Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Bring back Max

While it's much too early to begin the hand-wringing, there are obviously some concerns about the Habs early season play. As predicted, the Habs play decent defense, and have stellar goaltending. But the offense is somewhat lacking.

Carbo has been juggling the last three lines like crazy, trying to find three scoring lines and one checking line. But we have more checking line forwards than we do scoring forwards. Plus, there are some guys who don't deserve much ice time, especially Tom Kostopolous. He's now a team worst -4 (albeit tied with my boy Mark Streit). But he doesn't make up for it with offensive upside. He was mostly an unknown when Bob signed him, and I was a little puzzled. But I figured Bob was looking at the following:
  • he's right handed, and Habs desperately need more
  • he could replace Mike Johnson on the right side of the third line, for cheaper than Johnson was being paid
  • if he doesn't work out there, stick Maxim Lapierre on the right side, and drop him to the fourth
Well Max didn't have a very good training camp, but is now tearing it up in Hamilton. Kostopolous, on the other hand, is not having a very good regular season, and is causing me to tear my hair out.

So Bob, how about the following:
  1. Put Garth and his broken foot on IR
  2. Let Kostopolous watch from the press box a few games
  3. Bring back Max
Carbo was complaining about the lack of energy his team has brought so far, esp when they only show up for a period or two. That was never Max's problem. Max won't help their scoring issues, but he can play D. And the Habs have had a bad habit of not holding leads (or momentum, as in the Ottawa game).

It's too bad that Bob didn't sign either Bonk or Johnson. Bonk signed with Nashville for only $1.475M per and Johnson at $.75M with St. Louis. Kostopolous on the other hand, got $.9k and Bryan Smolinski (ostensibly Bonk's replacement) got $2M. If Bob had thrown the same money at Johnson and Bonk, with maybe a compensation-for-playing-in-Montreal signing bonus, we'd have a legitimate shutdown line and still be under the cap. Oh well.

But let's not dwell entirely on the negatives. What about the positives so far, including:
  • Carey Price's unveiling as a legitimate NHL goalie. After two games he's not ready to unseat Huet as the #1, but it appears that Carbo is going with the tandem approach: play Huet 2-3 games, then Price. I think this works both in terms of keeping Huet fresh and healthy (see last year when not) and giving Price some valuable NHL game experience. Then, if Price is up to it, trade Huet.
  • Patrice Brisebois, decent dman. Who woulda thunk it? He's made one or two unholy giveaways, like against the Panthers. Luckily, Cristobal bailed him out on that one. Still not bad. I fully expected such an occurrence on every other shift. He might actually be earning his role as #4.
  • Mark Streit, PP setup man. I still think he deserves a shot at the #4, but maybe Carbo figures that Streit's defensive prowess is more helpful to Bouillon, who can make mistakes of his own -- sometimes going for the big hit and getting out of position. So is being #5 a testament to Streit's skill? Could be.
  • Alex Kovalev on almost a point per game pace? Also on pace for 41 goals, exactly where he needs to be? I guess I shoudn't be so surprised, given a player of his skill. But we've all known more disappointment from him than anything else, so I'm warily watching how this unfolds.

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