Monday, November 2, 2009

Andrei's Mad

Well, it's about time. Andrei Kostitsyn is finally, vocally angry.

I've been watching Kostitsyn for the last three years, sometimes taking the puck and using his great size and speed to carry it through the opposition, ending with a laser wrister or a nice move to beat the goalie. In other words, looking like his choice in the first round of the 2003 Super Draft was justified.

Then there are the other times. You know them too. The times when he circles back to the bench on a line change when the puck is still in the neutral zone. The times when he lets up on the backcheck and gets beaten by the opposing winger. The times when he lobs a shot from the circle instead of driving to the net. On those occasions, thoughts of Getzlaf, Carter, Richards, Parise et al. just make you want to cry.

Of course, every player has bad streaks and everyone makes mistakes. The thing that's always concerned me the most about Kostitsyn though, is the impression he gives that he doesn't give a crap. Win a game? Fine. Lose it? That's fine too. The paycheck comes anyway and the people on Crescent St. still love you. We saw Gorges get mad when the Habs lost. Price cried. Plekanec threw himself at the empty net to try and prevent the Philly goal that sealed the Habs' playoff fate two years ago. Kostitsyn just skated off, blank-faced as though it didn't matter to him.

So, if he's mad now, that's a good thing. I think a little passion might spur him to skate that bit harder, or make that extra push around a defender. I guess the irony of the anger he's showing at his lack of production and his demotion to the fourth line with fourth-line minutes is that he's actually been doing some things well. I've noticed him making some nice defensive plays I didn't see him make last season. And I've seen him smile and chat with his teammates in a way he never did before, at least publicly. He's trying. Maybe if he tries with some anger burning in him, it'll make the difference.

The thing with anger is that it makes you forget a lot of other things, like questions about your ability rattling around like ball bearings in your head. Or worries about what's happening with your younger brother, or fear of getting nailed in the brain again, like you did against Phoenix last season, or frustration at not being able to communicate your thoughts to your teammates and coaches in a way you're sure they understand. Anger can put those things away in the back of your mind while it burns and drives you on physically.

If Kostitsyn is mad because he's not getting the icetime he needs to get going on offence, Martin should take advantage of it. Give him twenty-two bloody minutes to do whatever he can. Double shift him with Pleks AND with Gomez. There are some good things happening in Kostitsyn's overall game, and if the anger he's feeling now can spark the talent we know he has, then the team will be better for it.

Because, honestly, at this point, the Canadiens desperately need Kostitsyn to start scoring. Four productive (three, with Gionta cold as ice for the last half-dozen games) top-six forwards aren't going to cut it. Plekanec needs a winger to help him out and Kostitsyn needs to be that guy. Unless he's traded, the Habs will be dragging him and his 3.25 million bucks around for nothing all season.

So, get mad, Andrei. Get good and mad and show us what you've got. If anger can't do it for him, I don't know what can.


DB said...

One thing I've noticed is that the Habs that have struggled the most (AK46, Lats, Laps, Dags, Max Pac) have only played in the Habs' organization. Could the quality of coaching they've received explain why they are taking longer to adjust to a new system?

Now there are two players (Pleks and Chips) that have only played for the Habs who haven't struggled. Why have they been able to adapt when AK46 et al haven't? Possibily because they have a much higher hockey IQ than the other players.

Hadulf said...

JT, I'm with you on that one. Give AK46 friggin 25 minutes of play. See how he reacts. If ToI is what he wants to be able to perform. Try it out for a few games.

We have nothing to lose at this point.