Saturday, September 15, 2007

Blueliners

So word out of training camp is that Mathieu Dandenault is on the hot seat. Much of what is printed in La Presse is complete garbage, at least when it concerns the Habs. Notice that there is no direct quote of what Carbo said regarding Dandenault. But one interesting thing was noted: the Habs would carry 8 dmen this year.

Now that I can believe, and three reasons why:
  1. Both Mark Streit and Dandenault can play either forward or D.
  2. The forward positions are a little more in flux, given the departures of Bonk, Johnson, Samsonov, Perezhogin and others. Sure, they will be replaced mostly by veterans, but who knows how all that will pan out. I don't think anyone predicted saw Sammy going down quite as badly as he did.
  3. The addition of Patrice Brisebois. I doubt he's going to play much, but he didn't sign to shuttle back and forth from Hamilton either.
But Dandenault can't get any worse treatment than Brisebois or Bouillon. These are the three lowest performing veteran blueliners on the team. Bouillon was actually scratched a few times last year, whereas I can't remember Dandenault being scratched once. And we all know of the defensive liabilities of Breeze-by.

But if any or all of these guys play like they are capable of playing, they make for decent 3rd pairing material.

And that, my friends, is one helluva long re-introduction to my ongoing series of the upcoming Habs lineup. We last left with the thrilling episode of who was to man the pipes for the Habs this season. And true to how one builds a winning hockey team, we proceed to the blueliners.

I was going to start with the third line pairings. But given the Habs' aforementioned predisposition to carrying 8 dmen, I'll start with my predictions of the unlucky two who will ride the pine most of the season.

And for the best good-enough-to-make-the-squad-but-not-good-enough-to-play-regularly performance, the awards go to: Patrice Brisebois and Josh Gorges!

Not really going out on a limb there. Given my last post on the importance of balancing right handers and left handers on the blue line, it's no shock that one (Brisebois) is a righty and the other is a lefty. This keeps options open for Bob and Carbo, along with the insurance that Streit and Dandenault bring with their ability to play D or O.

Not to give too much away, but my bets are on the veterans for the entire blueline. Dmen take longer to mature, much like goalies. You have to bring them along slowly, to teach them the finer points of clearing the crease and blasting a shot from the point. You don't want to some awkward rookie being your next-to-last hope with Heatley, Spezza and Alfredsson hurtling down the ice.

Brisebois can't be much worse than Niinimaa last year (can he?). And Gorges played decently if unspectacularly last year. I've heard much displeasure about him from Sharks' fans, but I think the Sharks' blueline is far too dependent on youngsters, like Gorges. If you have a youngster in the lineup, you to pair him with a veteran. Many credit Hamrlik's work with Dion Phaneuf as a reason why Phaneuf fared so well in his first few years. So I think Gorges will do (and has done) well with the well-seasoned Montreal blueline.

So the next post will continue this ongoing thrilling saga of how Bob is building a Stanley Cup contender. That is, if other more intriguing developments don't intervene.

1 comment:

Fred said...

I don't put too much stock on Dandy, Brisbeois, and Gorges either. Dandy is overpaid for what he brings, Brisebois will probably be injured half the time and is not strong on defense and Gorges should be traded since we don't need him. I actually tought he really sucked in the 3 games he played for us last year. Trading him would allow the Habs to keep a youngster (O'Byrne, Carle) in Montreal.

Bouillon had a terrible season last year but I expect him to rebound. With Komisarek, he's been the only Dman delivering crushing hits these last years. He souhd get back on track and be a mainstay on the 3rd pairing.