One would think mid-March is not a time to be sending messages, but I have to admire what Bob Gainey is considering doing.
If indeed he benches Mike Komisarek and Andrei Kostitsyn for Saturday night's game against the Maple Leafs, it would be the equivalent of shock therapy for a team that desperately needs it.
But, on the other side of the coin, if this doesn't work nothing will.
Still, it's not every day a coach decides to scratch his leading goal-scorer and someone who began the season as a top-pair defenceman, particularly not one who still aspires to not only make the playoffs, but win once he gets there.
That should, in theory, get the attention of Alex Kovalev that he may be next if he puts in another performance like he did Thursday night. But then again, who really has any idea at all of what gets Kovalev's attention?
In the case of Kostitsyn, Gainey said it was simply his uninspired play against Ottawa that led to this decision and not necessarily his play in general of late, noting that he didn't generate a single scoring chance against the Senators despite playing significant minutes and on the power play.
For Komisarek, Gainey called out his hesitant play, which is either a sign of a lack of confidence or a clear indication that he isn't completely healed from that shoulder injury. I personally believe it's the latter of the two, because it's rare that Komisarek is so physically invisible.
In his last five games Komisarek was credited with only seven hits, and four of those games were played in front of the Bell Centre stat guys who love boosting his numbers. That is simply not the player Komisarek is supposed to be, and if he's hurt he's got to learn how to play through the pain or else take himself out of the lineup, because he can't help the Habs playing like this.
Gainey also announced his intention to start Jaroslav Halak against Toronto and says that was the plan all along, but he suggested that the job is his to lose when he said, "I hope Halak’s performance will make my decision easier for the next game and for next week."
Essentially, a solid performance from the goalie will result in Carey Price watching more games from the bench. Gainey was asked directly whether Halak was the guy he would ride to the end of the season, and he refused to commit. I suppose that was in case he needed to turn to Price again, but I think I would have preferred hearing him give Halak that public endorsement right now.
He certainly deserves it.