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Top 6, Bottom 6, and depth players: There is a big difference

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02-20-2012, 07:01 PM
  #1
Markowicz
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Top 6, Bottom 6, and depth players: There is a big difference

I hear a lot of people throwing around the terms "depth players" and "Bottom 6 players" as if they mean the same thing. They don't at all. Unfortunately, I don't think the Canadiens organization knows (or knew) the difference either.

As much as this team needs a real top center, it also needs a full contingent of real bottom 6 type players. Every good team has them. We don't.

Ryan White, who just recently returned to the lineup, is one. So are Travis Moen and Matthieu Darche. Blunden is also one, but not very good. After that, we're severely lacking. We've tried guys like Palushaj, Engqvist, and Leblanc, but they're playing outside their comfort zone. Same with Eller and Kostitsyn. These aren't the roles they're accustomed to, and forcing them to play this way is I don't think the best option.

Acquiring Blake Geoffrion is a good start, but they need to continue in this vein. If, for instance, Andrei Kostitsyn is not in your plans for the top 6, trade him. Same for Palushaj, and heck, maybe even one day with Eller and Leblanc. I hope not, but lets face it, these guys aren't 3rd liners. Eller is not a 3rd line center. Leblanc is not a 3rd line winger. They're only there because the team does not have the right balance. Of course we want to see them play, so for now the 3rd line is acceptable, but its not ideal.

Eller should only be a 3rd line center in the future if he ends up in a Jordan Staal type situation (two great centers ahead of him). Otherwise, i don't think it makes any sense.

As mad as it sounds, Plekanec should be the 3rd line center right now. After all, he does everything a great 3rd line center does. He kills penalties, he forechecks, he chips in the odd goal. Unfortunately, we're not in a position to do this, because of our lack of talent. But it all begins with identifying specific roles for each of our players, and understanding which players fit and which don't. The team as it stands has too many players that are in the wrong roles that suit them. This is a big problem.

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02-20-2012, 07:08 PM
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beaverBFP
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I agree with your post 100% but i think the habs organization have their mind set on top 9 bottom 3. They can't seem do this right with ak and gomer on the 4th but i like the accountability RC implemented.

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02-20-2012, 07:14 PM
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I think Elle and Leblanc are fine being 3rd line centre, I think MTL is trying to build a team that has 3 good 2-way lines, and a 4th line. I don't think that model of top 6 and bottom 6 can be used anymore, specially when teams don't have a true number 1 line. In the early trades your 3rd line was a straight shut-down line, in todays NHL there is very few of them, many teams like to match up head to head, ex we use the Plek like to shutdown other teams top lines, Boston uses the Bergeron line to shut other teams down line, Ducks use the RGP line to play against other teams top line.

I actually like how our bottom 6 is shaping our, in the past we have had issue with that, only time we had a good 3rd line was when we had Lang as our 3rd line centre for half the season.

I think I'd be very happy with a 3rd-4th line of
Bourque-Eller-Leblanc
Geoffrion-(veteran centre)-White

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02-20-2012, 07:17 PM
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Markowicz
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Originally Posted by beaverBFP View Post
I agree with your post 100% but i think the habs organization have their mind set on top 9 bottom 3. They can't seem do this right with ak and gomer on the 4th but i like the accountability RC implemented.
Yeah, and i think thats a bit of the problem, this top 9 concept. I think that's just another way of saying that we don't have any real stars, so we'll just call our decent but not great players, top 9 guys.

I know i'm exaggerating a bit, but imagine if Guy Carbonneau or Bob Gainey was our top line players. Sure they probably would get more points, but clearly the teams they were on would not have been winning ones if they were in those roles.

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02-20-2012, 07:24 PM
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Couldnt agree more. Look at Detroit for instance. They have two offensive lines and then two grind lines. Dan Cleary and Darren Helm are too great examples of grinders who arent relied on to score, but can still chip in every 2nd game. The one exception over the years has been Chicago's line of Ladd-Bolland-Versteeg. However, even that line knew their role was a defensive, grinding one.

