Bullet points today, because rum n' nog shortens my attention span.

o The guys are brothers, but apparently that's not enough for
nhl.com to spell their surnames identically. Kostsitsyn? Kastsitsyn? The Canadiens' page spells it a third way: Kostitsyn. There must be someone out there who can offer some consistent written translation of languages that use the cyrillic alphabet.

o Speaking of Sergei/Siarhei, there was a recent Mike Boone post at Habs I/O that said Dale Hunter believed Sergei/Siarhei was more NHL-ready than his London Knights linemates Sam Gagner and Patrick Kane. That may be. Of the three, only Kane (playing with Toews and Ruutu) has played a significant role in the NHL this season, and consensus is that it was he who drove results in London.
After working for 2+ years before earning a spot in the Canadiens' lineup, I wonder how Andrei - the older, more experienced, bigger, faster, and more skilled of the two - feels about his kid brother being airlifted onto the top line and getting more minutes?

o In the eight games since this post the Habs' EV shot differential has dropped considerably. Through 24 games, they were getting outshot 30.1 to 31.9 per 60. In the last eight games they've been outshot 24.4 to 31.5. Carbonneau's frantic line juggling is not working.

o Is Randy McKay's real first name Hugh???

o On the Mike Richards deal...

One NHL GM, who obviously wanted anonymity, said he didn't understand the point of the Richards deal.

"He's not a $6-million player next year and he still would have been a restricted free agent," said the GM. "The guy had 32 points last year. I know he's had a great eight weeks so far... but could you not have just done a three-year deal at $4 million per year and then re-address it after that? Maybe do eight or nine years at that point when you have a better handle on what the player is all about?"

Why would an NHL GM bitch about it? If it's a bad deal, it's primarily bad for the Flyers. I suppose it could be bad news if you have some comparable players approaching RFA and possible arbitration. If this contract overvalues Richards in a compensation structure with a cap and linkage, it just means someone else out there must be undervalued. A smart GM would shut up about the Flyers' dealings and exploit the undervalued segment of the player market.

o Koivu's two goals on Saturday were his first two 5-on-5 goals this season. He had one other EV goal that was scored 4-on-4. Before anyone mistakes me for Al Strachan, I'm *not* saying Koivu is underperforming. He's having a better season than last year. I could watch a video loop of him shredding Ian White down low for hours. If by some freak accident both Saku Koivu and I get invited to the same holiday party, he should stay away from the mistletoe.

o The Leafs looked bagged in that game. It seems like there have been a lot of games this year where a team will play back-to-back games, but their opponent in the second game does not. That said, how stupid is it to dress Belak in that situation? With a tired team, Maurice needed four usable lines.

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Anonymous MathMan said...

IMHO, Carbonneau has hardly been "frantically juggling lines". About the only thing he has been frantic about is trying to find a replacement on the Koivu line for Ryder, who as I previously noted I feel hasn't been as bad as the media insists, but also hasn't been good. Seems like the search is ended for now as the younger Kostitsyn has done a great job. Otherwise most of the lineup seems set -- barring injuries, it's Higgins with Koivu, Kostitsyn-Plekanec-Kovalev, and Latendresse with Chipchura and usually Dandenault.

Otherwise... Let's look at those eight games in a bit more detail. Montreal were outshot by 11 over the last two games -- both well-deserved 3-goal wins with solid, but hardly miraculous, goaltending performances. (Montreal seems to get outshot often when they win by a significant goal margin.) The other four games they have had shot differentials of -1 (TB), 0 (CAR), +4 (BOS), and -2 (NJ)...

No doubt, they were absolutely, completely stomped over the Nashville and Detroit games, getting outshot by 18 in each game. But this all seems more indicative of a couple statistical outliers, a momentary slump over that two-game span, than an ongoing tendency, at least as far as shot differential is concerned. Take those two games out and it's business as usual over the remaining six -- a shot differential of -1.67 per game, which is even a little better than the rest of the year.

In other words, Carbo's line changes don't seem to have impacted much at all in terms of overall shot differential, unless you want to blame the 18-shot Nashville game on it -- it was the one game where he really juggled the lines, notably splitting Koivu and Higgins for the first time.

Oh, and Plekanec and Lapierre were matched up against Sundin last game... Not sure what it means except that there's a definite checking line here. Carbo also seems to be trying to shelter the Koivu line trying to get some offensive production out of them, and also seems to trust Plekanec and his mates more 5-on-5, both of which do seem to be working.

12/18/2007 1:17 p.m.  
Blogger Jeff J said...

"Montreal were outshot by 11 over the last two games..."

Two of which were at home and against opponents (TB and Tor) who played the previous night while the Habs were home resting. At EV, they were outshot 68-62. EV Shots were 24-26 in favour of TB, 24-15 in favour of Philly (who, incidentally has the 2nd worst EV shot differential in the league) and 23-18 in favour of the Habs over TO. Sure, they got five points out of six and that's pretty good. I think they were playing better EV hockey through the first 24 games.

"Oh, and Plekanec and Lapierre were matched up against Sundin last game..."

The Plekanec line started vs. Sundin. My guess is that that this has a lot to do with the kid who is 20 AHL games removed from the OHL on Koivu's RW. At any rate, the Leafs controlled that first shift and Carbo used Lapierre's line for the rest of the 1st and the 2nd. Once they had the 3-0 cushion starting the 3rd, Carbo used the Pleks line vs. Sundin again. Koivu's line got #2/#3 fwd opposition the whole game, Kovy's line got #2/#3 fwd opposition for two periods and Sundin for the 3rd. Kovy's line was outshot while Koivu's line destroyed the Leafs. It's debatable whether it's wise to use Hal Gill as your shutdown defenseman, but that's what Maurice is doing these days. Despite the rookie on RW, Gill was still used mostly against Koivu.

It's true that ever since Ryder's removal from Koivu's line, the nominal first line hasn't been as clear cut. Some coaches have focused on Kovalev, some on Koivu. Carbonneau still tends to use Koivu in the tougher situations, though not quite as much. These changes as much as the line combinations are part of the juggling I referred to.

It will be interesting to see who faces Jokinen tonight. You can be sure Jacques Martin will use Bouwmeester/Allen against the Canadiens' line he considers to be the biggest threat.

12/18/2007 3:44 p.m.  

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