Game 18: Sabres snap skid against listless Habs

Canadiens goaltender Cristobal Huet makes a save against the Buffalo Sabres.
Greg Stewart, Getty Images

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Sooner or later, the Buffalo Sabres were going to wake up. Unhappily for the Canadiens and their fans, they chose tonight to hear the alarm.

Losers of three straight games, including a 3-2 decision Thursday in Ottawa against the Senators, the Sabres dominated the Habs from start to finish, running up a 3-0 first-period lead before shifting down and pretty well suffocating any hopes of a Montreal comeback to earn a 4-1 victory on home ice.

The Canadiens (10-5-3) were outclassed in every area of the first period, and the Sabres (7-10-1) were happy to jump into their first lead in 495 minutes and 33 seconds, Clarke MacArthur banging a Derek Roy rebound past goalie Cristobal Huet at 7:59. The goal followed a terrific rush by Buffalo defenceman Brian Campbell, which sent the Canadiens into a mad, disorganized scramble in the defensive zone.

Daniel Paille put the Sabres up 2-0 at 12:19, tipping in a point shot by Nolan Pratt.

The onslaught continued with Drew Stafford having the puck ricochet in off his skate at 15:22, Vanek whipping the puck out front as Stafford swept in on Huet.

It was the first time this season the Habs had trailed after the first period.

Michael Ryder – finally – found the net, scoring his third of the season by being in the right place at the right time. Ryder, alternating between coach Guy Carbonneau’s third and first line, took advantage of a gift bad pass by Buffalo captain Toni Lydman to rifle one past Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, unassisted at 2:01 of the second period.

But MacArthur got that one back at 6:45 with the Canadiens, as they did on MacArthur’s first goal of the night, stood around without a lot of interest in clearing Buffalo traffic from in front of Huet.

After being outshot 12-7 in the first period, Montreal took it to Buffalo in the second, with a 19-10 edge for a 26-22 shots lead after 40 minutes, and finally outshot their host 37-28 with an 11-6 advantage in the third.

The Habs flew home immediately after the game and are at the Bell Centre on Saturday vs. the Boston Bruins.


Images from tonight’s game, captions from top. And beneath the photos, a few pre-game statistics.

Canadiens forward Alex Kovalev is hooked off the puck by Buffalo Sabres defenceman Jaroslav Spacek.
Gary Wiepert, Reuters

Sabres’ Clarke MacArthur celebrates his first-period goal.
Bill Wippert, NHLI via Getty Images

Sabres goalie Ryan Miller foils Canadiens’ Michael Ryder from in close.
Rick Stewart, Getty Images

The Sabres were putting more than the puck into Cristobal Huet’s net: here Buffalo’s Derek Roy makes himself at home in the Habs goalie’s crease.

Bill Wippert, NHLI via Getty Images

Roy in Huet’s net, the play whistled dead.
Greg Stewart, Getty Images

Drew Stafford scores on Huet, the puck glancing in off his skate.
Adam Wiepert, Reuters

Sabres’ Jochen Hecht (left) and Daniel Paille mug Canadiens’ Tom Kostopoulos.
Rick Stewart, Getty Images

Kostopoulos unleashes a shot past Sabres’ Toni Lydman.
Rick Stewart, Getty Images

Habs defenceman Roman Hamrlik climbs out of the Sabres bench, into which he was bodychecked.
Greg Wiepert, Reuters



  1. nightmare_49 says:

    Chorske – I wasn’t writing about you exactly so don’t get a complex it’s the ones that continuously use questionable useless stats devised by a human ( often bias ) in their posts. I agree faceoff percentage is important but how many times does a center wins the faceoff but the winger loses possession immediately so the center is blamed and their’s a lot of Grey zone in that stat for example. Most stats are a good guide but are not the bible even though , i admit , i use them often to devise a profile of a player over a period of time. Don’t take it personally lol.

  2. Bouleau noir says:

    ebk,.. good post.

