Thursday, November 25, 2010

Aftermath: Breaking the Ice

Sometimes, when a coach resorts to the bag skate to shake his team out of lethargy, one player in particular really, really hates that kind of wake-up call. He gets the message because he'd rather do pretty much anything other than skate like that again. Jacques Martin skated his team into the ice on Wednesday after Tuesday night's choke against Philly. Last night, Andrei Kostitsyn proved he much prefers to do his hard skating during the game instead.

The Belarussian Bomber played his best game since being separated from Tomas Plekanec and moved to the Gomez line. Now back with his favourite centreman, he was hitting, shooting missiles from everywhere and dominating with his speed. When he plays like that, it lifts the entire team. He scored his own goal on a laser, but his hard work led to Plekanec's too. If Martin sent a message to the team that Kostitsyn received loud and clear, the player also sent a message to the coach: leave him with Plekanec and good things happen.

Speaking of finding the right linemates for people, Lars Eller finally got his first Habs goal. To nobody's surprise, it came from a nice play by a linemate with actual offensive talent. Benoit Pouliot is playing some very good hockey these days, and there might be some chemistry building between he and Eller. More impressive than his goal celebration of pure relief was Eller's attitude after the game. He said, "Scoring is not the most important part of my game right now. I'm doing other things." It's brilliant to hear that from a young, offensive-minded player. His determination to learn both sides of the game and be patient when it comes to accumulating points is reminiscent of Plekanec's early years with the team. That can only be a good thing, especially since Eller is stronger on the boards than Plekanec.

The added bonus of having the forwards skating hard and controlling the puck is the defencemen get a bit of a break. It's a lot easier to play D when you're not under attack all night. P.K. Subban, in particular, stood out for his smart play. Carey Price had to make some nice saves on the Kings' 25 shots, but it wasn't a night of pain like some he's faced.

It felt right to have Darche back on the Halpern line and Weber in the pressbox. The kid is going to be a Streit-like PP specialist at some point, but he's not ready to be thrown into fourth-line duty with second-PP unit time and expected to adapt to it. He should go to Hamilton where he's been building his game and can play 20 minutes night. If there should be any other call-up, it should be someone who's suited for the role available.

The Habs showed some resilience last night in bouncing back from a dispiriting loss to the Flyers. If they can keep putting the losses behind them quickly and bouncing back like that, they'll be just fine. And if we learned anything from the Kings game, it's that Martin should have bag skated Kostitsyn last October.


Anonymous said...

My god, when will Martin demote Gomez to 3rd or 4th line duty for a couple of game.

worst thing is, because the team is winning, Gomez's smiling all the time. Man, if I where in his shoe, making that much money for such a tiny result, every interview I would at least sound a little depress by my own performance.

Pouliot and Eller seems to play good, please Jacques, dont split them up like you did Plek and AK.

IT's about time to stop trying to relaunch Gomez and go with the players who gives a dam.

AK,Plek and Gionta
Pyatt(Ryan White)Halpern and Darche.

And dont split Picard and Subban...there playin good as well.

Price didnt have to oversweat last night, good for him.

The kid making me chew my words, he's playin like he's possess by the holy ghost of Casseau...

When the Habs win, all day seems like sunny one :o)

Good for us

V said...

Anonymous, it's an injustice to Eller and Gomez to do what you have suggested.

Eller does not need that kind of pressure - he's developing well in the role he has been given. Gomez was one of our best players last year and always starts slow - he will be just fine.

Martin has too much respect for his players to do what you (and some others) have suggested. Let's show some patience, especiall for a team that is winning and playing very, very well.

Anonymous said...

Kostitsyn is tearing it up with Pleks and should stay with him.

Eller and Pouliot together works well for me but breaks up the PHD line which has been very effective.

If anyone wants to dispute the Halak trade just look at Price and figure out which games you didnt want him to play in. He's playing unbelievable hockey right now.

Anonymous said...

To V :
You got me wrong, I dont want to put Elleer there for all year.

But at least 2-3 games. Gomez plays over 18 min per game. Power plays etc... and has a mere 7 pts????

Play Eller for 2-3 game on the 2nd should spark him. Since the beginning of the year, people said Poliot doesnt score blablabla...

He's got almost twicw the point playin with pluggers.

Eller is playin great, b ut vever had wingers to complete the play. When your 2 otpion for a pass for a goal are Moen and Pyatt or Lapierre, your in deep.

When we will reach the half season mark and Gomez has around 15 pts, will you contiunue to vote for him???

Good for Gomez that Price is playin like a hal god and other (Halpern,Pouliot,Kostytsin,Plek,Gio) are doing there fair contribution because we will need some one who can put points on the board. Remember the playoff last year. As soon as Cammmy and Plek went cold, it was over has nobody else( reaD HERE the 7 million dollar man) didnt do anything to pick up the slack.

Gomez is a peripheric king of player and even when is close on net to take a good shot, he pass it away....

It's time for Gomez to wake the hell up

MC said...

I agree that Martin is being patient with Gomez, but the I doubt it is because of some noble concept of respect. Gomez only has 7 points but is a remarkable +1 despite his lack of offensive output. This speaks to his defensive skills which Martin values highly. I suspect the Habs are being patient because Gomez is not directly hurting the team. Eller would probably get more points (which would not be hard) , but I doubt he would be a plus player playing 20 mins a game against the other team's top lines at this stage in his career. I would rather give Halpern a chance as his defensive skills are better, if for no other reason than to light a fire under Gomez so that he stops taking his 20 mins of icetime for granted.

Anonymous said...

I am almost sure that I have never seen Gomez do a deke. If every goalie in the league knows he's gonna get the same shot (the rare times he does shoot)from Gomez every's not very difficult to stop it, isn't it?
The talent is not the problem with Gomez. He is a GREAT hockey player. He is simply way too predictable.