Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pac-Man and Weber live another day

Max Pacioretty and Yannick Weber have survived another round of cuts, and now the hysteria surrounding the two prospects can be ratcheted up another level.

The Habs sent Ben Maxwell, Matt D’Agostini and Gregory Stewart to Hamilton after Wednesday night’s 3-1 win over the Boston Bruins.

I’m not sure Weber has a real chance of sticking in Montreal, so his extended stay is just some recognition of just how strong a camp he’s had.

Pacioretty’s case is a bit different, because I believe that if the stars align themselves properly, he could make the squad. However, that belief is not quite as strong as it was only 24 hours ago after Pacioretty put on a show in the Habs 2-1 shootout win over Detroit.

My reluctance on Pacioretty’s chances is based on Carbonneau’s comments Wednesday night regarding Guillaume Latendresse, who scored a power play goal on a rebound from two feet outside the goal crease, an area he rarely ventured into last year.

“You guys have been talking a lot about how hard the young guys are pushing,” Carbonneau said. “Not that Guillaume is a grizzled veteran, but maybe he felt that pressure from the young guys. I was never worried about him, because players with his size always need a few extra games to get ready.”

It’s the last part of that quote that intrigued me, because it re-affirmed what Carbonneau said on day two of training camp, that Latendresse’s spot on the third line with Lang is all but assured. I thought that maybe Carbonneau would relent a little on that, but it doesn’t sound like he has.

I asked Latendresse after the game if he felt any extra pressure Wednesday night with the cuts looming, and the talk increasing about the threat to his position being made by Pacioretty’s emergence.

He wasn’t entirely in agreement that his spot is in jeopardy.

“If I lost my spot, it would be because somebody’s played better than me and I don’t think anyone has played that well to take my spot,” Latendresse said, a clear reference to Pacioretty. “But I had to play a good game because if I wasn’t playing at my top level it would open the door for other guys. I’m pretty confident with the way I’ve played since the start of camp.”

Latendresse also said some other things that should lead to a more productive player, if he actually follows through on comments like these this season. Here’s a sample:

“That’s going to be a key for me, if I get to play on the power play, is to be in front of the goalie, I watched (Tomas) Holmstrom last game and the last time we played against them in Detroit, and I worked with Marc Denis on it. He watched me yesterday and today when I was in front of the goalie and he tried to give me some tips. I think it’s paying off.”

“I want to be around the net. I think I can make a living being around that net.”

“In my first year I was more physical, but last year some things happened that might have changed my mind. This year, I want to get to being the player I was the first year I came here, play physical, go the net, stay in front and get those rebounds.”

Whatever he says, that to me sounds like a guy who not only feels ever so slightly threatened, but also realizes that he’s entering his third season in the league and it’s time for him to establish an identity.

Patterning his game after a guy like Holmstrom would be a great starting point.


pierre said...

The comments made by Latendresse as you reported them is news to me... the very best news I heard during pre-saison ( even though there were plenty others this year ).

If Latendresse applies all he haves in making a living around the net this year .. this alone would make Montreal a better team than they were season.

Latendresse has all the right tools to park himself in front of the net banging in rebounds and he now has near ideal line partners to do it successfully even during regular shift.

Hight scoring is essentiel to be an elite team but owning versatile scoring ways within a team is what make the difference between being contender or a cup winner.

Watching the game against Boston tonight as reminded me about how average was our game last season when playing eventstrenth time..... our force was scoring during PP time (first in the league) not when playing 5-on-5 ( fifteen league wide).

I believe that our new additions of this summer combined with our youth progress will improved our scoring habilities when 5on5..... and if Lats is fully commited to stand his way in front of the net from day one onward... then we could very well become one of the best 5 scoring team at eventstrengh in the ligue... then everything will be possible.

Anonymous said...

Heard on 990 this AM that Latender was best on team last year in goals per minute played in 5 on 5 situations. Not bad considering who he was playing with and how often he was being shuffled in and out of the lineup. Also heard we can't send him down because he'd have to clear waivers meaning any team could pick him up for his 800K salary. A no brainer for anyone with a little patience. Let's not forget how young he is. Sorry Max, we'll see you during our December slump or God forbid when someone important goes down with a big blessure.