Thursday, February 12, 2009

Should the NHL be coaching the Habs?

The NHL did something Thursday that Guy Carbonneau probably should have done a while ago, and that's sit Tomas Plekanec.

I understand why Carbonneau was reluctant to do it, because Plekanec generally works as hard as anyone on the team. But in a results-driven world, Plekanec wasn't getting results and a game in the press box in, say, December or January might have done him some good. Now he'll be forced to watch the next two games after the NHL suspended him for his dirty slew foot on Denis Grebeshkov in the beat down by the Oilers on Wednesday night.

The suspension was more than deserved, and probably could have been a little longer because that was a very dangerous play. But the irony of the situation is that it might be just what the doctor ordered for Plekanec, who needs to turn things around in a hurry.

Meanwhile, Carbonneau did the expected thing and announced that Jaroslav Halak will be in goal against the Avalanche in Denver on Friday night, and I think we're going to start to see a "win and you're in" approach from Carbonneau for the next little while.

Of course, that approach requires a win first.

Carbonneau also switched his lines at practice Thursday, and it was a needed shuffle because the combinations he used in Edmonton had to have left his players heads scratching.

The Koivu-Kovalev experiment is worth a try at this point because, well, Carbonneau's tried just about every other combination imaginable except for this one. I also like having Christopher Higgins play between the Kostitsyn brothers because that line should fly, in theory at least.

But the line I'm most excited to see is Maxim Lapierre between rookies Max Pacioretty and Matt D'Agostini, probably Carbonneau's three best forwards of late, which isn't saying much but it's something. Pacioretty's combination of playmaking and jam should mesh well with Higgins' hustle and D'Agostini's sniper qualities. I also believe this will be Pacioretty's best chance to show he can be more effective that Guillaume Latendresse because he'll be playing in his spot.

But the most important change for Friday night's game will be on defence, and I hope Carbonneau and Doug Jarvis can see how badly some of their guys are playing back there right now. Really, none of the defencemen are playing well, so this is a case of sitting the ones that are playing the worst, and in my eyes that's Francis Bouillon and Roman Hamrlik. I'm not sure if Carbonneau would dare sit Hamrlik, and it probably wouldn't be a good idea because he'll be needed down the stretch, but I feel he deserves it. However, Carbonneau remembers what happened when he sat Craig Rivet way back when, and that may be a warning not to sit Hamrlik.

If it were up to me, I'd go with Andrei Markov, Mike Komisarek, Hamrlik, Ryan O'Byrne, Patrice Brisebois and Mathieu Dandenault, except I'd split the top defence pairing because they're simply not playing up to snuff.

The performance of the defence is a major reason why the goaltending has been so bad, which is a major reason why this team's confidence is so fragile, so Carbonneau should focus on this group for Friday night's game and make sure they have a clear directive and stick to it. Anyone who deviates from the plan should be benched, without exception.

At least that's what I'd do, but I'm no hockey coach.

Thank God for that.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!

EE said...

linked to your article today....
http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog/Eric-Engels/New-Life-in-Colorado-You-Wont-Know-Unless-you-Watch-it/82/19369

pmk said...

"Pacioretty's combination of playmaking and jam should mesh well with Higgins' hustle and D'Agostini's sniper qualities"

you mean lapierre right? cause you said higgins is playing with the sisters.
I really can't believe we haven't made a move- at least a minor one to address the pp. "In Bob We Trust" - for the first time I am beginnning to question.

Arpon Basu said...

I did mean Lapierre, and thanks for the link buzzman