    You mention the CH as having the second lowest amount of goals scored when playing 5 on 5 in the league,…. interestingly thats exactly where they stood at the end of the season last year.

    The attempt by Gainey to sign Briere was precisely made to improved upon that glaring weakness we had last season.

    So far our team has remained stuck in neutral when 5 on 5 and the rising of Kovalev’s and Pekanek’s play over last season has helped us maintained our stellar PP efficiency of last season….. so despite the loss of Sourey and thanks to them (Plek-Kovy) we are back to square 1.

    We needed a big ”surprise” from someone this year or a few little surprises from a few players in order to change our scoring status of last season,… will Higgins, Kostsitsyn, Lats or Garbs deliver it this year…I somewhat doubt it,… therefore the hochey played thus far is probably what will be played the rest of the season.

    Our scoring when 5 on 5 will remain the same but the total goal against our team will be down when compared with last year….. this mean still a lean diet in term of excitement but better chance at qualifying for the play-offs….. I wish there was a better alternative for our season but I am not shure that there is one.

  3. cautiousoptimist says:

    I’m not really worried about the lack of goals from Hamrlik and Kostopoulos – they’re good at their jobs, and that ain’t it. Would’ve thought Smolinski would have some, but he’s been good enough that no one is missing Radek Bonk on the shutdown line.

  4. cautiousoptimist says:

    Brisebois had a couple of giveaways, but Gorges had that awful one too… And anyway, these things happen to the best of them. But I agree with you guys – I don’t see either of them fighting off O’Byrne and Valentenko et al for their jobs next year.

  5. leafs67_andcounting says:

    I agree, when I first heard they signed him I said “WHAT?!!! and had a few extra shots of JD, but Breezer is doing what’s asked of him. I have no complaints on that end. And he’s fairly cheap salary wise.

  6. cautiousoptimist says:

    Thanks Chorske! I’m not betting the farm on them just yet, but man, I like this team. 🙂

    And in response to, er, Anonymous, maybe I’m not hard enough on Latendresse. But at the same time, he did well when he had ice time last year. And he’s not doing well with low ice time this year. If we’re willing to juggle our lines to the extent that Kostopoulos gets a game with Koivu and Higgins, I don’t think it’s a huge stretch to give Lats one too.

    I’m just trying to be logical here – let’s look at the numbers. I like Kostopoulos – a lot – and he’s good at his job. But the man has four points. Incidentally, so does Gui. Thirteen less penalty minutes, too. And Lats has a higher shooting percentage than Kostitysn, Smolinski, Ryder or Kostopoulos. I like all those guys too. Lats just needs more shots, ie. more ice time to take shots. He only has 23 this year – among forwards, only Begin, Chipchura and Grabovski have less, and they don’t get a lot of ice time either.

    At any rate, I don’t think it’s really all that fair to trash any hockey player to the extent that a small minority of people here do, unless he’s swinging his stick like a baseball bat. Or he’s Todd Bertuzzi.

  7. cautiousoptimist says:

    Oh. Well I guess that explains it then. 🙂

  8. ajpursell says:

    I think your pint per minute stat might suffer with that. Especially with faulty clock regulations.

  9. ajpursell says:

    Yeah, I saw that stat too and got all depressed. The minute they go down by 1 I know in my heart that’s the game and that they’ve lost it and pray for tying goal so they can at least salvage a point.

    I think more than anything right now, they need a solid come from behind win and not in overtime.

  10. drecha says:

    Nice Cartoon!! I hope you keep posting links to these as you make them!!

  11. Chorske says:

    You’re crabby! 😉

    You’re right about stats. I’m sure you know the old saying about lies, damn lies, and statistics. But they can tell you interesting things about a team is playing. Some of them are probably of little use: I’d rather see ‘scoring chances’ than ‘shots’, for instance, and I’d love to see a stat that counts ‘time with possession’. But stats like faceoff percentage are interesting because they deal with a key aspect of the game, namely, getting control of the puck. Percent PK or PPG are also interesting, for obvious reasons.