Dominic Moore was our best third line center in a long time because he knew his role and played it perfectly.

Now, while I like Moen, I do believe he is expendable with upcoming talent coming in. However, he is still a very useful piece to be had.

Fact is this: Plekanec is signed for a few years longer at 5 million $ and Desharnais is a second line center. I do believe Cunneyworth had identified Eller's need to be included into the top six more as demonstrated by his use of Eller as the 6th man when we had an empty net last night.

White, Geoffrion, Moen, Blunden, Nokelainen, Darche and Schultz are these kind of players.

Interesting to see what happens, but ideally we should be able to pawn off one of our centers (not including Gomez) for a legitimate first line center, ie Jeff Carter. I dont think thats the man we should identify as our target, but a player like him.

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02-20-2012, 07:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Markowicz View Post
Yeah, and i think thats a bit of the problem, this top 9 concept. I think that's just another way of saying that we don't have any real stars, so we'll just call our decent but not great players, top 9 guys.

I know i'm exaggerating a bit, but imagine if Guy Carbonneau or Bob Gainey was our top line players. Sure they probably would get more points, but clearly the teams they were on would not have been winning ones if they were in those roles.
its hard to get stars unless ur drafting high, but the top 6-bottom 6 doest always work. look at the Ducks, amazing top 6, but there lack of scoring from the bottom 6 was been there down fall.

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02-20-2012, 07:42 PM
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Nothing wrong with guys like Eller and Leblanc on a third line. They are both gritty enough and defensively aware to play on a third line. Habs should look to get 6-7 forwards who can get 20+ goals a season. The 4th line should be bigger with guys who can drop the gloves to protect their team mates but they must at least be able to play a shutdown role as well. Chris Nilan was good enough to actually keep up with Carbo and Gainey as a defensive forward. This is how you build a team that can't be shutdown, since scoring is on three lines and the 4th won;t hurt you either.

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02-20-2012, 07:43 PM
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We have a lot of depth guys on this team. And AHLers.

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02-20-2012, 07:55 PM
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I think that a third line can work as a sort of "weak scoring line" as long as the players on it are good defensively and don't hurt you when they're not scoring.

With this in mind, I don't have a problem with Eller, Leblanc, or AKost on the third line.

Also, given how injury-plagued the Habs have been in recent years, you kind of want to have guys on your 3rd line that can effectively step up into a Top 6 role in case of an injury.


So, I'm Ok with either set-up - 3 scoring lines and a bang/crash line, or 2 scoring lines and a shutdown line and a bang/crash line.

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02-20-2012, 07:58 PM
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Which explains this organization's inability to construct a proper 4th line.

Good post.

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02-20-2012, 08:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rise from the Ashes View Post
Couldnt agree more. Look at Detroit for instance. They have two offensive lines and then two grind lines. Dan Cleary and Darren Helm are too great examples of grinders who arent relied on to score, but can still chip in every 2nd game. The one exception over the years has been Chicago's line of Ladd-Bolland-Versteeg. However, even that line knew their role was a defensive, grinding one.

Dominic Moore was our best third line center in a long time because he knew his role and played it perfectly.

Now, while I like Moen, I do believe he is expendable with upcoming talent coming in. However, he is still a very useful piece to be had.

Fact is this: Plekanec is signed for a few years longer at 5 million $ and Desharnais is a second line center. I do believe Cunneyworth had identified Eller's need to be included into the top six more as demonstrated by his use of Eller as the 6th man when we had an empty net last night.

White, Geoffrion, Moen, Blunden, Nokelainen, Darche and Schultz are these kind of players.

