Saturday, September 19, 2009

Canadiens Season Preview:

Fourth Line Offense

Finally up front, the fourth line:

Stewart – Metropolit – Moen

Glen Metropolit

08-09 (PHA/MTL)5361117-5100.381.06827.328
07-08 (BOS)82112233-3150.491.471417.836
06-07 (ATL/STL)77141933+9520.902.1312311.434

Even-strength profile

  • Below average offensively even strength

  • Above average in preventing GA at even strength

  • below average at preventing chances against even strength

  • Impressive CORSI: -8.5


Stats notes

Glen's not a player I've ever thought a lot about, but looking at his stats, this is what I notice:

1) He may be on the decline
Looking at his goals and assists per hour of hockey played, it seems Glen is falling off a cliff. Not surprising perhaps considering that he is 36 and is no Mark Messier to begin with.

2) 33 points one year
Now the 33 points are a bit of a mirage for Glen, because obviously he was used in a far greater capacity by Claude Julien than he was before or will be again – you can tell by the jump in actual points, but the drastic fall in Pts/60. That said, he is capable of scoring the occasional goal, and that should not be forgotten.

3) Good GA numbers
Being that the fourth line is usually an exercise in futility at the attacking end anyway (see the colour purple everywhere), then good defence is really all I would ask for. Between his good stats in this department last season and the greater role he enjoyed with the Bruins, Metropolit can deliver that.

Nothing new and surprising her, just good 4th line numbers for a 4th line centre. IN the salary cap era, a team can't afford to trot out Sergei Fedorov on the 4th line, so an above average guy like Glen is a boon. That is, however, until he gets in the way of prospects that need space.

Tobalev on Metropolit:

Just when you think there is room for a youngster, you pick a player on a multi-year deal like Glen. I see Glen as a fill-the-roster type player who doesn’t really bring anything unique to the table. He is the type of player that teams use when they put no effort into having 4 competitive lines. His 17 points and -5 play show me that he isn’t a force in either end and that was confirmed as I watched him last season. He at least is a right-hand shot that is decent on draws so there is a little up-side there.

He’ll be with the big club all year and will likely play (if healthy) over 65 games. I would rather see him play with prospects than guys like Laraque, but if he is on the 4th line (which is a pretty obvious spot for him) then it will be a mish-mash of wingers for him to get used to. That type of change won’t help Glen or the team’s play, but that is the way we have always used our 4th line and I am pretty sure Martin will keep the status quo. Look for him to score about 5 goals (some of which I am sure will be huge) and post up a similar amount of assists. If he can be solid in his own end then it may very well be worth it to have his experience on the team.

Where Metropolit will start 2009-10: Fourth line centre

Where Metropolit will end 2009-10: On another team

Points: 7 G, 12 A, 19 Pts

Travis Moen

08-09 (ANA/SJ)827916-18020.340.781016.991
07-08 (ANA)77358-10010.150.39983.181
06-07 (ANA)82111021-4000.541.041248.9101

Even-strength profile

  • Very close to league worst offensively at even strength

  • Decent defence at even strength

  • Negative balance in his output

  • Awful CORSI: -12.4


Stats notes

From what I'd read about Moen, and seen in one playoff run, I expected a lot. You know how high expectations can often be dashed? Well Moen dashes away. It's good and bad here:

1) Good defensive numbers
Moen's defensive numbers are pretty good, and would have been very good on the Canadiens. However, he put up those numbers on the Ducks and the Sharks on good lines, so consider the context. When he was off the ice, for example, his teammates had a +/- that was 1.67 better than when he was on.

2) Really bad offensive numbers
Last season, Moen put up nightmarish production for goals and chances for his team when playing at even strength. Given the ice time he was getting, it was a tremendous waste. Think tremendous chorus of boos in Montreal. On the positive side, his terrible stats were still a massive improvement on the year before. I can't imagine what that would have looked like.

3) Low events player
The saving grace for Moen is that when he's on the ice, it will usually be boring. Unlike Ovechkin or Koivu who are on the ice for many goals for and many against, Moen keeps it to a minimum, if he played every hour of every game, they'd all be 2-1 losses with about 45 shots.

Because he offers about as little as you can get from an NHL player going forward, Moen's stats like +/- and Corsi have suffered. However, as mentioned his tendency to be on the ice for long boring periods where nothing happens is something I can stomach on the fourth line (waiting for a better line to come on) periods. And let's face it, here's here because of his physical dimensions rather the dimension he can bring to the play – all pointing to 4th line and nothing more.