    Everyone has their thing. I find stats interesting but I don’t necessarily trust them, and I like to think my posts reflect that. Other people blab endlessly about what lines they’d like to see. Others blab about who to bring up from Hamilton.

    LOL, can you tell I took that comment personally? 😉

  12. Chorske says:

    I agree. And I think Brisebois is doing the job, minus a couple of giveaways. I can only think of two that were truly hair-raising. He’s got 4 points and a +/- of 0. He’s certainly playing better than McCabe, and he comes pretty cheap for a playmaking D who can move the puck and has GENERALLY played responsibly. He’s here for a year, maybe two, and I suspect he may stick around within the Habs organization afterwards.

  13. Chorske says:

    Out of the last five seasons, the Habs have had a negative goal differential four times. Our best season in that respect was 2003-2004, with 208 GF and 192 GA. Our worst was 2002-2003, with 206 GF and 234 GA; we didn’t even get 80 points that year (we finished with 77).

    And for your information, we are on track for 251 GF and 193 GA, and a whopping total of 130 points.

    We usually go through doldrums around the new year, for whetever reason. Flu bugs, bad dressing rooms, slumps, you name it, we seem to get off track from December to February. Here’s hoping it doesn’t happen with this crew! I could do with a 130 point season…

  14. 24 Cups says:

    Good points nightmare_49 (care to explain your title?!). In a perfect world, two years from now our defense will consist of:
    With a 7th defenseman coming from the afore mentioned list for a low salary cap number. Surely one of those guys will make it in that role.

    No trades or free agent signings needed on defense. We can save that for our two major needs up front – a big centre who can skate and utilize his size and a high scoring winger who answers the call when spring time comes around. Add Price to the mix and in two years you will have a team that can win the Cup.

  15. Chorske says:

    Cautious optimist: first off, great sign-in name. Years of being Habs fan has made most of us cautious optimists, hasn’t it?

    I am also not worried about that stat. I am way more worried about the team’s tendency to be soft on protecting leads. I’ve said it before, it’s like we prefer to be underdogs, playing best when behind, or when challenged by a technically superior team. That is a mental issue that I think needs to be addressed soon by the coaches. We should be killing some of these teams (esp Toronto) and yet we always seem to find a way to keep things nailbitey. All these close games wear you down eventually, doesn’t it?

  16. krob1000 says:

    Markov is a future Norris trophy winner ….. Komisarek is just a future winner. He’ll get little recognition outside of Montreal but his teammates and Hab fans will always know his value.

  17. Habs_008 says:

    I agree the future on D looks good, brise-by is only here for the year to give the younger guys a year to develop. I think Komi is a future Norris trophey winner. It was a great goal by him against the Laffs, it was the most memorable I have ever seen live. I look forward to seeing O’Bryne in future years.

  18. coutNY says:

    Cartoon de jour~

    Titled “Slowing a speedy but of late impotent sabres..”

  19. nightmare_49 says:

    Cup24 – The future looks good on the “D” but their at least 2 years away with the exception of O’Bryne. Brisbois is filling a spot adequately but him, Streit and Gorges play the same type of game so that’s why O’Bryne is the key and would bring more size, grit and a better defensive game than the other group and is much braver. One thing i think we miss with this group, let’s call them the three amigos, is that their game is not reliable for killing penalties and Bouillon is OK at best so the grooming of O’Bryne for that spot is the top priority for the Habs. McDonagh doing fine for a freshman and Valentenko has the tools but needs a lot of coaching to adapt to the North American game as Emelin will need but not to the same extent, that’s if he ever gets here, Carle is good offensively but needs to improve his “D” coming off a knee injury and we don’t want another Breezer and Fischer is struggling a bit but Yannick Weber has stepped up his game and is offensive minded and not to big and their’s P.K. who Ian Cobb follows and updates periodically. The key for the “D” is O’Bryne and if he can make the jump and is ready then all those “D” problems are solved and we would be set for awhile barring injuries.