Interesting to see what happens, but ideally we should be able to pawn off one of our centers (not including Gomez) for a legitimate first line center, ie Jeff Carter. I dont think thats the man we should identify as our target, but a player like him.
Boston's third line was also a two-way one, so was the Pens, and the Flyers that went to the finals against Chicago that you just mentionned (hell the Flyers wasn't even 2-way, it was a purely soft offensive minutes line made of "top 6 type" not that good defensive players).

Frankly the Wings seems to be an exeption and even then their "checking line" is actually any line Daytsuk is on. Also, those 2-way lines may not have overall shiny point totals because not every player will get lots of PP time on a team but their ES scoring is actually pretty good. Also worth noting, except for Chicago where Bolland does the dirty job, on the majority of good teams the hard minutes line is the top line. If you have an ultra defensive fourth line, one of the top 2 lines will be the second matchup line.

Top 9>>>>Top 6 because the more good players you have, the better your team is. (if your coach actually has a clue about how to use good players...)

Saying things (not you but the OP) like Eller and Leblanc could be traded if we don't have a place in the top 6 for them doesn't make sense. Like players of top 6 caliber on a third line is bad thing. A bottom six made of a bunch of Ellers and Leblancs is a better one than one made up of Blundens (who's a terrible hockey player).

And if Plekanec isn't a third line center just because he's good defensively, if anything that gives him an edge over players of similar point totals that need more sheltering. In reality, DD is more suited to be a third line center on a soft minutes line than Plek is a third line center because he can play two-way.

I can agree that we need a better fourth line, one with a purpose. But that purpose shouldn't be to hit everything like a bunch of idiots just so we can say we have a tough team. Building a defensive one that can drive possession (start in Dzone and end up in Ozone) like Vancouver would be better. I was looking at things on behind the net today and, I know he didn't have that many fans, but Tom Pyatt would be awesome for this job. 34% Ozone start and 46% Ozone finish all while playing the highest level of opposition on his team, that's something we could use.

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02-20-2012, 08:57 PM
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Kriss E
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rise from the Ashes View Post
Couldnt agree more. Look at Detroit for instance. They have two offensive lines and then two grind lines. Dan Cleary and Darren Helm are too great examples of grinders who arent relied on to score, but can still chip in every 2nd game. The one exception over the years has been Chicago's line of Ladd-Bolland-Versteeg. However, even that line knew their role was a defensive, grinding one.
I think you couldn't have chosen a worst example to make your point than Detroit.
Cleary scored 26 goals last year, and out of the 5 last years, he's scored at a 20G pace 4 times. So really, Cleary is not your regular grinder, Darche is. And their third line center, Hudler, has 18 goals.

Boston is stacked at center with Bergeron, Seguin, Krejci, Peverley and Kelly. They don't work with 2 strong line and 2 grind lines. This method just doesn't work anymore unless your 3rd line grinders can contribute a lot offensively. But if they do, then they aren't just grinders anymore.



Yes, there is a difference between top 6 players and bottom 6 players. But if you look at the good teams, the guys playing on the third line could play in the top 6 of average teams.
The good 3rd liners are expected to produce. To many, Plekanec is the ideal 3rd line center, which is absolutely crazy because nobody that can score up to 70pts in today's league should be considered a 3rd liner, but the point stands that people expect a lot from 3rd liners if you want a contending team.
Now, there can be exceptions if you have some of the best players of the NHL in your top6. They can compensate for a weaker bottom six group, and resort to the good old view of 2 offensive line, 1 checking line, 1 energy line. But generally speaking you need your third liners to produce.

You can argue that the players put on the third line should be primarily defensively responsible, but the fact remains they need to produce, and a lot of them could be on the top 6.


Our problem comes from flat out ignoring the building of a fourth line. It doesn't seem like we spent much time thinking about our 4th line. That's why, often, we put a defenseman there. This year's been horrible. The injuries again didn't help. At some point, we could have had Betts-White-Moen as a 4th line. But one didn't pass his medical and well, we know the injuries.
Going forward though, I'm confident they will focus more on it.


