Friday, February 20, 2009

Use the players who will help you win


I said in my game review that I had another complaint about the coach and I think this is the biggest problem on this team right now. It’s about the use of some players. I won’t touch the defence today because of Komisarek being injured so the coach doesn’t have nearly as many options. But on offense, it’s high time we smell the coffee. Tom Kostopoulos is NOT as good a player as Guillaume Latendresse. And Gui doesn’t deserve to play on the fourth line. He needs to be on the top offensive lines. Sergei Kostitsyn should be reminded that we can still send his ass to Hamilton without having to put him on the waivers. Not be used as the sixth men when you take Carey Price out late. Maxime Lapierre played his heart out but he’s pretty much interchangeable with Begin. I can understand the coach giving a couple of game to his veteran. I just hope he’ll see action before Laraque.

If Guy Carbonneau is serious about using the players that will help him win, he needs to realize which combinations work and which don't. After playing 17 games, we can come to some conclusions. Some players work well with others. Some players are used to other players and Guy is falling into the same trap he accused his players of not seeing. Let me quote him

“Guys need to realize that what happened last year is last year. You don’t start the season with 12 or 40 assists, you start from scratch.”

Well coach, you are doing the exact same thing. You think some combinations are working. You think some players are adding to a line and some don’t. But you mainly looked at how Higgins and Koivu used to work well together and how Koivu and Tanguay are getting points together.

The truth is: Guillaume Latendresse makes the world go round.

Here are the Habs results with various players on what has been the best line this year.

Latendresse on Koivu’s line: 7-1-1

Higgins on Koivu’s line: 2-3-1*

Kovalev on Koivu’s line: 1-1-0

* I counted the NY Islanders game as a Higgins victory since he played the third period with Koivu. It was Plekanec’s line scoring 3 times in 3rd period who stole the game but let’s be generous here.

Do I need to explain more? I will. Here are Tanguay and Koivu numbers with and without Gui.

(using the “goal-assists-points +/-” format)

With: Tanguay 6-5-11 +7 and Koivu 4-6-10 +9 in 9 games.

Without: Tanguay 2-4-6 -1 and Koivu 2-4-6 +0 in 8 games.

It’s more than time we admit a couple of things about Guillaume. He’s a hard working, honest power forward who will apply good forecheck, be physical and has good enough hands to score every once in a while. I think many people expect so much of him that they see how he fails to achieve standards that don’t fit the player. He’ll create space for Koivu and Tanguay. He’ll get secondary passes most of the time, score about 20 times and end up with around 50 points but so often he’ll be the guy who skates hard towards a defencemen, forcing him to cough up the puck to Saku or that body in front of the net to screen the goalie.

The Montreal Canadiens are a better team when Latendresse is playing on the first line.

He makes the Habs a better team than Higgins does.


I said it.

Let the hate mail flow.

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