  20. kevin m says:


    I hope this can help you out a bit.

    And here’s to the Habs kicking some serious butt tonight!

    Go Habs Go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  21. krob1000 says:


    Let me first state that you are very correct in your observations about our power play, 5 on 5 and goaltending. Now let’s probe a little deeper into why that is. Montreal is tenth in the league in goals and seventh in the league in goals against (as an aggregate not an average …I am too lazy to search for by goals/game). Our teams biggest assets are our depth (four lines), goaltending, powerplay and two-way play. So far our record and statistics accurately depict a team playing very well to its strengths.

    If 5 on 5 we are even we will likely win the game because of our special teams. This is likely a reason that we don’t take as many chances (calculated risks and timely jumping in by the defense has been and is key) in 5 on 5 situations. Of the teams ahead of us in goals for are the Lightning, Leafs and LA Kings…..all having less than banner seasons. These teams are not defensively responsible in 5 on 5 mode and any goals they score are rendered useless by their inability to defend.

    You are obviously correct in that 5 on 5 play is a wildcard and huge factor that can ultimately be the difference from us playing contender or pretender this year. The Koivu line early on looked very good and Kovy’s line has come on strong as of late. The other two lines are always going to be content playing even hockey. I think our 5 on 5 stats would be a more glaring issue and a different style of play would likely be used if not for management and the coaching staff already evaluating our teams strengths. You look at our asssets and how to maximize this groups output and then look at our results to date and all you can really do is tip your hat to everyone involved with the team to this point.

    If and or when we get consistent and optimum output from the Koivu and Pleks line at the same time……look out because we will instantly become a legitimate threat to anyone….yes that means you Sens. I am very happy with the current team and its philosophies and I have already expressed my singular displeasure with regards to Rydergate. The shots on net stats have declined and I do agree that we are seeing less joining of the rushes from our defense and I would like to see that increase again, but again it has to be calculated and let’s not forget the risk from the defense’s perspective. Gorges was crucified in the media for his glaring mistake and Brisebois and Streit have also played a little more conservatively lately and I don’t think this is a coincidence. Look at Mccabe in Toronto.

    In a game as fast as hockey a split seconds hesitation is enough to cost you and I think guys are erring on the side of caution more often than not and as long as we are scoring more goals than the other team (winning) that is not likely to change too much. I am going to take a brief moment to compliment Daniel Alfreddson here (sorry folks)….I live in the Ottawa television region and see a fair share of their games and he is the master of split second decisions….that guy just outthinks the league. He makes so many subtle decisions throughout a game that are just overlooked but if analyzed closely the frequency of his decisions leading to success is scary. Plekanec is probably our most aware player in my opinion with Koivu losing to him only because I believe Plekanec still has more to learn.

    We have a lot of young guys on this team playing fairly significant roles and 5 on 5 is the situation where smarts and capitalizing on the smallest of mistakes is the best way to gain an advantage. Speed is less important as space is decreased. One on one ability is valuable and I believe what separates top lines from other lines along with smarts. Each of our top lines has two guys on them that excel in one on one battles and all are intelligent. I think Higgins still needs his awareness to match his intensity….when it does he is going to be a force as is our team.

    Ryder and Kostitsyn are always going to play more triggerman type roles and they need to not only find space but find space that has available passing lanes. I have seen both of those guys standing in areas they could swing their sticks around and probably wonder why they don’t have the puck. Simple explanation boys there is no way to get it to you. Hull was a master at creating a seam for himself and he always had great playmakers tog et him the puck. He was the key to his own csuccess though as he was an extremely smart player. He would anticipate and find a seam for a second …that was all he needed. Ryder should watch reels of Brett Hull tape and notice his mastery of the art of deception. He used to turn his back on plays or circle (seemingly to nowhere) and then he would find a seam….goal. Koivu is smart enough to see this and Higgins is getting better.