Last edited by Kriss E: 02-20-2012 at 09:16 PM.
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02-20-2012, 09:03 PM
  #13
Markowicz
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Originally Posted by Rise from the Ashes View Post
Couldnt agree more. Look at Detroit for instance. They have two offensive lines and then two grind lines. Dan Cleary and Darren Helm are too great examples of grinders who arent relied on to score, but can still chip in every 2nd game. The one exception over the years has been Chicago's line of Ladd-Bolland-Versteeg. However, even that line knew their role was a defensive, grinding one.

Dominic Moore was our best third line center in a long time because he knew his role and played it perfectly.

Now, while I like Moen, I do believe he is expendable with upcoming talent coming in. However, he is still a very useful piece to be had.

Fact is this: Plekanec is signed for a few years longer at 5 million $ and Desharnais is a second line center. I do believe Cunneyworth had identified Eller's need to be included into the top six more as demonstrated by his use of Eller as the 6th man when we had an empty net last night.

White, Geoffrion, Moen, Blunden, Nokelainen, Darche and Schultz are these kind of players.

Interesting to see what happens, but ideally we should be able to pawn off one of our centers (not including Gomez) for a legitimate first line center, ie Jeff Carter. I dont think thats the man we should identify as our target, but a player like him.
I've said it to death, but it only seems logical that in order to build a real winner here, we have to eventually trade Plekanec. It's unfortunate, but the only reason he got his contract was because he's an overachiever who became the top center because we had no one better. We barely have anyone better now, but in order to really progress we need a real top center.

Whether or not we trade Plex for that center or not is besides the point. I just don't think that the combination of Plex-Desharnais-Eller will ever work. Somebody has to go, and i think the one who is playing most out his element is Plekanec.

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02-20-2012, 09:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Kriss E View Post
I think you couldn't have chosen a worst example to make your point than Detroit.
Cleary scored 26 goals last year, and out of the 5 last years, he's scored at a 20G pace 4 times. So really, Cleary is not your regular grinder, Darche is. And their third line center, Hudler, has 18 goals.

Boston is stacked at center with Bergeron, Seguin, Krejci, Peverley and Kelly. They don't work with 2 strong line and 2 grind lines. This method just doesn't work anymore unless your 3rd line grinders can contribute a lot offensively. But if they do, then they aren't just grinders anymore.



Yes, there is a difference between top 6 players and bottom 6 players. But if you look at the good teams, the guys playing on the third line could play in the top 6 of average teams.
The good 3rd liners are expected to produce. To many, Plekanec is the ideal 3rd line center, which is absolutely crazy because nobody that can score up to 70pts in today's league, but the point stands that people expect a lot from 3rd liners if you want a contending team.
Now, there can be exceptions if you have some of the best players of the NHL in your top6. They can compensate for a weaker bottom six group, and resort to the good old view of 2 offensive line, 1 checking line, 1 energy line. But you need your third liners to produce.

You can argue that the players put on the third line should be primarily defensively responsible, but the fact remains they need to produce, and a lot of them could be on the top 6.


Our problem comes from flat out ignoring the building of a fourth line. It doesn't seem like we spent much time thinking about our 4th line. That's why, often, we put a defenseman there. This year's been horrible. The injuries again didn't help. At some point, we could have had Betts-White-Moen as a 4th line. But one didn't pass his medical and well, we know the injuries.
Going forward though, I'm confident they will focus more on it.
Very good post. And like I mentionned Detroit's checking line isn't even their 3rd-4th line, it's their first.

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02-20-2012, 09:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Markowicz View Post
I've said it to death, but it only seems logical that in order to build a real winner here, we have to eventually trade Plekanec. It's unfortunate, but the only reason he got his contract was because he's an overachiever who became the top center because we had no one better. We barely have anyone better now, but in order to really progress we need a real top center.

