Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Habs Review 2007-08:

Mathieu Dandenault

The numbers

61 GP: 9 G, 5 A, 14 Pts, 34 PIM, -11, 69 Shots

Career best year – 2000-01 – Red Wings
73 GP: 10 G, 15 A, 25 Pts, 38 PIM, +11, 95 Shots

Playoffs 2007-08
9 GP: 0 G, 0 A, 0 Pts, 2 PIM, -3, 13 Shots

Career best playoffs – 2001-02 – Red Wings
23 GP: 1 G, 2 A, 3 Pts, 8 PIM, +7, 11 Shots

Plays of the game: 2

Game pucks: 0

Domes: 4

3 Star selections: 1 Second star, 2 Third star

The story

Where he started the season
Making the team was going to be a challenge for Mat this year as the Habs were really deep on the blue line. Add Brisebois and fellow NHL defensive-blunder journeyman Jamie Rivers to the fold, and space was running out. A decision was obviously made by the team early on that Dandy would return to his roots as a winger, which would give the 2-time Stanley Cup champ an actual shot of making the team. His speed (which we are told he has) would add some energy to our 3rd or 4th lines and his experience would be invaluable (right?).

The season
True to the plan, Mat played on the wing this year for all but half a game, in which we suffered two injuries on the blue-line. The problem with Dandenault for us was that it was always quite obvious that he was a defenceman playing forward, with few flashes of true offensive instinct.

The Dandenault experiment wasn't the same as if we put Markov or Streit up front, this was plain bad. We took a mediocre defenceman and tried to make a scorer out of him. His numbers would show you that he isn't really the threat we had hoped he would be. 9 goals isn't horrific, but what is with -11? Aren't you a defenceman?

This approach, which lasted all season, was quite backwards considering we are supposed to be a team deep with offensive potential. Can you believe now, for example, that Dandenault was chosen to play the wing ahead of Sergei, Locke, D'Agostini, Stewart, Lapierre and others. To his credit, whenever he was benched he always responded with a strong performance upon re-insertion into the line-up. However, after this happened 3 or 4 times it became frustrating that he would only produce ion return games and didn't offer anything in any of the intervening contests. We should ask: why was he only motivated by being benched, why didn't the potential to be benched ever get him going? All in all, to us he represented a wasted spot on a team that should be looking to the future more than anything else.

Highlights: As you can see, Dandenault had his moments, but Rocky? Any association between this Hab and Philly in my mind is not set to inspirational music.

Dandenault by the numbers:

Lions' links on Dandenault:

The trouble with 8

Habs fine. And Dandy?

Grade: C-
Dandenault may not have offered much as a forward, but at least he accepted his role. In general, he played with a consistent level of effort, which was always enhanced after a trip to the press-box. The plan was to have an extra D-man in the line-up in case we needed one, but after going the whole year without ever really moving him back I would say that that plan was a waste of time. You dress 6 defenceman in case someone gets hurt because you only NEED 2 and can easily go with 4. Dressing 7, sometimes 8 was too cautious an approach for Carbo, and, hopefully, he will learn from his 96-game experiment that you gain absolutely nothing from it. Yes, Mat has Stanley Cup and President's Trophy experience, but I felt that this did not help us in the least and just proved how overrated experience can be, especially when it is your lesser players who are the ones who have it.

Where we'd have him next season
Unfortunately for the Habs (and Mat), Dandenault is still signed for another year. I don't see how he will be able to steal a spot on our team this year, especially after we determined how ineffective he is as a forward. He doesn't make too too much money and I think it would be in the Habs best interest to either trade him, send him down, waive him or even buy him out if needed. Personally, the time where players like Dandenault steal spots from great prospects just because they are under contract has come and gone for me. To me, it is worth the cost of both Dandenault's and a prospect's salary to have that prospect play. We have given Dandenault a 3-year shot and, while he helped us through a tough time, it is obvious now that the team has outgrown him and what he can offer us is no longer at our level. It is time for the Habs to say thank you very much for everything Mat and walk away from Dandenault the player.

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