Watching yet another Debacle on Ice in Carolina last night, I came to realize several truths, which I hold to be self-evident. Among them:
-Andrei Kostitsyn is a right winger. He has always been a right winger, and the only reason he was a left winger last year was because Alex Kovalev is a right winger. On Lang's line, Kostitsyn is the right winger, and it was evident in his play, as one of the very few bright spots in a dismal display, that he prefers to play on his natural side. He's better there, and he should not be moved back to the left.
-Alex Kovalev, for whatever reason, is the Kovalev of 2006-07 vintage. I believed then that part of the reason for his lousy play was injury. If that's the case this time around, and if those knees need a surgeon's attention again, it's best for him to do that now rather than later. As it stands, he's managed to mess up the Plekanec/Kostitsyn combo. With him on the wing last night, the Koivu/Tanguay duo had its worst game of the year. If he's going to drag down whatever line he's on, he's either going to have to look after his health/mental issues or sit. Since no one wants the consequences of sitting him, it may be time for Bob Gainey to ask him out for a stroll. Where is Bob Gainey, anyway?
-Guy Carbonneau wants to send a message, but says his hands are tied because he waiver rules and roster limits prevent him from moving players between Montreal and Hamilton. But he says the fourth line is the best one every night. Problem solved: bench the guilty parties (I'm thinking Sergei Kostitsyn and Chris Higgins to start.) Make the third and fourth lines Begin-Lang-Kostopoulos and Dandenault-Lapierre-Laraque for a game. Better have two working fourth lines than three non-productive offensive lines.
-If they refuse to hire a proper defence coach, which I think is needed, they should get Josh Gorges to do a seminar on playing D the San Jose way. Remember when he first came over in the Rivet trade? He said he thought the Montreal and San Jose systems were vastly different in that San Jose's method involved challenging forwards at the blue line. Gorges has been playing his heart out and living up to the challenge of filling in on the first pairing. If he remembers the San Jose style I'd let him teach the rest of them how to do it.
-I saw Tomas Plekanec forechecking with aggression and speed last night. But when he hassled the Carolina defenceman off the puck, there was no Hab in the zone to take a pass. It was a brilliant illustration of the failure of the one-man forecheck. If Guy Carbonneau can look at the tape of that game and suggest otherwise, his hockey smarts aren't as highly developed as I think they are.
-The idea of placing Tom Kostopoulos on the second line might have been good in theory, in terms of getting some hard work and aggression there. But after the first whiff by TK (also known by his Indian name, Big Wind No Goal) the experiment had to end. Three whiffs later, the combination was just dismal.
-Carey Price is an NHL goalie, and a darn good one. Anyone who thinks otherwise has an agenda or astigmatism.
-If the Canadiens continue playing this way, they will not only be deeply humiliated on Roy Night on Saturday, but they will be in grave danger of ending the Centennial season on the playoff sidelines. But, speaking of the post-season, if there's one thing we should have learned from past years is the team is capable of playing a game completely different from how they're playing now. I remember last November they looked as bad as they did last night and then turned it around to look very, very good on many other nights. Right now it's hard to believe that could happen this year. But, if we don't have faith when they suck, we don't get to celebrate the good times quite as exuberantly either.