Who sits against the Thrashers tomorrow?
Do the Canadiens play David (Desharnais, generously
listed at 5’7″, 170 lbs) against Goliath (Atlanta defenceman Dustin
Byfuglien, 6’4″ and a cheeseburger shy of 260)?
Does Jacques Martin mess with the lineup that won in Florida?
Desharnais was not recalled so he could fatten up on Bell Centre hot dogs. But the roster now includes five centres: Tomas Plekanec, Scott Gomez, Jeff Halpern, Lars Eller and Desharnais.
If Eller moves to the wing, candidates for a pressbox seat would include Tom Pyatt and Travis Moen. But they, along with Halpern, are valuable components of a penalty-killing unit that was heroic in Florida. And we know how much the coach loves his special teams.
I don’t think so. Darche has bumped Andrei Kostitsyn off the first wave of the power play, and my man from McGill is one of the few Canadiens with the cojones to go to the crease and get pounded for his troubles. In only 13 minutes of ToI against Florida, Darche led the team with seven shots on goal. And his line, with Eller and Benoit Pouliot, was one of the more energetic 5-on-5 units.
Of course, AK46 and Benny are perennial possibilities for a paid vacation. But when they’re on their game – and let’s check the astrological charts for 2011 to predict when that might be – the former high draft choices are scorers on a team that has a paucity of snipers and finishers.
Some pundits, including my great and good friend Tony Marinaro, think Eller belongs in Hamilton, where he can play 20 minutes a night and hone his undeniable skills.
There is some validity to this argument. And Eller is a bright kid who could probably handle the demotion without turning into a SK74-type drama queen.
But Eller is a Top Six talent who has made progress since the season began. And his game probably will improve more by centring Benny and Darche than Aaron Palushaj and Andrew Conboy.
Maybe Trader Pete, fresh off hitting a home run by acquiring James Wisniewski and looping a Maxim Lapierre liner into deep left Anaheim, has another move in the works.
(And props to Pierre Gauthier and his pro scouts for seeing how the Wiz could help.)
The Thrashers will provide a telling gauge of where your Montreal Canadiens are at, as 2011 begins, and where they should try to be as the year progresses.
Never a dull moment.
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HIO thanks and shout-out to PhotoShop genius GG11 (check out her Women on the Ledge web site) for the sanitized statue of David (which you might have to click on the headline to see)