Wednesday, February 13, 2008

All good things must come to an end

Yes, everything good must end, and to everything there is a season. Turn, turn, turn, etc.
In other words, the time has come to drop the curtain on the Plekanec/Kovalev/A.Kostitsyn line. At least temporarily.

The Habs should have learned this lesson last year, when Koivu/Higgins/Ryder were the sweetheart line providing the fat kid's share of the scoring. Even though the bottom two lines were horrid and the second line of Plekanec/Kovalev/Samsonov (shiver) wasn't clicking at all, Carbonneau refused to mess with the Koivu line, even in the hope of helping the other forwards get going. He stuck with that line until the Christmas slump hit and it, too, went cold. So the Habs began their tumble down the standings, and eventually out of the playoffs, with no one at all scoring goals.

So here we are now with the reverse. The Plekanec line was, until this week, on fire...thanks to a rejuvenated Kovalev and emergent #14. The Koivu line? One looks tired and old, one can't finish if his immortal soul depended on it and the other one's in the coach's doghouse. No help's coming from that quarter. The kid line of Latendresse/Lapierre/S.Kostitsyn has had its moments, but is far from consistent. And the mix-and-match box of fourth liners doesn't often turn up a gem.

The big problem now is sports reporters...and opposing coaches...have clued into the fact that the Plekanec line is now the Canadiens' number one. All the checking and hitting and generally dirty diversion tactics the other teams can employ are directed at that line. Most nights, they'll still squeeze out a point or two on the PP, and even some at even strength occasionally. But it's a lot tougher now than it was when they were romping through the league unchecked.

Carbonneau's been trying to get his secondary scoring without touching that line, but it isn't working. And now the top trio's production is drying to a trickle while it's under constant pressure. So the time has come to bust it up.

The Kostitsyn brothers have shown flashes of magic together...so put them together. Koivu will benefit from their youth, creativity and ability to get the puck through traffic. Plekanec and Kovalev have found some special chemistry, so let them stay together and add hard-working Higgins to their line to crash the crease and help them get the puck. That should result in two scoring lines that will split the focus of the opposition's checkers.

If it translates to goals...and wins...it might be worth saying goodbye to what was a very good thing.

1 comment:

Naila J. said...

I'm ready for the (dare I say it) KKK line.