Thursday, February 5, 2009

Is the Golden Boy's spot safe?

I'm pretty sure Guillaume Latendresse is asking himself the same question, though I doubt he refers to himself as the Golden Boy.

I know no one wishes an injury on anyone, but this is nonetheless a yawning door that's opening for someone like Max Pacioretty to show that he can be more effective than Latendresse in that role.

Of course, that's assuming Latendresse even had a role, but the role he's supposed to play is a cross between a banger and a scorer. He played a lot better with Maxim Lapierre and Tom Kostopoulos, but the fact remains that the organization likely believed he would be a lot farther along in his development at this point when the decision was made to keep him in the NHL rather than send him to junior three years ago.

Now, Latendresse is up for a new contract this summer and even though he went on a stretch where he was playing pretty well, he hasn't come anywhere close to where his ceiling should be.

Pacioretty, meanwhile, has an opportunity over the next four to six weeks to show that he might in fact deserve Latendresse's minutes, and quite frankly I'm excited to see what he will do with it because he appears to be someone that could turn into a late-season bloomer for the Habs.

Playing with Lapierre will definitely help, because his energy is infectious and he is easily the team's most improved player. It will likely help Sergei Kostitsyn as well, because if he played with half the energy Lapierre shows every night he'd be a force.

If Pacioretty goes on a little run here and starts making plays like the one he made to set up Lapierre's goal Tuesday night, it could very well cement his spot in the lineup even when Latendresse is healthy, which would obviously be a disastrous turn of events for the Golden Boy as he goes looking for a new contract this summer.

Pacioretty has six points in in 14 games with 13:39 of ice time per game, which translates to almost exactly the same pace as Latendresse's 18 points in 43 games with 13:41 on the ice per contest. But something tells me that Pacioretty will improve as the going gets tougher this month while teams get desperate to make the playoffs, while Latendresse has had a tendency to wither in intense environments.

How Pacioretty reacts to the increased urgency in the games over the six weeks will likely have a huge impact on the role Latendresse will play upon his return.


Sliver24 said...

All I can say is this: I hope Lafaiblesse DOES refer to himself in the 3rd person as Golden Boy.

"Uh honey, do you need Golden Boy to pick anything up on the way home from the Bell Centre?"

"Hey Maxime, Golden Boy is hungry. Let's grab a steak at Queue de Cheval after the game. Golden Boy's treat!"

"Excuse me Mr. Tremblay, do you think you could lobby in your column for Golden Boy to get more ice time and play with Koivu? Go0lden Boy isn't getting the respect he deserves because Carbo and Gainey hate French-speaking players."


pmk said...

Golden boy is just an average hockey player thats too slow to play on our team. It just that simple. I agree with you arp- Pacioretty will show now what he can do. He's a better skater and he's more aggressive than Latendresse- he's a keeper.

You mentioned Connolly awhile back as someone worth taking a risk on... saw hIM play the other night and he looked great (it was against the leafs though) but I question the need for another center. If Pleks can get it going, which i think he can, i think we are ok at center with the emergence of Lapierre. Perhaps a 4 line center to help out begin when he gets hurt but thats about it. Unless you can trade pleks to clearly upgrade the position but that's not easy. I would love Jokinen from phoenix (i heard they weren't happy with him) or you know who of course but realistically, with the way the nhl is now, its just not gonna happen. My point is i don't want another center - it just confuses things - i like having 2 scoring lines, a checking line, and a crash and bang line. I think its the way to go.

Finally - if your gonna take a chance on someone why not take a chance on gaborik? He's injured now but he's suppose to be back soon... what do you think he would cost at this point?

Sliver24 said...

Give the kid credit PMK. His skating and effort level has come a long way, even since the beginning of the season. Hell, I've even seem him win a few footraces, which is something I never thought I'd see.

I think what it truly boils down to is personality, and while no one questions Latendresse's talent his drive is obviously not there. Frankly, I doubt it ever will be.

A similar player that comes to my mind is Chad Kilger. High expectations, big guy, lots of talent, short flashes of the player he should be, but generally relegated to the third and fourth lines because of a lack of "edge."

And in my opinion nobody on the Habs hits as hard along the boards as Latendresse. Pound for pound Frankie probably take him, but overall Golden Boy takes the prize.

If you're looking for a solid third liner who will score 35-45 points a year playing 15 minutes a game, Latendresse is your man. Once we all get past the ridiculous expectations and mentally slot him into that spot we'll all be better off.

The sad truth is he may only be able to escape those high expectations by moving to another team.

pmk said...

I agree Sliver completely - wow don't say that often. Kilger is a perfect example. Latendresse just does not seem to have the personality to be a top 6 power foward in this league. My other point is that Pac, I think, can becasue he does seem to have that personality...

Sliver24 said...

Way to be PMK! Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and again, eh? Today just happens to be your day! ;)

Anonymous said...

I'd like to give Golden Boy a golden shower. That sloth may hit hard but it only happens once the puck has easily been cleared from the zone. Every one of his hits are bordering on being obstruction calls. This is not a Gainey / Carb type player. In fact I'm almost sure he's still here because of politics. Same type of reason why you'll never see Muller become the head coach later on in life even if fully qualified. He's not a Guy or a Jacques, Alain, Claude...
We have the opposite problem that most other teams face. We sell out whether playing .400 or .800 hockey. It allows us to make stupid decisions and get away with it. GOD!

TK said...

Hopefully Pacioretty can continue to improve into the playoffs. However, some pundints claim these American College boys have trouble with the 82 game schedual during their first year pro. They (the experts) claim the productivity tends to wain towards the end of the season and into the playoffs due to fatigue. I have no evidence to support such an assertion- I am simply regurgitating ideas of otrhers.

Do you think this will be a problem for Pac-Man?

Arpon Basu said...

It could be, but all rookies tend to hit a wall at some point. It could be even worse for Pacioretty because of how much energy he plays with, but I think he opportunity of solidifying a spot in the NHL will provide the needed adrenaline to ward off fatigue.