Guy Carbonneau’s decision to start Jaroslav Halak in goal over Carey Price in game 4 against the Flyers will be second-guessed for quite some time if the Canadiens are unable to rally from the 3-1 series deficit they currently find themselves in.
Halak has far less experience than Price at the NHL level and does not appear to have the same career potential as his fellow freshman, yet Carbonneau went with Czech netminder based on Price’s subpar play in the first three games of the series.
Though I also wondered allowed about the decision given the ability Price has shown to bounce back in similar situations, Carbonneau’s hunch isn’t what has the Habs facing elimination tomorrow night. Montreal’s lack of a decent power play is the real culprit here, as the Habs have been Hab-nots with the man advantage in the postseason.
The Canadiens boasted the league’s top power-play unit during the regular season, scoring on 24.1% of their opportunities. Those goals accounted for a whopping 35% of Montreal’s offence this season. Fast forward to the playoffs where the Habs are a dismal 7-for-51 on the power play, a rate barely half as successful as during the season. This just in: if you can’t score, you can’t win.
>> Is Steve Nash done in the desert? It’s probably too early to ask that question, but the idea of Nash being traded isn’t as preposterous as it once was. Nash struggled in the playoffs with a Suns team that went from one that played like a bunch of schoolyard kids to one that looked extremely old almost overnight.
Shaquille O’Neal put up the type of numbers that the Suns expected from him, but his insertion in the lineup completely changed the way the offense operated. That was the idea when Phoenix acquired him, of course, but no one anticipated the detrimental effect it would have on Nash’s game.
The two-time MVP point guard wasn’t nearly as effective after the Shaq deal because his game is predicated on making great decisions at the breakneck speed at which the Suns offense used to operate. When the tempo slowed down, Nash didn’t have to make many of those decisions and, thus, appeared more ordinary than extraordinary.
If Mike D’Antoni is fired as head coach and reunites with his old boss Brian Colangelo in Toronto, would Nash soon follow? Suns GM Steve Kerr has to decide whether this core group can get it done if given more time and some complimentary roster moves or whether it’s time to rebuild in Phoenix.
>> Want to weigh in? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org