It's not the biggest stat in the world, but I think it's one of the most important stats in the game. You might remember at the beginning of the year how I mentioned that the Habs were on the ice for far too long, and therefore tiring out and getting scored on and also not able to score themselves.
If you go to NHL.com and check out the shift chart for the game against the 'Nuck-Nucks, you'll see that our shifts were about the same length as theirs, and I think that's made a world of difference in our play, and quite frankly, it all stems from Koivu.
That might sound like an odd comment, but take a good look at Saku's shifts next time you're watching. He *never* stays out there when he's exhausted, trying to milk a shift and hoping that something else might come of it. He plays his heart out for 30-45 seconds and gets his butt outta there. I'll take a wild guess and say that ever since he's been back in the lineup, there have been less and less two minute shifts by other players. The captain leads, the Ribeiro's (who used to love those two minute shifts) follow.
It's a small point, but keeping that shift length short is a vital area of the game that a player can control that can directly lead to an improvement in the outcome of the game. You can't win when you're too tired to follow the puck.
I remember your post and I was concerned about the same thing. Combined with the fact that Julien was using all the lines about equally, even in tight situations near the end of games, we had to put it down to the coach trying to get a good handle on this team. Since then, Julien seems to have picked some go-to guys for situational play.
I still some concerns with the line changes though, they look pretty sloppy at times.