Sunday potpourri

As you savor a big win and wait for football to start, a cool Carey Price video (found by Jarred Friedman) and a contributions from two of the more astute members of the Commentariat, JF and MathMan.

 

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An appreciation of Mathieu Darche from JF:

What a hard-working, gritty player Mathieu
Darche is, and what a dream he must be living right now.  Aside from his
season in Tampa two years ago, he’s played only a handful of NHL games
over the last decade, and now, after sitting out early on, he has a
regular spot in our line-up, and it’s difficult to imagine JM choosing
to leave him out.  He goes to the dirty areas of the ice, he finishes
his checks, he takes whatever punishment is handed out to hold his
position.  It was great to see him rewarded with a goal this afternoon.

Darche
also seems to be a leader and something of a teacher.  When the RDS
guys interviewed him, he said he talks to Eller a lot during the games,
praising him for good plays and maybe giving him tips from time to time.
In another interview a few days ago, he said he tries to keep things
simple and not force the play in ways that might be risky.  Seems like a
good role-model for a young player.

Gauthier deserves a lot of
credit for seeing Darche’s value and signing him.  I was happy with the
signing, but I thought Darche would be our extra forward, playing
sometimes, sitting a lot, and maybe shuttling back and forth between
Hamilton and Montreal.  I didn’t see him becoming a key player on our
third line (which was probably our second line today).  But he’s
developed great chemistry with Eller and Pouliot, as he had with
Halpern, and that line was certainly our best this afternoon.

Speaking
of Gauthier, I, like most on HIO, was disappointed when the Canadiens
appointed him to succeed Bob Gainey, but I have to say I think he’s done
a tremendous job so far.  The Dominic Moore trade last spring worked
out very well (even if the price was a bit steep), and his moves over
the summer are looking like genius.  Eller has really emerged over the
last few games, and will only get better.  Give him a couple of years
and he’ll be a dominant two-way centre.  Jeff Halpern has been a
valuable addition, excellent on faceoffs and the penalty kill.  And
whatever prompted the Senators to give up on Alexandre Picard?
Hardworking, unspectacular, reliable – didn’t they think their defence
could use those qualities? 

Kudos to Yannick Weber, who’s had two
solid games and looks twice the defenseman he did a year ago.  But I
think P.K. needs to get back into the lineup.  Perhaps if whatever is
bothering Gorges continues to do so, he could sit out a game, or one of
our older guys could have a rest against Ottawa.

I was glad to see
Mike Cammalleri play a strong defensive game and score a goal.  I hope
it lowers his frustration level a bit.  The RDS guys pointed out that he
was unselfish at the very end; instead of going for the empty net from
our blueline, which would have resulted in icing if he’d missed, he got
around the San Jose player before taking his shot.  I said the other day
I thought he was showing signs of selfishness, so I was happy to see
him putting his team first.

And from MathMan, taking me to task for dissing Gomez:

“Scott Gomez finished the game as possibly the first player in the
history of hockey to be making $8 million as a fourth-lin centre. The
coach though Gomez, max lapierre and Tom Pyatt generated positive
energy, but c’mon …”

How much is Kovalchuk making this year?

More
importantly, some things one wouldn’t necessarily notice while watching
the game, but Olivier (at En Attendant les Nordiques) does because he
pores over shift charts and counts scoring chances: Gomez’s line was
definitely not used like a fourth line.

“Positive energy” was only
a tiny part of the picture. Olivier’s observation is very keen: once
Gomez was put with the speedy defensive wingers, he was used against
Thornton systematically, in lieu of Plekanec. This is one thing Gomez
does very well (he can play against anyone, including Joe Thornton) and
not only did the line outchance the Sharks’ big line, it also freed up
Plekanec to play against lesser lights.

Gomez is the Habs’
unluckiest player, now that Eller isn’t anymore. That’s the story of his
game. There’s been entirely too much crap written about how badly he’s
been playing. The reality is, he’s not.

He really doesn’t mesh
well with Cammalleri and Moen though; but with the Habs only having 5
true top-6 forwards (though Pouliot and Eller look like they might
graduate soon) and three of them occupied on a top line Martin won’t
want to break, that really complicates Martin’s line-building.

If the Habs are to make a move, and a top-6 forward isn’t a priority, Gauthier is completely out to lunch.

“think Jacques Martin’s system is old-fashioned and doomed to failure”

The
notion that there’s much commonality between last year’s system and
this year’s is dubious at best. The team pressures a lot more this year
and actually plays modern hockey, which they did not last year. Najor,
major kudos to Martin for changing his stripes, something I did not for a
second believe he would be able to. That’s some tasty crow right there.

29 Comments

  1. Vid says:

    5) And are winning despite missing a legit top 6 winger and having an offensively underperforming 2nd line center.

  2. Cape Breton says:

    4) And are winning, too, by giving a mostly life-long minor-leaguer (Darche) a chance.

     

  3. Bouleau noir says:

    This is a poor translation of what Gosh Gorge had to say to La Presse about the Habs’s defensive game a week or so ago….      

    ” The active component of our defensive game is meant to force our opponents into vulnerable situations and places where we can initiate our transition game from a favorable position….. positioning is important but there is nothing passive about the approach nor the execution “.

     

    Jacques Martin warned us last season that it would take time for the players to play his system well (a system he had described to be somehow akin to what was played in Detroit and New Jersey) which he kepted repeating until the very end of last season even when winning… that ” the team was a process, was a work in progress yet with a long way to go  “.

     

    In the series the Habs took a step up and this season they are finally reaping the rewards brought by a process requiring time to be effective.

     

    When ask by La Presse about comparing this season’s system with last year, Lapierre said “no different, its exactly the same system….. only the players execution of it has improved “. 

     


     


     

  4. stephen says:

    Only because Ed Ronan and Craig Darby were unavailable, I suspect

  5. HardHabits says:

    I read a great comment on TSN last night. I wont quote it word for word by here’s the gist:

    The Habs are in the elite in the league even though they:

    1) were able to trade their play-off hero from last season,

    2) are winning without their #1 defenseman,

    3) and are winning even though they can sit their #1 prospect and star rookie by filling his spot with another prospect.

    This IMHHO is just the tip of the iceberg. Good times!!

  6. Exit716 says:

    I was hoping Les Kuntar would have been given one of the goalie spots.

  7. Danno says:

    Benoit Brunet?

     

    “Hey Richard, two minutes for looking so good!”

  8. Exit716 says:

    Donald Audette and Normand Dupont as part of the Habs legends? Really?


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