    Look out Sabres ……. the Montreal Canadiens are coming to town…..nice that strikes fear into opponents again.

  22. InGy says:

    Sabres played a good game last nite, i hope there tired 😛
    I think Huet will be in fine form for them anywayz!

    off subject
    anyone know a web site that explains how ‘waivers’ work? like how do they determine the order and so on. Any info would be apreciated.

  23. Bill H says:

    I am glad to see Carbo is leaving the Pleks line intact. Don’t fix what ain’t broke. Ocasionally I see criticism of Pleks…someone earlier in the season called him the best 3rd line centre in the NHL. So untrue.

    So once you leave the Pleks line intact, that limits your options, in terms of the Ryder problem. Promote Latendresse to the Koivu line? At this point, its just not warranted. So I support Carbo’s decision to try TK on that line. He probably won’t stay long, but the intent is to get Ryder back on his game, not turn TK into a 30 goal scorer.

    Let’s hope Higgins and Koivu both pot a goal tonight. Heck, let’s make it a hat trick for the line, with TK getting one too.

    I share the concern with 5-on-5 scoring and agree that while other weaknesses have been addressed by Gainey, 5-on-5 remains a problem to be solved. PP performance and hot goaltending have saved us thus far, not to mention an improved =/- for the team. Hopefully we will find the answer before too long.

  24. nightmare_49 says:

    The beer is tempting but i have a lot to do today but i may fit in the happy hour before the game and i don’t count pints i just watch the time so i don’t miss the opening faceoff.

  25. Scotty90 says:

    Nightmare……, have a beer. Totally in agreement with you.

  26. JF says:

    Winning face-offs is the key to more puck-possession, more shots and hopefully more 5-on-5 goals. In the last game I think Koivu was the only centre who won most of his face-offs. Carbonneau has said they’ve been working on this; hopefully it will pay off. Getting a lot of shots could be a key in tonight’s game. The Sabres played an exhausting game last night and, had it not been for late penalties, could have won or at least gotten a point. They’ll have to be tired tonight so, whether it is Miller or Thibault in goal, a lot of shots should translate into goals.

  27. Habs_008 says:

    Last year we were in the same boat, goaltendening was discent, we had trouble 5 on 5, but our powerplay was tops. Eventually the PP will not work, teams we figure out how to stop it. I think we have a better team this year then last, but this 5 on 5 stat scares me. It’s still early, I have faith that the team will get better 5 on 5, if they work at it and stay healthy.

  28. nightmare_49 says:

    Call me crabby but i’m getting fed up of stats, stats and more stats. First of all some stats are bent like the hits. I watched a game two years ago with the Islanders against someone and i was just interested in Trent Hunter who had competed with Ryder for the rookie of the year the year before which neither won. During the 2nd period the announcer mentioned that Hunter’s last hit was his ninth of the game which put him a couple of hits behind the NHL leader in hits and we were well into the season. I had not missed one of his shifts abd i would have to stretch it to give him 2 hits but the Islanders must have been pushing for him to be the leader. there are other stats that are misleading also and their’s no stat for heart, possession and hockey sense etc. Many posters use stats as their only basis and it shows me that stats are their crutch and to analyse the game they got to have it. No stats for puck control or winning the battles in the corners or backchecking so try to express your opinions without your stats and you’ll learn a lot about this great game.

  29. kevin m says:

    This has been the Habs’ Achilles Heel for some time now. In the past they’ve suffered from this among other things.

    The Braintrust, starting with Gainey, have addressed other issues very well; including, consistant & solid goaltending, an elite defensive corps and shut down guys who will play against the other teams offensive stars.

    IMHO the only piece to the puzzle that remains missing is that even strength scoring punch, which may come from within the organization in the near future or will be aquired at the trade deadline for a combination of an established NHLer(s) and prospect(s).