Whether or not we trade Plex for that center or not is besides the point. I just don't think that the combination of Plex-Desharnais-Eller will ever work. Somebody has to go, and i think the one who is playing most out his element is Plekanec.
Switch DD and Plek's role and see who's out of his element.

Good teams have, at the very least, one top 6 caliber two-way center that can play hard minutes, ideally, 2.

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02-20-2012, 09:17 PM
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Like I mentioned earlier build a team with about 6-7 20+ goal scorers.

1st line you want around 70+ goals. Pacioretty and Cole can almost do that without the center

2nd line try to get 60-70 goals, guys like Gionta Pleks, Bourque should be able to do that

3rd line you want at least 50 goals while playing a defensive role Eller Lablanc

4th line you find guys like Moen, White, Rupp, Jackman, Asham, Neil etc. They may in a good year get 10+ goals for a grinder but the main thing is they can bring grit and toughness for your team while not being a big liability. If you can get about 20 goals out of the 4th line then it's a bonus.

Hopefully Markov comes back healthy and Subban increases his offensive abilities. Getting about 30-40 goals from the defense and you have a Cup contender.


So say
1st line gets 79 goals
2nd line gets 67 goals
3rd line gets 56 goals
4th line gets 23 goals

Defense chips in 38 goals

263 goals this is close to the Vancouver Canucks cup team.

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02-20-2012, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Markowicz View Post
I've said it to death, but it only seems logical that in order to build a real winner here, we have to eventually trade Plekanec. It's unfortunate, but the only reason he got his contract was because he's an overachiever who became the top center because we had no one better. We barely have anyone better now, but in order to really progress we need a real top center.

Whether or not we trade Plex for that center or not is besides the point. I just don't think that the combination of Plex-Desharnais-Eller will ever work. Somebody has to go, and i think the one who is playing most out his element is Plekanec.
I don't have an issue with trading Plekanec if it's to get a solid #1 center, one that gets the 1pt/gp pace regularly, otherwise we won't get a better player.
Plekanec got his contract because he's played some very, very solid hockey. He didn't overachieve, and he's worth every penny. He's had an off year, like the vast majority of our players.

You're also wrong, there is no point in trading Plekanec unless it means getting a solid center. I don't care if it's a three way trade, or one that leads up to it thanks to the assets received. At the end of the day, if Plekanec is moved, it's to make place for a top center. Otherwise we worsen our team. You don't get rid of one of the best two way center in the NHL just because you think he can't lead the team to a cup.
You move Plekanec, you not only get rid of your best offensive forward (I don't care how hot Cole, MaxPac or whoever else is, Plek is our best forward), but you also lose your best defensive forward and best PK player (arguably the best PK center in the NHL). So ya, you better make sure you get a very good return for him at the center position.

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02-20-2012, 09:56 PM
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I don't have an issue with trading Plekanec if it's to get a solid #1 center, one that gets the 1pt/gp pace regularly, otherwise we won't get a better player.
Plekanec got his contract because he's played some very, very solid hockey. He didn't overachieve, and he's worth every penny. He's had an off year, like the vast majority of our players.

You're also wrong, there is no point in trading Plekanec unless it means getting a solid center. I don't care if it's a three way trade, or one that leads up to it thanks to the assets received. At the end of the day, if Plekanec is moved, it's to make place for a top center. Otherwise we worsen our team. You don't get rid of one of the best two way center in the NHL just because you think he can't lead the team to a cup.
You move Plekanec, you not only get rid of your best offensive forward (I don't care how hot Cole, MaxPac or whoever else is, Plek is our best forward), but you also lose your best defensive forward and best PK player (arguably the best PK center in the NHL). So ya, you better make sure you get a very good return for him at the center position.
Another very good post, an argument could also be made that adding what would need to be added wouldn't be worth it in the end. And DD gets alot of help from the sheltering Plek does for him anyway (41% Ozone start vs 55% + the matchups + the tough minutes wingers) so if you get a high scoring center it better be a 45% ozone start tough minutes one. I wrote a bit about that in another post and I think it fits so I'll just be extremely lazy and copy/paste the relevant part. :

Even if you get rid of Plekanec (wich would be stupid but whatever) and get that hypothetical Big Number 1 Center TM well Cole and Pacioretty will probably play with him(good luck finding 2 wingers better than them on the market or without stupid overpayment in a trade).

