Sunday, October 24, 2010

Aftermath: Keeping It Simple

Carey Price said he didn't feel good before the game against the Senators last night. That he was able to pull it together on a day when he didn't feel his best...and find a way to pitch a shutout...says his newfound maturity isn't a fleeting thing. A real professional puts personal discomfort aside and does his job despite it. Price was good, and nobody would have known he was feeling off if he hadn't admitted it after the game.

He didn't have a whole lot of work to do, though. The team played fairly tight D and allowed only 19 shots. Price got a lot of protection from odd-man rushes and really good Senators' chances. The defence, which Jacques the Knife said was last year's priority in Martin Hockey School, seems to be doing okay without Markov and with Spacek's, Hamrlik's and Gill's senior moments. The problem is, the tight team D is temporarily disguising the fact that the offence is nearly non-existent.

This team has one line out of four scoring goals. On nights, like Thursday against the Devils, when Plekanec/Kostitsyn/Cammalleri don't score, neither does anyone else. Gomez, Gionta and their revolving wingers aren't doing much of anything. The only other real scoring talent, Lars Eller, is stuck with pluggers for linemates. Making the problem worse is the complete lack of a power play.

That can't go on if the Canadiens are going to make the playoffs. Markov's return will help, but it won't fix everything. The PP needs a real shooting threat on the blueline. The second line needs a solid scoring winger, and it needs Gomez and Gionta to start putting up some points. It's still very early in the season and we know the veterans can play better than they have been. Those thoughts let us put worry about the problems aside, especially on nights when the defensive play is sound enough to help Price bring home his first shutout in nearly two years. The problems are still there, though, simmering away underneath.

Gauthier and Martin should be thinking of the offence now, and, while there's a little bit of time to wait, they should be planning what they need to do to fix those issues. Whether it's calling up Yannick Weber for the PP, or giving Pouliot more than a couple of games with Gionta and Gomez, or even letting Eller centre the second line for a few games if Gomez doesn't play better, we have to hope management has a longer-term plan.

After all, Carey Price won't have a shutout every night. There will be times when he allows five goals, and we'd better hope the Habs are able to score six. Right now, that wouldn't happen.


Anonymous said...

Agree with all your comments.

I think Pouliot should be given 10-15 games with Gomez and Gionta to develop something not just one game (sometimes one period) at a time. There is no other altenative. The Habs don't have any other scoring wingers with top six potential so give the guy a fair shot to prove himself. Why else did PG give him a big raise?

As far as Eller goes, he will develop much better at center. Why not give him Pyatt and Lapierre? At least they can skate with him. Using Moen and Darche just makes no sense. If the lack of a winger causes the JM to use Eller with G&G, it will most likely hurt him and the team. Playing out of position isn't the answer, just look at Kovalchuk and he just switched wings.

Anonymous said...

What would it take to get fisher from Ottawa. If he can be converted to a winger then I think that it is a must.

Things to consider:
4 million salary
team chemistry.
What we would have to give up.
is it worth it for ottawa.

MC said...

The good news is that the top line can score, at least we have one line that can. The second line is a big concern, but I would not judge it on the last game because whenever the Habs get a lead they just sit on it - drives me crazy.

Agree with the first anon above, it is important to match speed on a line. They have to come up something better for Eller. I suspect they are keeping him from the top line to keep the pressure off him and to let him keep improving his play without the puck. The expectations are already unfairly high.

WRT Ottawa, we might not get Fisher, but how about swapping 1st rounders with them like the strategy JT suggested earlier, a la Sam Pollock? I suspect they are a lottery team and don't know it yet. And their GM is ready to deal.

Anonymous said...

We have the players necessary to score. Its just a matter of playing them together every night through good and bad.

Gomez and Gionta will get it going with Pouliot. Thats not a real worry of mine. The kid needs regular icetime with these guys to develop the chemistry they need.

Eller will develop in his own time on a third line that will score more once he stops thinking and just reacts to things. Its that extra hesitation that is causing his problems right now and that goes away in time. More ice time and games is the only cure.

Markov will help immensely. He is one of the top defencemen in the league and effectively controls the play for 20+ minutes per game. Once he is back things will improve up front and on the powerplay.