Friday, February 8, 2008

Dandy ain't no Bobby Orr

Okay, so you're the coach of the Montreal Canadiens. You have a right wing spot open, you need offence and you have two players from which to choose. Player one has scored 85 goals in the last three years. He's not the fastest skater on the team, but he's got a lethal wrist shot and he hits people when the opportunity arises. Player two has played crappy defence for the last seven years and is now a converted forward. He's a fast skater, but isn't a natural goalscorer and isn't likely to become one overnight. He also isn't physical, doesn't shoot much and is pretty much invisible in many games. Player one is in a slump, player two will never be better than he is right now. So, whom do you choose?

I'm betting almost everyone would choose player one. If you're looking for offence, you want the guy who knows how to score, right? Not if you're Guy Carbonneau. No, Guy's using Mathieu Dandenault over Michael Ryder because he's trying to send Ryder some kind of message about doing more on the ice...which he hasn't seen in three games. Ryder, as I've noted before, is at least partially a victim of his two slumping linemates: Higgins and Koivu. Neither of them is doing any better with the plethora of linemates with whom they've been paired recently. So, stick Ryder back in there and leave them to sort it out among themselves. They might just find the chemistry they had in the second half of last season. If they don't...well, at least you don't have a slumping player on each of two other lines and a goalscorer in the pressbox while the first line carries the team.

For a team that's pretty hard up for secondary scoring recently, at least there's a chance Ryder will find his touch. Dandenault doesn't offer even that chance. And even Gretzky would be hard pressed to pot one from the pressbox.

1 comment:

Naila J. said...

Oh, I totally agree. I think Ryder's slump actually got Higgy and Saku into theirs, but Carbo should have let them play it out rather than taking Ryder off the line and then juggling the other two guys like hot potatoes. I vote for the reuniting of Ryder, Saku and Higgy, even if they play 7 minutes a game. But let them do it together, and the chances - and hopefully goals - will come.