Monday, March 16, 2009

Carbo must be chuckling

Bob Gainey threw his forwards into a blender at practice late Monday afternoon and came up with some wacky line combinations.

Before people get all goofy over this, it should be noted that just because Alex Kovalev skated with Christopher Higgins and Maxim Lapierre on Monday doesn't necessarily mean that will be the case against the Rangers on Tuesday night. But if they do remain together, I've got to imagine Guy Carbonneau will be busting a gut laughing. (UPDATE: They will in fact be playing together, Gainey confirmed, as he hopes the lack of fanciness displayed by Higgins and Lapierre will rub off on Kovalev. Let the hilarity ensue).

The one change I had noticed since Gainey took over behind the bench three games ago was that he didn't touch his lines, despite having every reason in the world to do so. I actually thought it was a nice change that may pay off in the long run when (or if) some chemistry develops on one of the top lines.

But judging from today's practice, it looks like it's back to status quo in terms of stability among the forward lines, and the move is very Carbo-esque, if you ask me.

The one bit of encouraging news was that Mathieu Dandenault practised as a defenceman, which I believe should have happened a long time ago. After calling out Mike Komisarek following the Devils game without specifically naming him, maybe it's time for Gainey to sit him out a game and throw Dandenault in, or even Ryan O'Byrne.

Don't get me wrong, the Canadiens need Komisarek at his best if they have any hope of making the playoffs. But right now, he's far from being at his best, and maybe a game off might allow him to see that he doesn't constantly need to be in a rush. It certainly helped Tomas Plekanec, maybe it will have the same effect on Komisarek.

The Habs are embarking on the most crucial week of the season, and anything less than two wins against the Rangers, Senators on Thursday and Leafs on Saturday would have to be considered a disaster. In fact, I'm willing to say that if the Habs don't get four points this week, they'll miss the playoffs.

There, I said it. I hadn't really considered missing the post-season a possibility until now, and even then I'm not looking at last week as being an indicator of impending doom.

The Habs beat the Oilers (not entirely deserved, but a win nonetheless), lost to an Islanders team that has only three losses in nine games (ever since Bill Guerin was held out of the lineup as a pre-deadline precaution) and has also beaten New Jersey and Chicago in that span, and finally lost to a Devils club that I believe will win the Stanley Cup.

But if the Habs lay an egg against three very beatable opponents this week (yes, the Rangers are extremely beatable, Avery or no Avery), then the confidence of this still-fragile club will go down the toilet, and there's no telling how deep this spiral toward mediocrity could go.

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