Bob Gainey has had quiet a fall from grace in recent weeks. Not only did his team fail to respond to the firing of Guy Carbonneau quickly, he has also failed to correct the biggest problems that Carbo had under him – namely defensive coverage and defenders interactions with goaltenders.
His reprieve was gained through some masterful changes that led to the rebirth of Kovalev and the offense in general. But even that, he seems to want to undo in these playoffs.
Is there a way back for Gainey? What could he possibly do to find it?
For me the answer to this question begins with a big admission from the man. He must admit he has been wrong about Carey Price's readiness (no not his promise overall). He must admit Carbonneau knew better re: Halak/Price and swallow his pride. Thought I can see where Gainey's coming from on Price (he's bigger and with good coaching should be better than Jaro), Carey just isn't up to the task at this juncture.
Jaro Halak must start. He must start because he was better on Saturday, he was better in March, February and January. Recent history matters more in Game 3 when your team is down 2-0 than do 10-year projections.
Following that thinking, he must also admit that Laraque is not helping the top line. If Kovalev and Koivu are more open, they aren't showing me. Times they look open, they seem to have no options beyond themselves because the other is covered. Adding Tanguay back, or even Andrei Kostitsyn would give them each a second target.
Second line and Plekanec
Next Bob must focus on a second scoring line. Plekanec is the only realistic option, and if Kostitsyn is not gelling there, he must be moved. I would try Latendresse with Pleks, because (although I might get shot for being the only one to denigrate Golden Balls) Latendresse has stunk as much as anyone and his chemistry with Lapierre certainly isn't helping produce anything other than a good friendship. Lapierre is Lapierre and I don't think he'd play any differently with just about anyone on his line. Perhaps he might enjoy Andrei's company.
Communication on D
Finally, the defence has to be coached. They must be whipped into submission until they talk to each other on the ice. Each pair should have a designated leader – Hamrlik, Dandenault and Gorges probably. Communication would at least iron out the most basic of errors. Beyond that, perhaps remind them that they need to regain control.
As I've said before, it will take a bit of luck from somewhere. But if Gainey at least moves in the direction of what anyone with the capacity for basic intuition can see, then a win will bring him back a bit. A win with solid D, good goaltending from Halak and goals form the second line will have the fans revering his name again in no time.
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