Except if you think Getzlaf (an example) wouldn't see his ES numbers go down playing with Darche and Bourque (he will, he'll still be an awesome player but the people that want a 75+pts center won't get the results they want on paper) so the whole trade Plek (+ a boatload of assets we can't afford to lose) and go with a Big Number 1 Center TM-DD-Eller as a center line (not necessarely you but I've heard that too much this season even from serious media people (* in a world where people take Francois Gagnon seriously)), doesn't make any sense if the goal of such a thing is to keep Pac-DD-Cole as a second line. Not to mention, there is no way Big Number 1 Center TM wouldn't center the first PP unit. Then what, we trade him because he's taking DD's place there?

I actually like the Pac-DD-Cole line... in a vacuum. But from what I've observed, no matter how nice their stat sheets look, the team hasn't really been anything impressive in puck possession since being completely dependant on that line. They'll have their huge games, like I previously said, but the way the lineup is currently constructed ( to be completely dependant on that line offensively), if they don't, we're boned. Actually, the way the whole lineup revolves around them kind of screams «bad team line». It was good enough for a while with the injuries (the whole Plek covering the lack of a second D pairing thing..) but it's like Cunneyworth came in, saw that this line was the only one giving consistant offence but he didn't actually bother trying to understand why... so now he's absolutely scared of separating them in case whatever he does doesn't work and he ends up barely giving any other line he tries the chance to actually devellop any kind of chemistry.

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02-20-2012, 11:17 PM
  #19
SouthernHab
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We can thank Carbonneau for this. He rolled lines just to roll lines. And Martin followed and did the same. Cunneyworth is following that path. So that is pretty much all we have seen and many have come to accept this as hockey the way its supposed to be played.

There are two ways to win a hockey game. Outscore the other team. Or prevent the other team from outscoring you. The art of matching lines is gone from Montreal. As someone on this post said, we have a team of forwards that pretty much are cut in the same mold. We do not have identified roles for our lines. Just roll them and hope for the best.

I am a firm believer in top two lines for scoring, third line for grind and defense against the other team's top line and a fourth line for energy and the rough stuff. That's how the Habs did it when they were winning Cups.

Instead, we have top 6 AHLers playing on the 3rd and 4th line and getting rolled. Hope this changes.......doubt it will with the leadership that we have.

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02-21-2012, 12:22 AM
  #20
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They way I see it. These are the lines for next season.

Cole-Desharnais-Pacorietty
Bourque-Plekanec-Gionta
Leblanc-Eller-Moen
Geoffrion-White-Blunden/Palushaj

Subban-Emelin
Gorges-Diaz
Kaberle-Weber

Price
Budaj

We may have to move Diaz or Weber to make room for Tinordi.

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02-21-2012, 02:09 AM
  #21
MasterDecoy
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the way i see it is the habs are 1 or 2 moves away from rolling 3 offensive lines.

the top 6 is strong two-way. #1 plek, #2 eller

bottom is a briere-style exploitation line with desharnais
and the fourth line is centered by... ? geoffrion maybe? that line needs work. it needs to be tough, able to pot ~10 goal per man (give or take) and not be defensive **** in their own zone and be able to fight. moen, white.... that's a start. still needs work. no ****ing goons tyvm...

by the way, i can't believe **** is censored...