Tobalev on Moen
Hands up if you only know him as a Stanley Cup Champion and as member of that shutdown line. I really think Gainey has his hand up right now. This shows (like Dandenault) how being on a winning team will pay out for you for a very long time; no wonder people want to win the Cup so bad. He may be a gritty type of player, that we apparently need, and I’ll even concede that he is better than (Ko)STOPoulos (who isn’t?), but 16 points and a -18 rating from last season isn’t really something we should be excited about. Everyone assumes, again because of the Cup, that he is a premiere defensive forward and a great PK man... I am not so sure. We’ll see as the season goes on what type of player he is, but I for one am not expecting much.

His status, reputation and recent signing make his position one of the most guaranteed this season – 3rd line winger. I am pretty certain, if healthy, he will play 82 games right there on that line. That may be bad news for players like Lapierre who got used to Sergei or Latendresse on his wing. Moen will be lucky to score more than 5 goals, over 20 points would make him look like the signing of the year. I suppose that his real worth will come in the playoffs, so I will wait and see what he brings then. I just hope that he doesn’t become one of the reasons that we don’t get there.

Where Moen will start 2009-10: Trotted out as a star signing

Where Moen will end 2009-10: Regular player with very specific uses

Points: 5 G, 6 A, 11 Pts

Gregory Stewart

08-09 (MTL)20011-4000.000.35160.032
07-08 (MTL)1000E000.000.0020.05

Even-strength profile

  • Bottom tier offensive output at even strength

  • Below average chances created at even strength

  • Below average defence at even strength

  • Negative CORSI: -9.3


Stats notes

As I'm not really getting into non-NHL stats here, there's not very much to go on with Greg. Obviously, his profile is entirely purple and blue (which is bad), and if that were to continue, I think a place would quickly be given to someone else. However, I should note that because of when he played his games (i.e., the dark days), Greg's Corsi of -9.3 is actually better than that of the rest of the team at that time. So while, it all looks pretty terrible, Greg was pretty much just playing to the tempo the team set, as rookies do. Also, Greg looks like he might be able to score the occasional goal by sheer force of effort, so expect that goal #1 to come some time this year.

Tobalev on Stewart

2 years ago Greg got a single game and it came during the Habs best times of the decade. Maybe that is the reason we all loved this kid so much, maybe anything Habs at that moment seemed right. Fast-forward to last season and things changed. When you look at Stewart over 20 games it becomes quite different than looking at him for one. Over those 20 games I realized what type of player we had on our hands; I was happy, no longer ecstatic, but happy nonetheless. He did manage 17 points (7-10) in Hamilton last year, but was unable to bring any offence to the big-show.; in all he managed just 1 assist and no goals. Last season, however, he made it known, that he would compete for a 4th line spot (for years to come), but that his potential stopped there.

All of that said we need 4th liners and to me Stewart is a better option than either Laraque or Metropolit. In fact, I would play Greg in MTL all season and would likely give him 50-70 games. I predict Gainey and Martin will see it the same way and, that Greg’ll see some serious time with Moen and Metropolit. At this point I expect a goal, or two, and a whole lot of energy. For those poolers out there don’t count on more than 5 points as this is one player who will have a hard time getting close to the net. If there if one area that I would like to see him excel at this season (and the whole 4th line for that matter) it is his play in our end. A positive +/- for Gregory would, in my eyes, make his season a success.

Where Stewart will start 2009-10: The pressbox

Where Stewart will end 2009-10: Replacing the injured pacifist

Points: 2 G, 5 A, 7 Pts

As a line

Line #4Effect O/D
C – Glen Metropolit
  • Made most linemates worse offensively
  • Helped some linemates be better defensively
  • Played best overall with Scottie Upshall last season
RW – Travis Moen
  • Hampered offensive play of his linemates
  • Made defensive forwards worse defensive players
LW – Gregory Stewart
  • Made most linemates worse offensively
  • Helped some defensive games
  • Played best with Dandenault last season

It's the nature of fourth lines, I think, that they're less exciting than other lines. I think this is only more pronounced when you are tlaking about a middle of the pack team with lots of salary paid to higher end players – by the time you get down here, you take what you can get.

So Metroploit or Chipchura? Well on numbers alone it's Glen, so as long as he's around (and not taken off waivers), he's in. Next, I insert Moen – partly because of the fact he was signed (so he'll play), but also because of the alternatives. Finally, I prefer Greg Stewart on a line with Metropolit and Moen to either Pacioretty or Chipchura again. And, I will always prefer Gregory Stewart to Georges Laraque as someone to keep the other team in line, simply because he does it better – fighting those who have offended, bothering those who affect the game.

That's our team up front.

Statistics adapted from,, Olivier

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