Thread: Habs +/-
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12-29-2006, 01:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Mike8 View Post
Not so.

Koivu's line is the one that gets the opposition's top checking assignments. Occasionally the opposing club will have a top line that they feel comfortable putting up against Koivu, and Carbonneau doesn't mind this, so they go head-to-head (eg. Bonk's line goes up against Savard in Boston, while Koivu goes up against Bergeron).

But, as we saw last night, the opposition has a tendency to throw on their top offensive line against Kovalev's line. Remember the silly line-matchups at the beginning of the game last night, where Carbo would toss Bonk on the ice in anticipation of Ovechkin? Then Hanlon would toss on Sutherby's line (I think). So Carbo would pull Bonk off the ice and toss Kovalev on there. Then 10 seconds later, Hanlon would toss Ovechkin on there since Kovalev was out there. Then Carbo would take Kovalev off and double-shift Bonk, forcing Hanlon to match-up Ovechkin with Bonk.

Hanlon tried to get Ovechkin out there against Kovalev whenever possible.

The only coach that's REALLY burned Montreal/Kovalev is Jacques Martin. He is the only one who's completely beaten Carbonneau and gotten Jokinen's line out there versus Kovalev consistently, despite Carbonneau's best efforts.

As far as these stats go, they're inexplicable as far as I'm concerned. Koivu occasionally gets matched up against scoring lines like Bergeron's in Boston, or Alfredsson in Ottawa, or Briere in Buffalo, but he just as frequently draws the top checking lines of the opposition (Peca in Toronto, Madden in NJ, etc.). Meanwhile, many teams try to expose Kovalev's line's defensive deficiencies.

I suppose some of it is that Montreal plays division rivals all the more now, and Koivu does face more scoring lines within the division than he does outside of it; mainly because division rivals have smaller centers (easier for Koivu to handle), and more scoring depth.

Another factor may be that Montreal likes having Markov on the ice with Kovalev because of how well they connect offensively. Whereas the Souray/Rivet pairing (of past) was more frequently on the ice with the Koivu line.

I don't know. It's interesting, though. Because if you think about when Montreal's hemmed in their own zone, it's Kovalev's line that's being thoroughly dominated.
I think you just proved his point. Other teams might try, but carbs make sure it doesn't happen.

So like he said, Kovalev DOESN'T play against top lines, because Carbo wants Bonk there

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