Thursday, May 06, 2010

Habs Vs. Pens

Time To Give Byslma Something To Think About

The playoffs is a unique portion of the NHL seson.

At other times, it may suffice to devise one's own strategy and take it to each and every opposing arena. Not so in the playoffs. Because the opponent is the same every game and the stakes so high, all strategies are sussed out and countered by any coach worth his weight.

Thankfully for the Canadiens, Bruce Boudreau had no counter. All that talk of AHL success perhaps more pertinent now than ever in assessing his true ceiling.

The difference for Jacques Martin is that from here he will be facing people with mettle. Bylsma has won a Cup and recovered the Pens from the mess that was Therrien's reign. Claude Julien is showing he's so good at convincing players that trapping is winning that he's redeeming his reputation again. In the West, there are finalists at every corner, bar Vigneault.

But never mind any of them. The immediate task is to vanquish the Penguins and hoodwink Bylsma. Last game, Bylsma somehow convinced the free-flowing Penguins to stop shooting and adopt a congestive defensive zone. It was the perfect adaptation to Montreal's reliance on counter attack. It was possible because Martin's plan has been the same since the Washington series. it was read, understood and countered.

The risk then is that the Habs over-rely on this same system, sans tweaks from here on. It could work, it's a workable system. However, there's no need to be so entrenched. Martin has options.

My humble suggestion

Assuming there is no sudden surge in confidence in the abilities of Metropolit, Darche and others, I think Martin will continue to employ 3 lines with mixes.

Fair enough, I see his point. Play the guys of higher caliber more often. Pre-empt outlandish Crosby matchups if possible.

If I buy that, I don't buy the guys on the bench. Why have Darche, Metropolit, Maxwell (non-threats) sit there when you could dress Sergei the Terrible? Why trot Andrei Kostitsyn out with offensive donkeys when he could thrive with a mere 4 minutes of fraternal passing?

Come on Jacques. Bury the hatchet and give Bylsma something to really think about. Your new fourth line:

AK46 - Metropolit - SK74

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