Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The trouble with 8

No, I've not got a problem with Komisarek. I was thinking about what kind of message it sends to keep on 8 defensemen. Even that isn't so bad, but the Habs dressing 7 defensemen, that's where I draw the line. It sends the wrong message and gets the season underway on the wrong foot.

Numerous quotes have indicated that the Canadiens intend to keep on 8 defensemen, no matter what else happens. Why does Habs management want to stick with 8? Let's start at the beginning:

Do we have too many NHL quality defensemen?

No we don't. It was very touching that some people seem to think JF Cote is a victim of too many NHL calibre players (well I'm sure it was for him anyway). There is no crisis here, except maybe a lack of quality Ds. Beyond the top 3, you could argue the drop is steep. To an outsider (aka Leaf fan), the group looks worse than say White, Calaiacovo and Stralman. I happen to think they're pretty good, better than that Leaf group. But let's not pretend we couldn't improve on the group.

Are the extra guys here to get a look at the NHL?

Well, no. Not really. One of the guys is Brisebois hanging on to an NHL career by a thread. Some people say the same about Dandenault and Bouillon (not me yet). O'Byrne is up to get a look, but he could take a spot if we had one less man. Gorges is establishing his place in the league, not auditioning. If he doesn't make the cut, then he should be sent down.

I think we all know who I would send down/cut loose, and it'snot Gorges who I admire quite a bit.

Lastly, are we so low on forwards that it makes no difference?

If you need an answer, you missed the 342 posts in the last week about training camp, D'Agostini and Lil' K. Grabovski is likely to be cut as well, and Locke just was. We are brimming with forward prospects that could cut their teeth in the real league, but choose to give a bonus place to an "insurance" policy or two.

To me sticking with the 8 defenseman strategy from last year (an unsuccessful campaign over 82 games) shows a lack of courage on the part of the management. A team that had trouble scoring needs scorers and a good variety of them. What the struggling offense doesn't need is defensemen on one of the 4 lines.

In my opinion, the Habs need to start creating wins rather than preventing losses. We should try new things:

- Keep a rookie (say Grabovski) and play him on the scoring lines
- Try 3 scoring lines (assuming one is earmarked for checking duties)
- Instead of juggling to D to adapt to the opponent's attack, juggle the forwards to make the other team adapt
- Get a few guys used to playing with Koivu and with Kovalev, not with Bouillon
- Keep the competition for the forward spots hot by keeping someone with a real claim on the roster.

The old cliche "Defense wins championships" is true enough, but it neglects to mention that

I prefer: "Giving your defense a lead wins championships".

Of all the decisions left, let's hope Carbo and Gainey take the proactive approach and build a team that plays to win rather than not to lose.

1 comment:

  1. looks like carbo and gainey read your blog before they decided to keep grabber on the big team