Tonight the Habs are in Philadelphia to face the first place Flyers. Montreal welcome’s Jeff Halpern back to the lineup – who they desperately need to ensure they win at least a few faceoffs. Andreas Enqvist was sent back to Hamilton to make room for Halpern. I have to say Enqvist did a good job of eating minutes and playing a defensively reliable, physical game that could be his meal ticket in the NHL. He has the size, and decent footspeed to be an effective bottom 6 player – as long as he can work on his faceoff skills.
Ryan White stays with the club as the “replacement” for Michael Cammalleri. That means Lars Eller should be back on the top line with Plex and Ak46. Eller was benched for the third period and overtime of the Ducks game because of a turnover at the offensive blueline that ended up in the back of our net. I understand the reasoning – yet I cannot help but wonder how this strategy might begin to take shape if it were to be applied equally amongst our skaters. In a game that was eventually won 4-3 by the opposition – could it really be that Lars Eller was the only offender on the day? Not by a mile. You would need an advanced calculating application to determine how many offensive blueline turnovers Scott Gomez was guilty of in a given season. Frankly, of late, Tomas Plekanec has had more than his fair share of giveaways. Heck, Spacek averages just under a give-away per game which is good for 18th worst in the league – yet the veteran hasn’t been scratched once this season.
I question the logic of making the rookies pay every time they make a mistake. It sends the wrong message. In fact, it magnifies the message. I understand that Martin needs his rookies to be reliable first, but he also needs his rookies to support his veterans. All hockey players make mistakes. The ones who succeed are able to brush off mistakes and go right back to playing effectively.
This season more than any before it is critical to the development of Montreal’s in-house talent. For this team to succeed we need Eller, Pacioretti, Subban, Weber, and now Desharnais to step up and play REAL roles on this team. So far I think they’ve all done a fantastic job. I’m not saying Martin should be babying his players at all. But there has to be a more efficient way of turning Eller (you’d have to be blind not to see his skill) into an every day top 6 forward. It really is in the team’s best interest going forward.
Go Habs Go!!