Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tough to say there was a real difference

I'm going to keep this pretty brief, because I found it pretty hard to see anything that really jumped out at me in Montreal's 4-3 overtime win Tuesday that screamed coaching change.

One thing I was thinking between the second and third periods was that the Habs might have folded a week ago under Guy Carbonneau after playing such an atrocious second period, so how they came out for the third would be a pretty good indicator of Bob Gainey's influence in the room and behind the bench.

Another change was that Gainey significantly shortened his bench in the third period with the Canadiens desperate for a goal to tie it, going with three lines, and with Tom Kostopoulos seeing very little ice time. I would have to believe he would have been out there if the Habs were protecting lead, but that kind of bench management is a big departure from Carbonneau's insistence to roll four lines all game long.

Gainey said he was finding his way on the bench in the second period, so he couldn't really blame the players for their performance because he too was a little lost. But he did identify a few things that still needed to change.

"I felt I saw a lot of things I've been seeing recently," he said. "Even in the first period, I thought that we were just a little bit behind. We weren't right on the timing either defensively or offensively to accomplish the play that was there. The second period slipped away into a deeper groove in that direction. The third period was our best period, and we needed it."

The positives in my eyes was the play of Saku Koivu's line with Alex Tanguay and Andrei Kostitsyn, who for a second straight game was Montreal's best trio and produced three of Montreal's four goals.

Carey Price gave up a couple of softies, but he was there when he was needed in the third period and looked confident in goal, even if he was far from perfect.

Finally, the defence looked completely transformed, at least the top two pairings. Josh Gorges had a rough night playing alongside Mathieu Schneider, but I felt Mike Komisarek had his best game in some time as did Roman Hamrlik and Ryan O'Byrne, while Andrei Markov was his usual self.

Wednesday at noon will be Bob Gainey's first full practice as coach, and I have a feeling that the first obvious signs of changes will come in Thursday's game against the Islanders. But as far as starts go, Tuesday's win wasn't bad.


pierre said...

A crucial win which almost evaded us.

The energy level was good yet not as high as I anticipated it to be under the circumstance..... I was surprised about how flat they came out in the second period...... I guess it shows that their confidence is tsill low and that it might take a little while to come back.

A tactic used by Gainey was the use of shorter shifts between line changes....... Detroit did that throughout the playoffs last season.

Another rational use of energy by Gainey was to avoid using his best players to kill penalties..... Dandenault and co. accomplished those tasks as it should...... why risk injury to your best players.... why waist their energy when you might have to double shift them in the third in order to get that goal you need to win games.

As you mentioned Gainey refrained using his 4th line in the third and gaved his best players additional ice time to get that goal we were in need of.... all NHL coaches would do that.... except for Carbo of course.

Those three tactics are rational and much welcomed..... a few more will come in du time..... anyway the dark age is over.

Thanks to Schneider our PP excellence is back to where we had it last season...... now that this has been corrected how good a team are we ?

Considering our team as a whole I feel we need our top 6 players to be the legitimate threat that the top two lines are supposed to be....... D'Agostini seems to weakened the lethal potential of the Plek line..... he has a good shot but he doesn't protect the puck very well among other things..... Higgins would better matched the skill level of Plek and Kovy and would increased our chances during pp time..... this line was not very hot tonight.

I must say that in this game Tanguay has impressed me more than at any other time before..... he is a little faster than I remember him being..... a brilliant player to say the least.

Sliver24 said...

I disagree with your opinion that there weren't any changes on display last night. Two differences jumped out at me almost immediately.

First and most obvious was Gainey's attempt to speed up the team's transition to offence when they pick up the puck in their own end. As soon as the puck was on anyone's stick there was a quick pass to an open man or the player with possession would head up the ice. No more lollygagging in their own end waiting for the play to set up.

The second thing I noticed was that forecheck you've been looking for Arp. I've rarely seen the team that aggressive without the puck in the opposing end.

Those are two relatively minor changes in the grand scheme of things, but I like both tweaks and at least it's a start. I'm sure there are plenty more to come.

Well folks, I'm off to FLA with the family for ten days for some fun in the sun. I'll be sure to check in often. I'm going to see what I can hack together using my VPN at the office so I can watch the games on the RDS web site. I've heard they block them outside of Canada but I've got a few tricks up my sleeve ;)

B B said...

A) Ryan O'Byrne has played well since his latest recall. I was very wrong about him. He might just be a force on the blueline.

B) I saw emotion, especially in the 3rd period. Where's that been?

C) Komisarek was actually moving people out from in front of the net. Whoa!

Q) With Lever running practices, what changes can we expect to see in terms of style of play?

Anonymous said...

for me, the most important change was shortening the bench in the third. what a relief to see koivu's line back on the ice after he got the tying goal. that is a game-breaking difference. (how many times did we see the checking line give up a goal mere seconds after we'd scored?!) : )