Thursday, March 18, 2010

Who are these guys?

Your Montreal Canadiens in past years and earlier this year had pretty much the same identity, despite the massive turnaround in personnel: contain the damage at 5-on-5, wait for power plays, score on power plays, count on tremendous goaltending, win game. If any of those ingredients failed them, they often lost.

But since the Olympic break, this is not your mom and dad's Montreal Canadiens. No, this is something completely different.

Consider that in the eight games since the resumption of hostilities, the Canadiens have a 7-1-0 mark, and this is how they got there:

  • With a power play that has clicked on 4 of 26 chances, or a very pedestrian 15.4 per cent
  • With Jaroslav Halak stopping 91.7 per cent of the shots sent his way, exceptional play, but hardly super-human and below his season average
  • By allowing over 30 shots only three times
  • By scoring 22 of 28 goals at even strength, plus two more shorthanded
  • By winning the even strength battle 22-14
  • By getting 13 goals - nearly half the total production - from members of the bottom two lines
That's a far different portrait of a team than we're used to here, one that should only improve when Mike Cammalleri - the team's best even strength scorer - comes back. Because frankly, this post-break surge has happened without the benefit of a true second line, something that may be remedied when Cammalleri slides back into his spot with Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn. Here's a look at the team's scoring leaders since the break (UPDATE 9:20 a.m. Friday - Forgot to add Plekanec on this list, he's now there):

Andrei Markov - 2-8-10
Scott Gomez - 2-7-9
Benoit Pouliot - 3-4-7
Dominic Moore - 1-6-7
Brian Gionta - 4-2-6
Sergei Kostitsyn - 4-2-6
Tomas Plekanec - 4-1-5
Glen Metropolit - 3-2-5
Mathieu Darche - 3-1-4
Travis Moen - 1-3-4
Hal Gill - 0-3-3
Tom Pyatt - 0-2-2
Andrei Kostitsyn - 0-2-2
Maxim Lapierre - 1-0-0
Josh Gorges - 0-1-1
Ryan O'Byrne - 0-1-1
Jaroslav Spacek - 0-1-1
Roman Hamrlik - 0-0-0
Ben Maxwell - 0-0-0

Aside from showing that Hamrlik is the only regular without a point since the return, I wanted to show the extent to which Andrei Kostitsyn's continued (and some might say expected) slumber is an important point here. When he got injured in December he was on a run of 10 goals in 14 games. If Cammalleri's return can somehow coax a resurrection of that player, just think of how well balanced this team will become. 


Olivier said...

I truly hope Cammalleri's return awakens Andrei, because, looking at that production from the bottom of the lineup, I can't help but think it won't last.

But I've been wrong before.

Anonymous said...

How many pts for Pleks?

Anonymous said...

AK just seems to be of those guys that takes a long time to get his fitness up to speed?

Arpon Basu said...

Thanks for pointing out the Plekanec miss. As for Andrei, I don't think it's his fitness but rather his intensity that takes time to get going.

MathMan said...

I think it's his synchronism that's off, personally. Whiffing on one-timers to open nets is not an issue of intensity or fitness, it's just timing. It's not like he's missing those because he's lazy.

But yeah, Tom Pyatt certainly isn't Mike Cammalleri.

Arpon Basu said...

Good point MathMan, but I think it's a combination of the two

Jody said...

Hey Arpon, I've been noticing in the past few weeks that the habs have started potting empty net goals. That may not be the most interesting goal stat, but I've been wondering how the habs compare to other teams in this regard, who on the team excels in that moment of the game, etc. Nothing is more frustrating than seeing a team score on you with an empty net! Also, for a coach it's good to know if a team tends to give up goals in those situations, if the team tends to score with an empty net more often, and which players on the team are good at scoring empty netters. just a thought.