistic.

In comparison, I believe the Canadiens match up exceptionally well versus other Eastern Conference playoff teams, in large part due to their strong team identity and mental toughness.

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03-14-2011, 03:13 PM
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PricePkPatch
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I think the biggest signal of our team's maturity that progressed over the season is how we now react after being scored the 1st goal now.

We still try and grit and scrounge. Our guys don't give up. If they still lose, it's not because they haven't tried (save for a handful of games this year, but all teams are allowed)

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03-14-2011, 03:33 PM
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roy munson
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Pretty good post Chuck. Obviously we'll have to see how accurate this is once the POs start, but this is a good analysis IMO. The Habs have fought so much adversities (ie injuries) for the last two seasons, anything's possible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Lefley View Post
...The more they continue with their traveling circus act of thuggery, the harder it will be to simply turn it off in the playoffs...
I liked this part and I think that it's pretty late to change their team's system now. And we all know that system ain't worth a lot come playoff time, even if we suspect that they'll try it again and again. Chokers in their name.

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03-14-2011, 03:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SolkaTruesilver View Post
I think the biggest signal of our team's maturity that progressed over the season is how we now react after being scored the 1st goal now.

We still try and grit and scrounge. Our guys don't give up. If they still lose, it's not because they haven't tried (save for a handful of games this year, but all teams are allowed)
I agree. We've been competitive in almost every game this year. When our minds are in-check and we don't ruin periods by taking numerous dumb penalties, we're hard to play against.

Like every team though, we have our Achilles Heal: big physical teams with better skill such as Philly.

We can shut down the skill teams (Washington), we can outscore the big physical teams (Boston) ... but we have trouble against the teams that effectively combine both those elements.

As they say in fighting, styles make fights.
If we avoid Philly in the playoffs, every round in the East is winnable for us IMO.

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03-14-2011, 03:56 PM
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Dwight
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I really do like how the team's mental characteristics changed so strongly once guys like Kovalev and Theodore were sent packing. Once a team of cliques and drama, this year's edition of the Habs is likely one of the most tight-knit groups we've seen in recent memory.

Other team's fans like to call them dirty, whiners, divers, etc. but I think they're just hating when we style on them.

Brian Gionta is an excellent captain and really is a symbol of what the Montreal Canadiens have become: not the biggest dog in the yard, but pound-for-pound, few teams have more determination and heart than the Tricolore.

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03-14-2011, 04:00 PM
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Kriss E
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I think the Bruins are hoping not to face one team, Mtl.
They have a huge choke job from last year that need to be erased this spring, and to do that versus their nemesis, a team that have upset them more than once, won't be easy. I expect the Bruins to choke in the first round actually. I think their best shot of advancing is if they face the Rangers.

Personally, I don't mind what happens to us, even if it's a first round sweep. The fact we're comfortably sitting at the 6th spot with a very possible reach at home ice advantage despite all our injuries is already a surprise to me.

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03-14-2011, 04:04 PM
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03-14-2011, 04:05 PM
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Chuck Lefley*
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roy munson View Post
Pretty good post Chuck. Obviously we'll have to see how accurate this is once the POs start, but this is a good analysis IMO. The Habs have fought so much adversities (ie injuries) for the last two seasons, anything's possible.



I liked this part and I think that it's pretty late to change their team's system now. And we all know that system ain't worth a lot come playoff time, even if we suspect that they'll try it again and again. Chokers in their name.
Appreciate the feedback and great handle.
It is too bad that the Pacioretty hit happened, because it would be a perfect analogy to say that choking in the playoffs is pulling a "Chara" just like pulling a "Munson" in the movie King Pin.
It would have been funny, now it is just makes people angry and frustrated.

oh well...onwards and upwards

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03-14-2011, 05:02 PM
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KadoCH
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dwight View Post
I really do like how the team's mental characteristics changed so strongly once guys like Kovalev and Theodore were sent packing. Once a team of cliques and drama, this year's edition of the Habs is likely one of the most tight-knit groups we've seen in recent memory.

Other team's fans like to call them dirty, whiners, divers, etc. but I think they're just hating when we style on them.

Brian Gionta is an excellent captain and really is a symbol of what the Montreal Canadiens have become: not the biggest dog in the yard, but pound-for-pound, few teams have more determination and heart than the Tricolore.
I noticed this from Bruins fans, but no other fan base (Ott maybe) unless I missed it and at the same time Bruins fans and players are a little slow.

Bruins nation act like we have the refs in our pocket and we dive to get 10 pp's a game against them and score all our goals on the pp and take no penalties, but the fact is PP time is about even when we play them.

They also act like we do a bunch a stuff and won't fight but Bruins average almost 2 fights a game against the Hab's and less than a fight a game against every other team. Simple fact is they have no excuse and try to fabricate something. After last seasons breakdown I don't think there is a more mentally weak team out there and them and there fan base are grasping for anything they can.

For me the Habs show extreme mental discipline highlighted when they came out and beat the Bruins all over the score board after the 8-6 punch up while the Bruins once again have no answer.

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03-14-2011, 05:12 PM
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Boston is probably the easiest to goad into penalties and that will probably be their downfall in the playoffs. Lucic feels the need to chase after anyone that touches a person on his line. So you can just hammer krecji and horton all day and he will lose it. Horton seems to be a big tough guy now that he has a 3rd man behind him every single time he goes near a scuffle regardless of who it is (see butler/ subban/ gerbe and that is just the past week).I never saw him much in Florida but I never noticed his extra curriculars when I did see him.You just key on their "*******" as they would call them and the rest will fall into place. Hammer anyone but 4th line and you are bound to get some reaction.

The best part about boston fans is they hate subban so much but Marchand is subban+ because he runs his mouth off the ice too and looks like a retard doing it. But they love him he is great rabble rabble rabble. He will never "answer the bell" though why you may ask because they have others to do his dirty work unlike subban so its just dandy.

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03-14-2011, 05:39 PM
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The funniest thing at the end of the day, boston are probably the team that fear the habs the most.

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03-14-2011, 07:32 PM
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Hank Scorpio
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowman View Post
The funniest thing at the end of the day, boston are probably the team that fear the habs the most.
Too much Pride, not nearly enough Honor. I agree with you but the biggest problem with Boston I see is that they don't know they're scared of us yet because they can beat Pyatt and Spacek in a fight. All the while, as long as our whole team plays hockey which we all know they will in the playoffs, we consistently beat them on the scoreboard. Until they realize their own fallibility they likely won't be going too far and it's their pride that is preventing them from realizing it.

Though I don't want to play them at all in the playoffs (because they're liable to do something stupid like injure some one if/when we beat them) I think us, and only us, taking them to school in the playoffs is exactly what they need as losing a series after being up 3-0 in the series and game four clearly didn't teach them humility. But hey, if we broke Washington, we can break them too.

We know exactly who we are and what we are capable of. The only reason their's still uncertainty surrounding this team is injuries and inconsistent scoring. As for the Bruins, they seem content with 'the Big Bad Bruins are Back' moniker the media has given them.

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