Sunday, April 5, 2009

Too Little Too Late?

Isn't it a thing of beauty to see what Alex Kovalev is capable of doing to a hockey puck? Fifteen points in his last six games is phenomenal, and he doesn't even look winded while he's at it. For the first time in a very long while he gives the impression that something good is going to happen when he has the puck. He's going to the net, his shots are finding their target and he's making the powerplay make people pay for fouling his team. Life is good in Kovy-land.

Then you've got Chris Higgins. After an injury-riddled, desperate season in which he's looked by turns completely lost and completely disinterested in continuing as a Hab, Higgins is experiencing a renaissance as a solid defensive forward who can pot the occasional goal. He looks happier, his point totals are increasing and best of all, he's making an important contribution to the team's overall turnaround.

Mike Komisarek's another one. After nearly an entire season of lousy giveaways, mis-timed hits, positional gaffes and bad puck handling, he's suddenly simplified his game the way he needs to do to be successful. In the last ten games, he's using his body more effectively, and if he's not exactly reaching Markovian standards with his outlet passing, he's at least not icing the puck or handing it to an opponent in the neutral zone quite as frequently as he had been.

While all this is great for the team and for the individual players involved, it's creating quite the dilemma for Bob Gainey. He's been watching these guys all season with an eye toward whether he wants to re-sign them to new contracts, and if so, for how much. Two weeks ago, I bet he planned to let the moody, inconsistent Kovalev go, and offer Higgins and Komisarek lowball take-it-or-leave-it offers. Now he's got to re-evaluate and decide how much two great weeks are worth.

Of course, if their fine play continues and translates into a deep playoff run, all bets are off. Whomever manages to salvage this Centennial and bring glory back to the franchise will be rewarded. But an early exit from the post-season festivities will make Gainey's life a lot harder. No one told him when he signed up to save the Habs that he'd have to play the role of Soloman and the Prophet too. I'm glad he's the one making the decisions. I don't know if I could do it.


pierre said...

Gainey need to be pragmatic for the building of next season and a blame game attitude would be counterproductive to such process..... I know the season was a frustrating and dull affair in which we unexpectetly managed to register a regression as a team and though I believe the reasons pertaining for such results should include the GM, the Coaches and a bunch of other things I doubt that any of them would influence the normal GMing process of building a better team into the next season.

The main factor behind this season's discontinuity from our previous one was the collapse of our PP efficiency which went from first to 25th up until three quarter into the season.

Without this momentum generating element from our previous season the CH had to transformed itself into something new in order to hide the lost edge it once had and rebuilt an identity.... and this was a task way beyong Carbonneau's hability to provide as a coach.

Now that our PP has been restored and is even better than last season while running at a higher efficiency rate than any other team this season if calculated from the time Schneider was brought in..... things are looking different.

I dont know where all this will bring us this year but at least I know that it is within our means to start next season with a number one power play in our fabric if we want it that way..... thats what signing Tanguay, Koivu, Kovalev and Schneider can assured us of.... something of great value specially if you want your team to be exciting to watch and on the go.

There is another thing about signing those three forwards.... they make up a line that is simply fabulous to watch..... were Koivu and Kovy a couple years younger this line would surpassed with ease the plaisure I had when watching any other specific lines from the CH during the seventies.

Just a couple weeks ago I had "nightmare" if thinkink about what would looked our team next season but since this line has been put together my perspective about it is on a different plane altogether.

Anyway Schneider should be signed to preserved our PP excellence and would hopefully be playing reduced minute on the third pairing..... its up to Bob to make shure we have the right Dmen between him and Markov at the top.

By the way J.T. its always alot of fun to read your comments following the matches..... you couldn't have picked a better time to start doing it.

J.T. said...

Pierre, thanks for all your thoughtful comments. I always enjoy what you've got to say. By the way, I've been posting the game commentary after each period, so you can actually read it while the game's going on.