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02-21-2012, 04:01 AM
  #22
S Bah
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The Habs aren't far from having a set 12 forward group Desharnais line is set.Then Eller's line with Louis Leblanc and Blake Geoffrion as the energy line or 3rd if you prefer. The checking or 4th line with Moen and White,sign Paul Gaustad as the center and for defensive zone faceoffs specialist.That's three set lines then the Plekanec line with Bourque and the top three pick from the draft,having Bourque making room and Plecky teaching the new kid the game through hard work and two-way playing first then the offence which he should have the tools for already.So the Habs just need to be injury free the defence will be a year older and Weber and Campoli should be gone.St.Denis being better than either of them and a UFA,done.

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02-21-2012, 04:05 AM
  #23
ECWHSWI
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Originally Posted by S Bah View Post
The Habs aren't far from having a set 12 forward group Desharnais line is set.Then Eller's line with Louis Leblanc and Blake Geoffrion as the energy line or 3rd if you prefer. The checking or 4th line with Moen and White,sign Paul Gaustad as the center and for defensive zone faceoffs specialist.That's three set lines then the Plekanec line with Bourque and the top three pick from the draft,having Bourque making room and Plecky teaching the new kid the game through hard work and two-way playing first then the offence which he should have the tools for already.So the Habs just need to be injury free the defence will be a year older and Weber and Campoli should be gone.St.Denis being better than either of them and a UFA,done.
huh...

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Old
02-21-2012, 05:29 AM
  #24
Physical HABuse
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We've also had coaches that have misused player personnel too. Pacioretty was put in the bottom 6 and Palushaj has been called up and put on the 4th line. It's about knowing your role on a line and getting players that fit that role too, whether you're trying to roll 3 scoring lines and an energy line or rolling 2 scoring lines and 2 grinding lines. Those grinding lines can still include players that score goals. They would supply supportive scoring and just generate it differently....i.e., turnovers or ugly goals in front of the net.

P.S. If Anaheim isn't getting enough scoring from their bottom 2 lines, it's because they aren't good enough. It's about improving your personnel too. You still have to find players that don't have completely stone hands or poor hockey sense....but generate occasional goals consistently enough through hard and rough work.

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02-21-2012, 05:51 AM
  #25
Monctonscout
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I hear a lot of people throwing around the terms "depth players" and "Bottom 6 players" as if they mean the same thing. They don't at all. Unfortunately, I don't think the Canadiens organization knows (or knew) the difference either.

As much as this team needs a real top center, it also needs a full contingent of real bottom 6 type players. Every good team has them. We don't.

Ryan White, who just recently returned to the lineup, is one. So are Travis Moen and Matthieu Darche. Blunden is also one, but not very good. After that, we're severely lacking. We've tried guys like Palushaj, Engqvist, and Leblanc, but they're playing outside their comfort zone. Same with Eller and Kostitsyn. These aren't the roles they're accustomed to, and forcing them to play this way is I don't think the best option.

Acquiring Blake Geoffrion is a good start, but they need to continue in this vein. If, for instance, Andrei Kostitsyn is not in your plans for the top 6, trade him. Same for Palushaj, and heck, maybe even one day with Eller and Leblanc. I hope not, but lets face it, these guys aren't 3rd liners. Eller is not a 3rd line center. Leblanc is not a 3rd line winger. They're only there because the team does not have the right balance. Of course we want to see them play, so for now the 3rd line is acceptable, but its not ideal.

Eller should only be a 3rd line center in the future if he ends up in a Jordan Staal type situation (two great centers ahead of him). Otherwise, i don't think it makes any sense.

As mad as it sounds, Plekanec should be the 3rd line center right now. After all, he does everything a great 3rd line center does. He kills penalties, he forechecks, he chips in the odd goal. Unfortunately, we're not in a position to do this, because of our lack of talent. But it all begins with identifying specific roles for each of our players, and understanding which players fit and which don't. The team as it stands has too many players that are in the wrong roles that suit them. This is a big problem.
Another guy who should have gotten a shot in that role but was hurt all year was Conboy. Schultz is getting close to getting a shot also, maybe once a few vets are moved...

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