    Whichever way you look at it I believe that this edition of the Habs is on track to take a run at the Cup this year and win it in 2009, on their 100th anniversary.

    GO HABS GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. Scotty90 says:

    I agree there is a lack of scoring 5 on 5, but the chances have been there and its a matter of the puck just not bouncing their way. Still there are things they could do to improve and that involves winning more face-offs, shooting moer and creating traffic in front of the nets. They should try Komisarek to create that traffic like the Sens used to do with Chara. Latendresse has the size but doesn’t do it very often.

  31. 24 Cups says:

    Brisebois is just a stop gap measure until our young guys join the team. At present, none of them are ready to make the jump. I have to admit that some of his plays turn my stomach but he’s always been that way. We could do worse and for a lot more money (McCabe in Toronto, Zhitnik in Atlanta) Hopefully, Patrice is only here for one year. When he leaves it will be a good omen because it will signify that our kids are ready to make the jump. Very soon, guys like McDonagh, Valentenko, Fischer, Carle, Emelin, and O’Byrne will challenge for jobs and totally revamp our defense. All in all, I think Gainey made a good move bringing him back and for a decent cap salary. Brisebois is serving a purpose. As for Gorges, I don’t really see him being a long term Hab. He’s a spare part.

  32. HabFab says:

    Who cares? 5 on 5, PP, a flying pig, as long as it goes in….

  33. ebk says:

    is anyone concerned about the habs lack of scoring 5 on 5. The PP has been awesome, Huet and Price have been fantastic. These two are the main reason why the Canadiens have such a good record. Defensively, 5 on 5 the Canadiens have been one of the better teams in the NHL this season. Price and Huet have had a large impact on this. Offensively so far this season, the Canadiens 5 on 5 have been horrible. They rank second last in the NHL on 5 on 5 scoring. Overall the team is a minus 5 on 5 and needs to improve this quickly. That or the PP needs to keep clicking at the level it is now.

    Roman Hamrlik, Brian Smolinski and Tom Kostopoulous, after 17 games each, are still all looking for their first 5 on 5 goal as a Montreal Canadien. Saku Koivu has only one goal 5 on 5 and that was as the extra attacker on a delayed penalty. Their defense as a group has scored only 2 goals 5 on 5. Kovalev leads the team with 4. After that there are six players tied at two goals. Among them is everybody’s favorite whipping boy, Guilliame Latendresse.

    No need to panic yet. Their record is great, the PP and goalies have had a huge impact on this. This team needs to start scoring 5 on 5 pretty soon or they will be hard pressed to maintain their current lofty perch in the standings

  34. HabsInBlood says:

    I think I figured out why. The game is being shown on NHLN-US, which I guess preempts a Center Ice airing. My service provider here in Denver is Comcast, which doesn’t appear to carry this channel yet. The 2 satellite networks do carry it – bugger.

    Does anyone in the US know the status of NHLN-US and when it might start airing on Comcast? Apparently, Comcast is part owner ( of NHLN-US and also own versus, so there’s some contractual shi* going on.

  35. Habs_008 says:

    Plecks line is making some real noise around, they just need to keep it going, if we can get our top line going and Ryder going we will have a great year. Please sit Brise-by and put in Gorges. Brise-by can make a great pass from end to end, but he makes so many mistakes on D, and gives the puck away too much. I remember the bad old days when we would BOOOOOOOOOOO everytime he touched the puck, haha.

  36. JasonM says:

    This game is a perfect opportunity for Montreal to get back on track by playing smart and going back to the way to earn a pair of points instead of stealing them.


  37. HabsInBlood says:

    Darn it. Looks like Center Ice will not be showing the game … which is a total bummer for US based Hab fans.

