Thursday, November 19, 2009

What Do We Do Now?

Gionta is confirmed out indefinitely, and what are we to do without him?

Gainey's top line acquisition has hardly been the toast of the league, scoring less that a goal a game; whereas other top lines can at least be counted on for at least 1, if not more. Gaborik, for example, has 15 goals -- will Gomez get there in the year? Part of it might be chemistry; but Gionta and Gomez were combining for some spectacular passes and plays, attacking with speed -- but the puck was not going in the net. Cammilleri is fitting in well, taking some amazing shots -- but again is failing to pot the sucker.

Chemistry aside, that line is too well defenced against. The top line, and the goalies, are ready for anything The Talent can chuck at them: cross ice passes are anticipated; speedy breaks are well covered, and the front of the net is well defended against passes to the front. In short, for all their speed and creativity, they are unable to surprise anyone.

And now Gionta is out, by far the most dangerous forward. So what do we do? Gomez is playing like a heartbroken teenager, there is a giant hole on the first line that cannot be filled with the assorted 4th liners (no matter how hard they skate) and the offence is in the toilet. Without Plekanec, this team would be worse off then the leafs!

Its pretty clear that Martin is not going to get a killer powerplay like Carbonneau had, and that is becoming the difference. Our goalies are playing great, keeping the opposition to 1 or 2 goals until late in the game, and normally that would be enough for the Habs to score on a man advantage and make a game of it. But Martin an the boys got nothing this year. I'll let you decide why the power play sucks - I'll just leave it as a fact that it does.

So what can we do? No special teams goals, and $13 million worth of talent (minus Gionta, who I think brought it up to $18 million) that can't score.

I think Martin needs to free up some ice for Gomez and Cammilleri. They are too well covered and taking the all the focus of oppositions defence. The 3rd and 4th lines are no threat whatsoever, so why bother? But Plekanec has shown he has come to play every night, recovering the form he had 2 years ago. Kostitsyn is finally getting into the groove of things, too.

I say give Pleks and Kostitsyn top line honours for a few games: the majority of the minutes - but only by a few. Give them the job of driving most of the offence. This will hopefully achieve the following: get Kostitsyn going, as he will feel the pressure of being on the top line. Give Plekanec a chance to show his top-line center talent, if any. And finally give Gomez and Cammellari some releif from getting checked into the ground each game. Once they start scoring, they can be swapped to the top again.

What do you think? Does the 7million dollar man deserve a break, or should he be forced to play through his struggles?


  1. It's odd that Sather actually did something smart financially by dumping Gomez to the Habs for cap space to pull in Gaborik. In a few more games, Gaborik will have more points then Gomez will likely get all year ;) Good times!

    Not a whole lot you can do about Gomez, you've sunk over $7M into the guy, pretty much have to hope he comes around. I still think you could bench him for a game, or at the very least drop him down a bit for a while, show him that being on the top line is a privilege. Not sure Gomez is the type of guy though that would learn from that vs start sulking. The Canadiens have enough problems without that.

    Do the Habs powerplay woes not tie back to the missing link ... Markov? He was pretty much their powerplay quarterback, ala Gonchar in Pittsburgh. Huge blow losing that guy.

    At the very least, the Habs struggles have given me cause to smile a bit, given how awful the Leafs are :) Not been a great start to this NHL season!

  2. I wouldn't bench Gomez or Cammilleri, I would try and get them away from the opposing teams top line. If Pleks et al. can shoulder the load of top line, while still giving Gomez and Cami 15+ minutes, it might give them a chance to start scoring -- get a feel for the net again. I doubt Gomez would respond to a benching. And he doesn't really deserve it.

    Their power play under Carbo was always about setting up the guy who could score -- Sourray, Streit, Kovalev -- and it struggled last year with Kovalev. But Martin either doesn't have a system to generate shots, or the players aren't listening, I dunno which.