So it appears Saku Koivu's ankle/foot injury is not that serious and he shouldn’t miss more than a few games. It seems to me that this would be a perfect opportunity to try and get Tomas Plekanec out of this monumental rut he's in and slot him onto the first line.
But Guy Carbonneau said Friday that Hamilton call-up Ben Maxwell will be the one centring Andrei Kostitsyn and Matt D'Agostini when the Habs take on Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals at the Bell Centre on Saturday, while Plekanec will stay on the doghouse line with Sergei Kostitsyn and Guillaume Latendresse.
I don't really get this one, other than the fact Maxwell has some chemistry with D'Agostini because they played on the same line in Hamilton. The only reasoning I can see Carbonneau using to justify this decision is that he doesn't want to mess up his other lines.
But I don't think the Plekanec line is worthy of such preservation, and it's a waste of an opportunity to give some confidence to a guy who you know can produce under the right circumstances.
This is not a knock on Maxwell, because I'm excited to see what he can do at this level, and he may very well shine on that line Saturday night and win himself some brownie points with the organization in the process. If Carbonneau is willing to throw Maxwell on to what was the top line with Koivu, I would certainly hope he would be willing to use him on the point on the power play in Robert Lang’s spot.
That’s where Maxwell plays in Hamilton, opposite Yannick Weber on the 11th ranked power play in the AHL at 19.9 per cent. Following the Bulldogs game against the Binghamton Senators at the Bell Centre on Nov. 30, Maxwell told me that he’s played the point on the power play since bantam hockey.
That fact alone should be enough to earn him an audition, seeing as he’s here anyway, and when you throw in the fact that Lang is not exactly the ideal man for the job it makes it a bit of a no-brainer, in my opinion.
But no matter how well Maxwell plays in Koivu’s absence, it is nearly impossible that this will be anything but a cameo appearance in the NHL. While D’Agostini has paid his dues in the minors to earn this shot with the parent club, Maxwell has a lot of learning and, most importantly, a lot of growing to do in Hamilton in his first professional season. Hell, the guy barely needs to shave, so more grooming in the minors will do him a world of good.
But it appears that for at least a game, or it might even be just a period with the Carbonneau juggles his lines midstream, Maxwell will be given every opportunity to show that he can one day step in and be a top-six forward for this team.
The problem I have with that is Plekanec has already shown that ability, and he should at least get a legitimate chance to prove last year wasn’t a fluke.