  38. 24 Cups says:

    Enough talk about Ryder! Our real first line these days is the Plekanec line. Not many 3rd round picks make it to the NHL but I just love how this guy has steadily improved. He’s also partly responsible for the rebirth of Kovalev. Plekanec is the perfect example of a player who’s development was not rushed. He apprenticed in Hamilton for a few years and then gained more ice time with the Habs by ‘earning’ it. He’s the role model for what we should be doing with our other young draft picks (the only exception being Carey Price – he’s the franchise, he’s ready, and he’s here now) I love Tomas’ skating, hustle, and creativity with the puck – I just wish he would shoot more. Bring on the speed tonight boys – the Sabres defense in vastly overrated.

  39. MAB the HAB says:

    I completely agree, but would add that to be able to get more shots the first step would be to win more faceoffs. Their faceoff percentage is in the lower third of the league.

    To state the obvious: not winning face offs leads to less puck control both on the offensive and defensive zones, which in turn leads to more shots for the bad guys and less shots for our Habs.

    Faceoffs need to be the current coaching emphasis, IMHO.

  40. Rugger says:

    Not concerned at all since they have yet to be trailing after 1. Don’t know the stats on trailing after 2, but it could’nt have been more than 2-3 games.

  41. J.T. says:

    I’m not a bit worried about that stat…for the simple reason that the Habs are very rarely behind in a game. They’re usually ahead or tied at the ends of the first two periods, so you won’t see me complaining. Just goes to prove stats can be spun to prove anything.

    As for Ryder, I don’t think it’s the epiphany they’re looking for…it’s a solution. Carbonneau has said they’re hoping putting Ryder with different linemates might force him to think differently, rather than stay in his comfortable rut with Higgins and Koivu.

  42. MAB the HAB says:

    The Habs have yet to trail after the 1st period, so the stat is not so much .000% as it is N/A or a “0 out of 0”.
    And I dont think they have trailed many times in the second either, but that would need to be researched to get the actual stat and not the percentage.

  43. Scotty90 says:

    As a couple of you posted yesterday, our shots on net are not what they were in the first dozen games. Habs have to get back that ‘shooting gallery’ mentatlity and just dispense rubber like there is no tomorrow. That’s the only way they’ll get the better of Miller if he’s in nets tonight, and he most likely will.

  44. kevin m says:


    I like Chipchura too. I think he’s strong on the puck, sees the ice well & is defensively responsible beyond his years.

    To answer your question, though, Ryder plays RW & so does Kostopoulos. Chipchura is a center.

  45. cautiousoptimist says:

    Is anyone else concerned about that stat?

    Win% when leading after 1: .750
    Win% when leading after 2: .700
    Win% when trailing after 1: .000
    Win% when trailing after 2: .000

    And Kostopoulos will be fine – remember, it’s not about promotions and demotions, first lines and third lines, it’s about putting together three lines that can score and one that can shut the other team down. Koivu and Higgins could use a big body to hit and skate hard and crash the net. And anyway if the line numbers had anything to do with production, our second line would be our first, our first would be our second, and our third and fourth would trade places every other night.

    I don’t know why we’re all hot and bothered about players needing “messages” sent to them. You don’t think Ryder knows that he’s performing below expectations on a good line, and the pressure of a one-year contract? Sending him to the third line isn’t going to produce an epiphany here – the man knows what he has to do.

    As for Lats, he potted 16 in his rookie season – we know he can play. He was actually pretty darn good with Koivu and Ryder when Higgins got hurt last year. It’s a vicious circle: you need ice time to perform well, but you need to perform well to get ice time. He only started to shine on the top line last year, when that cycle was broken and he got some ice time he hadn’t yet earned, but he certainly earned it retroactively. Maybe he deserves a kick at the can again – he can hit and crash the net as much as Kosto can if Carbo tells him to.

  46. J.T. says:

    Well, I think this starts with faceoffs. If they improve their faceoff win percentage, they improve the amount of time they actually have the puck. That has to translate to more shots and chances to score. If they spend time working on that and are successful, I think we’ll see a turnaround in even-strength offensive production accordingly.

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