Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Oh My Lapierre! (Habs lose in SO to Ilse 4-3)

I know I have not posted in a while, but I feel like I have to respond to the Lapierre selection as the first shootout skater.

For the record, I like the decision. (and I hate Martin. Just thought I'd throw that in there.)

Lapierre had a very good game. Lapierre had a rough ride in February/March, but now seems to be back in playing form and working for the team. And if the Habs want to go anywhere in the post season, they need all the offensive threats they can muster: and that means giving all their players confidence to score.

Lapierre had 2 breaks in the game; the first one he out-skated the defence and deked the pants off Biron. That was no fluke. The second was a 2-on-OH! Where he made the right decision to take a shot, and it was a perfect far-side shot to set up Darche to punish on a rebound. Biron got a glove on it, but it was still the right play.

Fans seem to lament the fact that Gionta / Gomez / Kostitsyn / Plekanec didn't get the pick in such an important game. Allow me to retort. Gomez is just plain laughable in breakaway situations. Kostitsyn is about as reliable as Lapierre; Pleks is no better, and Gionta was probably the 3rd shooter. Fact is, this year we have no Saku Koivu -- the guy who was extremely reliable in a shootout. So why shouldn't Laps get a shot? Not one of those players on the bench can guarantee us a goal in a SO.

The shootout is a coin-flip, a quick game of tic-tac-toe -- not chess, not even checkers. Lapierre proved he had the moves and the mojo tonight, so he earned a shot. (note: then he blew it.) Martin has already shown us he likes to go with the "hot hand" - a policy I hate, but can see rational in. Lapierre was hot.

The loss was a team effort. No way a playoff ready team gives up a goal with 2 minutes to go (to a basement dwelling team).  No way your most consistently threatening line against the Islanders is Moore/SK/Moen. There were a host of other breakdowns that caused the loss; Lapierre having a shot in the SO was hardly the problem.

Unless you see the selection as Martin "giving up" on his team - essentially shrugging his shoulders and saying "whatever!" -- but I don't see it that way. I see it as a gamble that didn't pay off, but it was a bet as good as any other on his bench last night. Besides - Laps gets that goal, and you have another player stoked for the playoffs -- where there are no shootouts anyhow.

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