The mainstream sports media are idiots, Exhibit # 193,191,948,827

Bill Clement breaks down the Canadiens-Lightning series. I break down Bill Clement. I'll be in bold, because, well, it's my blog, dammit.


Montreal is a defense-first team while Tampa Bay relies more on offense,

A ridiculous over-generalization that discounts the fact that Montreal is rolling on offense, and have more dangerous players than you'd think. The US media refuses to admit how good this team is, I feel mainly because it renders so many of their preseason predictions (hell, their playoff predictions, too) so very, very wrong. On Tampa's side, they were one of the best defensive teams in the league...they're strong everywhere. Just because you haven't heard of these guys doesn't mean they aren't gifted. Actually, both teams are pretty strong in both departments.

but the Canadiens have the most dominant line in the playoffs right now in Alexei Kovalev, Saku Koivu and Richard Zednik.

You goddamn right.

It remains to be seen whether they can match that in the second round, though, and until they do, the advantage goes to Tampa Bay and its six 20-goal scorers.

Uh-huh. There's no rhyme, reason, or analysis to this statement. Opinion is fine...hell, it's great, even. But, don't mark something as analysis if you're going to have some guy just saying shit off the top of his head, with nothing even close to substantial to back it up. The Canadiens' top line is hot RIGHT NOW, while the Lightning's top line didn't have much of a test against the Islanders' defense. Their offense vs. the Isles' defense is like you or me vs. a cardboard cutout. Sure, maybe the Habs will cool off some, but to take what amounts to an awkward stab at it in an analytical "breakdown" is silly and not worth the reader's time. For what it's worth, I feel that there has to be some measure of incumbency here...you have to assume that inertia will hold true until someone or something proves different. That goes double for this situation, where the Habs had 7 tough games, while the Bolts sat on their asses for a week or so after annhilating one of the few real scrub teams in the tournament in 5 games.

Martin St. Louis
He got better with each game in the first round, including scoring the series-clinching goal in overtime of Game 5, and he is the fuel for the Tampa Bay engine.

Yep. I'll give him this much.

Alexei Kovalev
He has been on fire since his game-ending gaffe in Game 4. He scored five combined goals in Games 3-6 and had two assists in Game 7, making him the hot hand and the guy to watch. Amazing what a little guilt can do for a player.

Good LORD. He was the best player in the series from Game 2 on, long before the "gaffe", which consisted of getting slashed on the hand, combined with a little bad luck. But, since when does a guy like Clement let facts get in the way of a good story?

Tampa Bay power play vs. Montreal penalty kill

Tampa got just two goals in 23 power-play chances in the first round, but the Lightning has had some time to recover and practice that part of the game over the last few days, and that will be a big help.

I see. Because they don't work on that at all in practice during the series. Riiiiight.

Montreal's penalty killers did not face a stiff test from Boston in the first round

Yep. That Nylander-Bergeron-whoever line sure did suck for them, huh? Maybe, just maybe, Montreal's penalty killers did their job, huh? But, someone like Clement (who I believe only called one game in the series) probably just looks at a media guide, sees the regular season stats (and the Habs' relative lack of size), and then formulates a conclusion with, again, no real basis. They weren't so good in the regular season, but then again, a 7 beating a 2 (as often happens, as does 8 beating a 1 sometimes) shows just how much the regular season means when the playoffs come around.

so they might not be ready for a group led by Dave Andreychuk -- the all-time leader in power-play goals -- which has the ability to overpower teams.

Fair enough...Andreychuk is a hell of a player, but again, there has to be some measure of incumbency here. The Habs' penalty kill is rolling, and until someone proves different, it makes more sense to assume that they're still rolling.

Montreal power play vs. Tampa Bay penalty kill

The Canadiens don't have a point man who is dangerous enough to make their power play a big-time threat.

Right here, Clement shows that he has no idea of anything related to this Montreal team. There's some guy...Sheldon something-or-other. Hardest shot at the Skills Competition this year. Scored a crapload of goals before getting injured mid-season. I wonder if Billy Boy has ever heard of him.

Tampa faced just 16 shorthanded situations against the Islanders and should get better as it gets more time on the kill, so the edge goes to the Lightning.

GAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH. First off, it's the ISLANDERS. Second of all, it's equally likely (if not even more plausible) that the Canadiens' speedy forwards will have a pretty good shot with an extra man, especially against a team that is a little smaller than Boston was. If he wanted to say that Tampa is a threat to score shorthanded goals, then fine -- it's something I'm horrified about with this series. But, that'd be actual analysis, and I guess that's just WACKY...especially for MTV...err...I mean ESPN.

Montreal's Jose Theodore is a former Hart Trophy winner as NHL MVP and Vezina Trophy winner as the league's best goalie, and he got back to that form as the Canadiens overcame a 3-1 deficit in the first round. Tampa Bay's Nikolai Khabibulin was more consistent on a game-to-game basis, though, and how he responds against Theodore could be a defining moment for him. But Theodore gets the advantage based on his résumé.

Uh-huh. The only past performance that means half a dog turd is in this year's playoffs, and even that isn't going to determine how the goaltenders are going to play. What should have been mentioned is that Khabibulin was never really tested against the Isles, wile Theodore almost always faced 30 shots or more in the Bruins series.


Tampa Bay's John Tortorella seems to be pushing the right buttons at the right time, while Montreal's Claude Julien has seen everything he touched turn to gold at the end of the Boston series. Had Montreal not turned things around and completed the first comeback from a 3-1 deficit in franchise history, the advantage would go to Tortorella, but Julien is on a roll when it comes to matchups and handling adversity, so that makes it too close to call.

Most of this is fine, but if Montreal hadn't turned things around, then we wouldn't be having this fucking discussion, now would we? GODDAMMIT.

The rest Tampa Bay has gotten since eliminating the Islanders will help the Bolts physically and mentally, and it also gave them a chance to work out the kinks on the power play. The Canadiens are facing a quick turnaround after eliminating Boston, and the freshness of the Lightning will be tough to overcome.

Right...a team with a little rust after a relative vacation is going to have the advantage over a team still adrenalized from being the first Canadiens team in forever to make franchise history in anything. Does Clement have an intern actually write these things?

Tampa Bay in six.

Fair enough. I say Habs in seven.


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