Top 10 Reasons Coach Therrien Is Failing The Grade

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When Michel Therrien was hired about 18 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 2000s. 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, as opposed to last year, they currently are 9-8-2, having posted a disappointing record of 4-4-2 in their last ten games. The Bleu Blanc Rouge is currently clinging to the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference, only two points ahead of the inconsistent Ottawa Senators, who have one game in hand.

After 21 games, it’s time to 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.

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. Since the 2011-12 season, Bouillon has played 129:01 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. For example, rookie Michael Bournival was clicking nicely with veterans Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta but as soon as veterans Brandon Prust and Travis Moen came back from injuries, Bournival has seen his time dwindle from 15 minutes/game to a new low for November at 7:33 minutes on Saturday, despite the Habs being blanked by a journeyman goalie from Alabama.

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.

5. Therrien’s hidden hatred of veteran Daniel Briere. When Briere signed a two-year pact worth $8M in the off-season, he didn’t imagine he would end up playing 8:48 on Saturday night, despite being one of the best forwards this week. Therrien didn’t 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 center David Desharnais on the man advantage and at even strength. Heck, DD played well over 18 minutes on Saturday, while having only one assist and 21 shots on goal in 19 games. He replaced Briere after only one game, centering power forwards Max Pacioretty and Rene Bourque, turning them right away into useless players.

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.

8. His poor decision-making late in games, like using Alexei Emelin, Francis Bouillon, Rene Bourque and David Desharnais in the last minute of Saturday’s 1-0 loss against the Rangers. Also, his unwillingness to pull Carey Price earlier in the game, finally pulling him with only 33 seconds left in the game.

9. The inability for the Habs to mount a comeback when trailing after two periods of play (0-7-1) and the inexplicable use of unproductive players in such circumstances. Slumping veterans such as Francis Bouillon, Brian Gionta and David Desharnais all average more playing time in losses this season than in wins.

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’ new lines following Monday morning’s practice:

Alex Galchenyuk – Lars Eller – Brandon Prust
Max Pacioretty – David Desharnais – Brendan Gallagher
Rene Bourque – Tomas Plekanec – Brian Gionta
Michaël Bournival – Daniel Brière – Travis Moen

Once again I am puzzled at the hockey decisions made by Michel Therrien and his coaching staff.

While it is still very early in the season, it is not normal that your #1 goalie who is currently posting career numbers which a stellar 2.05 GAA and an incredible .936 save % has a disappointing record of 7-8-2… The team is scoring at a 2.43 goals/game so far this season, more than half a goal short of what Therrien said is required to win hockey games.

It sounds like Therrien is slowly losing his dressing room as a result of poor decisions this season… how much time until he loses his job as well?

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Fred Poulin has written 5 post in this blog.

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