Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Obviously, no one in their right minds wants to see a teammate get injured, let alone two. But when Christopher Higgins and Mathieu Dandenault left the XX-XX win over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night with apparent shoulder injuries, I couldn't help but wonder what Guillaume Latendresse and Ryan O'Byrne were thinking.

Because let's be honest, the way the Habs played Tuesday night the only way those two guys had any hope of re-entering the lineup was via an injury. Assuming Dandenault can't return in time for Thursday's game against the rock-bottom Tampa Bay Lightning, I don't see how O'Byrne is not dressed, especially when you consider the opposition.

In Latendresse's case, it's not quite as clear. Guy Carbonneau will obviously not be taking Matt D'Agostini out of the lineup anytime soon as he scored another beuaty Tuesday and went to the net with a purpose, which is something Latendresse for whatever reason refuses to do.

Carbonneau could opt for Georges Laraque to take Higgins' spot and keep Sergei Kostitsyn on that line with Tomas Plekanec and Tom Kostopoulos, even though the younger Kostitsyn did nothing Tuesday to really deserve that.

Of course, I'm losing sight here of what really mattered Tuesday night, and that was a real shut-down performance against one of the league's hottest teams. Alex Kovalev needed a bounce back game after that horrendous penalty on Saturday, and even though his goal drought extended to 17 games I thought he put on a great performance.

Robert Lang took over the team's goal lead with his ninth and 10th of the year while Alex Tanguay also had a spirited contest against his former team and nemesis Mike Keenan.

As much as I hate it, the Canadiens are now 5-1-1 ever since Carbonneau decided to go with a no-forecheck, muck-up the neutral zone, boring-as-hell trap system. It is indeed creating turnovers and more scoring chances, though I still contend it doesn't use the Canadiens speed to its full potential.

But you can't really argue with success, and that system appears to have gotten the Canadiens out of their funk and on their way towards the top of the standings.


Anonymous said...

The system they are playing may be a little boring, but I think it helps take some pressure of Mtl's D-men. Opposing teams are having a hard time getting good dump-ins because the forwards are mucking up that neutral zone. So the defensemen are having an easier time moving the puck out of the zone. I agree that the system doesn't use the speed of the forwards to the fullest potential, but it also helps out a smaller defensive squad (especially without Komo and O'Byrne.

Anonymous said...

are we really standing in the neutral zone waiting for the other team to make mistakes? if we are it's paying off. our speed was bottlenecked anyway in the neutral zone when we were slumping and no one could crack the o-zone except kovy and that was with three men on him ending in a turnover.

how would you suggest the habs use the forecheck effectively so they can take advantage of their speed? would it rely on our passing game - which has been much stronger of late?

pierre said...

In opposition of what we did 2 years ago our formation is now asked to put pressure in the neutral zone and not to give up on the blue line as easilly as we did back then when we played an out dated traping sytem which was dysfonctional not only with our team's profile but also with the nature of the league in which it was used in...... our organisation had a serious brain cramp that season.

Carbo is asking everyone to get involved defensivelly..... I whish the same thing would be said for our offensive game in that the 5 players should all feel conscerned and involved whenever we are in possession of the puck..... I whish our D players would play a higher role than they sometime do in helping out team maintained offensive pressure because most teams are so good defensivelly now days that scoring goals without the Ds full participation is getting more and more a difficult thing to do.