Friday, February 20, 2009

A good defense is a good offense

Hello everyone. I’m Big Brother, the newest addition to the All Habs family. Allow me to take the first couple of lines for personal mentions. First off, thanks Habster for the opportunity to write here and Rocket, I’m looking forward to have our first official head to head game review later tonight.

Some of you may know me on other various websites, I wrote as Big Brother on a multitude of subjects. If you are a long time reader, please drop a line.

Now, as Habster already mentioned in my introduction, I have a good knowledge (and big love) for statistics. I read them all the time, devour them you could say, and try to understand even more about my team, my coach and the sport I love.

Looking at the year so far, the Bleu-Blanc-Rouge is, on paper, impressive. 8-2-2 for 18 points in 12 games is more than I was asking for. Markov, Kovalev, Koivu and Tanguay are all playing for a point per game or better. So why on earth am I cringing every time I watch the Sainte-Flanelle?

Don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against an offensive minded team if you have enough talent. And the Habs happen to have that. They can win games against two thirds of the league by relying on their talent only. But they have to rely on talent more than 20 minutes per game. Right now, they rely on talent… and luck.

As much as it pains me to admit, I enjoyed the humiliating loss to the Lafs on Saturday. A team who rely on Grabovski as second center clearly shouldn’t beat the powerful Centennial team, right? Well as it was showed last weekend, the team who work harder will get the puck more often and get more scoring chances.

Early this season Guillaume Latendresse was working hard to prove to his coach that while Higgins was injured, he belonged on the second line. Higgins replaced him well on that line. Tom Kostopoulos rewarded Carbo’s decision to put him on the third line by offering some of his best effort. None of them have the stat sheet to prove how good they were, but they made their teammates look better by applying good forecheck and creating turnovers.

And even when talking about the dizzying KPK line, goals come with hard work. Kovalev’s goal against Boston early this season was created by Andrei pushing Zdeno Chara from the front of the net. His own goal against Philly was created by flattening Mike Richards. (see video)

Tonight things have to change. Not that the team has to stop being a menacing offense, on the contrary. The reason this team was so succesfull last year was because they were thinking offense as soon as they got the puck, creating odd man rushes. But starting tonight, they have to be more aggressive. They have to be an offense that controls the game. Not one that wait for their opportunities, one that creates them. A team whose forecheck is feared. A team that give it all.

Sometimes I wonder if they don’t need another coach. One that comes from curling. Just to hear him scream.

Hurry. Hard. HARDER!

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